By Rick Warren / gfn2112
Before I start this list, I'd like to clarify a few things. First, this is my personal top 5, so it won't match up with everyone's. If a game that is widely seen as disappointing isn't on the list *cough No Man's Sky cough*, it's probably because I wasn't as disappointed by it/didn't have the same expectations. The other important note is that this isn't a list of bad games. Realistically, every game on this list was mediocre or good (some were even great). Rather, they're games that either fell short of the greatness that came before, or games that I personally overhyped.
With that out of the way, let's start this week's top 5!
5.) inFAMOUS: Second Son
inFAMOUS 1 and 2 were two of my favorite PlayStation exclusives last generation. Before the Arkham series took the world by storm, superhero games were a challenge that studios had struggled to conquer. Aside from a few great Spider-Man games, nearly every game featuring a super-powered character had fallen short. inFAMOUS changed that. As Cole McGrath, players had access to abilities that felt worthy of the term "powers". I had a blast taking down a group of enemies quickly as I traversed the city. The gameplay was amazing... and on top of that, it was accompanied by a great story.
When inFAMOUS Second Son was revealed, everyone expected it to continue that tradition. What was the reason for the title? Was it a reference to the First Sons (and Kesslar) from the original game? Nope. There wasn't much interesting about the title, and sadly, the same could be said for the game's story. The villain was bland, the story was short and simple and Delsin failed to be as interesting of a character as Cole was. The evil playthrough essentially made no sense, as Delsin Rowe had no reason to go down a dark path whatsoever (and even less of a reason to do what he does at the end of the game). So, despite giving players access to a great open world version of Seattle, and awesome powers that led to the best gameplay in the series, inFAMOUS Second Son couldn't live up to the previous games. I hope Sucker Punch gives us one more game in the inFAMOUS universe, because this series deserves to end on a high note.
Next up, the #4 spot: a game in a series that pretty much everyone has played before...
4.) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
I know it's popular to hate on Call of Duty, but I've never been one of those people. I've always enjoyed the games. Some are much better than others, even if they do often lack innovation, but I've never played a truly terrible COD. Despite a tight schedule, the developers of the series put out quality games every year. Part of that quality is the consistently strong campaigns. I'm probably one of the only people in the world that buys Call of Duty games for the campaigns just as much as the multiplayer, but I'm happy to do so. One of my favorite campaigns in any FPS was Modern Warfare 2's, and I still look back on it fondly. It followed the renowned COD 4, and lived up to the hype with a surprisingly strong story and tons of cool set-piece moments. The cliffhanger ending led to even higher expectations for Modern Warfare 3, but this time... Infinity Ward failed to live up to them.
The campaign was filled with uninspired moments that had been used in the other Modern Warfare games, and it felt like the studio had ran out of ideas. The ending was abrupt, offering no real closure to long-time fans. While the game was marketed as "World War 3", it felt like anything but that, as only two squads were followed throughout the campaign and other countries barely featured. Worst of all, the game managed to kill off the beloved character Soap in one of the least interesting ways I've seen in a game. Despite being stabbed in the heart and other ridiculous events, Soap failed to survive a 20 foot fall (that another character he was with lived through). It was the most blandly realistic death scene in a series filled with ridiculous action moments, and ruined what should have been the most impactful scene in the game. Yet, looking beyond the campaign, even the multiplayer felt like a step back from the popular online gameplay in MW and MW2. A large portion of the original Infinity Ward had left to form Respawn, and it showed. Looking back, I think Modern Warfare 3 was not only the beginning of Infinity Ward's downfall, but the series as a whole. That's why it made my list of biggest disappointments.
Next up, a game from the best superhero series ever made...
3.) Batman: Arkham Knight
You may be seeing a pattern in this list so far; games with solid gameplay but a weaker story than those that came before. Our #3 spot, though, is the complete opposite. Batman: Arkham Knight featured the best story in the series, combining elements from The Killing Joke and Under the Red Hood with a new story focused on Batman battling the Scarecrow (and his own past). The game is filled with plenty of memorable moments and fan service for Batman fans. Gotham is realized beautifully, still standing out as one of the prettiest open worlds I've seen in a video game. What it lacks, though, is something the series had done so well beforehand: boss battles.
