Thursday, 28 Sep 2023

Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Biggest video game let-downs

GameCentral readers discuss their most disappointing video game moments, including Metroid: Other M and No Man’s Sky.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who asked whether the let-down was primarily the company’s fault or because of unreasonable expectations.

Although the games named varied greatly a lot of them ended up being relatively late entries in long-running franchises, such as Mass Effect, Resident Evil, and Grand Theft Auto. Although in many cases a subsequent sequel did manage to repair the damage.

Saga’s end
I would have to say Metal Gear Solid 5. I would normally regard Metal Gear as my favourite video game series but I grew to really hate the final one. I can see why some people would like it as a game not called Metal Gear but considering it was the last one Hideo Kojima would ever work on I felt it lacked everything that made the series what it is. No compelling story, no real structure or progression, and little in the way of proper boss fights.

I’m all for changing things up but this seemed to purposefully not do anything that the originals did and replaced it with nothing compelling. For me, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild was a much more successful reimaging, that still felt like it belonged in the same series.

The fact that Metal Gear Solid 5 was cut short and didn’t have a proper ending just made things even worse. That’s not Hideo Kojima’s fault (probably, I doubt he handled the upper management of Konami with much tact) but it made the final entry a bit of The Rise Of Skywalker.

The unredeemed
The obvious answer here is Devil May Cry 2 but since I haven’t played it for years, and would never want to again, I can’t remember too many of the specifics. Plus it’s already been redeemed multiple times over anyway, so it’s no longer an issue.

Instead I’ll go for Metroid: Other M which hasn’t been redeemed at all, unless you count the remake of Metroid 2. I don’t though and because of the awfulness of Other M we haven’t had a new game since. There is Metroid Prime 4 coming, at some point this century, but the Prime games aren’t the mainline series and I want to see more of those too.

If Other M had been a halfway competent game it would’ve opened up the whole franchise but instead it close it down. Linear, terrible controls, terrible story and characters, bad combat, worse bosses… there is literally nothing good about Other M. Even Samus herself was lame. Metroid has never been a big seller but it has always been really high quality, until Other M messed everything up.

The sky is falling
The biggest disappointment for me was No Man’s Sky. I completely fell for the hype on it and when I finally sat down to play it, after pre-ordering, I realised I really didn’t know what the game was about. And the I discovered that Hello Games didn’t either.

It’s just a big bunch of nothing, with no real gameplay just wandering the galaxy aimlessly, shooting rocks and then moving onto the next world to shoot more rocks.

I know the game has been updated a ton of times and now has lots more extra additions, but as far as I’m concerned none of these address the main problem that you don’t really do anything. I’m not angry at Hello Games, if they’ve made money out of it then great, but the whole thing just seems a massive waste of time for everyone involved.

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Dark fate
I choose Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. Not an obvious choice maybe but considering it was such a disappointment it basically killed the entire franchise it’s one that still burns for me. You can just tell from the lack of recognition in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate how Nintendo views the series now and yet it could have been their biggest traditional role-player.

But instead Dark Dawn was a half-finished load of garbage which ignored all the lore of the previous games, had very bad dialogue and characters, and was far too easy. There was basically nothing appealing about it and unsurprisingly it didn’t get a sequel, so even lame as it was the story didn’t even get a proper ending.

I still feel bitter about it even now and wish Camelot would be given a chance to make amends.

Failing at the last
Biggest disappointment for me is fairly straightforward, jointly awarded to the PlayStation 3 but probably due to a game I had been waiting on. I bought the PlayStation 3 more or less solely to play God Of War 3. Now, I can’t quite pinpoint which disappointed me more, the game or the console. Don’t get me wrong, the game blew me away for the majority of its run-time but as it reached the climactic boss fight (Zeus) it all came undone. Never before (or since) has a final boss fight given me so much trouble and for no good reason that I can see.

I had all the upgrades, all weapons levelled, but I could never beat him and in the end I caved and changed it to easy. I’ve been through the two PSP titles and even they had a fair end fight that might have taken a few attempts but nowhere near the rage I felt playing the third in the main series.

