Most Overrated Games

By Shamus
on Nov 19, 2007
Filed under:
Video Games

Time for some controversy!

Here is a short list of games which I have played that were sold as the greatest thing, like, EVER and which not only failed to ascend the Ziggurat of Excellence, but just barely managed to reach the top of the Staircase of Mundane and Pedestrian.

5. Fable

I don’t have much to add to what I’ve already said about the game. It’s a very modest, linear, by-the-numbers RPG with a lot of visual polish, but the hype on the box makes it sound like this is some sort of revolution in freeform roleplaying. Not even close.

4. Oblivion

For a long time I thought the problem with Oblivion was that it was just unfinished, and that if they had bothered to kill the bugs and make the graphics engine work as advertised the game would have been great. Looking back, I see that the game was broken at a more fundamental level. It’s just that the bugs and graphical problems masked the deep, underlying design flaws.

Auto-leveling loot and monsters neutered the level-building aspects of the game. The voice acting (instead of text-based interactions) limited the depth of dialog, and made sure you heard the same handful of voices no matter were you went or who you spoke to. The main plot was so bland someone actually introduced a mod to get rid of it. The one strong point of the game – a huge, sprawling sandbox world – was glossed over by letting the player teleport around the map via the auto-travel.

Bugs aside, this game was not awful, but it also wasn’t the ground-breaking Game of the Year everyone made it out to be. If it hadn’t been a descendant of the beloved Morrowwind and a benefactor of a good bit of hype, I think it would have gotten the treatment it deserved: A nice effort that failed to meet the standards set by earlier titles.

3. Black & White

Mix some ingenious pet AI with a “Real-Time Strategy” game with no strategy and a glacial pace. The result? A terrible RTS game with an amusing minigame. Certainly not a revolution.

2. Far Cry

Take a game with “realistic” damage (meaning the player can be killed by a single well-placed shot) and unrealistic enemy numbers (the Lone Player vs. an entire camp of edgy mercenaries) and you have a recipe for some really punishing gameplay. As icing on the cake, give it a checkpoint-based save system instead of letting the player save when they want. Thanks Ubisoft, but couldn’t you have just shot me once, for real, rather than make me suffer through the eight or nine thousand virtual deaths required to get to the end of this ridiculous pageant of clichés and abominable voice acting?

It’s about as sophisticated as Serious Sam, with the key difference that Serious Sam is played for laughs, while Far Cry takes itself too… uh, seriously. It makes Resident Evil look like a Tom Clancy technothriller in comparison.

Yes, it was pretty. But those mountains aren’t going to be nearly as enthralling the tenth time you scale them and get sniped a few feet from the top. I’ll take “fun” over “pretty” any day.

“Maybe you just suck”, says the fanboi.

Yeah. Maybe this game is just too awesome for me to know how to enjoy it. That must be it.

1. Halo

The ultimate in overhyped mediocrity. Here we have a story-driven shooter with a threadbare story. (Actually, I’ve read that the lore of Halo is quite deep and fulfilling, but you have to read the novels if you want to see it.) The story as presented within the game was predictable and boring. The characters were two-dimensional. Their dialog was used as a crude expositional device that depended on the player’s inability to ask obvious questions to deliver its “dramatic” payload.

The ability to carry just two weapons limited the tactical choices the player could make in any given firefight. It also meant that players could only make sound choices on what weapons to carry once they had played through the game and knew what was ahead. Finally, the limited weapon selection negated the ability to stockpile the “good stuff” for big fights. The weapon balance was absurd and counter-intuitive, with the pistol being a better sniping weapon than the actual sniper rifle. And finally, the other type of resource management – the supply of health & armor – was removed from the game with the addition of the auto-recharging shield.

The gameworld was made up of uninteresting, generic scenery. The interior spaces said nothing about the culture that built them. The locations are just miles of corridors with no discernable details or purpose. What kind of aliens are these? Don’t they have to eat? Sleep? Use computers? Sit down? Don’t they have something to do when they aren’t standing in barren rooms guarding crates?

This is “combat evolved”? Who are they kidding? This is Wolfenstein, but with less variety.

Yes, the outdoor areas were very pretty, and I’ve heard online play was a blast, but this game didn’t deserve a fraction of the hype it received. This was a lackluster shooter with a huge advertising budget and delusions of adequacy.

(I’m sure I’ll get many people who disagree with the above list. That’s fine. Do be polite about it though. Whenever I slam Halo I always get a few subliterate ankle-biters who defend their chosen game with personal insults and verbal ineptitude. Those comments have a lifespan measured in minutes, so if you feel the white-hot surge of rage prompting you to call me a “totel fag” then you should probably not waste the copious time it will require to compose your rejoinder.)

So what did I miss? What other games scored high reviews and failed to live up to the hype once you brought them home?

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A Hundred!2019There are 139 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

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  1. Sharpe says:

    Sim City is my #1. You draw rectangles on the screen. Spectacular.

  2. Maia says:

    I really liked Oblivion for the reasons you thought it was bad. Maybe it’s just more fun when one generally doesn’t like computer/video games? I dug the campy feel.

  3. Dan says:

    Halo? Are you kidding? You get a rifle or something…and SHOOT it! Then you shoot stuff and sometimes stuff shoots back. It has shooting in it!

