2014 was an underwhelming year for gaming. It was the transitional year, where focus started getting pushed to making games for both last and current gen consoles, but with that came with a lot of titles that were massively hyped and underdelivered in their overall experiences. The rules for this list are that the games will be ones that I have played and considered to be disappointing in what they delivered. I will also include companies and certain events if they caused a big enough trainwreck of bad publicity. For definition of what I consider a disappointing game, a game I scored in the five to seven range will be on this list. This means you won’t see the bad games on this list, but don’t worry! I’ve got another list where I count down the worst games I played from 2014.
10. Tales of Xillia 2
Let’s start the list with a sequel that wasn’t needed. I understand why they made a sequel, since Tales of Xillia did extremely well, but man, does this game have some odd and questionable design choices. Examples of this are a bland main character, rehashed enemies and environments, a boring story that doesn’t get interesting until later on, the same technical issues from the first game that pop-up in this sequel, and how the entire game feels like busywork due to that stupid debt system. That is really what ruins anything good about the game. You have to keep taking side quests that actually do repeat themselves to pay off parts of this debt, and you won’t be able to unlock any new areas until you pay off a certain amount. I play games to escape the crushing reality of paying off debt! This also proves that the team behind this RPG franchise really can’t make sequels without making a lot of bad decisions, like focusing on fan service for the hardcore fans of the series and such. Don’t get me wrong, sequels are fine, but they have to improve and make the overall experience enjoyable. Sadly, this game didn’t do any of that, and made what could have been interesting a waste of time. If you want to see me go more into detail as to why this game is disappointing, I am making a list as to why this game is underwhelming, so look out for that in the future. I am only recommending this game for the hardcore fans of the series.
The Score I would have given the game: 6/10
9. LEGO: The Hobbit
While this isn’t a terrible game, it was the first time I felt like the LEGO games being made by Traveler’s Tales were getting stale. I am basically indifferent to the films this game is based around, but for one reason or another, I started to see where people were coming from when they said that the games based off the popular LEGO series were getting stale. They had the same slightly tedious level design issues, the same issues with the repetitive combat, and they glanced over the story instead of making it a little more mature and dramatic. Sure, some of the humor is funny, and the voice work that is ripped from the films are still well-acted, but when everything about the game, from the combat to the level design, gets boring, and then you add in a couple game-breaking glitches, you end up with a product that should have had more time in the development department. I think if they released this game in 2015 so that it has all three films under its belt, diversify the gameplay, and not have to rerelease it just so it can have the third film, then I think the game would have been better. There are still a lot of great games based off the famous fantasy franchise, but unfortunately, this one isn’t one of them.
The score I gave this game: 6/10
8. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle
You know, I was excited for this game. It was from a very popular Manga that oozed character, it was a 3D fighter, and it was by Cyberconnect2, the developer behind one of my all-time favorite games, Asura’s Wrath. However, after getting to actually play this game, it showed some very poor design choices and really wasn’t that fun to play. Well, it wasn’t fun for me to play through. The best thing about the game is that it still oozes all of the personality the manga series had, and it gives the game a unique identity. It is so weird, but fun at the same time to see every fighter pose like a super model and even the female characters looking a little like the male characters. It is hard to explain if you are not very familiar with the manga’s art style or universe. The problems come in the form of the game modes and the fighting engine. This isn’t a terrible fighter, but it felt really clunky. Instead of being an open ended fighter like the company’s Naruto fighting games, it is set up more like Tekken or Street Fighter. That isn’t a bad thing, but with how over-the-top the moves and characters are, you needed a fighting engine similar to the recent Naruto fighters or Power Stone. I also ran into some overly powerful AI issues where my opponent would constantly abuse one attack and it wouldn’t stop. It got annoying after the fifth try to take down certain characters. This isn’t a terrible game, but it is one that could have been great if it had a different gameplay design. If you prefer games like Street Fighter or Tekken you might like this game, but I would only recommend seeking out a hard copy if you are a collector, since this game’s price will probably double with each passing year.
