You thought I’d counted my days wrong didn’t you. Well it just wouldn’t be me if I couldn’t top off 10 days of praise with a nice little cherry of negativity. I’ve mentioned that I didn’t get the chance to play everything I would have liked to this year, and I’m sure my list would have looked a little different if I’ve gotten around to games like The Witcher 3, Bloodborne, SOMA, Dying Light and more.
However, just because a game was absent doesn’t mean I just didn’t play it. Some games this year let me down. They managed to build themselves up and then ultimately fail to deliver for me in a way that meant I needed to bring them up here to clear up a few things and complain.
for your displeasure, here are my three most disappointing games of 2015:
Played on Xbox One | Released 10th February | Developed by Turtle Rock Studios
When I heard the people who brought us Left 4 Dead were making a new, original multiplayer focused game. Well, I’ll say the hype was seeping. Left 4 Dead was some of the most fun I had playing a game online during the last console generation. There was a simplicity to the game that made it incredibly easy to pick up. It was the type of game that everyone could have their own story about a terrible piece of luck or hilarious team wipe after a session.
I expected so much of Turtle Rock when I heard they were making, what I thought, was the natural progression of Left 4 Dead 2 with a brand new IP called Evolve. Released during the early year dry spell, I snapped it up right away. A decision I ended up regretting after only a short amount of time with the game.
Evolve is an online only, team focused game where a group of four hunters must battle one large player controlled monster in a number of objective based situations. On paper, it sounds great, a four vs. one class based game. Loads of unique characters, weapons and game modes to pick from Sadly, what we got was not what I had hoped for.
The game was wildly unbalanced in favour or the monster. While the monster only needed a decently skilled player to be effective, when up against four players who were generally randoms with no communication. The matches were only going to go one way. I played a dozen or so matches of Evolve, never actually playing as the monster, and got destroyed each and every time. The game being brand new, nobody really knew the class roles that well. It was the blind leading the blind and deaf.
It made for a very frustrating experience and drove me away from the game completely. Obviously, I could have tried to “get gud”, stuck with it and found my way back into the game. But it felt to me that the developers had been far too close to it during the development process, it was incredibly unfriendly to new players playing as the hunters, because it only took one weak link to make the monster winning an inevitability.
#2 Star Wars Battlefront
Played on Xbox One | Released 19th November | Developed by DICE
What is wrong with me? I love Star Wars, I have a bookshelf dedicated to the novels. I play The Old Republic. I wrote a review of every Star Wars game I ever played on my old website. And yet, I find myself totally lacking in any drive or desire to play the new Star Wars Battlefront.
Part of the reason might be why I was so cynical about the Force Awakens before I saw it, because they took something I cherished and threw it away. They took the name I associated with those old memories and slapped it on a new and totally different product in a very blatant abuse of nostalgia.
I loved the old Battlefront games, I poured hours and hours into them. While they were games of a different era, much less refined and streamlined than shooters are these days. They felt like I had been dropped into the Star Wars universe when playing those games. There were classes, four different armies to play, heroes, vehicles and different ways to go about the game. It felt more like a sandbox, allowing you to just jump in an x-wing and fly the the far side of the map. To call the new game Battlefront is its a blasphemy.
But pushing all of that aside. The new Battlefront simply isn’t that fun to play in my opinion. The game feels bare bones, it looks amazing, I’ll give it that. It’s a feast for the senses. But it lacks any substance. The shooting is substandard, the game feels like a cash-in rather than a project any genuine passion went into. I’m not saying people who worked on the game didn’t feel strongly about it, but it feels like this game was built to be a nostalgia trip first and a good game second.
Vehicles are power-ups, not physical things you can interact with on the map. This takes away a layer of strategy to play in my opinion, locking you into am X-Wing after you take a knee and teleport into it. The card based system for abilities isn’t my favourite and it makes everyone feel kind of the same, with no defined roles between players and every game just devolving into death match chaos. It’s so mainstream it hurts, it’s a game gamer Star Wars fans are going to find lacking in substance and it’s a bad Battlefield game too, so that crowd will probably not spend much time with it either.
The only reason this game isn’t my most disappointing game is because I played enough of it before it came out that I felt no need to actually drop the £50 on it. However, I do get the impression I’ll end up buying this game myself eventually (regrettably).
It’s all because I have a Star Wars shaped chip on my shoulder. What used to be a series for dumb nerds like me became something they needed to market and sell to everyone. The weird side stories the books and games used to cover were what kept me coming back. Now Disney are in charge, I get the feeling Star Wars won’t stray from the original and new trilogy ever again. Which is a real bummer.
#1 Batman: Arkham Knight
Played on Xbox One | Released 23rd June | Developed by Rocksteady Games
I’m almost apologetic for putting this game here. The first two Arkham games were astounding feats of graphics, gameplay and story. So much so that they inspired a cast of copycats. Maybe that’s the reason that Arkham Knight felt like such a let down by comparison. It isn’t a bad game, it’s just a game that suffers from having to exist in the landscape it created for itself.
Judging the game based on its own merits, I could argue that it’s one of the best games to come out this year, at least in a technical respect. But sadly, games don’t exist in a vacuum. I know it might be bad critic form, it just didn’t feel up to snuff for me in the slightest when it not only had to follow up Arkham City, but also compete with the likes of Shadow’s of Mordor, which I happened to be playing for the first time around the same time as this game came out.
Arkham Asylum continues to be one of the best games I played on the xbox360. It was fantastically atmospheric, told a great story and had impressive level design, all tied together with a great blend of combat and fun stealth mechanics. This one, felt like them churning out another one of those games rather than the next step in the formula. City was a big step up from Asylum. Knight felt like a step to the side. Partially because the things the developers were pushing the hardest turned out to be things I liked least.
The Batmobile was one of my major problems, I felt like it got in the way of the parts of the game I wanted to interact with. I would try to avoid using the car/tank whenever possible, but unfortunately it became the key to every puzzle I seemed to encounter along the way. It felt like a gimmick in the build up to the game’s release and it felt like a gimmick when I was playing it too.
It was the story that might have been the biggest let down for me personally. While I was initially disappointed to see that the Joker was going to play a fairly major role in the game, despite the ending of Arkham City, he turned out to be the highlight. Rocksteady continued to do a great job of inserting their story beats and cut-scenes seamlessly into gameplay, and the Joker parts utilised this the best. But everything else felt subpar. The story with Scarecrow felt tacked on and purely a result of how well received his sections of the first game were. And the Arkham Knight was even worse, the second the character uttered his first line, all tension involving him was gone as I pretty much guessed his identity in that moment.
The ending seemed anticlimactic as well. It was a sad way to end an incredibly good series and while it was still a decent game, it was nowhere near meeting the expectation it had created for itself. And I played it on console too…
So, thus ends my 11 day coverage of 2015 games I played. I’m actually surprised I managed to get every day done within the time. It’s been a far better year than 2014 was, and there was plenty I never got around to playing. On top of that, I’ve got another year of games to look forward too. So here’s hoping 2016 turns out to be as good a year for games and movies as this year has been.