As many gamers know, there are always a handful of games that disappoint. The year that was 2014 was no exception, with many games failing to live up to expectations. In an effort to showcase the worst offenders, I present to you the seven most disappointing games of the year. Whether it’s poorly designed AI, abysmal storytelling or broken online multiplayer, all of these games deserve to scrutinized for their failures and underwhelming presentations.
Also, be sure to read “Fourteen Video Games From 2014 That You Need to Play” to get the lowdown on some of last year’s best titles.
The Awards: Most Disappointing Game, Most Broken Game, Most Overrated Game, Most Tired Franchise, Most Forgettable Game, Worst Remake/Reboot, Worst Re-Release, Studio Killer, Dead on Arrival and Ubisoft’s Third Worst Game of 2014
Winner: Most Forgettable Title
Everyone remembers E3 2012 when Ubisoft premiered their new IP, Watchdogs. It took the gaming event by storm. Everyone was talking about how beautiful the open-world looked and how amazing the hacking abilities were. After releasing in March of this year, many people denied even saying those things.
Watchdogs is an open-world world action game set in a very-near future Chicago. Placing players in the role of master-hacker Aiden Pearce, Watchdogs tasks players to become the ultimate vigilante. Now, the idea of hacking into people’s phones, bank accounts and the very infrastructure of Chicago all sounded like a great (and terrifying) idea at first, but as the game was continually delayed, many began to question if Ubisoft could deliver on their lofty promises.
Instead of what was promised early on at E3 and other subsequent events, players received a noticeably graphically inferior game with a superficial hacking mechanic and a boring open world. To add on to the disappointment, Watchdogs seemed to take a note from the Assassin’s Creed franchise and include an underdeveloped and completely detestable protagonist to play as. The game initially sold well, but it has largely been forgotten with the release of more popular and even more infamous titles. If there’s a game this year that deserves to be nothing but an afterthought in 2014, it’s Watchdogs.
Winner: Dead on Arrival and Studio Killer
Initially supposed to be a launch title for the PS4 in 2013, Drive Club was delayed an entire year in order to “improve” the game’s dynamic menu system. Well, at least that’s what Sony’s first-party developer Evolution Studios claimed to be the reason for the lengthy delay. In all honesty, the writing was on the wall with this one. Released on October 7, Drive Club was fraught with numerous glitches, bugs and online multiplayer issues, leaving it completely unplayable.
Worse, the game’s severs are broken to this day, with many players unable to even connect to the game’s poorly developed multiplayer races and challenges. In all honesty, if Drive Club released with no problems, it still would have been demolished by critics for its shoddy level design and uneven driving mechanics. There was also a free version of the title with fewer cars promised to PlayStation Plus subscribers, but Sony has since postponed that version of the game with no promises of actually releasing it. The abysmal sales might have something to do with that.
Please, spend your time and money playing Nintendo’s Mario Kart 8 or the Xbox exclusive Forza Horizon 2. Those games actually get racing right.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Winner: Worst Re-Release
In case anyone thought I was just bashing on Sony, you’ll be relieved that I have plenty of ire for the Xbox One exclusive title, Halo: The Master Chief Collection. With developer Bungie leaving to work on Destiny (we’ll get to that later), 343 Industries has since been the guiding hand in the franchise. There most recent game, The Master Chief Collection, features four Halo games in one.
To many, The Master Chief Collection was being sold on its online features, specifically the highly regarded Halo 2 multiplayer. The last thing that 343 wanted was to deliver a game that featured some of the worst online connectivity issues of the year. Too bad that’s exactly what they shipped to gamers. Even if players were able to connect to an online multiplayer match, which was unlikely to begin with, the team-balancing would kill any desire to even play the game. Having a single player square off against an entire squad sounds fair, right?
Yes, the single-player campaigns can be played, but it’s not like those aren’t available on other platforms. As it is right now, The Master Chief Collection fails miserably to be the love-letter to fans that 343 promised it to be. As the developers of Halo 5: Guardians, 343 Industries is in dire straits to prove themselves worthy successors to house that Bungie built.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Winner: Most Broken Game and Most Tired Franchise
Is it even really necessary to go into detail about Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, the game where people’s faces are missing?! In a pretty poor year for the French developer, Assassin’s Creed Unity was the rotten cherry on the shit sundae.
Set during the French Revolution, the latest entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise follows Arno Dorian, a French assassin (who has an English accent for some reason) as he and his fellow parkour enthusiast fight against the Templar Order…blah, blah…piece of Eden…blah, blah…love story. Like most of the recent entries in the series, the story is as poorly written and incomprehensible as a Metal Gear Solid title. Arno is a bland version of Assassin’s Creed II’s Ezio Auditore da Firemze, and is only slightly less boring than Watchdogs’ Aiden Pearce.