The score I would have given this game: 6/10
7. Deception IV: Blood Ties
Maybe it’s because I haven’t played this series’ other games from the PlayStation 1 era or that I love games like Castlestorm, but Deception IV: Blood Ties was an underwhelming game for me. I loved the idea of setting up traps to kill unsuspecting knights who came into your manor, and I enjoyed the satisfaction of having a well set up trap drain away an entire health bar from an enemy. The game also has some personality, and while I don’t care for the designs of the main female characters due to, well, anime logic of how the devil’s daughter and her companions should look, it’s hard to take them seriously. However, there were a few too many issues that kept the game from being a hidden gem among the many games that are flying under the 2014 radar. The graphics are incredibly bland-looking. I give a lot of credit to Tecmo Koei for actually green-lighting this game, and actually putting more money into it coming over here in the states, but the overall look of the game is wishy-washy and forgettable. The enemy knights, besides boss characters, all share or have the same body type, but some of the art assets get switched around for all of the simple enemies. The traps are also not that easy to manipulate in a 3D space. You think you might have one trap down only to find out that you should have been one block over or that you placed the trap facing the wrong direction. You will definitely need to take time to learn about this game, but I doubt a majority of gamers will have the patience to sit down or replay through levels to think of more devious traps to unleash on the “good guys.” You also need to activate traps manually, and dodge the enemies at the same time. I hate the fact that if you want to switch out ineffective traps for ones that will be easier to use, you have to quit the entire chapter you are in to do so. This means you will have to do the entire chapter over again. It leaves the player enraged and nervous about what traps to use, since players who are new to this franchise will probably have no idea what combination of traps will work and which ones won’t for this chapter. It then becomes a game of tedium, with only a few ways to have a satisfying experience sprinkled into the main game. I think if this game played more like Orcs Must Die 2 or some other kind of tower defense game like Castlestorm, but with more unique traps, this game could have been much more interesting. It’s unfortunately a little too clunky and irritating to fully recommend.
The score I would have given this game: 6/10
6. Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
I was hesitant as to whether to put this game on this list or my worst games of 2014 list, since it has elements that can easily be put on either list. On one hand, it is a painfully average third-person shooter that takes more design queues from Transformers: War for Cybertron instead of its sequel. It has stale enemy designs, repetitive missions that have little to no variation, underwhelming bosses, and a storyline that doesn’t take full advantage of its setup. On the other hand, as a follow-up to the fantastic War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron games, it is incredibly mediocre as it tries to bridge the gap between those two games, adding little to nothing to the overall story. Oh, and they then try to connect it to the prequel story of the most recent film. The list of playable Transformer characters in the main storyline is pretty underwhelming. You don’t even get a chance to play as John Goodman or John DiMaggio’s characters from the film. I mean, come on! Out of all of the characters from the film, I wanted to play the Transformers who were played by Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski” and Bender from “Futurama!” I don’t mind the samurai Transformer, Drift, too much, but his character’s constant reminder that he follows the way of the samurai and feels like he isn’t a true Autobot gets old real fast. Oh, and if you are a Wii U owner, you don’t get the game’s multiplayer mode, which leaves the Wii U version of the game with even less value, giving the Wii U’s library just another average game. Granted, by 2014, the multiplayer mode is nothing special, so consider it tacked-on, or yourself lucky if you just bought the Wii U version of the game. I also ran into some major slowdown when in battles, alongside a few other glitches. The game’s use of the Unreal Engine 3 also reminds me of how poorly a lot of games using the engine have aged in terms of graphical presentations. Even the designs of the characters from the film look like they were from the Xbox 360 launch window. There are very few high points that can be considered the game’s saving graces. The only real voice actor that put any effort into his performance was probably Steve Blum who voiced Shockwave, but that is because you didn’t get to see him that much from Fall of Cybertron. Peter Cullen also did a great job, as usual, playing Optimus Prime, but his Optimus Prime voice is like wine, as it gets better with age. Even if the sections where you played as Grimlock or Devastator got boring very quickly, the first few minutes playing as the giant Transformers were satisfying as you watched your power stomps send other Transformers flying into buildings. Grimlock was also the funnest character to use out of everyone, as you rip Decepticons into shreds and blow fire like Godzilla at everyone. I also appreciated the sound design throughout the game. I just hope High Moon Studios will make the next Transformers game amazing, and that they will take their time on the project. If they don’t do this, then I have no hope for any good future Transformers games. If you want to play a good game based off the franchise, pick up War for Cybertron or Fall of Cybertron.