    Halo is a brilliant combination of Defender and Asteroids.

  4. I rather enjoyed Halo. This may owe to the fact that I’m not really an FPS fan, and hate the whole concept of “resource management” as it applies to weapons. I’m making my way through Half Life2 right now, and I simply _hate_ the fact that I can’t seem to find enough bullets/sawblades to go around. Halo always kept me supplied and let me have fun killing things…

    Also: It let me know why I was killing people and getting killed. HL2 doesn’t do a great job of that.

    As to the rest of your list: I totally agree.

  5. SiliconScout says:

    Never Winter Nights 2.

    We are a year + and it’s still not the game it should have been when it was released.

    Lots of eye candy bling but no substance.

  6. yd says:

    What I loved about Halo wasn’t its single player (amusing, but not ground breaking – it also was obviously rushed out the door), but the cooperative multi-player. It’s so rare to be able to take on a mission / objective with friends, and Halo delivered that quite well. I enjoy that sort of multi-player so much more than shooting at my friends. Too bad it’s pretty rare.

  7. Nathan says:

    I realize that its a bit outside your preferred area of FPS, but for my money, the single most disappointing episode in computer gaming history has to be Masters of Orion III. Especially galling since it 1) built on a tradition of excellence (MOO and MOO II) and 2) actually had the potential to be ground-breaking. The idea was there; the execution was not.

    By the way, I agree with you on Oblivion (for all of the same reasons) and I agree with each of the points you made about Halo, but for some reason that didn’t ruin the game for me. Funny how that works.

  8. supermank17 says:

    I second yd’s opinion. Halo was not a spectacular game for me; perhaps the best console shooter at the time, but not special, and rather boring in many ways. The reason it holds such fond memories for me is solely due to its co-op ability. Prior to Halo I’d never had the ability to play alongside a friend, cursing fate together when we were on the receiving end of a rocket, or working out together how to best handle the next area. I’m sure other games had co-op before, and perhaps others did it better. But Halo was the first for me and my friends.

  9. nilus says:

    I never owned a Halo game till Halo 3 came out and I sadly bought into the hype. I had just moved into a new bigger house and finally got the basement man room I always wanted(new big HD TV, new surrond sound system, etc) and was looking for a game to really test out everything, so I bought Halo 3. I think I have played it three times. Its looks pretty but the single player game is as bland as 99% of all First person shooters(it seems that very few FPS have any real depth anymore, I probably should just rent and play through Bioshock again). The story is terrible, instead of any back story to get those who havent played the other halo games up to speed they just throw you in. Finally apparently to play Online multiplayer I need X-Box Live gold. Now I have played other online games in the past and didn’t need gold(Gears of Wars come to mind). I understand that gold members get perks but to allow no online play unless you pay is stupid.

    Oh well at least Assassins Creed came out last week, its giving my new system the work out it demands. Sure its a bit repetive but its still a hundred times more interesting then most of the games out there now. Of course I am not sure what I am going to do when Mass Effect comes out tomorrow, to many games to little time it seems. That game is getting a lot of hype but the reviews are saying despite some flaws its really solid, so I hope it does not disappoint.

  10. nilus says:

    Nathan, Totally agree with you about MOO3. It could have been so great but was so awful. It was the last game I can think of that I took back to the store and demanded my money back.

    This might start to be a list of disappointing sequels but does anyone remember Star Control 3. Star Control 2 was an amazing game but three was such a disappointment.

  11. Ryan says:

    I’d have to put Empire Earth on my list. It’s a game I always want to love – about once a year I’ll get the hankering to reinstall. “This time it will be different.” But then it never is – incredibly slow build time from one era to the next, and horrible AI (they all build/level at the same time, and all decide to attack you at the same time).

    I know it was considered pretty groudbreaking at the time. Perhaps it just hasn’t aged well?

  12. Woot Spitum says:

    Daikatana was not mentioned. Neither were Geist nor Starcraft:Ghost. Ghost may never have come out, but it was definately hyped a great deal before they started pushing back the release date and finally canceled entirely.

  13. AngiePen says:

    I’m with you on Oblivion. I stopped playing when (different) bugs stalled me on my second attempt through, but even after the bug-fix patch came out, I never bothered to download it. I suppose I will some day, and get back to it, although it’s been so long I’ll probably have to start over from the beginning.

    But yeah, the fact that the monsters level with you, that you can go anywhere and do just about anything at any level, takes away a large sense of accomplishment. I’ll admit that I’ve given up on other games in frustration because I hit a point where I couldn’t get through any of the roadblocks and all the monsters my level had already been killed, so there were no experience opportunities which would have let me improve. I’ve never been an intense min-maxer or a stat analyst or whatever; I like going through a game casually, and fairly cautiously, and having fun. Oblivion certainly solves that problem [cough] but it takes the solution way too far in the opposite direction.

    And yes, the fast travel made the game feel much smaller than it was. (The fact that you could go anywhere right out of the sewers, and pretty much had to if you wanted to join the mage’s guild, also contributed to that early-game been-there-done-that feeling.)

