0verhyped

Less than amusing ramblings from a jaded former gamer.

My Biggest Surprises and Disappointments of the Last Gaming Generation The Runners Up Edition

You can stick this right next to that little league trophy everyone got.

See, you’re not a loser, you just suck at winning.

A.K.A. EVERYTHING ELSE I FORGOT TO MENTION

Seeing as we’re in a new year and possibly a new gaming generation, I figured blah blah blah bullshit bullshit bullshit you get the damn point. I’m sick of that paragraph. I’ve been copying and pasting it all god damn month. Thankfully today is the last day in January and I can finally move on. But seeing as it still is January I feel bizarrely obligated to make one last post in this series. So today is for all the mild disappointments and modest surprises and a bunch of other crap I couldn’t cram into the last thirty days.

So I don’t know how many of you actually read all of these posts, but just a few notes about what I was doing here. The last thirty posts were about my personal disappointments and surprises from the last several years in video games. Not what I considered the best and worst games of the last generation. I don’t think Two Worlds II was one of the best games ever, just a really good adventure game and the surprise came from how big a step up it was from the first Two Worlds.

Secondly, there are a lot of games I don’t play. If you were looking for a certain game you found disappointing or surprising and it’s not on this list or the previous posts, it’s quite possible I just didn’t play it. Or I played it and I just didn’t think it was a big deal either way. Just a little reminder that I’m no kind of authority on this stuff, just another bozo with a WordPress blog. Also, there’s not going to be many funny pictures in this post. I’m worn out and pictures are time consuming. So too bad. =P

So without further stalling, here’s all the stuff that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another.

The President narrowly approves of the following games.

MODEST SURPRISES

Okami – This really is a great a game, so good I’ll probably have to make a N0t Hyped post to cover it in the future. It got my attention when IGN called it Game of the Year, the same year Gears of War and Twilight Princess came out. Some relatively unheard of PS2 game beat out the two big oversold first party games on the new next-gen systems? Had to check that out. Glad I did, Okami is terrific.

Really the only reason I didn’t include it in the regular posts is a technicality, it was on the PS2 so it was actually the generation before this one. It did have a Wii port, but the eight people Capcom gave like three months to port it over didn’t do a great job. All though considering the time frame they had they probably did their best. Or maybe they didn’t, whatever, I’ll talk about it some other time.

World of Goo – This one really only got left off because I ran out of space. I love this game as I’ve explained before. And it was a surprise. But I guess for some reason I actually did have a good feeling about it before I bought it so it wasn’t as big a surprise as some of the other games I tried. Still an amazing game though,

No More Heroes – Seems kinda odd leaving my favorite game off the list of my biggest surprises from the last generation. I think the reason was because it wasn’t a sudden surprise. The first time I played it I thought it was a funny action game, but it wasn’t until after a few replays I really started to appreciate all the crazy satire and it finally sunk in as my favorite game. So it was indeed a surprise, but not in the same way a lot of other games I mentioned were.

Super Stardust HD – So this was the first Playstation 3 game to get trophies I think, which is why I bought it. Wanted to check out the trophy system, see what the big deal was. Turns out, trophies really weren’t a big deal. But Super Stardust HD is actually a damn fine game anyways. It’s like a more thoughtful version of Geometry Wars. Using a ball instead of a flat grid means you never have to worry about hitting the end of the map and the little alerts give you a second to prepare for new enemies. The mutliplayer isn’t bad either if you got enough spare controllers.

Super Mario Galaxy – Was I really surprised that I’d enjoy Super Mario Galaxy? Well, sorta. I love the Mario series and Super Mario 64 is one of my favorite games and I had high hopes for Super Mario Galaxy. I think the timing of it though is what made it some sort of a surprise for me. After I’d played Twilight Princess and BioShock, I was getting used to being bummed out.

I was actually playing Mass Effect at the time Galaxy came out because my local K-Mart stocked Mass Effect a week ahead of its release date, so I was really drowning in disappointment at the time. Then Super Mario Galaxy came and gave me a much needed pick me up. I was just happy it meet my expectations, which were pretty high. But the surprise was more in that finally something was living up to my expectations than those actual expectations being exceeded, so it didn’t make the list.

