December 31, 2008

The Most Disappointing Games of 2008

Jimmy James 70 Says: MrWeymes told me he was going to write an article on the most disappointing game of the year. I immediately thought of NHL—up and down the ice, back and forth—what the heck is that? This game gets glowing reviews left and right and all you do is skate around the ice flicking a puck around. Worst sports game Eva. And then there was GRiD. Overall, it’s a great game, but what’s with racing Le Mans at the end of every season? Talk about a chore. At least you can skip it.

Then I started thinking about the most unexpectedly good game of the year. Viking: Battle for Asgard was panned by the critics and loved by me. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the critics and I got a game that I wanted to play. And I liked it. I liked it a lot. It’s a good game. The critics also panned Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, but after playing the first mission, I really liked it. Yes, it has frustrating game play mechanics, but as a causal SW fan, I'm liking it.

And now, here’s MrWeymes…

MrWeymes Says: For every anticipated game that lives up to the hype, there is one that disappoints. The promises a company makes to build hype around their game often leaves gamers saddened when they realize they just paid full price for a game that fulfills only some of the promises. On Christmas day, several gamers opened games that they wouldn't wish on anybody. Of course, these people had to put on their fake smiles, and attempt to play through a few minutes of the mentioned game. As with any year, 2008 had a solid amount of disappointing games. The disappointment of the year award isn't the worst game of the year. It's the game that disappointed anticipatory gamers the most.

While it's true that 2008 had it's fair share of disappointing games such as Haze, and Too Human, the biggest disappointment of the year is a game that loyal Sonic the Hedgehog fans were dreaming about ever since they saw the first video of Sonic in a semi-2D plane. That game is the Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 versions of Sonic Unleashed. Apparently, Sonic Unleashed for the Playstation 2, and Wii are decent, but for those that bought Sonic Unleashed for the PS3, and 360, their world is no doubt upside down with despair, hate and rage. Sonic Unleashed is one of the most frustrating Sonic games released in recent years. At least with Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, there were no shining moments that made you think it was a good game. However, in Sonic Unleashed, there is a ton of fun to be had, especially for a veteran Sonic fan. The majorities of Sonic’s daytime levels are very fun, and well put together. This would be great if the rest of the game wasn't a huge, uninspired chore to play. As anyone reading this article probably knows, Sonic turns into a werewolf at night, which is dubbed the "werehog." From terrible concept to terrible execution, the werehog portions of this game will haunt you for many nights. You will be forced to battle the same 5-6 enemies from start to finish throughout the entirety of the werehog levels, and on top of that you will be subjected to some of the worst, most archaic platforming to grace your television in years. It's literally shocking that the werehog portion of this game wasn't scrapped to make room for a few more day time Sonic levels. The enemies you encounter as the werehog look like rejects from a Kingdom Hearts sequel, and the ones that don't are just as uninspired. The bottom line is that if you're having fun playing as the werehog, you either haven't played a lot of games in your life, or you're such a blind Sonic fan that you refuse to acknowledge the horror that is unfolding right in front of your eyes. This is one of the few cases where less content would have made for a better game. If you were to go through the hub worlds that piece each level together, and play all of the daytime levels, you would probably have a 4-6 hour game. That would be absolutely fine, because there is a huge amount of replayability in the daytime levels. This game would have scored much better among critics if it were to just cut out one dastardly character; the werehog. That's not to say that the daytime levels are perfect, but they show that SEGA is getting back on track with the Sonic series. Honestly, Sonic doesn't even need to have 3D portions to his daytime levels.

Another problem with Sonic Unleashed is the lack of familiar characters involved with the story. Throughout your adventure with Sonic, you will come across Dr. Eggman, Tails, and Amy. That's it. Where is Knuckles, Rouge the Bat, Blaze the Cat, Cream the Rabbit, Shadow, or Silver? None of these characters had to be playable, but it would be nice to see them in cutscenes, or at least hanging around in the many towns.

It's when the camera pans to show a sidescrolling perspective that the game truly shines. SEGA needs to listen to critics, as well as Sonic fans, and release a game that only has levels similar to the daytime levels in Sonic Unleashed. Fans do not need, or want to find emeralds with Knuckles, perform telekinesis with Silver, nor do they need to trudge through the abomination that is the werehog levels of Sonic Unleashed.

To summarize, Sonic Unleashed is another failed attempt to revive the Sonic the Hedgehog series back to it's former glory. The daytime levels are nostalgic, and fun, but the rest of the game makes a grown man weep. Perhaps SEGA will incorporate the good from this game, and release a better Sonic the Hedgehog game in a couple of years. In the meantime, Sonic fans are treated to The Goozex Report's Disappointment of the Year.