There’s no shortage of disappointments in life. Whether it’s a friend or partner doing something out of character, or perhaps your favourite sports team blowing a 30 point lead to a team ravaged by injury, life sometimes throws you a curve ball and you realise that, no, everything isn’t awesome.
Let’s take video games, for example. Why do we play video games? I’m sure the reasoning varies from person to person. For me, most of the time it’s therapeutic: I do it to relax and wind down. Sometimes I do it because it’s my job. The game being good makes that easier, but if it’s not so good … well, it’s a bit like being tasked to train the new guy at work: it’s a chore.
Some games aren’t bad, they’re just disappointing. I know that saying “disappointing” hurts a game’s maker more than saying “it just straight up sucks”, because “disappointing” suggests it’s been a let-down, that it hasn’t met expectations and that it’s well below where we thought it should be. Basically, the developer failed a test.
That’s a fairly harsh critique I admit, but the reality is that sometimes games fall victim to aggressive marketing campaigns and schemes, and the end result is anything but what we’ve been promised.
So, which games were the most disappointing in 2016?
Star Fox Zero
Star Fox Zero is ambitious, sure, but it gives up gameplay coherence for what feels like a mesh of demos to showcase different control schemes.
At a time when the Wii U was in dire need of something — anything — to give it some value, Star Fox Zero released to mixed reviews, even if it did fulfil the nostalgic cravings of Nintendo’s most passionate fans.
Quantum Break isn’t a bad game by any means, and it is actually the technical marvel that developer Remedy promised it would be.
However, while its storytelling techniques and time-bending gameplay features are both innovative and engaging, the game struggles to really stand out as much as it wants to.
Strong characters save it from complete disaster, though, and while it’s not quite the system seller Microsoft may have wanted it to be, it’s still something every Xbox One should check out.
After countless delays and an endless stream of criticisms, Mighty No.9 was finally released, unfortunately to a thunderous clunk.
It lacks personality, and doesn’t quite offer the same sort of fun and aesthetic excitement that the Mega Man games that inspired it offered.
Mighty No.9 tries hard to be its own game, instead stumbling down a trek towards mediocrity, and disappointing a legacy of fans that had clung to its development like sticky bombs.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst‘s fundamentals work just as well as they did in the original, but it’s additional gameplay features and a muddled plot drag it well below the quality of its predecessor.
EA held off commissioning this sequel, concerned there wasn’t much of a market for it. In eventually signing off, DICE seemed forced to “reboot” a game that was already drowning in character and intrigue.
They somehow managed to turn an empowered and likeable female hero into a dry, emotionless one, while also throwing in tedious gameplay features that undermine the brand’s parkour roots.
Battleborn seemed the goods at E3 2015, but its release was met with a collective “meh”. It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly good, either.
Battleborn is just “there”, struggling to form an identity. That’s strange, because the game is drowning in Gearbox’s and Borderlands’ DNA and humour.
It struggles in the areas of map design and team dynamics, forcing it down the pile of multiplayer shooters, and well below that of Overwatch.