Alone in the Dark (HD Versions) – So a lot of people said Alone in the Dark was buggy, and the plot was stupid, and it was pretty repetitive, and when it wasn’t it was hard to know what to do next. And they’d be right, but I kinda like this game anyways. I’d call it a guilty pleasure but I liked spending all day wandering around a haunted Central Park for some reason. Didn’t exactly wow me or anything, but I did enjoy myself despite all the flaws. Not enough to stick it on the main list though.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Wii Version) – I’ve never really followed the Prince of Persia series. I’ve tried Rival Swords and quit less than an hour in. And I finished the reboot one but mostly forgot it later. I ended up getting this one from Amazon as part of buy two get one free deal and mostly because I was interested in playing the original old school Prince of Persia that came with the game.

The old Apple II Prince of Persia wasn’t too hot, but the Wii version of The Sands of Time was kinda interesting. The first half or so of the game was pretty standard Prince of Persia stuff. Stiff platforming and lousy combat. But during most of the second half you gain the ability to create your own hooks and landing pads with the remote’s cursor and the platforming actually gets very creative. Especially the four trials before the final boss. So it deserves a little credit for getting crazy towards the end.

Saint’s Row (the first one) – I didn’t play the first Saint’s Row until after I played its sequel. So maybe my expectations were low, but honestly the first Saints Row is a pretty good game too. Doesn’t quite have the perverse creativity of the follow ups but it’s still a decent sandbox game and overall I liked the story. I cared enough about the characters that I wanted to see what happened next and the not quite mute player character picks some great moments to break the silence.

Wii Fit – So I don’t think anything about Wii Fit itself every actually wowed me. But playing it for a while did help instill some good habits in me. Like weighing myself every day, which actually does help you stay aware of your diet. And a lot of the yoga exercises I learned ended up being really helpful once I developed lower back trouble. I don’t use it anymore today, but some of the stuff I learned from it and other fitness games like EA Active I still apply to my day to day life. So it’s get some kudo points for having a positive impact on my life.

Gears of War – I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d like Gears of War. The art style was hideous and nothing about the story captivated me. But hey, the gameplay was a lot fun, and really that’s usually all the matters. It didn’t make the main list for me because all though the campaign was a lot of fun, the online competitive multiplayer stunk. Host has a major advantage, limited set of annoying rules to choose from and everyone bum rushing the same couple of one hit kill weapons. Still, I liked half the game, and that was a lot more than I was expecting.

Braid – Sorta like No More Heroes, Braid is the kind of thing that takes some time to sink in. I also feel it doesn’t hold up as well on repeat playthroughs as some of the other games I mentioned. But I stand by my original statement it’s an experience worth having if you’re not adverse to puzzle games. It certainly is surprising, I’ll say that. And if you like to psychoanalyze games’ themes it’s a good candidate for that as well.

Half-Minute Hero – Here was another gem painstakingly translated into English by the the hard working men and women of XSEED Games. Basically it’s a retro RPG game where you have only thirty seconds to save the world. It’s a pretty fun twist on a genre known for requiring obscene amounts of playtime and there’s a lot of funny dialogue along the way and some alternative modes with their own stories that all tie together in the end. This is one of the few PSP games I’ve even played but I’m glad I did. I also got ported to the XBOX 360’s arcade, but they replaced all the cool 8-bit graphics with bland flash game looking ones for some dumb ass reason.

The Godfather: Blackhand Edition – This is another game that was a port of a game from the previous generation. But damn if i didn’t enjoy this game. It’s basically another sandbox game with the Godfather used as a the backdrop, but the Wii version has some pretty sadistic motion controls prompts. Shaking the controllers to strangle people, backhand to smack someone around, push forward to throw people off ledges. If you didn’t know better you’d think it was made just for the Wii. Maybe I’ll give it a proper rundown later in a N0t Hyped post.

Ghostbusters (Wii and HD Versions) – I’ve always been kind of miffed there hasn’t been more Ghostbusters related stuff out there today. It just seems like too fun an idea to let die. So I was pretty glad when some company decided to make another Ghostbusters game even though probably almost no one was waiting for one. Hooray for me getting what I want!

