Most disappointing games of 2013

Title Most disappointing games of 2013
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Features
When December 17, 2013

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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Wow, Aliens: Colonial Marines. No game illustrates how toxic the video games marketing business is than that one. That Pitchford or anyone involved in making that product- let alone the games media that offered up plenty of previews and free advertising for the game- could, with a straight face, suggest that there is _anything_ of value in that garbage blows my mind. That's like used car salesman or congressman levels of lying prowess.
I would say that I can't believe that A:CM is a product made in a first-world nation, but I don't want to defame developing countries who do not produce multimillion dollar budgeted video games.

Pics in this one are amazing. Good stuff Tom.

Oh how I hated Black Flag. Awful story, awful missions, awful to play. The Assassins creed games (and the rest of Ubisofts properties) have a huge problem with repetition and this was the worst it has ever been.
The ship combat is nothing more than whittling down a healthbar. You have to blow ships up in order to board them which makes total sense. Boarding is tedious after the first couple of times. The missions all consist of me following someone while I hide in a bush. The open world is empty and has nothing to do in it. Your ship is devoid of any personality and the same goes for your pirate base.
I have very few good words for it. I suppose it looks good, but I kept getting distracted by the weather going from sunny to stormy in half a second. The Future stuff was definitely more interesting than it has been previously, but it ultimately goes nowhere.

One of the things I liked about the first Assassins creed game was that all the missions led toward your goal of assassinating someone. You collected intel, found secret entrances to your target's stronghold and secured your escape. It felt like you were progressing with each mission, even though the missions themselves were repetitive and uninteresting. But it made up for it with the assassinations at the end often being these really climactic affairs. AC2 didn't copy this formula, instead moving to a more narrative driven experience, but you could see its influence between the assassinations it offered.
The recent games have moved so far from realising the promise of the name "Assassins Creed" which is a real shame, as there was a lot of potential here for a historical Hitman game. I can't remember any proper assassination missions in Black Flag beyond the few at the end. Which is a shame, as they are undoubtedly the moments the game offers.

"It’s telling that the patch that preceded this add-on did more to reinvigorate that game than the add-on itself "

Eh, I agree with your assessment of Heart of the Swarm but I don't think that quote is entirely fair.

They've patched in the expansion version of the client prior to expansions in World of Warcraft for a long time as well, largely because it lets them to support a single client, and test on the live service before the expansion releases, What they lock away behind the license at that point seems a little bit arbitrary, would you have prefer they hold back the vs AI stuff or levelling system just for the sake of saying they had a bigger expansion? That doesn't seem like something anyone would want to encourage.

You had me until BF. I'm loving this game (nearly finished!). Yes, the story is on the light side; and that's fine - I don't want to sit through hours of cutscenes and BS - I want to go pirating and jump out of palm trees onto peoples heads! Also, theMP is worth the price of admission on it's own!

Assassins creed has bad gameplay and a bad story.

I can understand being disappointed that Heart of the Swarm didn't add more to multiplayer (people who actually care about the multiplayer assure me that there was significant metagame impact, but it doesn't -look- like much, to besure), but both story and singleplayer gameplay were very much in the mold of Wings of Liberty, except Zergier. Whether you like that or not (gameplaywise, I very much did, storywise...not sure what happened to the people that made Starcraft), expecting something else seems contraindicated.

Also: Fuse? Was that something we were meant to be paying attention to? I don't think I even knew it existed.

If you replaced AC4 with The Last of Us, I think I would agree completely with your list. AC4 isn't astounding, but I had lower expectations for it than The Last of Us.

The single player was both shorter and considerably easier than Wings actually. It also wasn't even very zergy.

Tom's entry doesn't say anything about the length or difficulty, though. He complained that the story was awful (which was true of Wings) and that the campaign was "built from gimmicks rather than gameplay" which insofar as it is true of Heart of the Swarm (I don't think it's a fair description, but I can see what Tom would base it on) was certainly also true of Wings. That's pretty clearly the formula they're going with for Starcraft II and I wouldn't have expected any different from Heart of the Swarm, nor do I expect a massive shakeup from whatever the Protoss pack is going to be called. (I'm sure it's been announced but I don't remember it.)

I also don't agree that the HOTS campaign is easier than Wings, but then I have a particularly hard time with the Zerg style of large swarms of micromanagey, squishy units. Which is a shame because I like them best on a conceptual level.