    I liked the dialogue, but then I’ll listen to Sean Bean read his grocery list. [cough] Maybe you have to have the right hormones to appreciate it. ;)

    And there were smaller annoyances as well. I found the horses to be horribly annoying and awkward. I like gathering herbs as I travel, which means a lot of dismounting and mounting. And I like exploring cross-country rather than following the roads, but horses are awkward going cross-country, especially over uneven ground. And I don’t take any pride in how few game-days it takes me to complete the game, so getting from Point A to Point B in half the game hours doesn’t impress me, and that seems to be pretty much the only advantage a horse gives you. Yuck. I tried a horse once and then ignored them all with my second character.

    And why did they cut back on the number of available skills? I like having a wide variety of skills to train in.

    And why did they limit how many skill ranks you could learn from a trainer each level? If they thought it was unbalanced then they could’ve adjusted the prices, but having a trainer say “Sorry, I can’t teach you anymore just… because,” is ridiculous and annoying. :/

    I definitely prefer Morrowind, and agree that Oblivion was over-hyped all out of proportion to its actual merits, even ignoring the bugs and broken bits.

    Angie

  14. onosson says:

    I’ve got to disagree about Far Cry (which I am playing through right now). I’m really enjoying most aspects of it, and I actually like the save points. Maybe I’m masochistic, but I actually like having to replay sections of the game to figure out the right strategy to get through to the next save.

    What I DON’T like about the game, and I know I’m not alone, are the Trigens. I would really have preferred all the enemies to be of the human variety…

    Oblivion, yeah I’m with you. I got pretty bored after a while, it was just more and more of the same, really. Regarding Morrowind – I think if the bar hadn’t been set so high, Oblivion might have actually seemed better by lack of comparison!

  15. Hal says:

    Well, if we’re going to talk about games that never came, why isn’t Duke Nukem Forever on the list?

    Shamus, you and I will just have to agree to disagree about Oblivion. I never had problems with the bugs or graphics issues you had. The gameplay aspects you disliked . . . I just didn’t mind. The main storyline? Not completely original, but it was fun all the same.

    As for games I found to be overrated . . . Command and Conquer: Renegade. The game was fun, but . . . it was pretty clunky as far as FPS games go. The multiplayer was ridiculous, although my experience is colored by the fact that I had no online capabilities at the time it was released, so I couldn’t appreciate it. Still, it was not the non-stop thrill ride I was promised.

  16. Dev Null says:

    The original Neverwinter Nights – I never played the sequel, so I can’t speak for that one.

    At least in my neck of the woods this was hyped up to be the greatest thing to happen to RPGs since dice. Not just a worthy successor to, but actually an order of magnitude beyond Baldurs Gate II. I was singing “Butt-kicking for goodness!” on the way home from the store. Opened the box to find Diablo II, with a new coat of paint and less plot. I never bothered to finish it.

  17. I read only the first paragraph on the feed reader, and immediately started compiling my top candidates while I clicked on the page. Amusingly enough, my list was almost identical to yours.

    (Having not played Far Cry, I had no idea whether or not it should be there. All I know is that whenever I read someone talking about it, it just gushes about eye-candy. I have no clue what playing the game is like… nobody stops talking about the pretty pictures long enough to bring that part up…)

  18. Gahaz says:

    Poor Halo, getting smashed by so many. I remember when I had but an xbox and you kept me warm. Then your sequel came out, and I played against others, oh the fun I and my friends had. Then I found out that people had written books about you, and so much closer I was to your characters and story-lines. I had to go back and replay you again to fully experience the stories I know understood. Then I left my consoles for awhile, my new computer and WoW and Half-life were calling. But I would not be gone for too long. My wife and her new high paying job that I put her through college to get would allow me to get the consoles again, because I just cant stay away. And here came your final chapter, and oh the fun we had! You were looking prettier than ever, all dolled up in “next-gen”, and swinging some new firepower. But alas, it was not meant to last. I had enjoyed and discovered a new world of shooters on other platforms that simply did not allow me to keep of this front for long. I loved you Halo, and we had some great times. But theres someone else, I hate to do this to you, but Gordon’s waiting in the car. So please, remember the good times, when you were my only shooter and only shared time with my RPGs. After I finished your story theres was nothing else, I’m sorry, there are just better multi-play out there.

  19. Corvus says:

    Fable: Nowhere near as good as Molyneux claimed it would be, but a bit better than the backlash indicated it actually was. And for those of us who realized what it meant when Microsoft became the game’s publisher… well, it was quite a bit better than it had any right to be.

  20. Curaidh says:

    Overrated Games?

    Well… One Title: Two Worlds.
    Hyped so hard here in germany that I was tricked into actually buying it. Shame on me. It actually started to be playable with patch 3 or 4. But it still was mediochre and just plain boring. Balancing issues throughout the whole game wherever you looked.

    Then another one comes to mind: Dark Messiah of Might & Magic. Blazed through the game in 12 hours, finishing it in all “four” possible ways, never had a single tough fight. Fun for one single saturday afternoon/evening for 45€?

    Oblivion… well. I liked that game, but I’m a Bethesda “Fanboi”. You make valid points about it, but I prefer a game that entertains me for weeks/months over some “bug-free” game that lasts for 3 or 4 hours.
    Can’t say anything about the rest on your list. Except for Black & White I never played them. I’m a Battlefield series player, when someone blabs about Halo we just nod and yawn. ;)

  21. John says:

    Certainly Black & White and Fable are on my list, as is NWN-2. For many of the same reasons listed above.