I don’t think either version really wowed me, but they were both pretty good games. I like the story mode better on the Wii. You can co-op with a buddy and the crummy love story that was in the HD versions got the axe. The HD versions have a really cool competitive multiplayer though. Sorta like Left 4 Dead style, where’s it computer players vs. a team of four humans. Except the ghosts are way cooler and more creative than the “special infected” from Left 4 Dead, so I had a lot more fun playing it. But with Atari going bankrupt (again) I’d imagine the servers will be shutdown before long. (I think the PC and PS3 ones already were.)

Anyone else remember Ren and Stimpy or is it just me?

MILD DISAPPOINTMENTS

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle – There’s going to be a lot of sequels on this list, just warning you of that right now. So yeah, this may have been a case of unrealistic expectations, what with the first No More Heroes being my favorite game and all, but the sequel was a letdown for me. And it really isn’t a bad game, but it just seemed like it was lacking a lot of the artistry of the first game.

You know how I made a huge analysis of the first No More Heroes? Well I don’t think I could do that with the sequel. The actual revenge story and its deconstruction of the concept is pretty interesting, but there doesn’t really feel like there’s much if anything beyond that. Basically I felt No More Heroes 2 was really shallow compared to the first game. Like all the crazy bold stuff was used up in the first game and this was just sorta playing out what was left.

The ironic thing is a lot of the game is actually an improvement. Combat is a lot better with more enemy variety, moves, a combo bar that let’s you turn into a tiger when full and some smart revisions to make things a little smoother. (All though they nerfed the dodge move so badly its useless now.) The graphics are also a lot better too. So if you just want a crazy action game, the sequel is probably better for you. But if you wanted another surreal mind fuck like I did, the first game is still where it’s at.

Bayonetta – This is an odd one because it could have very easily been on the surprise list. I normally don’t like fast paced Japanese action games like Devil May Cry and the lot. Like fighting games, I feel like you have to spend too much time practicing before you get to the good stuff. But the action in Bayonetta was easy enough to jump right in to, but not so easy that it didn’t feel challenging.

The problem was literally everything else. Terrible story, annoying characters, weird vehicle stages, crappy long cutscenes (some of which are just still images with voice over), a shitty minigame that followed every stage. And this stuff butts in at every turn, made all the worse that the people making this game insist you go through two screens to skip a cutscene. I did find out much later there is a (hidden) shortcut for skipping cutscenes, but by then I didn’t want to touch Bayonetta again.

Mad World – Hey, another game by Platnium Games, who also made Bayonetta. Mad World had a lot of the opposite problems. The overtop antics in Bayonetta would blend in much better in Mad World what with the plot being an ridiculously convoluted murder game show. And yet the cutscenes in between play by play murders are actually really tepid and muted. Some of them just being pictures of people looking at computer spouting exposition.

Also despite being all about killing people, the combat is really shallow. There scoring system is really simple and you can’t really string kills together, just moves on one guy. It’s like the people at Platnium responsible for good action were all making Bayonetta and the people responsible for an interesting an unique premise were all making Mad World. Neither game is really terrible, but compared to say God Hand and Okami, it feels like Platnium got their people all mixed up after splitting from Capcom.

Pilotwings Resort – The only reason this didn’t make the list is because it’s technically from the current generation, what with it being on the 3DS an all. But man, did this thing miss the mark. Only three vehicles with a single special variant each, dull objectives and one area to play in that was recycled from Wii Sports Resort. Yeah it was a launch game, but so was Pilotwings 64, and it was more fun than this. The worse part? This was made by Monster Games. The same people who did Excite Truck! What the fuck happened guys?

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Any version) – Originally I was going to have this game follow Arkham Asylum, what with me closing that post talking about how there’s a lot of series that deserve better games. But in the end I decided not to because: 1) This game actually did the things I suggested to make a better licensed game. 2) I really wasn’t expecting that much from it in the first place.

I mean, after the damn Star Wars Prequels, my expectations for Star Wars anything had pretty much bottomed out. In a weird way this game was a pleasant surprise. The story was actually a lot better than I would have expected. The gameplay stunk in both the Wii and HD versions but I actually kind of liked the story.

Especially in the Wii version where the main story is spread out between these extra levels where you go to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and you get more of Starkiller’s backstory. You also get more to do with building the alliance with an extra level where you help save Mon Mothma. And a certain character’s sacrifice is a little more meaningful in the Wii version because of how more unexpected it was.

