Festive Feature #3 - Top 5 Falls From Grace of 2011
Written Wednesday, December 21, 2011 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
Some sequels are amazing. The kind of mind blowing step forward from the original work that leads to a Godfather Part II or an Empire Strikes Back, indeed, the kind of work where all the pieces slot smoothly into place like a two piece jigsaw. There is also a dark side to the process of keeping a franchise going, the kind of bizarre leap of faith that allows people to put money behind shameless cash-in style, straight to video garbage like, well like Son of the Mask. This is how successful movie series die off, but it is also frighteningly real in the world of videogames too.
Perhaps developers thought they were onto a good thing? Or perhaps deadlines were a little too tight? No matter what the excuse though, it is fair to say that some of these games should not have been allowed to breathe the same sweet air as some of their hallowed predecessors. Here are five games that have brought shame on their ancestors and left us to start a holy crusade to purge the Earth of every last copy. Mourn with us brethren, as we battle against the horrors of hubris.
In at number 5 is the latest LEGO Harry Potter. Considering the number and variety of Lego games that have landed on the Xbox 360 it was only a matter of time before they became a touch jaded. The latest, and no doubt last, Potter game seemed to borrow far too much from its infinitely superior predecessor and has the unlikely accolade of being the only truly dull LEGO game you can buy, and when you take the fun out of a title aimed at kids, then you know things are bad. How do you make magic boring? Well this game manages it spectacularly with tiresome levels, a plethora of bit part characters to collect and a Hogwarts location that you have already explored before. You may as well buy some actual LEGO than suffer through this.
Next up is Transformers: Dark of the Moon. We approached this game with cautious optimism after the rather decent War for Cybertron, but the developers greeted us with a game that left us battered and bruised, with our wallets substantially poorer for it. Daylight robbery is never welcome but this one has left us with such profound mental scars that we had to rush onto eBay and buy a mint in the box Optimus Prime to remind us that the awesomeness of robots in disguise was not just a figment of our imaginations. Seemingly rushed out to coincide with the movie, the game is far too short, far too easy and far too terrible to recommend to even your worst enemy. Hopefully High Moon Studios will take advantage of a third attempt, with much less pressure from a dubious movie, and craft something to make our childhood proud. Fail us again and we’ll set Unicron on your asses.
The two main surprises surrounding Duke Nukem Forever is firstly that it ever got released in the first place and secondly that it is only number three on this list. After year upon year of hype, rumour and speculation it didn’t take a genius to realise that the end product was never going to live up to expectations. What the developers probably didn’t anticipate is just how far people's personal tastes had moved on, and the crass, sexist, dinosaur that was Duke Nukem no longer seemed funny anymore. Poor humour can be overlooked if a game has enough quality to support it but, alas, Duke didn’t even have that. Terrible animations, drab levels and some of the worst vehicular sections known to man were just a few of the problems that assaulted players. At best you could say it was average and, after such a long wait, that was simply not good enough. When you are releasing a game simply to cash-in, rather than provide a genuinely good experience, then your priorities may need addressing. Hail to the bargain bin, Baby!
Just what were EA thinking? After treating us to one of the best Need for Speed games in years with Hot Pursuit they came back down to Earth with a bump. Then fell down a manhole to rub salt in the wound. The Run was short, handled like a dog and was utterly devoid of the same level of quality that we had seen only a year previously. With a storyline that veered between poker-faced deadpan and outright ridiculousness, it was hard to know whether to take things seriously. The banal gameplay was only exacerbated by the lack of options, modes and enjoyment on offer, and when you can plough through a full-priced retail game in a few short hours with no excuse to go back, then you are going to feel extremely short changed. It will take plenty of time and effort to get the series back into our good graces after such a below par showing, hopefully this title will get pulled over by the police and serve sufficiently hard time before being granted parole.
Call of Juarez is like Gears of War. The first game was interesting and unique, the second game built on those foundations to provide a top notch experience and the third game *sigh* the third game was utter garbage. So not like Gears at all then and we apologise for luring you in under such a façade. The real problem with Juarez is that the progression between the first two games was a good sign of real progress and then the third title came along with a big pair of size 16 boots and crushed what life remained in the franchise beneath its vicious heels. It doesn’t help when all of your characters are utterly devoid of any redeeming features and that the story has more plot holes than every episode of Lost combined. Throw in a bag full of glitches, basic spelling mistakes on loading screens and an online multiplayer about as well populated as Timmy Mallett’s fan club and Call of Juarez: The Cartel is a game that needs taking out behind the barn and giving a mercy killing by one of its older siblings.
Check back tomorrow for our fourth festive feature, ya varmints!