    How about Spore? (ducks the fanboi response). Forgive me for my skepticism but I’m not expecting much.

    I haven’t played Oblivion, but I was underwhelmed by Morrowind. In no particular order:
    1. Crafting was too much of a chore (now what type of mushroom do I need to find now?)
    2. Plot was a little too light. (you might view this as a good thing, no rails
    3. Cliffracers. ’nuff said.
    4. Feedback on where you’re supposed to be going a little weak. Is this dungeon intended for higher level characters, or do I just suck? Mixing high/low level content in the same area breaks the near universal CRPG rules.

    Halflife-2. Quite enjoyable, but didn’t seem worth the hype. I felt like a hamster in a habittrail for most of the game.

  22. Actually, the thing in Halo where you only carry two weapons increased the bloody realism of the game just for the part that it always gnawed on my that various characters in all of those FPS games were loaded down with nine weapons, the firearms for the six through nine keys were reasonably massive and the three key was a shotgun probably, and all visuals of my dude was a slim, stripped down dude with sidearm strapped on.

    Star Trek: Voyager solved this by having the Elite Force carry “Transporter buffers” on them, where their weapons were stored away as disassembled particles.

    Frankly, if you were playing Halo for the very first time but had developed a preference for a certain type of weapon, the limited types of ammo and limited choice of weapons actually made you more prone to choose your shots carefully. I was always more likely to go hog wild with an alien weapon then go back and grab the human weapons I discarded carefully. Only two guns allowed me to craft strategy through guesswork.

    The co-op also rocked.

    One other bit that was awesome is that while most FPS will give you shields, armor, or health paremeters that made no sense from any meta-perspective or in-game universe perspective, the “SHIELD” made sense here.

    I have some problems with the game, of course, but I get back to them in December.

  23. Rob says:

    I love your list. I liked Oblivions side-quests but cheated my way through the campaign because I kept insisting that it would have to get better soon. Just because the had Picard didn’t mean they could just bugger off.

    My biggest letdown is …. Civilization (in all it’s crappy incarnations). Yes, I enjoyed the first one in highschool. It was fun and wasted alot of time. Then along came Alpha Centarii and Call to Power (I think that’s what it was called) which raised the bar for me (I still replay Alpha Centarii). Then they released the new Civ and I thought for sure it’d be awesome but it was the same crap I hated about the previous series all over again. That’s my 2cents. :)

  24. Strangeite says:

    I never enjoyed Halo, but then I haven’t enjoyed a FPS since GoldenEye.

    Sharpe: While SimCity wasn’t for everyone, for me it was one the greatest games of all time. Yes, by today’s standards it sucks, but it was that game that started me on my love of simulation games.

    Spore may be a disappointment, but only because my expectations are too high.

  25. Froody says:

    Somehow, I loved Black & White. Then, I was pretty young when I played it.

    Oblivion: Just be lucky you’re not German, really… it had the most HORRIBLE translation ever. EVER. Even KotOR or JE would have been utter crap with a translation like that.

  26. Davesnot says:

    Hey, DevNel.. can you send me your CD key for NWN.. the original campaign sucked.. I think.. I don’t really know ’cause I didn’t finish.. but the Multi-player, DM-client and ability to build .. and the community content.. definately groundbreaking.. load it up.. update to 1.68.. or give it to a friend.. NWN1 lives.. and it is far better than it was in it’s first two years.. there are even those playing Modern d20 stuff with it.. but hey.. you all can stay on the hype wagon and continue to buy the new stuff that never pans out.. NWN1 has over 5 years of community content.. modules.. Permanent worlds…

    I know.. deaf ears…

    Enjoy!

    Dave

  27. Tom says:

    I respectfully disagree with your inclusion of Halo. There have surely been more over-hyped games. Carrying just two weapons at a time, for instance, seemed rather more realistic to me than many games out there.

    However, I must admit that my enjoyment may have stemmed from two relatively incidental features Halo. First, the scenery: the ring world is not only an interesting device in itself, but the interior spaces hearken back to such science fiction classics as Forbidden Planet. For this geek, running around in such environments is fun all by itself. The second feature is Halo’s similarities to Marathon, which IMHO was the best of the early FPSs.

    They brought Marathon back with better graphics and a new story, *and* they put it on one of Niven’s ring worlds. Who can complain?

  28. DKellis says:

    I loved Halo because I loved the story. It was only after Penny Arcade pointed it out that I realized how little of the backstory was actually in the game, and how much was in the supplementals like the novels. So I suppose I like the Halo storyverse, but I can give the actual games a pass.

    Especially since I view the actual combat sequences as an irritating buffer between the juicy story bits.

    Neverwinter Nights (the first game; haven’t gotten the second) irritated me for being supposedly the “best role-playing experience around”, when it turned out that the basic campaign was pretty much Diablo 2, and if I actually wanted something to last more than six hours, I had to get the user-made content. I kind of expected a full game out of the box, not a toolkit plus an included example.

    Number one for me, though, has to be World of Warcraft. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of MMORPGs which I’ve been told a great many times.