So yeah, I can understand why a lot of people would find The Force Unleashed disappointing. But I was pretty much already prepared for the worst and found a little something that wasn’t bad, so it didn’t really disappoint me all that much. Unlike…

Batman: Arkham City – Now this I had high expectations for. It was sorta like the No More Heroes thing again, but this time I was just expecting better gameplay, not another surrealist masterpiece. But Arkham City didn’t really wow me like Arkham Asylum. There were some great moments in it. I’d even say the best parts of City are better than Asylum’s best parts, but the worst parts of City are worse than Asylum’s worst parts, and there’s a lot more of them.

Basically it came down to there just being too much crap crammed into Arkham City and the game felt cluttered and bloated as a result. A lot of the new gadgets felt gimmicky and unneeded and yet you’re forced to use them to get past arbitrary barriers. The story is incredibly convoluted, containing a very uneven mix of just about every Batman villain ever. And a lot of the time if felt like the developers were just padding things out to keep the game’s runtime up.

Basically after finishing Arkham City a few times, I didn’t really want to replay it again, unlike Arkham Asylum. I remember the actual decline in excitement of playing it the first time. Things start off good, you quickly foil Two-Face and save Catwoman (well, she saves herself really) and then you’re off to try and find the Joker. After he nearly kills you with a bobby trapped bell tower you infiltrate the steel mill and confront him, and he gives Batman AIDS…or some weird Joker equivalent.

That’s pretty fucking bizarre. Now you got to find Mr. Freeze to get a cure. But Freeze was kidnapped by the Penguin. But before you can go find the Penguin you have to go to the subway and break his jamming crap. Then after doing a million other things the Penguin sends Solomon Grundy after you (where the fuck did he come from?), then after you finally beat Grundy and the Penguin you have to find Ra’s al Ghul to get a sample of his blood for Freeze, and all the time Hugo Strange is planning something and somewhere around this point I just start wondering what the hell am I even doing?

Just too much too quickly. No time to breath or take any of this in. The worst part is there were still doing the “everything happens in real time over one night” thing they did in Asylum. But so much shit happens this time it’s borderline comedic. It really would have made more sense to space the story out over a few days. Give each villain some time per act to marinate. Ironically, Assassin’s Creed actually did this. I guess that’s one thing the people making the Arkham games missed.

Saints Row: (The) Third – And here was a sequel that didn’t do nearly enough. As I mentioned before, Saints Row 3 used a different engine than the last two Saints games and as such, everything was rebuilt from scratch. And by everything, I mean everything they could with the time and money budgeted to them, which was considerably less than the previous game.

Third wasn’t bad, but it just felt really fleeting. Like it was over before you knew it. The story was rushed and unsatisfying, with major characters and villains offed so suddenly that I didn’t always realize they were actually dead. A lot of missions depended more on spectacle than substance, where you see something cool but don’t actually get to do a whole lot.

Also they went crazy with the zany perverted angle. Not that I’m offended by that stuff, but they just sorta shoot it off in your face. They don’t even have the decency to take you to dinner first. And they do this so much that what’s suppose to be edgy eventually becomes dull because they over use it. Typically the best jokes are the ones that string you along just long enough where you’re really invested then hit you with the punchline. Saints Row Third just skips ahead.

Like for one mission your character is suppose to get auctioned off as a sex slave to infiltrate…something, but you don’t see the auction, or much of anything. You’re told that’s going to happen, next scene you’re running around naked in a mansion fighting people. No crazy auction filled with a variable menagerie of sick weirdos bidding on you or your pimp making up claims to about you sexual prowess to raise the bid. Instead of really drawing out the suspense like a good joke, Saints Row: Third is just like:

Knock, Knock.
“Who’s…”
GIANT PURPLE DILDO!1!!11!

BioShock – Kinda surprising the guy who wrote a twenty page rant about why he didn’t like BioShock, didn’t include BioShock with his greatest disappointments. I think being allowed to demo the game beforehand helped to diffuse all the mindless praise it was getting at the time and allowed me to keep my expectations relatively low. As I said in my actual rant, I don’t hate it or anything, but it really felt just like another shooter.

