The Biggest Disappointments of 2012
After taking a look at the year’s best games, I decided to look back at the year 2012 to pick out the biggest letdowns in the gaming industry. These all range from game titles, to companies, to even events, all of which will make you facepalm so hard that you might take your face off from the impact. Not every game we play turns out how we hoped it would, unfortunately, nor do our favorite game companies make the wisest decisions. Without further ado, I present to you, in no particular order, gaming’s biggest blunders of 2012.
Where do I even start? How about I begin with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon Shi- I mean, City. To be honest, this game appeared to have a lot of potential early on. A four-player co-op shooter that featured you blasting zombies with friends and getting to interact with key characters in the Resident Evil franchise? What could go wrong? I could actually go all day about what went wrong, but let’s just settle for the fact that most enemies are humans with assault rifles, zombies are pathetically easy to kill with melee attacks, the plot is uninteresting, the characters are dull, and gameplay feels stiff, even by third=person shooter standards. In other words, the game sucks. How about Street Fighter X Tekken? Being one of the titles I looked forward to the most this year, SFXTK had the potential for greatness. Two great fighting game brands were finally facing off in a tag-team fighter for the ages. Or so I hoped. What we got instead was a fighter that was marred with disc-locked downloadable content, meaning all 12 downloadable characters released this past Fall were on the disc and complete when the game shipped, but you just couldn’t play as them without paying first. Combine that with a lot of downloadable content that made no sense at all (Free additional colors that are locked on the disc? Why even bother locking them?), poor online netcode, and some useless game mechanics like Pandora. The worst of all: the game just didn’t feel very good to play. Granted, it’s not bad by any stretch, but it failed to find an identity, trying to combine Street Fighter with Marvel VS Capcom and winding up with a stiff fighting system that has very short input windows and is more unforgiving than other, better fighters this generation. Then comes Resident Evil 6, which, after only playing the demo, I knew not to even bother. The fact that it will miss their goal of 7 million units sold tells you that people just want to play a survival horror Resident Evil of the old days, not a SOCOM/Call of Duty hybrid with terrible cover mechanics and not enough zombies. Then, to top it all off, go ahead and ask Mega Man fans, including myself, how well Capcom handled Mega Man’s 25th anniversary. Waiting until the anniversary date to release a fan-made game that was clearly rushed out the door as well as some insignificant news tidbits that include Xbox 360 avatar items and ports of Mega Man 1-6 to the 3DS is not my idea of an anniversary done right. Granted, they’ve taken steps in the right direction, but I’m not getting my hopes too high. The only thing they did do right this year was Asura’s Wrath, which actually turned out to be a really cool title, but as a long-time fan of the company, I can’t help but feel utterly disappointed. Thanks for the horrific year, Capcom.
Studio Closings Galore
In 2012, we lost a lot of talented studios in the gaming industry, so there’s no denying that this was going to come up on this list. No one likes to see this happen. Studio Liverpool, Zipper Interactive, Eurocom, 38 Studios, which houses Kingdoms of Amalur developer, Big Huge Games – the list goes on and on. Even the once-mighty gaming publisher, THQ, recently files for bankruptcy, resulting in a selling off of their assets to a financial firm, which will then in turn sell off those assets to the highest bidders. If this doesn’t pretty much define the game industry as a whole in 2012, I don’t know what does. We can only hope a new generation of consoles can give the industry the shot in the arm it so desperately needs.
The Mass Effect 3 Ending Controversy
Note how I worded that. I’m not saying the ending was disappointing, I’m saying that all of the whining, crying and tantrum-throwing in reaction to the ending is what I found utterly disappointing. Mass Effect is the work of Bioware. It’s been their property to shape and mold as they’ve seen fit since its inception and nothing, not even a web petition, should have changed it. The extended ending, while providing more insight, wasn’t necessary and I’m fully content with the fact that the journey getting to the ending was so utterly satisfying that I walked away thoroughly impressed with the trilogy. The very fact that so-called “gamers” sat on Twitter and Facebook lambasting and name-calling these people who have shed blood, sweat and tears to bring us an amazing experience disgusts me and makes me feel ashamed to even call myself a gamer. As a result, Bioware founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka left not only the company, but the industry as a whole, due to no longer having any drive to go on. Gee, I wonder what caused that? To everyone that protested the ending of Mass Effect 3, I hope it was worth it, because now the industry lost two very gifted people. It’s garbage like this that makes me hate being bubbled in with the trolling, childish masses that seem to populate gaming too heavily.
Assassin’s Creed III
Note: I did not take this screenshot, but I had a very similar experience, so it’s quite fitting. Thank you, Assassin’s Creed Wiki.
