Earlier this week, the whole issue with the Silent Hills / P.T. cancellation crossed my mind, and the same sense of sheer disappointment that I felt when I first heard the news washed over me like a brisk drizzle on a trip to the beach. Not to beat a dead horse, but the whole thing really was a big shame. As I silently took a moment to mourn the loss of the dearly departed potential that was Silent Hills, I reminded myself that this wasn’t the first time I had felt so disappointed with a release or lack thereof.
Goodbye, Lisa. We hardly knew you.
So today I thought I’d share with you a few of the most disappointing moments in gaming that I have come across personally.
- Fallout 3
This list simply would not be any fun if I didn’t start out with a mostly well-loved game, so I’ll begin with what is probably my most frustrating introduction to PC gaming.
As I’ve been told many times, and as I’ve come to experience firsthand much later, Fallout 3 is a very solid game. The atmosphere of the remnants of a nuclear apocalypse was presented excellently, and the somewhat ground-breaking mechanics that came out of blending a first person shooter with a traditional Western RPG were simply fantastic. It might not be too big a stretch to say that Fallout 3 put Bethesda on the map, so to speak. Quite frankly, Fallout 3 was an amazing game.
When it worked.
For a rather long time, Fallout 3 had a rather infamous bug that rendered it mostly unplayable for those running multi-core processors on their machines. It just so happened that the dinky little laptop I was playing on at the time had four of the little bastards, so for the most part, I was completely unable to play Fallout 3 for more than a few minutes before the whole thing crashed.
And let me tell you, there are only so many times a man can take Butch stealing his sweetroll before enough is enough.
I’ve had enough of your shit, Butch.
As it turned out, there was a fairly simple work around for the processor issue, but as I mentioned earlier, I was still new to PC gaming in general. By the time I got it all fixed, my excitement for the game had been all but completely worn out. The whole process was a total pain at the time, thus Fallout 3 was a bit of a disappointment.
- Final Fantasy XIII
Now we’re going from a bit of a surprising game to one that probably isn’t surprising at all. It is no secret that Final Fantasy XIII was a huge let down in the crown of Final Fantasy games.
There were a number of huge issues that I had with this particular installation in the Final Fantasy franchises, ranging from annoying characters to painfully boring level designs to what I can only be described as the most idiotic choice of a combat mechanic ever implemented into a Final Fantasy game ever.
I’ve given this game multiple chances at redemption, but each time, all I seem to accomplish is in finding something new that pisses me off about it. I’ve tried to forgive to annoying characters only to realize that the world is basically just one big hallway. I’ve tried to look past the hallways only to find that letting your controlled character die results in an immediate game over, phoenix downs be damned.
I wanted to like it. I really, really did. I got used to Final Fantasy XII and eventually fell in love with that one, so I tried desperately to recreate that redemption in Final Fantasy, XIII, but in the end, it all just proved futile. I simply cannot find it within myself to find any enjoyment in that title.
It was such a huge disappointment, because I had become a huge Final Fantasy fan after Final Fantasy X, which is a little strange, since that one is also mostly a really long hallway. Final Fantasy X was one of the first video games to really blow my mind with its touching story, heartfelt soundtrack, and immersive world. I had been a gamer for roughly ten years before then, but that was one of the first times I had felt such an emotional connection to a video game that wasn’t anger. After X, I played VI, VII, and XII, and each time I was amazed by how good they were.
Unfortunately, XIII just brought me back to anger.
- Marvel vs. Capcom 3
In a strange moment of disappointing coincidence, I happened to have bought Marvel vs. Capcom 3 around the same time I bought Final Fantasy XIII and Fallout 3. I guess that whole era was a dark time in my gaming life.
More in line with Fallout 3 than with Final Fantasy XIII, I actually enjoyed Marvel vs Capcom 3 for a little while. I started to learn each of the characters and play through their stories in the arcade type mode. For a while, that was all fun, but then I decided it would be fun to play online, and I got my ass properly reamed time and time again. While part of me thought it would be a great deal of fun to learn to play a few characters and get good online, I simply wasn’t having enough fun in the game in general to put the effort in. After getting through the arcade mode with each character within a day or two, I decided it would be better to simply trade the game in at GameStop for Final Fantasy XIII and Soul Calibur IV.
Oh, the agony. If a bad dream is called a nightmare, what should I call a bad nostalgia trip?
The worst part is that that was before they released Phoenix Wright as a fighter. I actually cry every time I think about it.
