The Weekend Gamer
Thoughts on gaming culture, living among non-gamers, and growing up in the nintendo generation

The Top 5 Disappoinments of 2008

Possibly the biggest disappointment this year, and I didn't even mention it

In any year, we are used to being bombarded with all sorts of promises.  Developers will promise us the moon, if they think it will garner interest in their game.  2008 was a year of bounty, with excellently executed titles for every variety of gamer, from the casual to the core, the RPG lover, the FPS fan, and everything in between.

And yet even though we were spoiled for choice this year, there were still many disappointments.  The following are my picks for the five biggest video game disappointments of 2008.  There’s no one mark of underachievement here–each entry has a unique fashion in which they’ve disappointed in my eyes, which I’ll explain as I go:

1.  Spore–long in development, it ultimately came with an underwhelming punch to the gut.  The game was the 2006 E3 game of the show–that’s how long we’ve been hyping Will Wright’s latest work.  Spore’s not a bad game, but it wasn’t the masterpiece everyone expected it to be either.  The game garnered more press for it’s restrictive DRM then for its gameplay, and an admission to trying to cast as wide a net as possible seemed to confirm what we’d all suspected–the game is a bit schizophrenic, with it’s various stages of play feeling disjointed and halting at times. That’s not to say that any one section of the game wasn’t lots of fun, but the fact that the game has largely remained out of the game of the year talk this time around is telling.

2.  Little Big Planet–just in case you thought I was biased, Little Big Planet makes this list.  I love the game.  Absolutely adore it.  But it’s failing to make a mark with people having sold less than 400k copies in it’s first 8 weeks.  Perhaps this is because it’s on a platform with a smaller install base, or maybe it’s because the depth of its level creation is only appealing to a small niche of people–whatever the reason, what is perhaps the most innovating game of the year has so far failed to be the system seller it was hyped as (even though ironically it was the game that got me to buy a PS3!)…

3.  Speaking of the PS3…yes, I can’t make a list of disappointments without mentioning Sony’s lethargic behemoth of a console.  2008 was supposed to be “the year of the PS3”, and while MGS4 did usher in a short spike in console sales, it wasn’t enough.  Blu ray isn’t doing as well as it should be, and disappointment #4 on my list is another reason that November’s sales were truly scary.  Sony was the only console maker to see a drop in sales year to year when comparing Nov 07 with Nov 08.  Oh yeah, and I haven’t even mentioned HOME yet.  The PS3 is expensive, it’s hard to develop for, and it’s anything but casual.  People just aren’t buying it.  There, I said it.   Disappointing, for sure.

4.  Call of Duty: World at War–once again, CoD:WaW isn’t a bad game by any stretch, it’s simply a disappointment when coming down off of the high of last year’s Modern Warfare.  Treyarch certainly has given it the old college try, but in the end, it still feels like the B team, even if some of that stigma is just mental.  Back to World War II? ouch.  The fact that Call of Duty 4 is still up there on the most played games on Xbox live this week is just another sign that World at War doesn’t quite rise to the challenge that it’s big brother title set last Fall.  And on top of it all, I’m not so sure if Activision has the right idea with annualizing their franchises.  I’d rather see a new Call of Duty ever two years instead of every year.  Give us some time to anticipate the next game for crying out loud!

5.  My final disappointment of 2008 isn’t one title, but more of a genre–Music Rythym games.  Or rather the over saturation thereof.  Oh Guitar Hero…what are you doing?  It’s now been four years in a row that we’ve had new plastic guitars, new discs whose libraries don’t coexist with each other–and then there’s the carpal tunnel inducing Guitar Hero: On Tour for DS, as well as the cacophony of Band Discs that came or were announced in 2008–Aerosmith, ACDC, Metallica, the Beatles.  How many plastic instruments can we realistically be expected to have in our homes??  Rock Band had the right idea by trying to create a platform instead of releasing a new disc every year, but they were dragged into releasing Rock Band 2 by Guitar Hero’s new outing, World Tour.  At least the songs were transferable with Rock Band 2.  And let’s not even start with Rock Revolution…ugh.

    Activision has already stated that they want to do at least 5 or 6 new iterations of Guitar Hero in 2009.  6 different games to buy?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Enough is enough already!

    Honorable mention has got be given to several other games that weren’t necessarily hugely disappointing, but still didn’t deliver like I had hoped they would.  Resistance 2 has a great multiplayer experience, but an ultimately flawed single player campaign.  Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider: Underworld have fallen to B level status–kind of sad for franchises that each defined their genre for their respective console generations.  Mirror’s Edge is a great concept, but lacked…something (in my estimation).  And what about the Wii–where are the must have games this fall?  Animal Crossing certainly deserves to be considered as a disappointment, but it’s nothing compared to the train wreck of Wii Music.  For that matter, where are the must have Wii titles for 09?  Can anyone name any? Yikes.

    So hit me with your feedback.  Am I crazy?  What big dissapointments of 08 did I miss?  What are your thoughts on my top 5, and what would your top 5 be?

    –WG

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    3 Responses to “The Top 5 Disappoinments of 2008”

    1. I think you are right on WG. I expected the PS3 to “make” it this year, but we didn’t see that. I anticipated Spore for 2 years and I have yet to even demo it let alone buy it. The Guitar Heroes are just ridiculous, though I did buy On Tour for the DS (Lorah wanted to try it).

      I have to look on the bright side though, there were so many winners out there this year that I may just have enough to go on for most of 2009. I haven’t sent out a search party or anything yet, but is there anything in store for us in 2009?

      Happy New Year Mate! I’m waiting for my new DS-10 to make to me 🙂

    2. pretty much agree with you across the board except call of duty. rather enjoy the game and feel its right up there with modern warfare. i still insanely love the “leveling up” style to multiplayer and have a righteous time wether i’m playing either. I will agree and say lets take a break for more then a year here dev’s lol. Third time might not be the charm here if we have a game withn another year.

    3. The jury’s still out, but at first glance Guitar Hero: World Tour’s recording studio is a disappointment. It’s more complicated and at the same time more basic than it needs to be. I was looking forward to publishing some songs on GH Tunes, but I’m not going to break my neck trying.

      To be honest, I’m a little disappointed at GTA 4’s popularity compared to Saints Row 2. SR2 is what the GTA franchise used to be about, and a great game. If more people prefer the more serious story of GTA 4 and its slicker graphics, I don’t object to that. But it seems to me the game got more credit than it deserves. It didn’t innovate greatly or improve greatly on old features.


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