I’m surprised APB isn’t on there. One of the things we’ve chewed over a lot at RPS is exactly how different this year would have looked if APB and Elemental were both as good as we were hoping they would be.
APB is a good candidate, but for me it wasn’t that disappointing because I really didn’t expect it to be that good. The concept just sounded like it was going to be a platform for tragedy. It had all the earmarks of a MMO project destined to die a slow death. The only surprise, I think, was how quickly it died and dragged a whole company with it.
This is a bit of an odd pick because it’s simultaneously both my biggest disappointment of the year and my GOTY (or at least co-GOTY with Alpha Protocol and WoW: Cataclysm). I love the Mass Effect series, but was disappointed with some of the changes Bioware made from ME1. I felt they streamlined things a bit too much; hopefully ME3 finds the right middle ground between the two.
I was so hyped for Mass Effect 2. I loved the first one. I was disappointed by the lack of inspiration of the second. As the producer puts it, it’s critic-proof. But then it lacks madness, and its structure just doesn’t make sense. I’m supposed to save the galaxy yet I have the time to go on errands for my various crew members ? Screw that, the game is so disjointed that it fails to capitalize on any good idea it has.
It’s like they’ve made discrete missions in order to allow small play sessions… each mission as long as a short Wow instance, with no much cohesion between them. Where’s the scope, where’s the epic ? I even missed the freakin’ Mako.
It is the difference between a new IP (albeit loosely inspired by MoM) from a small developer and a numeral addition to the most played strategy franchise in history from the same developer that created the greatest strategy game of the last decade (BtS).
They both had a truckload of problems, and Elemental might have been objectively worst in that regard. However, off the top of my head I cannot think of one major change from Civ IV to Civ V that made the game better. OK, the UI is better, but I think Civ V may have proved that “stacks of doom” are the way to go for a 4X strategy game.
Alternatively, I think it proved that if you’re going to put in tactical-one-unit-per-hex scale into a game, you’d better program an AI that can handle it.
I know Tom was horribly disappointed by Civ V, but he’s an outlier in the way he plays and analyzes strategy games. (The “Chick Parabola” is really short for him.) From the number of entries in the official Qt3 GotY thread, Civ V apparently pleased a lot of people despite the AI issues.
I liked Civ V. I can certainly understand why someone that has pegged the AI would be very disappointed with the game, but since I play Civ games in short bursts, I probably won’t hit that wall for years.
I was really excited when I saw that concept art about two years ago, personally, even if I knew the game wouldn’t have a Normandy invasion with giant mechanical versions of the seven dwarves; actually, I really cannot imagine anyone reacting differently to that concept art. It’s just a shame the game utterly failed to live up to those ambitions and ended up so rote and blase.
There’s a number of people, including myself, who consider the first Crackdown to be one of the greatest games ever made, so naturally we would be excited for a sequel. Unfortunately, the developers and Microsoft missed nearly everything that was great about the first game.
Anyways, some other disappointments. NBA Jam - I had a hunch the game would be dated, but not so dated as to be completely devoid of fun. Shaun White Skateboarding - Given the track record for Shaun White games, I shouldn’t have been excited here, but I held out hope that Ubisoft could deliver a solid Tony Hawk-esque arcade-y skate game. Skate 3 - It just felt so listless and tired, unfortunately. The moments of joy were few and far between. Splinter Cell Conviction - Ubisoft could have really shaken up the franchise and the original iteration of the game seemed intriguing; unfortunately, they ultimately settled for some poor riff on Taken. James Bond: Blood Stone - Bizarre has a questionable track record with action games, but Everything or Nothing has always been my favorite Bond game and I couldn’t help but feel excited about a developer attempting to emulating it. Unfortunately, it was mediocre and monotonous all-around and just constantly reminded me of Alpha Protocol’s greatness. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - The first game was a solid riff on Three Kings, so I’m not sure why DICE seemed eager to suck out the joy here. Blur - The developer of one of the most memorable modern racing series delivers an astonishingly generic racer. Just Cause 2 - What could have been a great sandbox only ended up being a middling, monotonous one whose moments of joy quickly ran out. BioShock 2 - This game could have been made in a way that justified its existence, but unfortunately I found it not much more than a forgettable, tiresome retread of the first game. Toy Story 3 - There was some description of this that said it was akin to a toy sandbox that captured the feeling of childhood pitch-perfectly. That wasn’t the case at all. Mafia II - I’m not quite sure this is anything I didn’t find disappointing here.
For me the most disappointing game would be FF XIII for the reasons I mentioned in the underrated thread.
I didn’t really expect much out of ME2, so what the heck, it’s dreadful pacing and dumb cover combat didn’t disappoint me, and it wasn’t entirely worthless despite the stupid scanning and inane story-quest structure and ludicrously bad final boss.
Civ V was disappointing, but it still has some kind of germ of worth to it, if they can ever write an AI for the combat system, and if they ever completely redo the diplomacy.