Nothing’s worse than spending $60 of your hard-earned cash on a new game, unwrapping the plastic, and throwing it in your console, only to be extremely disappointed with the product. Undoubtedly, we’ve all been burnt by the video game industry at one point or another. Publishers and developers over-hype their games, making bold promises, and placing false hope into the minds and hearts. Here are a few of the worst offenders.
Final Fantasy XIV Online
Players were ready to explore Final Fantasy XIV Online’s Eorzea and ride their chocobos to glory once more. Unfortunately, the first iteration of Final Fantasy XIV Online turned out to be a massive failure, despite amazing graphics and music. Much like a layer cake that ended up raw in the middle, the game looked good but was mostly unfinished. Reviews and complaints got so bad that Square Enix pulled the plug on subscriptions and start over from square one, crafting a whole new game. The result was Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, a version of the game that took place five years after the original’s storyline, but was considered a reboot. Reborn fared better and was well-received by both gamers and critics alike. Now let us never talk about the failure that was Final Fantasy XIV Online again.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
The 15th anniversary Sonic the Hedgehog came in 2006, and to mark this event, Sega released a game called… well, it was just called Sonic the Hedgehog. In it, the speedy guy was tasked with saving a princess named Elise from Doctor Eggman. Unfortunately, the developers took a page out of Sonic’s book and rushed, resulting in an experience that was clunky with poor controls, long load times, and a host of glitches. Sonic’s all about speed, but there are some times when you’ll want to take it slow.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
The adventures of Starkiller (or at least his clone), continued in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. Now, you’d think that getting to control Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, a dude who wields the Force with unimaginable strength, would be a joy to do again. But you would be wrong. Even though the game captured the same size and scope of the original, and even added dismemberment for lightsaber enthusiasts, The Force Unleashed II failed to deliver on a good story and ended up being bogged down by repetitive combat. It’s cool to be able to hack enemies and have the ability to Mind Trick them to their own doom. But when it’s pretty much all you’re doing against the backdrop of a weak narrative, it kind of kills the fun. This was not the sequel you’re looking for.
Knack was one of the launch titles for the PlayStation 4, meaning it had the duty of setting up the console’s future and success. Let’s take a moment to thank Sony that it wasn’t the only launch title for the PlayStation 4, because that would have been a disaster. Knack looked like it could have been fun. But nope. The gameplay was terrible, making it so that you’d die from the smallest encounters and have to backtrack a ton. Not only was the gameplay frustrating, but the story was so weak that your absolute rage at how the game played was balanced by your utter boredom.
Tony Hawk: Ride
Prior to its release, Tony Hawk: Ride was being touted as the next major advancement in video game interaction, giving you a physical board peripheral that was supposed to transfer your movement into the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. And we don’t mean it didn’t work well. It didn’t work at all. There was such a delay between what players did on the board and what happened in the game that it was basically unplayable. There were a lot of disappointed kids that Christmas morning.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens: Colonial Marines is probably the biggest offender on this list. To this day, it’s one of the worst games to ever be released by a top tier publisher—in this case, Sega. The game’s visuals were atrocious, looking more like it belonged on the underpowered Nintendo Wii despite being made for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. It had a crude and poorly implemented multiplayer mode, incredibly stupid A.I., unbalanced gameplay, and terrible sound design. The developers also claimed that the story was supposed to be canonical to the film series, but its lousy script made that claim absolute nonsense. Fans even filed a lawsuit against Sega at one point, claiming that the pre-release footage contained significantly higher quality graphics than what was released to the public.
Ryse: Son of Rome
Developed by Crytek, the makers of the incredible Crysis series, Ryse: Son of Rome was set to be one of the Xbox One’s coolest titles that used the Kinect. In the game, you took on the mantle of a Roman centurion named Marius Titus as he goes on a quest for revenge. During development, Ryse underwent a bunch of changes that saw it go from a Kinect-heavy first-person title to a third-person hack-and-slash game. Somewhere in that transition, Ryse became a repetitive and simple title, giving players a very basic gaming experience, albeit it a pretty one. We expected incredible graphics, sure, but we also wanted a game that went deeper than a simple button-masher.
How to properly describe Haze? For one, most of you have probably never heard of it, so there’s proof positive that it’s fallen into obscurity or is at least buried at the very bottom of GameStop’s bargain bins. Considering the fact that, prior to its release, Haze was being heralded as a “Halo-killer,” its absence in our cultural memory is even more pronounced. This first-person shooter dropped you into the shoes of Shane Carpenter, a soldier employed by a corporation called Mantel. Mantel Corporation produces a drug called “Nectar” that causes hallucinations in soldiers and allows them to perform better in battle, but also warps their sense of reality. In the same vein, we hallucinated that this game could topple the king of first-person shooters, but we were brought down to reality quickly once we bore witness to Haze’s unimpressive level designs, story, and its overall underwhelming gameplay.
Duke Nukem Forever
The long-awaited sequel to the legendary Duke Nukem 3D was finally released in 2011. Duke Nukem Forever had been stuck in development hell, stewing for about 15 years before it clawed its way to the surface. Unfortunately, the end result had us almost wanting to push it back down to the stygian void from whence it came. As one might have expected of a sequel of a game that came out in 1996, Duke Nukem Forever felt dated. It was so bad that all versions of the game scored in the 50s on aggregate sites like Metacritic and GameRankings. In the end, this sequel of a beloved game received near-universally dismal reviews and almost tainted the memory of the original.
Dead Space 3
While it wasn’t necessarily a terrible game per se, Dead Space 3 didn’t perform as well as the other games in the series. After the stellar Dead Space 2, we were expecting the series to continue to move forward to even greater heights. Instead, it took a significant step backward. The third chapter of Isaac Clarke’s horrific adventure in space, fighting against the nightmare fuel known as the Necromorphs, turned out to be a little different than the other titles because the focus of the gameplay shifted from horror to action. This might have turned off a lot of fans who enjoyed the atmospheric scares and immersive environments of the previous titles. The changes, coupled with what felt like a needlessly long single-player campaign, made Dead Space 3 the weakest game in the series. Commercially, it was also considered a failure thanks to the fact that it only sold 605,000 units in North America within a month of its release, far below what EA had projected. We’re hoping for more Dead Space, but because of the underwhelming sales of this title, we might never see one again.