Instead of amazing fights like in the other games such as Deathstroke and Mr. Freeze, we're handed a Batmobile/tank battle against the former and yet another against the Arkham Knight. These were both fine, but I definitely would have preferred a hand-to-hand encounter with both. Batman's final battle with Deathstroke being a tank fight feels insanely anticlimactic. This could be said for the entirety of the game though, as it featured amazing stealth and combat but made little use of it. I was excited to finally see the Batmobile in the series, but truthfully, it held the game back. The final game ended up being the worst of the main trilogy, not because of poor gameplay or a weak story, but because of the massive overuse of a well-made mechanic.
In our #2 spot sits a flawed game that is currently being redeemed by a vastly improved sequel...
Bungie and Activision's new series, Destiny, got off to a really rocky start. The launch version of the game had smooth gunplay and a nice soundtrack. That was pretty much all it had. It lacked content, for one. Each planet featured one tiny location that was re-used over and over again for missions and strikes. This made the game feel insanely grindy and repetitive very fast, so much so that I was never having fun after my first playthrough (I had seen it all so many times without even replaying anything). Even worse, the first two "expansions" were already on disc and didn't even require a download to unlock. Players could even glitch into the nearly-finished areas at launch. In a game that was lacking content, seeing this shady move made everything even more disappointing. This was made worse by another thing that Destiny lacked: a fair and reliable loot system. Lets say you finish in first place for a multiplayer match, or perform the best in a co-op strike. You'd think you'd get a good piece of gear, right? Wrong. Rewards were completely random. The worst player could get the best item while you get nothing. You could get items for the classes you didn't play too, making longer events like raids beyond painful. It was hard enough to find a raid group, but when you have to play the raid 20 times just to get an armor set, there's a problem with the RNG.
Finally, the big thing that everyone agrees Destiny lacked most: a story. If you didn't know, Bungie lost their lead writer on the game six months before release. The story was completely reworked, and scenes/ideas were smashed together in nonsensical ways. It's a shame that Bungie had to go through such a thing, as whatever Destiny 1's story was, the final product was not it. Characters and plot threads were left completely unexplained (like the Exo woman that follows you around constantly and then just disappears). The final boss was literally a giant black hole that didn't fight back as you shot at it. Any interesting bit of lore was only found outside of the game in readable "grimoire cards". For a new universe from the team behind Halo, this was so disappointing to see. Destiny eventually improved over time through updates, raids and a true expansion in The Taken King. By the end of year 2, I would consider Destiny a legitimately good game. At launch, though, the best I could call it was mediocre.
It's time for this week's top spot! A game that hurts to put on this list, because it comes from my favorite series of all time...
1.) Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
If I were to give you a non-gaming analogy for how The Phantom Pain made me feel, I'd probably compare it to the similarly titled Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace. Aside from a few memorable moments and a great soundtrack, (Quiet's Theme basically being the equivalent to Duel of the Fates) there really wasn't much good to see here story-wise. Characters were underused. The plot was a huge step back from what came before. It tried to be something that it's predecessors didn't. Plus, Huey was essentially Jar Jar Binks... but worse because he's Huey.
For anyone who might be surprised this game is on my list, let alone the number one spot, let me clarify: Metal Gear Solid V is not a bad game. It's actually a great one, and has some of the best gameplay I've ever experienced (it has a 93 on Metacritic for a reason). Yet, while The Phantom Pain is a great game, it's a terrible Metal Gear Solid. For a series built on telling a deep, strong story with amazing characters, it's appalling to see what happened here. There were far less of the long, brilliantly directed cutscenes fans would expect, with nearly all of the crucial story info coming from optional cassette tapes. There are moments here that should have been shown to the player in the main story missions, as they're not only important to the story of V but the Metal Gear series as a whole. Even worse, the tapes were the only way to learn about the underdeveloped villain (aside from an awkward 10 minute car ride where he explains his evil plan). It felt like a far too drastic response to the complaints about the amount of cutscenes in the series. To me, people who had those complaints couldn't have been more wrong; Metal Gear just isn't the series for them. The other MGS games were cinematic masterpieces, and that's what they were so beloved for. I wish Kojima never took that criticism to heart, because The Phantom Pain had serious potential to be the greatest video game ever made.
I have so much more to say about Metal Gear Solid V, both good and bad. If you'd like, click here to read more.
Well, that's it everyone! Hope you enjoyed this week's top 5. Next week we'll be taking a more positive approach, with a look at a group of games that surprised me!
What video game disappointed you the most? Let everyone know in the comments below!