The score I would have given this game: 5/10
5. Murdered: Soul Suspect
Murdered: Soul Suspect is the precautionary tale of when a company doesn’t go all-out with their idea. The concept of a ghost detective is nothing new, but it can lead to a lot of fantastic gameplay and can end up being a downright fun experience. I want to believe that the developer, Airtight Games, didn’t have a huge budget or not enough time to work on this game. The story was at first interesting, since it involved witchcraft and a murderer killing off young women who had special powers. Unfortunately, Ronan, the main character of the game is nothing new or interesting. He could have had a captivating backstory, from being a crook when he was younger to becoming a cop, but they don’t focus on any of that. I think if they let us play as him when he was younger to now, it would have at least given the game some emotional investment. The story’s ending felt out of place with the killer being this ghost girl who was murdering the young women with physic powers because, just because. Melee combat was pointless! It had no reason to be in the game, and the demonic spirits that you fight have no reason to be in the game either. The only elements that comes close to being fun were the puzzles that made me feel like I was playing L.A. Noir, which was a good thing because the puzzles were decent, but it was bad because it made me want to play a better game! The graphics were average. They weren’t top graphical specs, but I have seen worse-looking games released in 2014. I am not surprised that the developer shut down after the release of the game. I wasn’t too big a fan of their games because they always had fun ideas, but they didn’t do much with them. Sure, sometimes being overly ambitious and creative can bite you in the butt, but this game needed its overall concept expanded upon. I hope the employees of Airtight Games have found new jobs, but once again, you really can’t release a game half-baked or else you will find yourself with a game that will do poorly.
The score I gave this game: 5/10
4. Drakengard 3
Where do I begin with Drakengard 3, the third game in the Drakengard franchise? I feel like Square Enix did not have a lot of faith in this project. First off, it uses the Unreal Engine 3, and boy, those graphics look ugly. I wouldn’t mind the graphics for the most part, but they look like something from 2006. I also feel like the developer of the game didn’t really know how to optimize the engine, because there is some of the worst slowdown and graphical glitches I have seen since Two Worlds. The levels were forgettable because they were basically a straight line. They were so linear that they made me think of Final Fantasy XIII, and I don’t like thinking about that game. The AI, oh boy, the AI was one of the worst I have ever seen. The enemies either attack me when I am ten feet away from them, run away from me when I get close to them, or they don’t attack me at all. The ally AI has basically the same issue with them not even attacking often. Why are we having this issue with brain dead AI? It’s 2015; this shouldn’t be the case anymore! The story and characters are a mixed bag. The story is filled with both a grim storyline, and a lot of comedic moments, which I think clash with the darker more violent elements. I know how black comedy works, but I don’t think it works 100% of the time. Granted, there are a few jokes that I did enjoy, where the game was mostly punching jabs at itself, but I don’t think the animations are good enough to portray the comedy. I think they really needed someone like Platinum Games to make this game so they can add that flare, and quick animation to enhance the comedic moments. The characters are mostly forgettable anime tropes with the disciples being the weirder of the bunch. For example, you have one guy who is obsessed with energetic sex, and another one who gets aroused through S&M and sexual punishments. I don’t really want to invest or root for these characters. I will say that the game does have a few positive elements. The gameplay is faster paced, varied, and I can say that I had a lot more fun with this game than the previous two games in the franchise. Some of the character designs are great, and the music is beautiful. I just wish Square Enix put in more resources for this game as they would with their main Final Fantasy games. This isn’t a downright terrible game, but it is middle-of-the-road for me. I can easily see this game becoming a hidden gem of sorts and a cult classic, but really, they needed a few more months. If this game had a bit more time to get a better game engine, and more time to give the graphics and gameplay a good clean-up, they could have had a great late PlayStation 3 title.
