2012 is in the books, and while it was an amazing year for gaming as a whole, there were a few situations that made me sad, angry and/or downright disappointed. We’ll be spending way more time on the good things that happened in 2012 with my Top 20 Games of the Year, but for now, here are the Top 10 Biggest Disappointments of 2012:
Honorable Mention: RIP Prey 2? – Seriously, what is going on with this game? When Bethesda showed off at E3 2011, I thought it looked phenomenal! I was so excited for the game. Sure, maybe they could have called it something else, but word is they were going to have a moment or two that tied it in with the original game somehow. Human Head had some presentations ready for a few conventions this year but were told to sit on the sidelines, and Bethesda has pulled any mention of the game from its website. So what gives? I really hope this game comes out in 2013. I really loved what I saw.
10. Playstation Vita – Sales have been pretty disappointing thus-far, as it seems no matter how great the hardware is, there just aren’t enough people willing to put down their tablets to give it a go. Games like Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified certainly aren’t helping the matter, either. Sony probably should have focused on making a full blown tablet with Playstation integration instead of the Vita. I am sure there are those that have a Vita love it, but for better or worse, tablets are here to stay, and Sony’s inability to adapt with the times is one of the biggest reasons they find themselves in their current financial predicament.
9. WWE 13 – What an absolute steaming pile of crap. Oh, it’s nice and shiny and looks all pretty, but the game play is absolutely atrocious. It always blows me away how THQ thinks they need to reinvent the wheel every single year when it comes to the mechanics of this game. Within the first hour of putting the disc in the tray and playing the game, and in the first match of Attitude Era, I experienced my first glitch. With THQ in bankruptcy and WWE reportedly fuming over the financial situation they may be left with because of the studio, I really hope another company can step in and do something with this franchise. Not even CM Punk being on the cover could save this game for me.
8. Treyarch Pulls Nuketown 2025 from Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Nuketown 2025 is always open… except for when we take it down from the regular rotation. What the hell? This was, literally, the most popular map in Black Ops 2, and now you’re telling your fan base that you are going to just take it away and only bring it out on “special occasions?” No, what the actual fuck? This wasn’t just a pre-order bonus, it was almost the focal point of the pre-order campaign. Every single ad you saw in print or even on TV had mention of “pre-order now to get the Nuketown 2025 map.” Now you’re going to just pull it from rotation? Idiotic, weak and a flat out slap in the face of the customers that have made you BILLIONS. But then again, why shouldn’t they? Call Of Duty fans have proven time and time again that it doesn’t matter what Activision, Treyarch or Infinity Ward do to them, they will always be there a year later picking up the next game. Lemming disorder aside, this was a super weak move that was flat out unacceptable.
7. Angry Birds Trilogy – Don’t get me wrong: I love me some Angry Birds. It’s a fun time waster game that I’ve played on my iPhone 4, iPad and Nexus 7 throughout the year. You know what the best part about the game is? The fact that I paid less than $10 to have Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio (all included in the Trilogy pack), Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars. Five games, three devices, less than 10 bucks. So how in the world are you going to tell me that porting them to a disc and inserting it into an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 is somehow worth $40??? Get right on out of here. You might be able to convince me that all five of the Angry Birds on a disc for my Xbox or Playstation is worth 20 bucks, but you’re downright crazy for 40 with only 3/5 of the franchise. Crazy.
6. Kinect Star Wars – When this was shown for the first time, I said to myself “this is the game that is going to make me buy a Kinect.” And it was. I went all in, being the Star Wars fanboy that I am, and got myself the R2D2 Xbox 360 complete with white Kinect and Kinect Star Wars. Eight months later, ask me how much I actually use either of them. How about never. As it turns out, the room I have my Kinect in is too small, even with the zoom lens thing I had to buy and not use. I also could have lived the rest of my life without seeing Han Solo rip off Dance Central. Yikes.
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and the Playstation 3 – When it was announced that Skyrim DLC was going to be a timed exclusive for Xbox 360 owners, I really felt bad for non-Xbox 360 owners. It just doesn’t seem right, but I’ll get into that a bit more with #3 on this list. In an ironic turn of events, the exclusivity really didn’t matter, because as we bring the year 2012 to a close, Playstation 3 owners still find themselves shut out from the Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLC content, with limited hope that they may ever be able to see it because of console constraints. Not only that, but the game itself is a bit of a mess on the Playstation 3 altogether. Bethesda doesn’t have the best of reputations when it comes to releasing games that work properly out of the box, and they certainly didn’t do themselves any favors in the minds of Playstation 3 owners with Skyrim.