  29. RibbitRibbit says:

    I’m with you on Halo. I got bored on the second level. Comparing it with, say, Quake II for the richness of scenery and the “mood” leaves Halo far far behind.

    NWN also gets my vote. Maybe the online play is teh roxxors, but I stared dumbfounded at the first scenario. You know, you can (I played a female paladin) flirt with a fellow student and make a date for later this evening; which immediately got me thinking “Romantic Subplot Yay!”… and then the school is raided and everybody dies. Oh Jolly.

    Fable… oh Fable. I think I fell asleep during the training phase. Something about losing the running contest for the 20th time got me thinking that maybe this is not the greatest RPG the world had ever seen.

    One of the Prince of Persia titles… I forget which. Warrior Within perhaps? Maybe not over-hyped, but definitely bored me to death.

  30. Gabriel Mobius says:

    I have to disagree on the Oblivion front, but that’s because I still really enjoy the game. Though those things should detract from the fun, I really don’t find them doing it that much.

    As for the most over-hyped game I actually went out and bought, it has to be Neverwinter Nights 2. I’m sure it would have played well, but much of the touted ‘newness’ was detracted from by the absolute bollocks that was the engine. The bloody thing was choppy even on my behemoth of a machine, and the visuals weren’t even that improved over NWN 1. Not to mention that even though you could have a full party, each and every one of the sods had A.I. with subroutines resembling that of a lemming. The sorceror would gleefully run to her death, whilst the fighter pushed his face into a small corner and did nothing for the whole fight. And don’t get me started on the near TPK fireballs.

  31. Ryan says:

    I agree that all those games had hype the preceded the games actual play value. Halo especially. Halo is just another first person shooter. Nothing more or less. I think the biggest hyped game on your list though is Fable, maybe it should have been one since it’s disappointment was larger than any other game on your list.

  32. Ben says:

    Halo: I read the novels, and the plot is definitely much, much thicker and better done in them. Good even without the game to back them up.

    Oblivion: I’m gonna push this one mod here:http://planetelderscrolls.gamespy.com/View.php?view=oblivionmods.detail&id=268
    Francesco’s Level Mod. Kills the scaling, and fixes every area in the game to a specific level range like 5-8. There’s scaling in the range, but that’s it. Also does a lot of minor fixes, and pretty much solves every problem I’ve had with it. I suggest you at least try it out.

    Fable: I actually did not hear any of the hype, oddly enough. I thought it was a pretty good game myself, but now that I know about the hype: definitely did not live up to all that. Simple, basic action RPG fun, but not a revolution.

    Black and White: I really didn’t like the game, because everything was either piddly (build a wall and wait for everyone to join you) or insanely difficult (actually try to fight).

  33. Aelyn says:

    I’ve got to agree on Oblivion and Black & White. I was particularly disappointed in B&W. I had bought into the hype and couldn’t muster up the drive to play more than a couple hours on the game.

    As for new candidates, I’d also mention any of Age of Empires II successors. I tried Age of Kings, but it lacked that certain something that AoE and AoEII had so much of.

  34. Carra says:

    I agree that Halo wasn’t all that good but it didn’t get that good reviews on PC. I still thought it was a good shooter but nothing great. A great story? Can’t remember anything about it so can’t be! And certainly not the mega game that got such raving reviews for X-box. PC gamers were used to more. I think Call of Duty came out around then.

    Didn’t manage to finish Far Cry but what I played sure was great though. Wouldn’t call this game a disappointment at all.

    Can’t think of a game that was hyped a lot but which I really hated though. Games who get great reviews are usually great. Or at least good. And as I mentioned, it’s not because it gets a huge score on one platform that it does on another. Resident Evil 4 got amazing reviews on Nintendo and bad ones for PC…

  35. The Gneech says:

    I’ll give a hearty “Hear, hear!” to the nomination of Neverwinter Nights 2. Rating that as anything other than “a fetid, stinking pile of #*$&@!!!” is over-rating it.

    -The Gneech

  36. Shamus says:

    I didn’t even include NWN2 on the list because I wasn’t sure what sort of reviews it got at the time. If it got decent reviews, then it really should be #1 in my list.

    I’ve savaged it in the past, so I’m not going to belabor it here.

  37. Carra says:

    @Aelyn

    Age of Kings = Age of Empires 2 (still a great game!)

  38. Ian says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with entries 2-5 on the list. Especially Far Cry. Ugh, that was probably the least fun game that I played in a long time. It just stunk of DIAS in a lot of ways.

    I have to respectably disagree about Halo, though. It did bring a few features to the table (strict weapon limits in a sci-fi FPS, the “shield” health system that numerous FPSs use now) and is an enjoyable game, especially in co-op. Well, correction: Halo and Halo 3 are enjoyable, Halo 2 is considerably less enjoyable. :P

  39. Lord ZYRK says:

    Halo single player I’ve never played, but it doesn’t seem that it wold be that great. Co-op,on the other hand, I think is pretty entertaining, but I don’t think I could play the game by myself without getting bored.

  40. Dev Null says:

    Davesnot: Its true, I’ve heard some good things about the player-made content for NWN1, and one day maybe I’ll even work out what I did with the disk and give it a spin. But thats not the game I paid for, thats something clever someone else made that runs on their engine. The engine may be cool, and I totally applaud their decision to make authoring tools available to the fan base, but the actual game they sold me? Sucked.