The score I would have given this game: 5/10
3. The Walking Dead: Season Two
Now, before I get the pointy end of a pitchfork going through my head for putting this game on the list, let me get this out of the way. This is easily the best game on the list. It still has a lot of great character development for Clementine, some rather human/realistic moments like in Chapter five when all the characters are around the fire, and a lot of intense moments that made me hold onto my controller. The graphics are still fantastic, and the music is still dramatic and atmospheric. However, the story fell apart at around the halfway point. There were a lot of terrible plot convenient set-ups, some huge leaps in logic, and it felt like Telltale Games rushed the ending out the door so they could work full-time on Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones. I already went into detail at how bad the story gets, and how the 400 Days DLC doesn’t really add anything important to the overall story. I will make sure to link the review in this sentence. I still enjoyed my experience with this game, but it just isn’t as good as the first season, and that’s why it was so disappointing.
The score I gave this game: 7/10
2. The Evil Within
Oh boy, where do I begin with this game? Personally, I could see why this title was so polarizing to gamers, and unfortunately, I am in the pool that did not like this game for understandable reasons. The game does get a lot of elements right. The creepy and tense atmosphere always kept me on my toes, and made sure that I wasn’t about to run into something dangerous, and plus, the monster designs could be really scary and gross looking. Unfortunately, I feel like this game can be a mess. I found the controls to be clunky, which by 2014 standards is inexcusable, and the stealth elements are pointless because they are only there because other games are doing it. The story and characters suck, you are given too little ammo in the bad way, the game is more gory than scary, and the overall feeling is that it’s more like Resident Evil 4.1 than its own game. That is, of course, not a bad thing, but I kept constantly thinking of games that did this better. For example, when I was sneaking past enemies, I thought of The Last of Us and found myself wanting to play that game instead of The Evil Within. The problems I listed above really do become issues, like while I knew I wasn’t getting Gears of War-style action, it felt a little too scarce with its ammo. I get you want to make your main character feel vulnerable, but I felt a little too vulnerable, if that makes sense. The controls felt like they were taken right out of Resident Evil 4, and I feel like they should have smoothed them out. I guess I fall into the group that hates sluggish tank controls, but I feel like it’s never good design when you get attacked and hurt because you couldn’t turn or move out of the way fast enough. I also didn’t care about the whole mechanic of having to burn the bodies. Sometimes it works, but I think like there was a reason why not a lot of horror games used this gimmick. It’s more tedious, since enemies can come back to life, which ruins the element of exploration, since I don’t want to keep in check which bodies I didn’t burn and which ones I did. If I stabbed you in the head or blew your head off with my very limited amount of bullets, then you should be dead! I also hate the logic in horror games, and there is no excuse for it anymore. What do I mean by this? Well, in the third chapter, you encounter the chainsaw enemy once again, but he is luckily tied up with chains, with his chainsaw item on the ground. Instead of using the sensible logic and picking up the chainsaw to gut the enemy and then use it to get out of the village you are stuck in, you have to unleash him and kill him along with the other villagers that you should probably take out before you tackle the chainsaw guy. It’s logic like this in gaming that takes me out of the immersion. I also hate how boring the characters are. I can understand that Shinji Mikami didn’t want characters who are constantly scared, but if they are not afraid of anything, why should I feel invested in them? I want to make sure they can stand up to the creatures they encounter, and feel satisfied that they are safe. If you love this game, then that is fine, you could get into this game better than me, but I feel like Shinji Mikami was stuck in the past and didn’t help or advance evolution of the survival horror genre.
The score I would have given this game: 6/10
1. The Big Publishers/Developers
What do companies like Ubisoft, EA, Sega, Activision, Valve, and Crystal Dynamics have in common? They all ended up on my list of disappointments of 2014! I originally didn’t plan on doing this selection because they all put out something I liked, loved, or at least enjoyed. However, they also made a lot of questionable decisions with how they released their games, or talked about their upcoming projects. For example, let us start off with EA. It seemed like this year is EA’s year of lack of content. Titanfall, The Sims 4, NHL 2015, and even Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare all had the same criticism aimed each game with the constant appearance of the “lack of content” comment. I was amazed at how many games from this one company came up with the same issue. Sure, a lot of these games are now patched, and all have DLC to give you more bang for your buck, but come on! How many times did I have to see and read that comment? I’ll tell you, far too many!