4. Resident Evil – There were two Resident Evil games released this year, Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City and Resident Evil 6, and chances are, you are going to find both of them on many “Worst Games of 2012” lists this season. My, how the mighty have fallen. Even Cliff Bleszinski has publicly gone out and said he’d love to get his hands on the franchise to bring it back to its’ former glory.
3. Timed Exclusives – I get it. It’s all about building value. But at what cost? With their partnership with Activision for a month-long exclusivity period on all downloadable content for the Call Of Duty series, Microsoft started a trend that, at the end of the day, has done nothing more than create confusion and animosity amongst the fans. Games like Battlefield 3, Resident Evil 6, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and others jumped on the bandwagon and started signing on to release DLC early on certain consoles. Making matters even more confusing for those who played Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 this year was the fact that Elite and Premium members got content before those who were not members, so suddenly each game had four release dates for one piece of DLC. Enough. I get the business reasons for doing it on both sides, but at the end of the day, how many more consoles did it sell? Forget the games, because they would have been purchased one way or another, how many people really ran out and bought an Xbox 360 so they could get Modern Warfare 3 maps a month early? I am sure there were a few, but I doubt it was a very worthwhile investment. It got worse in 2012, and I don’t know if it is ever going to get better. (Picture Credit to Joystiq)
2. 38 Studios Debacle – For me, nothing is more disappointing than seeing 38 Studios go under. As you will read in my Top 25 games of 2012, Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning made it into my top 10 games of the year, and I was really, really looking forward to Project Copernicus. Companies come and go and there have been plenty of great games that got canceled, but I felt a really personal connection with 38 Studios. As a native New Englander and massive fan of the Boston Red Sox, Curt Schilling has been something of a hero to me ever since that fateful post-Thanksgiving 2003 day Theo Epstein convinced him to accept a trade to my beloved Red Sox. Two World Series later, he was a Boston legend. When he announced he was starting his own video game company, Green Monster Games, I was pretty excited to see what Curt would do. Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning was fantastic, and it was an honor and a privilege to meet Mr. Schilling, R.A. Salvatore and a whole cast of characters from 38 Studios at the release event for the game. I felt like I was a part of it. Then they were gone, victims of a political game played by an idiot Governor who essentially forced his state into a debt that could have been avoided. This is why I like to keep my politics out of my video games. All the dopes running Rhode Island saw was a legendary former Red Sox player and they wanted to say “hey, look at us.” Well, we’re looking at you now, and hopefully all involved lost their jobs, because that was the ultimate fate of the 38 Studios crew. It’s too bad. Hopefully someone picks up the assets for the game in liquidation and can do something good with it. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
1. WarZ – Everything about this game is awash in controversy, and it is really unfortunate that a company has the power to milk a trend for all it is worth, essentially steal content from other creators, intentionally create confusion and then, the ultimate sin, try and bleed their customers dry. DayZ was one of the smash hits of 2012 and WarZ has basically ripped it off, and that is actually the least egregious thing they have done. I can deal with rip-offs. That’s not even a big deal. When you take it to the level of WarZ, that’s when the problems start to flow. Not only were they obviously trying to confuse people by calling their game WarZ (the perfect in between of DayZ and World War Z), but they also managed to essentially rip off The Walking Dead while they were at it by Photoshopping a bunch of zombies from the TV show and putting them in the picture you see above. Oh yeah, and the game is terrible. Good idea, but terrible. But of course it is a good idea. It was a good idea when DayZ did it before them.
I wish I could say it all ended there, but no… it gets worse. They went ahead and released the game on Steam and called it a “Foundation Release,” when what they really should have called it was an Alpha build. You know what companies don’t do with Alpha Builds of their games? Charge people money to play it. Again, I know that I have said this a few times now, but that isn’t even the worst part! When buyers started to cry foul, shit hit the fan, and forum moderators started banning and removing any and all posts that were critical of the game from the WarZ forums. Why were people crying foul? Because they were being banned from the game and accused of cheating. Lots of people. The situation got so bad, that Steam ended up pulling the game and handing out refunds to anyone that asked.
Wow. The amount of negative press surrounding this game prompted me to waste $15 to see if it was as bad as people were saying it was, and I came to the conclusion that it actually was. I lasted all of 10 minutes in the game before randomly dying and realizing I just didn’t give enough shits to play again after I waited the hour necessary for my character to revive. This story is still developing, and certainly was not the best way to end an otherwise awesome year, but make no mistake about it: Hammerpoint Interactive and WarZ are going down burning.