Archeage was an MMO that I thought had an immense amount of potential. It had a massively extensive crafting system that was integral to the community as a whole. It had awesome places to explore and amazing ways to explore them such as gliders and various different types of ships. The pvp was rather extensive in theory. Since you could combine three different classes to create your own specific class, there was an enormous level of customization that you could take part in. Truly, Archeage had nearly limitless potential as the next big MMO.
The only thing that really ruined it was its monetization methods. Trion really seemed to want Archeage to be available for people who would not or could not comply with a subscription-based model, so they instead opted for some sort of twisted hybrid between subscriptions and micro-transactions.
Players had the option to pay a monthly subscription to achieve patron status, which gave them a boatload of extra perks such as the ability to own housing and faster generation of a resource called labor. Players also had the option to purchase upgrades from the in-game micro-transaction store, which became progressively more and more “pay to win” as time went on. At first the store offered mostly aesthetic goods and some cool crafting recipes, but after a while, Trion started to add items that could give you extremely rare and valuable crafting materials as well as potions that gave you more labor points. Eventually, it got to the point where you could sell off nearly anything from the store to the auction house for in-game currency, effectively trading real-world money directly into in-game money, i.e. “pay to win.”
While that whole deal was very annoying to me, what I found most annoying was the labor system in general. Labor points were used for quite literally anything in the game, short only of conducting combat. Even looting enemies cost labor points. The problem with this is that the labor points were generated only by time and the potions you bought off of the micro-transaction store / auction house. Free players generated around 5 labor points per 10 minutes they spent playing the game, while patrons generated 10 labor points per 10 minutes in game as well as 5 points per 10 minutes outside of the game. That means the 4 labor points it costs to loot one monster literally translates to about 4-10 minutes of your time. Crafting one item generally cost from about 30 labor points to nearly 100, meaning you have to carefully spend at least half an hour in game without doing anything productive just to make that damn belt, even if you had all of the materials for it.
I quickly realized that Archeage was the epitome of wasted time.
What was most disappointing was that Archeage provided me with some of my most memorable MMO guild moments. It was genuinely fun to run around with my new Australian friends and go pirating out in the open seas. Unfortunately, I just could not find it in myself to continue to pay for it, and my interest in Archeage as a whole came to a sharp, disappointing close. Maybe someday I’ll return to it to see if things have gotten better.
- Guild Wars 2
Much like Archeage, Guild Wars 2 started out really well. The new questing systems, the unique races, and the beautiful expansive world made playing Guild Wars 2 one of the more enjoyable MMOs I had ever played at the time. The fact that I loved the original Guild Wars trilogy just made it all the better. I jumped on board with this game right away with my friends and even pre-ordered the digital deluxe version, a practice that I am usually very adamant against. We spent a good amount of time running amok throughout Tyria.
But that’s when the fire nation attacked. But by fire nation, I mean some Chinese guy. And by attacked, I mean hacked my Guild Wars 2 account as well as my associated email account.
Pictured above: current owners of my email address.
As it turned out, getting your Hotmail account back from a Chinese hacker is very difficult. In fact, I never did. I had to set up a Gmail account and do a fair amount of finagling to make sure my bank accounts and stuff weren’t jeopardized. Even now, more than two years later, I still occasionally come across some account of mine that is linked to a now dead email address.
Oddly enough, getting my Guild Wars 2 account back was far more manageable, but it came at a cost. I logged back into my old character only to find that everything in his bags and bank was gone. All he had was the gear that I had equipped on him before I got hacked. I tried to continue playing for a little while, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling of having been violated in some way. Admittedly, it was kind of weird.
The sad thing was that I wasn’t alone. Around launch, Guild Wars 2 had some of the poorest account security that I had ever seen. Account hacking and botting were huge issues back then. Eventually, Arenanet wised up, and now I think the game is relatively safe, but it really is as they say, first impressions are lasting impressions.
And there you have it. From poor starts to gradual decline to flat out suckage, some games just left a bad taste in my mouth. While these five are certainly not the only games that have left me disappointed, they are some of the most impressionable. They also happen to be some of the games that I was really hyped up for, so that certainly made the sting a bit worse.
What about you? Have there been games that you were really excited for, only to fall significantly short of your expectations? Maybe my impressions on some of these games are misled, or maybe they have mended their ways since I left them. This is one of the types of conversations that I’d love to get other people’s opinions or insights on.