The bugs, glitches, awful framerate and faceless people aside, the game also sports a lackluster co-op mode where up to four players can kill as many poorly designed AI as they can.
What makes this whole thing even worse is the fact that Ubisoft was well aware that they had a shitty game on their hands, and knew the reaction was going to be very unkind. If placing lengthy review embargos on a AAA game like Assassin’s Creed isn’t an ominous omen, then I don’t know what is.
The last generation Assassin’s Creed: Rogue was said to have been better than its French counterpart, but it seems to have failed to make a sizeable impact on the minds of gamers and critics. In the end, Assassin’s Creed needs to take a long (I’m thinking a decade) multi-year break, but with Assassin’s Creed: Victory set to be released this year, that’s unlikely to happen any time soon.
Winner: Worst Remake/Reboot
Many fans of the stealth genre have a special place in their hearts for the Thief series. Its setting, the difficulty and the loveable cockney accents all added to the series’ atmosphere making it one the premiere stealth titles. Edios Montreal’s reboot of the franchise, Thief, has none of those things and seems to actively avoid including the hallmarks so many players gravitated towards.
The stealth, the focus of the game, often feels too restrictive and clunky, giving the player little reason to try multiple options when trying to steal a valuable item. Thief’s “combat” feels out of place and is only made comical by the broken fight takedown animations. The poor visuals, long load times and cramped spaces only add to the frustrations.
The game’s protagonist, Garret, is yet another of the games long list of disappointments. Garret’s next gen incarnation is both wooden and brooding, spending most of his time mumbling his thoughts in a voice that is as soothing as sandpaper. While he certainly resembles his character from previous games, there’s just something uniquely unpleasant about him. It could be the fact that has the distinct look of someone who has not had a shower in years.
Winner: Ubisoft’s Third Worst Game of 2014
Yeah, Ubisoft has certainly been delivering a lot of crap AAA titles this year, and The Crew is no different. Touted as a massive online multiplayer driving game, The Crew’s woes began early after the release of particularly bad beta for the game. Ubisoft, ever the professionals, assured that the bugs and glitches that plagued the beta would be addressed and fixed. After the game’s release, not only were the bugs and glitches not fixed, but the title itself felt no different from its early access beta.
The saddest thing about the game was that it actually looked promising. Hyping the game’s “seamless” online integration and setting, which takes place across the entire continental United States, Ubisoft seemed to have a new hit franchise on their hands. Since its release, The Crew has suffered from a number of online connectivity issues and broken AI. Adding to the disappointment is the fact that game looks like an early version of a racing title on last generation consoles.
The final nail in the coffin for The Crew is that it isn’t a very good racing game to begin with. With clunky controls and an overwhelming amount of garbage statistics on the screen, players will most likely struggle to even complete a race let alone win one.
Winner: Most Disappointing Game and Most Overrated Game
Everyone’s heard of it and everyone seems to be playing it, but that hasn’t stopped many critics and gamers from putting it at the top of their lists as one of the most disappointing games in years. Destiny is the first non-Halo title produced by Bungie in over a decade. After five years in production, Destiny was released to middling reviews and severe backlash for its underwritten story, lifeless open world and broken loot mechanic.
After finishing Destiny’s last story mission, it probably dawned on a lot of players that they had absolutely no clue what the hell was going on. They didn’t know why they were fighting against this mysterious entity called the Darkness, and why the player character seemed so adamant about stopping it. Sadly, Destiny doesn’t care to explain what the Darkness is, or why the collection of various alien races want to destroy humanity. Don’t go in thinking you’ll learn about alien cultures and societies like in a Mass Effect or Halo. The only thing players know about the various enemies that they killed a thousand times over is that they were very adamant about killing them and protecting their infinite number of computer consoles haphazardly placed in ancient ruins and underground caves.
If Destiny had to be summed up with one word, it would be “repetitive.” The story missions, which already suffered greatly due to their painfully boring design, fail to do anything but get you from Point A to Point B. Each mission has you running to an area; finding an ancient computer of some kind and having your little floating Dinklebot (Peter Dinklage) uncover some information or technology that is never explained outside of the fact that is needed to complete the next mission.
Looking at Destiny, it’s abundantly obvious that that the game has significant production values. With beautiful environments and a truly inspiring score, Destiny presents itself as giant universe ripe for exploration. The painful reality is that it’s anything but. Destiny tries to be so many things at once, and with the exception of a well-designed shooting mechanic, it fails to achieve what so many other games have done so much better. In the end, Destiny’s repetitive nature, abysmal storytelling and lack of content make it a barely adequate first person shooter. Anyone expecting something special from Bungie, the studio that revolutionized first person shooters on consoles, will be sorely disappointed with this poor excuse of a game.
What about you reader? What were your most notable disappointments in gaming last year? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to assign the awards to the games most deserving of your ire.