Crystal Dynamics basically shot themselves in the foot with how they handled the news of Rise of the Tomb Raider being a timed Xbox One exclusive, with a rather smug and disrespectful statement about how PlayStation gamers were still getting the downloadable Lara Croft: The Temple of Osiris Tomb Raider game, and already have the Definitive Edition of 2013’s Tomb Raider. Way to go Crystal Dynamics! You probably lost a couple of million preorders because of that comment, and now people are going to wait to get the game on whatever console they respectively own. I know exclusives help sell the console they are on, but when it’s a third-party exclusive, you are asking for trouble if your game isn’t good enough, or you announce it with such a back-handed comment.
Sony and Microsoft both had a pretty underwhelming year of first-party exclusives with Sunset Overdrive and Little Big Planet 3 being the only two worthwhile first-party games for either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Plus, for some reason or another, neither console had good anti-hacking security, and both of their online services got shut down. It really brings up the argument as to if we should be charged for online or not, if they are going to let this happen. It doesn’t give me faith, in terms of renewing my PlayStation Plus subscription.
Next up to bat is Activision and Bungie, and while they didn’t have as many screw-ups as the other companies on this list, they still botched one of the biggest games of this year, Destiny. Sure, I could complain about how they keep milking Call of Duty and Skylanders, but Destiny was their biggest disappointment. How could a game that looked like it originally had a lot more content, a grander scale in the story department, and Peter Dinklage as your robotic companion be so…empty and full of confusing design choices? I mean, yeah, part of this could be Bungie’s fault for false advertising, but I feel like this is more so on Activision. It also doesn’t help that there is a conspiracy theory going around where Bungie did make a bigger grander game, but their publisher Activision stepped in and made them either change up a lot of the game, or take it out to put into a DLC pass that will cost you $35 plus tax. How could they take what was considered many gamer’s most anticipated experiences of a shooter that, while having good shooter mechanics, great visuals, and an amazing soundtrack, still became an underwhelming mess?
Valve has ended up on this list, because of their consistent lack of respect or commitment to have the Steam service not full of terrible games, and developers who are incredibly disrespectful to the consumer base. How much would it kill Valve to spend some of their multi-million dollars to hire a team of quality-control people to look through each game that wants to get on Steam, have them play through them, and then set up some rules that will deny or allow the games on Steam? They really need to fix this now, and not wait until a big enough issue happens, with it taking three weeks or so to apologize for the issue. Sure, by now they have put up some rules, but really, they won’t work.
Sega showed off once again why no one can take Sonic The Hedgehog seriously, with Sonic Boom being one of the top five worst games of 2014. They showed that they honestly have no idea how to stick to an idea that works and build upon it. Plus, they didn’t hand out review copies of a game, and that is always a bad sign when even paid journalists are not allowed to touch this pile of garbage. Personally, SEGA should just be bought out by Nintendo, along with all of the IPs they own. They would know what to do with them more so than any other company.
Then you have Ubisoft. Oh boy, where do I start with this company? I love and hated them this year. They released three of my favorite games with Child of Light, South Park: The Stick of Truth, and Valiant Hearts: The Great War. On the other hand, they also came off sexist and lazy with why Assassin’s Creed Unity won’t give the gamer a choice of playing as a female Assassin. They got called out for their excuse that it could cost too much money and resources, when really, it wouldn’t. They also showed that they don’t have the technical know-how to make a good PC port for PC gamers, and saying that the Wii U is not getting any more “hardcore” games and will be getting stuff like the Just Dance series. Watch_Dogs was overhyped for its graphics, and while still having a lot of fun elements, was not the big hacking epic that it was meant to be. Oh, and let us not forget the disaster that was Assassin’s Creed: Unity with buggy-as-hell launches, reviews only allowed to go up 12 hours after the midnight release, and the game not really being that good. It just seems like while Ubisoft is a game developer/publisher and they are a business, one minute, they do something good with the consumers, and the next minute, slap them with the back of their hand. It’s really annoying when they do this, and it doesn’t make me want to invest my time and money into their games. Sure, these companies made/published a couple of great games in 2014, but they still ended up being the most disappointing parts of 2014.