playWISE’s biggest disappointments of 2010

Disappointments of 2010 - playwisegaming.comIn order to celebrate this year in gaming, playWISE will be featuring several articles in the next few weeks detailing the most memorable games of the year.

2010 saw the release of some of the best gaming experiences to date. Unfortunately, these great games did not come without their share of black-sheep brethren.

Below are a few of the playWISE staff’s biggest disappointments of 2010. Keep in mind that we’re not saying all of these games are 100 percent terrible, but rather, they were created in such a way that left us desiring more from these well-known franchises and developers.

Check back on Tuesday Dec. 28 to see our opinions on the best unknown games of 2010.

benwade – Epic Mickey
Epic MickeyWarren Spector hasn’t made a game in six years, but his pedigree is nearly world-renowned. With revolutionary titles such as System Shock, Deus Ex and Theif: Deadly Shadows under his belt, there is no denying Spector’s status as a legendary game designer, which makes the squandered opportunities in his newest game, “Epic Mickey,” all the more disappointing.

I can’t help but call into question many of the design elements employed in this game, especially the use of the notoriously glitch-laden gaming engine, Gamebryo. This engine removes you from the action and devolves your playtime into a frustrating chore as you struggle to control Mickey’s on-screen actions.

The game attempts to be some sort of amalgamation of an RPG and a platformer but succeeds on neither front. Several times in the story you are called upon to make moral decisions, but the outcome of these choices are so slight, and even trivial in nature, that you won’t care whether the characters of the story live or die.

Further decreasing from the weight of your choices is the fact that no appearance-changing actions that you take in the world even remain the way you left them after returning to previous levels. A flat presentation and repetitive, uninspired levels make Mickey’s latest game outing an epic failure.

Rebecca – Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver
Pokemon WalkerI know hardcore Pokemon fans are currently crafting voodoo dolls of me and sticking pins in sensitive areas for saying this, but despite the fact that this Pokemon re-make was something fans absolutely craved for, the end result lacked the freshness and creativity a true re-make deserved.

HGSS is identical in gameplay to the original Gold and Silver titles with a few exceptions, existing mainly to incorporate the functions of the Nintendo DS. Left untouched are things that Pokemon titles have been criticized for, like a lack of variety and the length of time between levels.

Visually, HGSS is almost exactly the same as Platinum, which was released exactly a year prior. The proximity of the two titles, compounded with the identical graphics, makes HGSS play less like a fresh new take on an old favorite and more like an extension of something we’ve already seen.

If your hope was that HGSS would be true in every way to its predecessors, then perhaps this game isn’t such a disappointment to you.  But in my opinion, the point of a re-make is to take a great game and make it awesome, not just update the graphics and throw in a free toy.

Jeremy – Splinter Cell: Conviction
Splinter Cell: ConvictionThe Splinter Cell series has always been known for its intricate gadgets and shadow-driven stealth. This year’s “Splinter Cell: Conviction” tried to reinvent the formula by introducing players to a more action-heavy environment.

The struggle to accomplish this change was apparent throughout “Conviction’s” development cycle. The game was delayed multiple times, and even early builds were thrown out halfway through development. The final product that avid fans of the series received was ultimately a letdown.

The game is never consistent and tries too hard to balance action and stealth segments. Instead, “Conviction” only offered awkward firefights and dumbed down stealth sequences. Being a die-hard fan of stealth games, I was left wanting more and confused as to what audience this game was intended for.

The concept of developers reaching a broader audience is always ideal but not when it compromises the core audience that supported them over the years.

Jared – Call of Duty: Black Ops (PC)
Call of Duty: Black OpsThe PC launch of “Call of Duty: Black Ops” on Nov. 9 2010, developer Treyarch’s take on the series, was, in my opinion, going to be first-person shooter of the year and redeem the Call of Duty series after the atrocious glitch and hack-filled PC release of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.”

While this game had amazing eye candy and very nice changes to the perks for balancing multiplayer gameplay, it had both network and hardware hangs which plagued the game. As you ran, trying to find your prey, you would be constantly hit with stuttering and freezing from the software. Just a day later, an uproar on Internet forums, videos being posting on YouTube showing the lag and even articles being written documented the numerous problems within the game.

Treyarch responded to the community and fixed the network issues within the week of launch, reporting it was due to ill server configurations. However, the CPU hang still occurs to date, I, for one, have shelved the game until Treyarch releases a patch to actually bring this game to what I thought it was going to be at launch: a redemption of the series for all its fanbase.

Unfortunately, all PC FPS gamers have been left with is a cold microwave dinner and a bad taste in their mouths for the whole series once again.

Ahmar – No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
No More Heroes 2“No More Heroes” was a tremendous creative risk, so one is apt to forgive it for its various shortcomings. It is for this reason that “No More Heroes 2” is that much more of a bitter pill to swallow. For every effort it takes in addressing issues with the original, it takes others in robbing itself of what made “No More Heroes” such a joy to play in the first place.

Additional characters with improved character models are ostensibly a “good thing,” but the exercise becomes reductive when the new characters are thrown into stiffly underdeveloped gameplay experiences.  Other design decisions, like the expulsion of the mostly barren overworld, offer mixed-bag solutions to the problems of the original game, while robbing it of some of the gleeful excess that was so much a staple of its predecessor.

Whereas, the concluding levels of “No More Heroes” were easily the highlight of the entire gonzo experience, they are ultimately the weakest part of the sequel. This is perhaps the biggest blow to the overall package, as the assassin bosses of “No More Heroes 2” fade to memory that much quicker than the memorable encounters that defined the original.

Image Credits: Game Informer/Nintendo/Ubisoft/Activision

69 Responses to “playWISE’s biggest disappointments of 2010”

  1. 1 Somekek
    December 24, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Splinter Cell: Conviction? Biggest disappointment? What the fUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

  2. 2 EpicDissapointment
    December 24, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Epic Mickey wasn’t suppose to be taken seriously to begin with either way so I’m not quite sure why you would bash on a game that is pretty much aimed towards a children audience. You guys take things too seriously, Call of Duty I understand sucked balls on the PC, Splinter Cell: Conviction actually was pretty good in my opinion even if it was delayed multiple times it actually satisfied my stealth cravings, Pokemon well that’s just a whole-nother conversation.

  3. 3 ForgottenGamer
    December 24, 2010 at 10:34 am

    What is “Unknown Games”? o_o

  4. December 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

    playWISE is not an anyway saying that these games are bad. We were personally hyped and excited to play them. They were just not what we had expected from these developers and series.

  5. December 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Hey ForgottenGamer/EpicDissapointment/Somekek — all the same person btw. I appreciate your love for our blog that you would sign in to three different accounts just to comment on one post… But, from now on, just stick with one name — thanks.

  6. December 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Have you even played video games? Doesn’t sound like it

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