  41. chiefnewo says:

    Dungeon Siege. I made the mistake of listening to the hype and bought it as soon as it came out. Big mistake, as apparently “streamlining the rpg gameplay” actually means “screensaver with stats”. Not to mention the editor was a horrible clunky thing (not as big a problem really, but it could have saved the game for me a little).

    I found Far Cry to be fun right up until you first encounter the trigens. People tell me that they are only in there for a little while, but the possibility of being insta-killed when you open a door was no fun. The real fun in Far Cry was going off the beaten path in the jungle, marking everyone’s location with the binoculars then picking them off one by one.

  42. scragar says:

    My vote goes for “Trixie goes to the hairdressers” on SNES, best game ever, and certainly deserved the five or six full page adverts I saw about it at the time.

  43. rflrob says:

    I think Halo had the chance to be great… Originally, it was debuted at Macworld, and had a totally different feel from what it turned out to be. Then, bungie got bought out by M$oft, who decided that it would be the killer-app for the XBox, and they completely changed the direction it was going.

  44. Corsair says:

    Overrated does not = Bad. Well, it does, sort of. Shamus didn’t mention games like Daikatana because those games got the ratings they deserved.

    By the way, Rflrob, the whole “M$” joke went dead about six years ago. Everyone knows Microsoft loves money, and so does every other corporation.

  45. Cineris says:

    Looks like my post got eaten. Anyway, I guess I’ll make a short list of points:

    -Halo had excellent vehicles and CoOp. These were big things the game did right.
    -Unlike many shooters, you could pick up (and were expected to) all of the alien weapons aside from the sword and the fuel rod gun.
    -The original Halo had a dual “lifebar” so to speak, consisting of both Health and Shields. Different weapons affected them differently, and only Shields recharged. The resource management was there, but its importance was downplayed. I think this was a good move.
    -A lot of people say that carrying only two weapons is better because it’s more “realistic” – Which is silly in a game about a cyborg supersoldier fighting off aliens on a giant ring world. It did force you to make choices about what weapons you wanted to take with you, though, and given that every enemy dropped weapons it was necessary to prevent you from becoming an unstoppable juggernaut with stockpiles of weapons loaded up.

    That said, it was a pretty average game in most respects. My main dislike is the story. I just can’t get over the plot twist that the rings are designed to wipe out all intelligent life in the universe just to prevent the Flood from taking over. It’s just too absurd, no matter how many novels come out trying to explain away that bungle.

  46. ngthagg says:

    FFXII: The male lead has all the maturity of a 10 year old jock. The female lead has less spine than a dissected tapeworm. The antagonist is so clearly evil he may as well have a Hitler mustache. And worst of all, the airship is a flying monument to gay pride.

    Morrowind: After spending an hour collecting herbs and slaughtering the various little bugs that can be found by wandering around the desolate gray landscape, I decide to go after bigger game and starting bandits. After half a dozen attempts at killing the first magic user I find, I give up in frustration. Even old school RPGs like Wizardry and Bard’s Tale were more forgiving than this. At least with those passing a level made your character significantly better, especially at the start.

    Halo 2: I played this once. Trying to aim a gun using the analog sticks is like trying to aim a gun by tapping the barrel with a hammer. Trying to do the same while moving . . . forget it.

    Shamus, this is an awesome thread. Thanks for giving me space to purge my bitterness.

  47. ngthagg says:

    Ooh, I almost forgot. I played the demo for Bioshock. It really pulled me in with the atmosphere and story and such. Until one point, when you enter a glass tunnel and part of your plane comes crashing in. The tunnel starts filling up with water, and I start thinking, “If I don’t get out of here, I’m going to die!” So I turn right around to go back out of the tunnel.

    The door has been blocked.

    I actually stand in front of the door for a minute trying to figure out if there is some “door open” key that I should be pressing, but nothing works. It slowly dawns on me that they want me to walk past the hole in the glass where the water is rushing in and go through the door on the other side. I can imagine a city created underwater, but I cannot imagine a city created underwater where a large leak isn’t catastrophic.

    The game lost me after that.

  48. Phlux says:

    Metal Gear Solid 2. I am admittedly not a huge MGS fan, but I bought into the hype, and endured the ridicule heaped upon me as my friends watched me play it…or rather watch me watching the cutscenes that lasted the entire last 45 minutes of the game.

    I wanted to like that game, but it has to be the talkiest of all stealth games ever. The plot was unintelligible at best, you didn’t get to play as the character that you actually WANTED to play. The gameplay itself was really stupid too. All you had to do to get through 90% of the game was stay in a shadow or behind a wall and walk slowly.

    I think the worst part was when the game “broke the fourth wall” and basically started issuing metagame commands to the in-game avatar. The avatar’s handlers would literally say to him at times “push the action button”.

    And people still worship Kojima like he’s some kind of gaming god.

  49. Zack says:

    Ack… Someone mentioned Daikatana. That game still makes my eyes bleed. The most deadly enemy in the game was the bulkhead/elevator door. I deleted it after several hours and I still think I completed more than any of my friends.