I’ll admit they are some interesting ideas buried in there somewhere, but the game just really wasn’t bold enough to pursue any of them to any kind of conclusion. Just sorta mention in between drug addict slaying sessions and even if I cared about the Little Sister thing I’m pretty sure it’d lose its dramatic impact around the thirtieth time is happened in the exact same fashion during the same playthrough. I did like the challenge rooms DLC, but I guess I was the only one though…

Resident Evil 5 – So how do you follow up something like Resident Evil 4? A game that was a total 180 from the series it belonged to and a major hit? By making a really crummy copy of it I guess. Because that was what Resident Evil 5 felt like. Just a rehash, and not really a good one either. The El Gigante boss, that Leon fights up to like four of on foot in the last game, is resigned to a single turret fight. And most of the other enemies are just recycled from Resident Evil 4.

Resident Evil 5 also seemed like it took itself more seriously. A lot of the cheesy bad one liners and over the top action antics that I thought made Resident Evil 4 kind of endearing are not in Resident Evil 5. Really the only good they added was co-op, which did make the game better. But it also made playing solo worse because the game was made with two people in mind, and the co-op partner A.I. acts like they’re horribly inbred.

You know I hear Resident Evil 6 was even worse, but I wouldn’t know, because I didn’t play it, because people said it was worse than Resident Evil 5, which was worse than 4…

Manhunt 2 – Not sure how many people remember Manhunt 2, but it was in the news for a while when it actually got an AO rating from the ESRB and Rockstar had to take it back and start censoring it until they could get it down to an M. I got a little worked up over this for some reason, I guess censorship is a touchy issue for me. But the truth is, regardless if it should have been censored or not, Manhunt 2 stunk. Crummy thin story, stiff gameplay and the censorship probably killed its only novelty. But even if it had that, meh.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Another case of the inevitable sequel to a tough act to follow. You know Miyamoto said the reason they did Super Mario Galaxy 2 was because they had so many ideas left over from the first Super Mario Galaxy. It shows, because that’s what Galaxy 2 felt like, leftovers. Albeit it was leftovers from a really great meal, but it’s still leftovers, so yeah.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass – Remember when I said Skyward Sword was one of the few Zelda games I regret buying? Here’s the other one. Ironically because of the exact opposite reasons of Skyward Sword. I thought the touch controls would suck in this game, but they’re actually really good and didn’t take long at all to get use to them.

But everything else wasn’t good. Boss fights were forgettable, dungeons were tedious, story was thin and uninteresting, the annoying sailing from Wind Waker is back but made worse by how small the world is now. And the fucking Ocean King temple. It’s basically a dungeon, with unkillable enemies, forced stealth and a fucking time limit. And the kicker? You have to do it like four times!

But the thing that pissed me off most was what they did with Tetra. She was this cool sassy pirate chick from The Wind Waker who just happened to be one of Zelda’s descendants. And since Ganon was gone now I’d figure she get to take part in the action. But no, she gets turned to stone in the like opening cutscene and doesn’t get to do or say jack shit all game. What a waste of a good character.

Fable 3 – You know I hear if you pay attention to the press stuff for any of the Fable games you’re gonna be disappointed in the end. Good thing I never paid attention right? But man, three games now and Lionhead still couldn’t get things together. Fable 2 was decent enough, but a lot of stuff in 3 felt really off and like every Fable game it felt like they didn’t know how to wrap things up.

This one gets special mention because after the terrible ending in the main game, they released a DLC expansion that was pretty fun and actually seemed to be continuing the story in an interesting way, and then that was it. Apparently they had planned to do more expansions, but Microsoft or someone said no, or they gave up or whatever. Fable, the series of good ideas they never quite got off the fucking ground.

Half-Life 2 Episodes (Both) – People actually liked these? Because it felt like to me that Valve didn’t know how to end Half-Life 2, then later waved their hand and dragged out the same game with episodes to make more money, then ran into the same exact problem since they never know how to end anything, and that’s why there’s no Episode 3. They have no clue what their doing.

You might think I’m complaining about this because I really want Episode 3 or something. I don’t. I just think it’s funny people seem so invested in something that goes out of its way to avoid having a conclusion. Sorta reminds me of Mass Effect, except BioWare did create a conclusion and that’s when the problems started for most. Valve’s smart enough to know they can just keep postponing the inevitable.

You know what, this is getting really long. I’m just going to end this here. Be sure to watch for me in February, where I’ll be sitting on my ass and probably not posting much because I really need a damn break for a while. I’ll get back here eventually though. =P

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