Dramatis_non_persona

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. In many cases, these games are sequels, or the creations of developers with proven track records, or entries in established genres, or games with promising beginnings. But for various reasons, the central fact about these games is that I had personally hoped they would be better.

After the jump, the most disappointing games of 2013

10) Outlast

Outlast
This indie horror game had great tech, a superlative sense of mood, and a nifty tie-in to found-footage movies. But as it went on, it became crushingly obvious that it had no gameplay, no meaningful story, and no horror (jump scares are not horror).

9) Fuse

Fuse
Insomniac, a company that normally lavishes onto their games an infectious energetic creativity, had no trouble sleeping through this one. Neither did I.

8) Rome II

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From the creators of Shogun II? Creative Assembly gets their mojo back for one game and then nosedives into this disappointing return to form?

Read the review here.

7) Company of Heroes 2

Company_disappointing
From the creators of Company of Heroes and Dawn of War? After a long career making real time strategy games, each one better than the last, Relic’s winning streak comes to a screeching halt on the Eastern Front.

Read the review here.

6) Aliens: Colonial Marines

Mais_oui
From the creators of Borderlands 2? Aliens: Contractual Obligation.

Read the review here.

5) Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Starcraft_II_Heart
From the creators of Brood Wars, Lord of Destruction, and Cataclysm? Since when are Blizzard’s add-ons so anemic? A laughably bad storyline, a campaign built from gimmicks instead of gameplay, and a handful of new units for power-gamers? It’s telling that the patch that preceded this add-on did more to reinvigorate that game than the add-on itself (and it’s also telling that many reviewers confused the contents of the patch with the contents of the add-on).

Read the review here.

4) Beyond Two Souls

One_of_the_Souls
How is it that the writing here is so much worse than Heavy Rain, which was already bad? Shouldn’t these games-as-movies be getting better? It’s particularly disappointing when good and well-known actors are used so prominently and to such poor effect.

Read the review here.

3) SimCity

SimCity
A collection of smaller interdependent cities is a potentially cool design concept. How did it implode into such a massive ungainly unworking mess of an actual game? Electronic Arts managed to take one of the most enduring videogame franchises and turn it into a punchline.

Read the review here (note that the actual text is down in the comments section).

2) Battlefield 4

Levolution_in_action
Considering how long Electronic Arts’ ingenious Swedes at DICE have been making this game, why can’t they get the technical stability right? After ten years, their new games are still this shaky, and still this shaky this long after the release?

Read the review here.

1) Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

Meet_the_protagonist
I love this game, but why can’t Ubisoft handle a story and characters? With these massively indulgent production values, why can’t they manage a narrative? I can accept Ubisoft’s latest Splinter Cell being weak on narrative, because there’s only so much you can do to underpin “so I sneaked up to this dude and killed him because I am a bad-ass”. But Assassin’s Creed continues to be full of scripted story missions and plotting and characters, and it’s almost always terrible. A series with production values this rich and gameplay this generous deserves a story to match.

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