    Halo 3 deserves to be on the list. How much publicity did it get? I got bored while playing the game! Even after turning down difficulty to easy I just got sick of shooting things in the head there was no suspense nor drama. It was Gears of War without the tactics, Bioshock without the story. Really it was just lots and lots of things to shoot at. Makes me sad because I used to love Bungie back when they made Marathon.

    To get an idea of how far Bungie has fallen download the movie “Et tu Brute”. It was made by Bungie and it covers the design process around the main race the player interacts with. It is shocking how little story went into the game. Halo 3 was coming out and the design team realized, ‘Wait, we know nothing about who the Brutes are! We have never thought of a backstory nor reason why they are fighting. Maybe we should flesh them out a little.’

    Oh, my god! It takes 3 games before they realize they should add a plot. Listening to some of the developers in the video you hear timeless gems like “Until now our focus was on making the enemy fun to shoot.”

    That is my idea of engrossing story!

    I am still shocked how many people found the Halo series engrossing. There was decent coop in Perfect Dark back on Nintendo 64 in 2000 a full year before Halo came out. The Xbox was just the first platform marketed directly towards sports fans and frat boys too cool to play with computers or “game systems”. As a result Halo was the first shooter for many Americans.

  50. McNutcase says:

    Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Tournament 2004.

    I loved UT99. Still do. I made maps for it. Still would if I could get the editor to run on Linux. Sadly, the hypercube I made (WarpZones. Man, those things were GREAT; pseudo-portal capabilities, allowing you to fold space into horrendous pretzel shapes) is now lost in the Great Bit Bucket In The Sky. I still play it, against bots. I doubt it’ll ever be off my “great games” list.

    UT2k3 came along. I bought it. Very shiny, but the gameplay wasn’t quite right. The weapons were suddenly nerf, the maps were a lot less fun (Plunge was obviously meant to be 2k3’s Morpheus; it was Too Damned Big, and I couldn’t do my lovely swooping minigun move like I used to, with the ramp-up from slow main fire to fast altfire as I landed; very few people survived that), and they’d made water broken. Plus, the sheer joy that was the Ripper was gone. I loved those flying hubcaps full of C4. There was little more satisfying than slicing an opponent’s head clean off at long range with that beauty.

    I carried on playing UT99.

    Then UT2k4 came along. Promised some fixes, and vehicles. I’d enjoyed vehicles in Halo (which I quite liked, but I can see why plenty don’t like it; up to you guys), so I was willing to give it a go. If anything, it was worse. I hadn’t mentioned that the editing was an order of magnitude harder, had I? Not to mention that you could only ever make cookie-cutter maps unless you were a seriously high-end modeller as well as a mapper. The only thing that made UT2k4 fun to play was the Clone Bandits mod, which is great fun, but not the price of UT2k4’s worth of fun.

    I still play UT99. I’m not intending to buy UT3.

    Also, Unreal 2, I seem to recall, got good reviews. It wasn’t a patch on the original Unreal, in feel, look or gameplay. I’m just glad I only tried it used, rather than dropping good money on it new.

  51. SiliconScout says:

    I agree with NWN1 sucking. Then again I bought it for the MP aspect and the building DM client interface so I loved it. It was under hyped and OVER delivered on that aspect of the game.

    I know that a lot of the complaints (only having 1 henchman and the like) of the SP campaign were fixed with subsequent patches and what not but as I said I never bought it for the SP.

    I only played about 3 hours of SP in NWN1 and that was more to get an idea of how to build a good area and that was about it.

    NWN2 has a horrible SP campaign (more railroaded than DMoTR, in fact their DM could take lessons), more toolset and scripting issues than I care to name AND it’s MP is far more limited and a lot more cumbersome.

    I still play NWN1, when the NWN2 video bling urge comes upon me I play DnD online instead it looks just as good and has far better execution.

  52. ngthagg says:

    I’m a big fan of the MGS games, but yeah, MGS2 was pretty bad. I must admit, however, that I do still worship Kojima as a gaming god. The MGS was one of the most original games I have ever played, and MGS3 was pure genius, with a great story to boot. I will buy a PS3 just for the chance to play MGS4.

    Battling a Hind with a rocket launcher, or dueling a sniper in a jungle have earned Kojima that kind of loyalty.

    On the flip side, make sure and read gigaville.com for some awesome skewering.

  53. McNutcase says:

    All that mass of brain dump, and I forgot to mention that I also hated Far Cry. All the reasons mentioned, plus the fact that the AI blatantly cheated (somehow, the enemies ALWAYS knew how their next shot was going to go off-target, and adjusted accordingly; the AI is always going to cheat at current tech level, but at least TRY to hide it!) and the supposedly accurate weapons couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in my hands… I never even finished the tutorial level, and I still hate it.

    It was a lovely engine, though.

  54. Deoxy says:

    I stopped reading after #7 – MoO 3. TOTALLY agree :-(

  55. OM3G4 says:

    Personally I have to disagree with your comment on the bland scenery. While at times the landscape is repetitive I don’t really think that matters as often I’m focusing on the actual game play, as for the lack of restaurants and housing on Halo, a reason is given in game for that (The Halos are simply containment units for the flood). as for the actual storyline, perhaps it does sound like every other sci-fi movie that airs on television today, but I like its’ execution of it (much like how one can prefer one power rangers series to another to give a mediocre example).

