TSA Talks #9: AAA Disappointments & The Genres We Hate

The increasingly cold weather seems to have brought out the bitter side in some of our writers this week. We kick off our ninth instalment by taking shots at 2011’s star-studded holiday line-up, followed up by our least favourite genres and why we dislike them. Views expressed in these articles are entirely personal and do not represent the opinions of TheSixthAxis.

Whether in our comments, on Twitter or even on the TSA podcast its sounds as though everyone has at least one big release that they didn’t think was up to scratch despite the gleaming reviews and mass hype. Was the gunplay in Uncharted 3 really that bad? Did Revelations highlight not only Ezio’s fatigue but that of the series too? Our writing team list off the games that didn’t quite live up to expectations.

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Chris: Uncharted 3 is a huge disappointment for me, not because it’s a bad game, it’s not, but because for me it fails to come anywhere near the previous two titles. I loved Uncharted, never before had I seen such a strong character driven narrative in an enjoyable action/shooter. Uncharted 2 did everything that Uncharted had done well and multiplied it by ten. The graphics and technology underpinning the game were mind-blowing, the story was even better and the set-pieces were immense. Uncharted 3, apart from the capsized ship level, feels like an after-thought in comparison. Not i comparison to other titles you understand, but compared to Naughty Dog’s own standards.

If I didn’t know Naughty Dog better I’d say they’d taken a paint by numbers approach to this game’s design. Sure most of it has great production values and is of a very high quality but some of it inexplicably seems rushed, with Drake appearing to float over the ground rather than walk on being a recurring issue for me.

The action itself between the set-pieces actually drags and as you come across area after area with carefully placed boxes and scenery to act cover it’s obvious that yet another gun fight is about to ensue. Of course I know this is the game but, unlike Uncharted 2, it feels monotonous and the areas noticeably repeat, with just a different arrangement of cover and an added brute or enemy in body armour to differentiate it from the previous area.

I like linear games, the narrative they provide feels better to me than the repetitive missions that populate all the open-world games, but here in Uncharted 3 it just feels overly linear; you’re 100% tied to the script. If you move into an area you can’t start the task at hand until your partner has finished rambling on, which in many cases can take quite a while and leaves me bored. If they’re going to do this then they may as well just have proper cut-scenes rather than leave me watching and listening to the game when I could be playing it, which is half the point of Uncharted’s blurred lines between cutscene and gameplay.

It all adds up to a product which to me feels rushed. Compared to many games it still stands up well, extremely well in fact, but compared to the curve Naughty Dog set themselves from Uncharted to Uncharted 2, in my opinion Uncharted 3 falls woefully short; so much so that I’d think long and hard about buying the inevitable Uncharted 4.

Al: Battlefield disappointed me. All the pre-release stuff made the game look like it would end up being a genre leader but ultimately ended up being ridiculously scripted and as linear as anything before it. It wasn’t bad, just a huge let down, and something that I don’t think I’ll ever play again.

The gunplay in Uncharted 3 was fine, I’ve never really understood the hate, but all power to Naughty Dog for getting it sorted out in the best way possible, by inviting in the community rather than alienating them – very smart. I was bored of Assassin’s Creed before I even finished the first one, I’ve no interest at all in whatever version we’re up to now.

Dan: I found Deus Ex to be a bit of a let down. I’m not saying it was bad, but what I played really didn’t press my buttons at all. The same can be said for Batman: AC, which is another GoTY contender I didn’t think that much of.

Don’t tell Al, but I was also a little disappointed with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the 3DS. As lovely as the game is to look at, I felt that a few of the gameplay mechanics hadn’t fared so well over the years, and the camera was pretty damn poor.

Peter: Duke Nukem is the obvious disappointment this year but it’s not something I was particularly hopeful for in the first place. Homefront is probably up there with my disappointments of the year. It promised so much and delivered a couple of interesting multiplayer ideas, a strong backstory and a broken mess of a single player game. Call of Juarez also deserves special mention just for being one of the worst games I’ve had to play in a while, although the build up to that was such that my hopes were adjusted accordingly.

Oh, and Dark Souls. Everyone else seems to be raving about that but I thought it was very cheap in the way it strings out its longevity. I can see the underlying RPG is solid but the constant grinding was just so tedious for me. I guess that I was more disappointed with not getting it the way others did though, rather than being disappointed in the game itself.

Aran: LA Noire. I spent a lot of time with the game, even platinuming it but looking back it had a lot of flaws. Graphically it was fantastic and I hope the tech is used elsewhere. However, the story seemed a bit underwhelming. Some of it didn’t make sense and then I was supposed to care for characters that had barely been featured. If you’ve played it then I’ll just say Cole’s family, you’ll know what I mean.

And the interrogations. I have all this evidence and it all makes sense but for some reason it doesn’t make sense in game. Where was the common sense? Also, did it need to be set in an open world. Sure there were a few crimes outside the story you could tackle but apart from that, the world was pretty lifeless.

Kris: I was going to say Uncharted 3, but I’m not quite sure what I expected from it. Thinking about it, it’s almost certainly Sonic Generations. I know that it’s a Sonic title released after the 90s and therefore I probably shouldn’t have expected too much from it, and the demo should probably have re-enforced that.

However, what I played of it at EGX was really good, and the concept sounded interesting. SEGA had really started to get my hopes up about the game, and although I wasn’t sure it would be amazing I was pretty confident it would be solid and pretty enjoyable. How wrong I was. So much of it felt lacking in… well everything really, and the bits that did shine through simply didn’t make up enough of the game to really bring the whole experience up.