I even went back through them all again, no issues, until the dreaded Zeus fight and yet again, even after all this time, easy option selected and game completed in shame (not a large amount but some). At this stage I’ve beat all the Soulsbourne games so a God Of War game should not beat me but it did and to this day I rank it as the worst game, simply due to this boss fight.

I’m not sure, but the above could have something to do with my general dislike of the PlayStation 3. I just felt the console was meh in general throughout its lifespan. I rarely bought the games if they were on the Xbox, I went through the ‘classics’ like Uncharted which, in my opinion, weren’t that great. Cinematic yes, but the controls were terrible and the shooting was poor for all of them, even the one or two on the PlayStation 4. The Last Of Us was afflicted with similar poor shooting mechanics and was fairly boring for large parts.

Blu-ray movies should have saved the console but that was a dead end for me. The only one I got was Watchmen and coming from DVDs, the interface for using it was clunky and unintuitive.

The bright spots were obviously Demon’s and Dark Souls but if you look back at the time you can easily see why the Xbox 360 trounced Sony.

Self-generated hype
I used to collect Fighting Fantasy books, so the anticipation for Deathtrap Dungeon on the PlayStation intensified to the point of fever pitch as the months and weeks towards release went by. For some reason I built the game up in my mind to be amazing but when I finally bought it on release and sat down to play it… I soon realised it was not living up the hype I had self-built up.

It was needlessly difficult, had one-note gameplay, and it didn’t seem to have much to do with the book or series of books it was based on. I tried to convince myself it was great as I sat there playing it, I just couldn’t fool myself to that extent. What a disappointment!

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Forced to change
For me the most disappointed I have been was with an ironic moment with Nintendo and the Nintendo 64, plus the Nintendo GameCube. The irony is that even though I thoroughly enjoyed my gaming experiences on these consoles a lot, it was the fact that it was the way the main gaming community were finally finished with the idea of Nintendo being the mainstream console to buy.

Nintendo’s own first party games, and some third party developers’ games, were some of the best games created up to that moment. But these were a limited amount and not enough to save them. With the PlayStation 1 and the PlayStation 2 racking up the scores for popularity, I was annoyed that my favourite company, Nintendo, were losing me to these other consoles.

The simple reason was the fact developers working as Sony’s third party partners put out a more varied amount of gaming types which were not ported for contractual or technical reasons to either the GameCube or N64.

This aggravated me, as I had good games to choose from and plenty of them during the Super Nintendo years. That was what I loved about the awesome variety of the SNES and its huge amount of classic games. These were all from various software houses, which the PlayStation 1 and 2 seemed to have support from now, which then turned these devices into the consoles gamers wanted more.

Staying in cartridge form complemented the gaming graphics and mechanics for games like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Diddy Kong’s Racing, etc. but forget about having Final Fantasy 7, Resident Evil 2, and Alundra on the N64 as they probably would not have worked in any ideal way. [Resident Evil 2 was ported to the N64 and Alundra could’ve almost been a SNES game, given the 2D sprites – GC]

I thought maybe the discs for the GameCube may change this situation and we’ll start seeing titles on the PlayStation, and by now Xbox, being ported for the GameCube! But no chance! And by now, just playing Mario and Zelda was not enough to justify me getting Nintendo’s consoles anymore.

So my departure from Nintendo started and Sony became my go-to company (with an Xbox 360 bought at some point as the console’s technology was proving more successful with most developers than the PlayStation 3 was – better ports on the 360). It’s sad, but when the Wii came out, I’d definitely made the right choice and have never got another Nintendo console apart from various handhelds like the Nintendo DS.

I am quite happy with just a single PlayStation 4 console now, but as I mentioned before, the Wii U has proven that maybe one day Nintendo will tempt me back! Also, you can’t deny the Nintendo seal of quality, when it’s first and third party developers are on their most finest form of gaming creativity.

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