Calling a game disappointing arguably has more to do with me than the game itself. Disappointment isn't an inherent quality. It can't exist without some sort of expectation in the first place..
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If it makes Lego LOTR better for you, in free play you can just go back to the shire as Saruman and Grima Wormtongue and scour the shit out of it.
Poor, poor Secret World. I think maybe it eventually got somewhere it was headed, but far too late. My two most disappointing are probably AC3, a game I liked, and Dishonored, a game I'll have to get back to to see if my opinion changes.
Liked a lot about AC3...but ultimately the failed economic/crafting model made me feel like this was an opportunity missed. With Dishonored, I felt like the 1st person cam made me feel clumsy and blundery in a world where my guy was supposed to be Ezio-like.
Disagree about Sleeping Dogs, loved that one and it surprised the hell out of me how good it was. The rest I guess I agree.
My largest dissapointment, in fact probably the worst gaming dissapointment ever, is Hitman Absolution. After brilliant Blood Money and 6 years of waiting, we get poor man's Conviction. Such a shame.
Sleeping Dogs is the one surprise, Tom Chick-wise. I felt it was nearly as good as Saints Row 3, but in a different way. And I felt it was crafted with a lot of the same reverence for the subject matter as Bully.
The thing that really bothers me about your flip flop on Torchlight 2 is that before you knew the drops weren't better on higher difficulty levels you loved the game. Yet somehow knowing that fact has invalidated all the fun and rewarding gameplay you experienced before knowing that fact.
Not at all. It just means I have no desire to play anymore after having seen the content (i.e. played through the levels once). And that's a terrible thing to happen to an action RPG. I'm on my umpeenth Diablo III playthrough with no sign of stopping.
I think in this case it just a difference of what people are expecting out of a game. For me the higher difficulty is rewarding in that I have to really build my character properly, pick the right gear, the right slots, etc., the have a chance at beating the game. I've finished my Veteran play through and will be starting an Elite one next.
Personally I have never played through an ARPG "umpteen" times, as I would get way too bored. I usually will play through maybe 5 to 10 times, over the a couple years, depending on how much I like the particular ARPG. I know I will play through Torchlight 2 some more.
Don't forget, they have promised free DLC and who knows what other content they will release down the road. I hope you revisit the game at that point and maybe even write about the new content, if it warrants it.
But what about Haaaaaaaalo?
I feel like there's significant overlap between my most disappointing games and games of the year this time around. Both Assassin's Creed 3 and Far Cry 3 make both lists, for example.
And it's definitely a very personal thing. I hate tying reward to difficulty because there's generally a specific difficulty at which the game is fun for me, and so that makes my choices either make the game more difficult and less fun for whatever arbitrary reward they've decided to dangle as a carrot, or play on the difficulty I actually enjoy and miss out on stuff. So I'm very happy with Torchlight II's approach. But then, it may be the first ARPG I've ever enjoyed enough to -want- to run through it several times with different characters and builds. (Jury's still out over whether I actually will. But my friends finally have it so I see multiplayer in my future.)
PS: Yes, the arbitrary reward is probably meaningless and not worth lowering my enjoyment of the game, but it's tough to convince myself of that.
PPS: Because Torchlight II appears to get more difficult by either requiring one to replace one's blood supply with potions or just arbitrarily damage spiking and killing you faster than you can possibly heal yourself, I don't have any desire to turn the difficulty up.
Diablo III. Bobby Kotick's monetisation of the gaming industry continues to destroy once great gaming franchises.
SWTOR. Yes it was a 2011 release but it took my guild a couple of months to realise there was little left to do once we had capped out and completed most of the content. The sad part was seeing the implosion of the once great Bioware games studio because of this.
I'm really hoping that the inevitable (and, from the sound of it, impending) transition to free to play can bring people back into the fold and/or convince them to check it out for the first time. It's a very cool game that made some unfortunate early missteps and was probably never going to find an audience as large as it deserves even if it hadn't stumbled into a sort of metanarrative of failure that had people who've never so much as touched it convinced that it was doomed as early as launch month.
Probably just saving it for tomorrow's "overrated" column. Top spot, calling it!
As for my picks, I was a little disappointed that I only found Hotline: Miami very good compared to the rapturous experience many seemed to have with it. I was also disappointed with Torchlight 2, but not for the same reason as Tom; I found it an extremely competent aRPG loot-chaser but these games just hold NO INTEREST for me at all. They seem like very stylish excuses for what ends up feeling like comparing spreadsheets. I had hoped that this might "break through" but it just felt like a slicker version of previous games like that. That's kind of an unfair weight to put on the game though, and I think they accomplished what they were going for; that genre just doesn't appeal to me I guess.
Also, it didn't come out this year, but I only got to play it this year, so I'm going with Skyrim. Found the world really cool and engaging to just wander around and explore, found the combat and really all of the actual mechanics pretty dull. I really wish they would invest some time and energy into revamping some of these systems, a solid melee combat system alone would probably vault the game from "boring and played it only for a few hours" to "may never stop playing this game", but there you are.
Miner Wars 2082: I'd love to see Descent come back in this time of re-invigorating / pilfering of gaming franchises from yesterday, but Miner Wars misses everything about Descent that made it compelling while showing a complete lack of respect for the player.
Sol Exodus: When this was released, there was no hope for the space sim in the guise of Star Citizen or Elite: Dangerous. This seemed like just another nail in its coffin.
Syndicate: I never bought this because of the bad press, but a prime example of how to miss the point utterly.
Risen 2: Dark Waters: Piranha Bytes have always made slightly imperfect but potentially brilliant RPGs. I was hoping they'd improve the brilliant:imperfect ratio, but they went the other direction.
Carrier Command: Gaea Mission: One of my favourite games from the 16 bit era, that came so close to being great but ruined by truly awful AI.
Painkiller: Hell and Damnation: I was quite excited by this because I loved the original, but the excision of some of the better maps is a head scratcher. Removing the final Hell level is the greatest sin.
I can understand that, Alan. United Front did a great job evoking Hong Kong and they obviously cared deeply about those sorts of action movies.
Yeah, I've read some of the comments about Miner Wars. Sounds like a serious bummer, especially since the promotional video for that game looks so sweet.
Luckily, I've missed many of the games you mentioned. As for the missing Painkiller levels, I keep telling myself they're on their way as DLC. Which isn't necessarily the case, but I believe in keeping hope alive.
Good one! Back in 2011, before you knew any better, SWOTOR was pretty nifty, wasn't it? :)