Game of the Year: Top 3 Disappointments of 2010

Let’s start off by stating that a disappointing game in no way means it was a bad game. It is just a game that expectations far outclassed the game you played. So while there are probably far worse games out there, these were the 3 I had the honor of playing and walked away with a sour taste in my mouth.

3) Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption isn’t a bad game or at least I haven’t played enough of it to dub it a bad game, it just isn’t a game that was made for me even though its a game I so very much wanted to love. Who doesn’t love westerns? I mean the setting while generally the same feels special because we don’t have many of those towns anymore. The men were men and the women were women. You drank your whiskey straight, you carried your six shooter and no one batted an eye and you rode your horse like a bad-ass. For some reason, the video game industry doesn’t share the same love of Westerns as most people (as we learned when trying to come up with a name and theme for Dual Wielding).

Imagine my excitement when Take-Two/RockStar announced Red Dead Redemption (granted I know its a sequel to Red Dead Revolver, but who can honestly tell me when that came out without looking it up?) a major studio making a serious Western game. And to add icing to the cake, the game would support online play, yes the notion of forming a posse with my friends and walking all bad-ass down the deserted streets was a major selling point for me.

Imagine the first 30 seconds of this video but without The Good, The Bad and The Ugly score.

Finally, the day of its release came and I picked up the game and I had some fun with it for a bit, I also had a few qualms but the Western atmosphere kind of helped me get into it. Then I got to the point which I get into with most GTA-esque games when you realize that you aren’t really having fun with it while doing the missions because a lot of them are cut from the same cloth since GTA 3. The protection mission, the escort mission, the package delivery mission and etc. I again haven’t bested the game so I feel like I can’t hold mission structure against it too much because it may open up in the second half. And one of these days I do plan/hope to go back and try and beat the game.

Then there are of course technical reasons, Take-Two/Rockstar makes interesting games that tend to rise up beyond the sums of their parts, but they have always kind of felt dated. Why is it in this day and age you still need a run button when you have analog control? The aiming is still rather slow and cumbersome and they realized this with the inclusion of Dead Eye or whatever the magical sight is called.

In conclusion I guess, Rockstar really nailed the feel of the Western which is one of the things I was most looking forward to, but it was hampered by design decisions which have never really appealed to me as a gamer. Hence, RDR is my number 3 pick for Most Disappointing title of 2010.

2) Epic Mickey

Epic Mickey has an interesting history. It was first “revealed” through some extremely interesting concept art that showed a different side of the Disney-verse then it was shrouded in mystery before being revealed by GameInformer as a weird platform/action-adventure/RPG hybrid game. The graphics of the game didn’t exactly mesh with the leaked concept art, but the concept was sound, the animation was fluid and the game was intriguing.

We’d hear on and off again about the game for about a year before the big reveal at e3 where the game… looked kind of rough, but perhaps such a grand design just didn’t demo well. We had seen just a few moments earlier how shoddy the controls can be on stage during the Skyward Sword demo.

Then Disney showed off the 2D segments which were based off of the old cartoons, and once again faith was restored, these were people who got the Disney nostalgia! The cartoons ranged from things like SteamBoat Willie, which looks fantastic to Plutopia which still looks fantastic.

Finally, I get some hands on time with the game at New York Comic Con and I didn’t walk away too impressed with the game, but trade shows are hard to demo things at. At this point, you probably realized I tried to rationalize what ALL of my common senses were telling me, this wasn’t gonna be a game for me, but I had to have it. It was Disney and it starred Mickey Mouse!

Word to the wise, listen to your common senses, there’s a reason it exists. Not I want to state like I did with RDR, that Epic Mickey isn’t a bad game, I would LOVE to see a sequel to it. There are some terrific ideas in this game, the game is just extremely rough around the edges.

The biggest offender would have to be the camera, which might as well have been the villain of this game because you end up fighting it more than anything else. I mean I’ve seen games with bad cameras but this really takes the cake. I mean sometimes no matter HOW much you adjust it you just can’t get a clear shot of what’s ahead of you which is a pain in the ass ESPECIALLY when it comes to any of the numerous platforming segments. And when you need to paint certain things that are just out of your camera’s range.