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21 Comments

  1. Of the big releases over the last month or so, I’ve been disappointed with Uncharted 3 and Battlefield 3, but then pleasantly surprised by Modern Warfare 3 and Arkham City, so it’s all swings & roundabouts, horses for courses, six of one, half a dozen of the other, etc..

    • And in terms of genres I don’t really like, it’s generally most Japanese games. I hate sushi too.

  2. The only game that has disappointed me so far is skyrim…
    anyways I guess the only genre I hate is rhythm games for some reason I never am able to get into those type of games except for guitar hero but that’s mainly because I liked the songs A LOT

  3. Dissapointment – Battlefield campaign but the Multiplayer has turned that around for me.
    The worst goes to Need for Speed: The Run – the multiplayer is a PAIN when trying to connect or even start the race!

  4. Nice little article. The big AAA let downs for me this year were:

    Batman Arkham City – They tried to squeeze far too many enemies into a 25hour game. As such I didn’t get into the storyline whatsover. The openworld aspect was also small, under-developed and contributed nothing to the gameplay at all.

    Skyrim – Great game completely ruined by a multitude of bugs.

    Uncharted 3 – As most of TSA said, great game but nowhere near as good as ‘charted2. I also found it very short. It hasn’t gone back in my PS3 since it’s launch week.

    Battlefield3 – Definately the biggest letdown for me. Awful campaign, which was only a few hours long, stole all the ‘storyline’ from previous Call of Duty games and featured bloody quick time events (!). It didn’t help that the new Frostbite2 engine looks (and performs) terribly on consoles (though it does look great on PC). Such a shame given how awesome Bad Company 2 was.

    In terms of genres. I rarely get into fighting games, hack-and-slashers and RPGs

    • It’s funny how peoples experiences differ. I have over 100 hours playtime on Skyrim for PS3, not had one problem at all.

  5. Crysis 2 isnt on that list? Shocked.

    • Maybe because Crysis 1 didn’t exactly set the bar that high.
      Graphics thankfully isn’t everything.

  6. Battlefield 3 campaign was very poor unfortunately. The MP is spectacular though, so it is forgivable. Uncharted 3 was amazing in every way IMO. I agree it didn’t quite meet the lofty heights of U2, but great nonetheless. Personally I can’t stand the fighting genre. I absolutely despise games like Tekken, Virtua Fighter etc because I just can’t understand the appeal of them.

  7. AAA letdown for me was Batman: AA. I know it’s a little older but I only finished it last month because it was so frustrating. I hate the game with a passion and I’m sure I’d feel the same way about Batman: AC. The controls were probably the worst I’ve ever had to put up with in this generation and the story was non existent for me. If a game doesn’t provide a great story it should at least be fun to play but this game failed to provide any of those things.

    As for genres that I hate I’d have to say Beat ’em Up, RTS and Simulations are right at the top of my list. By simulations I mean the whole package. Racing sims, sports sims, flight sims… They all can be fun for a little while but I can’t be bothered with them for too long or else I get bored.

  8. LA Noire was a let down for me. The technology was impressive, but there was no variety in the missions and I just couldn’t get my head round the interrogations. First game EVER I’ve actually used the walkthroughs on gamefaqs.com just to get me to the end of it – cheating, I know… I should have just shelved it…
    The only genre I really avoid is JRPG. Got a version of Final Fantasy ages ago (for PS1 I think) and really tried to stick with it but gave up – did nothing for me and I’ve not touched it since.

  9. Batman is easily the biggest disappointment. AC revelations is a let down but the writing was on the wall with Brotherhood. Red Faction was disappointing as well after raising expectations with the previous game. RPGs and FPS are the genre I either don’t enjoy or try to avoid but I love Mirrors Edge and Timesplitters so it is probably more to do with the current crop of FPS. I don’t really do fighting games like street fighter or strategy games like command and conquer either. That rules out quite a lot now I see it written down.

    • Lol – Is there anytghing you DO like??

      • Platformers, third person shooters/adventure games. Old school point and clicks, heavy rain, lemmings, puzzle games, racing games and sport games. There’s still quite a lot.

      • Lol – I know, i was just being facetious! :)

        I do like how you have given Heavy Rain it’s own category though! :)

  10. I actually haven’t had many letdowns this year due to the fact that by the time i get around to buying a product it has usually been out for long enough for many an opinion to be posted in the intermanet & so i usually go into a purchase knowing pretty much what to expect.

    However, i have to agree with LA Noire – I can see that the tech is fantastic & i too would like to see it leak into other titles, but i for one find LA Noire just a bit boring. I understand the repetitive nature of detective work, but it does all come across as a bit of a chore & as such i haven’t gotten very far through it, let alone finish it!

    As for genres that i don’t bother with, JRPGs (& some RPG’s) feature pretty highly on that list as they tend to be ridiculously long & i especially can’t stand those with turn based fighting. Just let me wail on the guy for satans sake! Sports titles i am finding especially hum-drum recently as i have realised that no matter what iteration it is, they are all generally the same.

    I feel i should also add the one on one beat em up onto this list too, as whilst i still love the idea of them, i am finding less & less interest to play them as i get older & grinding hours & hours of online matches really doesn’t appeal either. I feel that is purely down to the lack of story though, as i quite enjoyed MK9.

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