Eff your mom, eff Chick

X: Rebirth?

Brutal difficulty in Wings was actually hard on a few levels, Into Darkness and All In in particular could be very tricky. No level on any difficulty in HOTS even approaches that level of challenge. You can beat most brutal levels with 50-60 supply of a-moved zerglings if you pick the right evolution e.g. raptors with adrenal glands. Even the late game levels that are supposed to be balanced against having all the upgrades you can execute that same simple strategy to great effect.

The main issue IMO with the campaign in terms of zergness is that as a race zerg is supposed to be about economic victory, there's a reason their primary unit producing structure is the resource collection structure and worker creation structure all rolled into one after all. The campaign turns the design on its head though be completely removing that aspect of the race in favor of gimmicks for each unit mostly due to lazy level design which limits the player to 1-2 bases on most maps with the occasional 3rd base on a few. That was ok in Wings because scrappy, low econ play is a hallmark of the design of the terran race. It's gimmicky in HOTS because they had to change practically everything about zerg to make it play that way.

You apparently play the game (even the singleplayer) with a far higher level of skill and applied theory than I do. Which is, admittedly, not surprising since I am a gaming dilettante. I didn't have trouble with Wings on normal until the last level of the campaign, whereas Heart of the Swarm started kicking my ass on that same difficulty inside of five missions.

Similarly, I'm very much in favor of a singleplayer that's full of new and improved toys and new experiences in every level, gimmicky or no. I really don't care if it bears the slightest resemblance to the multiplayer design. As highly polished and tightly tuned as it no doubt is, it's just not a broad enough spectrum of experience to suit my tastes and Starcraft II's willingness to expand outside the confines of what makes good multiplayer is one reason I'm so taken with it.

It's not so much the lack of resemblance to the multiplayer design as much as it's a homogenization of the way the two races play. Playing Zerg in HOTS doesn't feel much different from playing Terran in Wings as a result of the direction taken with the campaign. Excepting Kerrigan of course, playing with a hero character is going to feel different that not, but hero characters is pretty much the opposite of what Zerg is about anyway so even that doesn't fit the races idiom well.

I really don't agree. There's a clear emphasis on swarm tactics and units with low health but large damage output that's nothing like how the Terrans played (and unfortunately, pretty micromanagement intensive which is something I don't do well with). The metalevel choices you're making also feel quite different and to me feel like they come more often and have significantly more impact. And if the Zerg campaign were all about heroes over units, sure, that would be unZerg-like, but the hero in this case is the Queen of Blades, who pretty much defined the Zerg race in the original game and the Wings storyline (crappy as it was), and she's a key backbone to their swarms, not an solitary juggernaut.

Small groups of units with low health and huge damage that require intense micromanagement is exactly how Terran is played. I'm just going to stop there, if you don't see it you don't see it.

What meta level choices? The unit evolutions? There's far fewer of them and they're far less significant than the unit upgrades in the Terran campaign and there's nothing at all like the narrative choices from Wings.

The Zerg campaign IS all about heroes over units, she's an insane force multiplier and damage monster even if she can't just face tank everything. Which is exactly the issue I'm trying to point out: small groups of powerful units aren't very zerg-like which is what you get when you add the queen to the super suped up units in HOTS. Gameplay wise the Queen of blades didn't define anything even in brood war until HOTS. Storywise I agree with you, gameplay wise I don't.

Large groups of low health, high damage units, not small, requiring micromanagement to keep sustainable numbers alive and in the fray. My Terran experience involved much smaller groups of substantially higher HP, higher armor units that I could largely just attack move. Even the Marine is a much more survivable unit than the basic Zerg troops and once i had them I spent much more time with vehicles.

Similarly, I'll have to take your word for it that there are fewer evolutions of the units, presumably in comparison to the Armory, but the choices I made in the Armory were significantly less distinct to me and the research tree only had...what, four major upgrades?

She's one, very distinctively Zerg hero. There are no heroes in the plural, and she may be a significant force multiplier (although that hasn't been my experience at all) but she still needs the swarm behind her. That's very narrative appropriate and whether or not it's appropriate for the Zerg as they present in the multiplayer design is, again, immaterial for singleplayer.

"From the creators of Brood Wars, Lord of Destruction, and Cataclysm? Since when are Blizzard’s add-ons so anemic?"

since cataclysm. That expansion finished what lich king started and killed the game.