Also for a game about decisions and the part they play in this world, why are your choices not persistent, I’m sorry but if I go into Mean Street and paint EVERY single place that can be painted, its probably because I want to be good so it irks me a lot when I return to Mean Street and none of the paint stuck so I’d have to do it all over again? REALLY? REALLY?

Then there’s the fetch quests or even the general quests set-up. I mean this game holds your hands a lot… I mean a lot. It usually pretty much points out anything important in an area so it isn’t difficult to beat. But the fetch quests… which have never really been enjoyable in a game aren’t here either. I’m sorry, but going from the Pirates Base to Clarabella’s home then to Mean Street to find flowers… wait its actually Pirates Base, Mean St so you can go to Clarabella’s house back to Mean St back to Clarabella’s house back to Mean Street back to the Pirates Base is a god damn pain in the arse! It isn’t fun for ANYONE involved.

Like I said though, the game has a ton of potential especially being its the first game I’ve seen which doesn’t always paint your choices in black and white. One isn’t necessarily better than the other nor does it give you a red flag as to which is good and which is bad, which is really nice. Just needed a little more time in the oven.

1) 007: BloodStone

I’m a simple man, who doesn’t hide what he loves. I did a whole month (okay we stopped halfway through), but almost an entire month of James Bond coverage on this site. I own every movie on DVD and have replaced the ones on Blu-ray with those copies. I’ll sit and watch it whenever it comes on TV so I love the James Bond franchise. Its not too tough to figure out.

And while most people hold Goldeneye on the N64 dear to their heart, I’ve always said that the best James Bond game was Everything or Nothing hands down. Check it out:

You couldn’t imagine my excitement when I heard about BloodStone, sure Nintendo and Activision announced their re-imaging of Goldeneye a month prior, but this was a spiritual successor to the best Bond game ever, and the team behind it even said they took inspiration from Everything or Nothing.

I got some quality hands on time with it at New York Comic Con, and the game was solid, though I questioned the melee system being one hit.

Then the game came out, and boy does it drop the ball. It does nothing terribly, but it does nothing good either. Its pretty much a standard run of the mill game with a Bond license attached to it. Might as well get this out of the way, the game is also only 4-4 1/2 hours long so there’s that.

But let’s go back to the melee system, which is pretty much just one-button press takedown, which is cool at first until you kind of seen them all… over and over again. There’s only so many animations and you do it often because it is tied into the shooting aspect of the game.

Speaking of the shooting aspect, that’s extremely broken. I read a review or hands on impressions before my game came that said you couldn’t aim while behind cover, and I’m like that makes no difference when you are doing blind-fire. Then I got the game and realized what they meant for whatever reason you really can’t line up shoots while you are in cover which relates to both blindfire and normal aiming so during especially intense firefights you literally have to pop out of cover to line up your shoots which isn’t always possible, and you exhaust too much ammo doing blindfire and trying to line up the shoot. The best use of shooting is the Accuracy Shot, which you get each time you do a takedown as it automatically homes in on an enemy and kills them. When super auto-aim is the best part of your shooting, you probably need to work on something.

The driving sequences. Before, I touch on that would note that the Comic Con demo is a bit misleading as it shows you doing fun boat chases, car chases and the trailer hinted at some airplane action. The only boat chase in the game is in the prologue, and you have fights on an airplane but that’s about it. But boy do you drive… and drive.. and drive. Hell, if I was James Bond I’d probably trade in my license to kill for a second license to drive you do it so much. And it wouldn’t be so bad if it was fun, but the game pretty much forces you down an extremely scripted path that if you deviate from (which honestly you can hardly do since these are all one lane streets apparently) you pretty much have to restart the mission. And trust me, being extremely scripted works against you when the player hears the same exchange and the same set pieces over and over again.

Finally, there’s the plot which is pretty flimsy even for a Bond tie-in. I’m not even sure how some of the movements work in this game, but whatever. Really the biggest gripe is 1) The ending is WAY too similar to Casino Royale, 2) It ends on a cliffhanger which probably won’t be resolved now that Bizarre isn’t owned by Activision anymore.

Luckily, I ended up getting a fantastic James Bond game in Goldeneye, but that’s for another day!

This has been my top 3 Disappointments of 2010!

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