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This Is What I Waited Forever For?
We gamers are an interesting lot. We will gladly sit outside a Best Buy in the freezing cold at 2 AM just waiting to be one of the first to pick up the latest game. Flame wars will start as hardcore gamers decry how their grandmother shouldn't be a gamer. We will proudly defend our favorite games to anyone who will listen. We like to think that game developers know that we love them, especially if their game series has taken us everywhere and back again, but sometimes we wonder if they even know who are.
2011 marked the long awaited sequel to the popular Duke Nukem series, the rumored and now brought to life Duke Nukem Forever. However, many critics and gamers have not responded favorably to the game, noting its outdated design, clunky controls and the unfortunate use of some of the techniques that the game had parodied in its heyday. Duke Nukem Forever is just the latest in some disappointments that gamers have experienced over the last decade.
We'll take a look back at some of the biggest gaming disappointments of the decade.
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Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
This game is actually hit or miss within the Star Wars gaming community and that of the KotOR community itself. The sequel to the popular first game was met favorably with both critics and gamers, however its legacy is one of half and half. The overall disappointment with the game was because of its rushed release from the developer Obsidian in order to meet the Christmas holiday shopping season. Unfortunately, this rush caused a lot of the story of the game to be lost on the cutting room. This left several questions unanswered, along with entire plots that couldn't be finished.
For me and some other fans, the storyline itself was also rather confusing, made worse with the introduction of a new player character and a much darker story and setting than the first game. Meant to be sort of an Empire Strikes Back of the KOTOR series, it has personally taken me years to not only understand what the heck was going on, but to at least appreciate the new Ebon Hawk characters.
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Star Wars Galaxies
Before there was WoW, there tried to be Star Wars Galaxies. And when you think about it, how could that be bad? As vast as the Star Wars universe is, players could explore and fight with other players on a massively multiplayer online experience. And again, as with KotOR 2, the initial release and concept was praised for the graphics involved.
However...that quickly changed when people actually started to play the game. Before Lagforge, just about every part of SWG seemed to move at the pace of a snail. If only it was because of the popular places, but it was everywhere. Not to mention that players who wanted to be part of the Galactic Empire or Jedi Order had to literally jump through hoops, several times, to even reach that. To this day, I can't even begin to tell just exactly how someone went about doing that.
Expansions were released to make it better, but it only made things worse. With the upcoming release date for Star Wars: The Old Republic looming closer, players are hoping that this isn't going to be SWG II - The Search for Even More $.
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Final Fantasy XIII
I've never been a big Final Fantasy gamer. I've heard of the series, I know people who have played the series, and have heard it praised up one coast and down another. I'll admit, it's a pretty game when you're watching from the sidelines; however, last year's release of Final Fantasy XIII made me even more reluctant to start the series.
I didn't need to play the game because I heard enough from my FF friends about it. The horrors, indeed. Like the previous two entries, this was praised as a good game. However, for the masses this ranks up there as being one of the worst in the series, and in comparison to the previous games, it's ranked well below the rest of the series.
The major letdown here? Boredom. The FF series are long games and this last installment was around 50 to 60 hours. The first half was aparently a snooze fest. I remember a friend of mine who was playing it both for work (game designer), as well as for the fun of it, and those first hours he said were just gruelingly tedious. One reviewer from Gamer Pro stated that the first half of the game was a long hallway heading to an orange target.
I believe that FF fans stayed the course just out of loyalty, above anything else.
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Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog was Sega's answer to that plumber from Nintendo, and it worked. The mascot for Sega is one of the most popular characters on the system, eventually launching a huge game series, toys and even a few cartoon shows. The return of Sonic in 2006 for both the XBOX 360 and the PS3 seemed too good to be true. Childhood visions of the blue whirl made the fans so very happy.
You would think an updated version, with high end graphics for both consoles would help the game, and they did, but that's really all it did. Across the board, the game was panned, by critics and fans alike. There was a somewhat interesting storyline from three different perspectives, but that didn't save it. The gameplay wasn't even fun enough, it was too difficult in places, and for many, it single handedly ruined what could have been a great comeback.
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Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
And in this corner, the face of Sega, fastest hedgehog in the world, in the blue spikey skin, it's SONIC!
Capitalizing on the upcoming 2008 Olympic games, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games should have been the match up of all time. Most gamers who bought the title probably didn't read the "at the Olympic Games" part, instead just seeing two of the iconic video game lead characters for two major 1990s franchises. How could this be a bad game?
Well, it was horrible, but it was a bit of a disappointment. With two major characters who were pitted against each other in the video game wars would certainly be able to tangle it up like Smash Brothers, right? No. While the multiplayer delighted critics, the complicated mini games, as well as the similar feel to each of them was frustrating.
Mostly though, it was the match up of Sonic vs Mario that was major letdown. Players expected a classic match up and received their favorite series characters going to the Olympics instead.
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Is There Any Hope?
As with anything in entertainment, companies enjoy milking the cash cow, especially with popular characters and franchises. But it doesn't mean we should give up. As many successes as there will be, there will, of course, be those disappointments that make us weep for our childhood or characters, but it just paves the way for better games.
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Top 7 Disappointing Games of the Decade from Games Radar, http://www.gamesradar.com/f/the-top-7-disappointing-games-of-the-decade/a-2009122214391097043/p-3
Final Fantasy XIII: How Does It Compare? from MetaCritic, http://www.metacritic.com/feature/how-does-final-fantasy-13-compare
Sonic the Hedgehog Review from Gamespot, http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/sonicthehedgehog/review.html?tag=summary%3Bread-review
Image Credits: Gamestop/author (http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/starwarsgalaxiesstarterkit/index.html?tag=result%3Bimg%3B1, http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/kotor2/index.html, http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/rpg/finalfantasy13/index.html?tag=result%3Btitle%3B1, http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/sonicthehedgehog/index.html?tag=result%3Btitle%3B6, http://www.gamespot.com/wii/sports/mariosonicattheolympicgames/index.html?tag=result%3Btitle%3B0)