    As for the issue with weapons, personally I love that aspect of the game: you only have two weapons, this means you can’t just cary a rocket launcher, sniper rifle, several different types of other rifles, a pistol, and a tennis ball like some sort of combat oriented cub scouts troupe.

    The actual balance of the weapons though, I have to agree with you on that aspect. However, I personally see a much better balance in Halo 2 (this coming from someone who likes the carbine over the battle rifle)and then an even better balance in Halo 3.

    So yes, Halo has it’s problems, just like any other game, but personally I feel that for the most part these are pretty insignificant really, but as always, thats just my opinion.

  56. OM3G4 says:

    In response to Zack (post 50)

    Although your example is et tu brute (which specifically is about Brutes, a enemy introduced in Halo 2 not Halo) I understand where your coming from, but I would have to agree with the idea of making enemies fun to shoot first, otherwise what’s the point of playing the game? DMotR was a perfect example of this (not bashing DMotR of course): The DM wanted to get his story through and to do this required railroading, and more time wasted telling a story that the players were disintrested in because they wanted to go “kill stuff”. So while Story is indeed important (and the Halo Series does lack it in some places) I would rather have a fun game to play than a fun movie to play (what the heck does that mean?)

  57. RibbitRibbit says:

    @chiefnewo: Thank you for reminding me about that steaming pile of dung called Dungeon Siege. I remember at some point I rushed through the levels just to see the “snow” effect. I must say it was really pretty. I then proceeded to delete the game.

  58. “A lot of people say that carrying only two weapons is better because it’s more ‘realistic’ – Which is silly in a game about a cyborg supersoldier fighting off aliens on a giant ring world.”

    Fine. If my character is carrying eight goshdam weapons, I want to see those weapons hanging off the avatar in all the cinematics.

    “As for the issue with weapons, personally I love that aspect of the game: you only have two weapons, this means you can’t just cary a rocket launcher, sniper rifle, several different types of other rifles, a pistol, and a tennis ball like some sort of combat oriented cub scouts troupe.”

    I love this line.

    Although I hate it when Halo 2 abandoned some in-game continuity for the sake of weapons balance, which is what happens when a weapon has less capabilities in the sequel than it did in the original game. The shotgun was less awesome and the sniper handgun was less powerful and less useful.
    That and I loved the assault rifle. I hate the Battle Rifle. I’m not good enough to use it so it is a waste for me. A huuuge waste.

  59. Vegedus says:

    I have to agree with all of the list, except Far Cry, but only because I never played it. I’ll insert NWN2 in it’s place.

    Fable need no explanation. About everyone agrees it was a hype cow.

    Oblivion, to many fundamental design errors. Most of them was fixed with patches, but at one point I just gave up.

    Black & White… SO GOD DAMN SLOW.

    NWN2: I liked the characters immensely. I liked the plot. It had great roleplaying. But the game part? I can’t describe the gameplay with any other word than “bad”. In the end, I decided I’d be better off reading a book than playing a game solely for it’s story and characters.

    Halo. Well, I haven’t played it that much, but everything about it seems average, and with the hype it got, it was almost impossible to live up to it.

  60. Duffy says:

    For the most part I agree with your list, I personally enjoyed Far Cry up until the mutant part, but the points you mentioned did irritate me throughout, just not to the same degree.

    And I to continue beating a dead horse, I’m gonna add to the Halo debate. I kinda enjoyed the 2 weapons thing and recharging health (I’m a big fan of the Call of Duty series)but what I found boring was the overall gameplay. There was no variation really. Scripted events were generally pretty bland, and usually were just an introduction of more bad guys to shoot at. It wasn’t downright horrible, just not that spectacular. I kept thinking to myself I should go play Quake 2 instead.

    As for adding to the list: Force Commander. ‘Nuff said.

  61. Uninverted says:

    I just can’t agree with you on oblivion. The PC version was probably different, but the Xbox version wasn’t that bad, bug-wise. Sure, after you spend a significant amount of time with it, you run out of stuff to do, but for that first month or so, it feels like an entire world.

  62. Ian says:

    @Uninverted: A friend of mine stopped playing Oblivion after a serious bug (namely, an item not spawning) in the Fighter’s Guild (I think) quests prevented him from moving any further along. He was playing on the Xbox 360 version.

    I was frankly put off by the abysmal performance of the PC version. Despite the fact that my PC is a fair amount above the minimum specifications the game runs terribly — under 20fps most of the time — and Oldblivion doesn’t work on the latest patch.

  63. ArchU says:

    #10 nilus: Yes, SC3 was rather disappointing.

    I remember a lot of fans of the Ultima series of games anticipating Ultima IX: Ascension but it was sorely lacking in…well, everything. Making it 3D was a nice touch but the plot lagged, the humour was gone, the action slow, controls and combat clunky, party and party-based strategy completely missing, the graphics buggy, and the world much too small. The regulated spell advancement was equally irritating – players want to fling around meteorites right from the get-go, not after beating the fifth or sixth boss fight, dammit!

    Other disappointments: a remake of The Last Ninja was released about 3 years ago for Xbox only. Gah! TLN was one of the best games of its time and a modern update would have been super but I wouldn’t get an Xbox for it…

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