This week we've been celebrating the best games of 2013. But just as many games have surprised and captivated us, many games have also disappointed us. We're all guilty of getting swept up in the moment, and jumping on the pre-release hype wagon. We've also all felt the bitter sting of those drummed up expectations far exceeding the ho-hum reality of the game at release. Our contributors share their biggest disappointments of 2013.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon looked tailor-made just for me, riffing on Eighties genre cinema and featuring Dragon Sound's "Friends" on the soundtrack. But Blood Dragon is jeering parody rather than loving homage, full of cheap references that miss the point and lame jokes on par with Duke Nukem Forever. The robotic Rook Island reskin is ugly and the gameplay a retread of base Far Cry 3. Even Michael Biehn's vocal performance sounds begrudging. It may not be the worst dragon game of 2013, but it's easily the most disappointing.
Early screenshots and buzz about this game had me pretty excited, conjuring up memories of some of the excellent afternoons with the classic board game. When the 2013 PC Space Hulk arrived though, it was clear it had been better as screenshots. While it looked good, there were numerous glitches in evidence when the game was in action, and although it was clearly a faithful reproduction of the board game, the lack of innovation or extra features in the videogame version led to a real sense of deja vu in the campaign. It wasn't a complete disaster, but it proved that some things are better off left alone and untarnished in one's hermetically-sealed Nostalgia Vault. (Another tip for those of a certain age: never revisit "MacGyver", either.)
While in no way a bad game, BioShock Infinite is my biggest disappointment of 2013 as it to failed to live up to both its massive potential and its exceptional pedigree. It's a very good game that nonetheless appeared too afraid of falling to really reach for the loftier goals it initially set itself. With pared back content and streamlined mechanics, Infinite feels like a lesser cousin to its deep sea relatives. The promise of interdimensional gameplay was left mostly unfulfilled and the gunplay feels not only dated but lacking and real impact. The narrative is interesting, and at times extremely compelling, but it's also muddled in places and not half as smart as it thinks it is.
Killer Is Dead
My hopes were high and I was sorely let down. Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture have created fantastic games that push boundaries and weird people out. Killer is Dead is weird alright. It's supposed to be a darker 007 inspired tale of death, seduction and vengeance and it is, but something went seriously wrong in development and KiD is an incomprehensible mess. And don't even get me started on Gigolo Mode.
Killzone Shadow Fall
I would say “almost all next-gen exclusive launch titles”, but I didn’t have particularly high hopes for many of ‘em, with the exception of Killzone: Shadow Fall. However, I found its story insipid, its characters reprehensible, and its level design tedious. The OWL drone hinted at a depth of gameplay that never materialised, and what was the deal with that space level? I’m guessing more was planned there but the clock simply ran out on the developers. That’s too bad as the game looks fantastic in places, and its weapons are mostly very satisfying to wield. Thankfully, the multiplayer mode is excellent at least.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Randy Pitchford walked and talked me through part of this game in early 2012, and I gulped down the Kool Aid. Aliens: Colonial Marines is game that bridges Aliens and Alien 3, and makes the latter better, he promised. It looked it too. It was dark and perfectly paced with the just the right amount of cinematic flair. But it was all smoke and mirrors. What the press was shown was scripted and aspirational at best, out-and-out falsehoods at worst. Mr Pitchford, you challenged me to call you out if you didn't deliver, so here it is: Aliens: Colonial Marines is an embarrassment to Gearbox, a slap in the face of the press who must place their trust in the legitimacy of the content shown to them by developers and publishers, and easily my biggest disappointment of 2013.