This hurts. This really, really hurts to place this on this list. After two straight annual iterations that kept the franchise running in place, this was finally to be the next big step after the amazing Assassin’s Creed II that would revolutionize the franchise once again. How ironic that a game about the American Revolution failed to do just that. After a three-year development cycle, what we were given was a game that simply wasn’t finished nor well thought out. How no one looked at the plot and didn’t see the laborious pacing and utter tedium of the first half of the game is beyond me. Connor failed to be an intriguing lead, with wooden voice acting and very few moments for him to shine on top of his story ending abruptly and awkwardly. At least Desmond’s story ended well, for which I can give some praise. The biggest problem was the multitude of bugs. It’s difficult to be immersed in an experience when mission waypoints fail to show up on the map despite using every synchronization point, Connor is able to fall through the ground into oblivion for 20 seconds straight, gets caught under chunks of Earth while swimming, is killed during a cutscene, when NPCs fail to progress during a mission – the list keeps going. There is absolutely no reason this game should have turned out this way after three years of development. Is it a bad game? It can be an enjoyable experience once you get past Sequence 6, thanks to some neatly-designed missions, and the plot finally takes off then, as well. The problem is it simply isn’t worthy of it’s title, as we’ve all become accustomed to quality when thinking of Assassin’s Creed. Fans deserved better than this.
Armored Core V
I love giant mechs, people. The sense of empowerment they give, the destruction they cause, and the total badassery they exude is unlike anything else I know of. When I heard Armored Core was coming back after taking a few years off, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to start building my own weapons of destruction to take online for some explosive co-op sessions. While the action is tight and it has a very satisfying customization suite, everything else fell flat. The main story missions are simply too difficult to do unless you take the time to level up and earn more parts by completing side missions. This would be acceptable if the side missions were fun, but they’re not. All of them are only a couple minutes long and amount to nothing but blowing up a few menial targets. Doing these online makes them even shorter and far too easy to be enjoyable in any way. What was meant to be an exciting and empowering experience devolved into tedium and boredom, and while many hated Armored Core 4’s and For Answer’s structures, I very much prefer those over this hum-drum experience. Talk about a letdown.
Soul Calibur V
It had been a while since a new Soul Calibur title hit store shelves, so when news broke in 2011 that a new title was on the way, and that it was going to feature new characters as well as Ezio Auditore from Assassin’s Creed as the guest character, I was thrilled. When the release date popped up, though, I became concerned. January? That soon? It turns out, my fears were well-placed. This game was rushed, through and through. Soul Calibur V managed to strip content from it’s predecessor, but I didn’t expect this to strip it down even more. The story mode was short, uninteresting, and filled with poor writing. Arcade mode lacked endings, so Ezio’s existence in the game is never explained, among the rest of the cast, which are barely touched on in the story mode. Not to mention pretty much every new character replaced an old fan-favorite, but had strikingly similar movesets, making that move absolutely pointless and alienating long-time fans in the process. It wasn’t entirely bad, admittedly. This was still a game I took the time to Platinum, as it wasn’t terribly hard, Ezio is a badass fighter that’s fun to use, the character creation has its merits, and the fighting mechanics are among the best in the series, but this is simply not how you make a sequel to such a long-running game. I expected better, Namco-Bandai.
The Last Story
Oh, how I wanted this game to be a Game of the Year-caliber title. I heard so many great things about it, considering Final Fantasy veteran Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Mistwalker developed it and Nobuo Uematsu was the composer on board. The fact that this was a title that Operation Rainfall campaigned for made it seem that way, as well. I was actually downright shocked when, after playing for 7-8 hours, which is roughly the first half of the game, I was bored to death. The plot wasn’t very interesting, and besides Syrenne and Lowell, both of whom are hilarious when paired together, the rest of the cast was uninteresting, even including lead character, Zael. I wasn’t finding much to like about the battle system, either, which pretty much dwindled down to running up to enemies, mashing the attack button, then running away before they could counter-attack, all the while hoping your allies would adhere to your orders. The game also uses an asinine life system, something that’s unheard of in JRPGs of this kind and, considering how utterly pointless it is here when they could have eliminated the system entirely, buffed every character’s defense while promoting better healing and defensive strategies to ensure survival, I wish would have remained out of the game entirely. Perhaps worst of all, bar a few memorable tracks, this is easily Uematsu’s worst musical offering ever. It was only by the time I reached the end of my short 17-hour journey (yes, that’s short for a JRPG) that I actually started to grow on some characters, which goes to show that the game’s length is indeed another problem, barring the player from strong character development. At least the game had a nice plot twist at the end, the visuals were strong for a Wii title and had admirable art direction, and the voice acting and writing was quite good, but that’s really all the praise I can give it. If you want to talk disappointments in 2012, this is absolutely one of the biggest for me, personally. Such a damn shame.
No year is ever perfect, as there’s always going to be that one game we look forward to, but have our hopes dashed upon investing a few hours in it, only to discover it’s an abomination, or some game publisher that does something to anger or alienate it’s fanbase, but such is how the industry goes. We can only move forward, hoping that what lies on the horizon is bigger and better than ever. Looking into the rest of this year, things look quite promising. Personally, I’m looking forward to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, the newly-confirmed Project X Zone, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Pokemon X & Y – the list goes on and on. With that kind of lineup, I’d say 2013 has a lot of promise. I can only hope they all stack up and don’t wind up on this list next year.