You know what's worse than a bad? Answer: A bad game everyone else love for some reasons. Sometimes these games get praise after praise for feats of "amazingness" and never get challenged. Well...
This week we're bringing you the second part of our Critically Acclaimed Game We Hate article, featuring the opinions of several of your favorite writers. Today we're spreading the hate on some of last few years' move beloved franchise. But before we get started, if you didn't read the first part, check it out here.
The Halo franchise has always been one of the most beloved video game series since its first introduction on the original Xbox in 2001. It was one of the earliest first person games to prove that a first person shooter can work just as well on consoles instead of being a market dominated by the PC. By this point in time, Halo has blossomed into a large multimedia franchise spawning multiple video games, an animated DVD collection, and a series of well-received novels. Now while the Halo games have all been well received and gone on to sell millions of copies worldwide they have just never clicked with me and it wasn’t until Halo 3 that I had realized I had enough.
Halo 3 was, for me, the breaking point in the series. It was the third game and I failed to see any real iteration. The biggest improvements over the years were the graphics and special features such as the addition of Forge. But nothing really substantial. The gunplay always felt stiff and the game just ran at such a slow pace. I will say the environments improved over the last two games but I sometimes still felt like I was walking in circles because everything looked so similar. My biggest problem with the Halo franchise (that I simply had enough of by the time of Halo 3) was how long it took to kill anything. I understand that everyone is wearing power armor and that they should be hard to kill but I never felt like they were too heavily armored because the hit detection didn’t seem to make anyone even flinch. It was just as if I was pumping bullets into a wall that was shooting back.
While I may be in a minority with my dislike of Halo 3, I just feel like there are much better games that offer the same things that Halo does. When the original Halo came out, I even had more fun playing Far Cry multiplayer than I did Halo. And Halo 3’s multiplayer didn’t grab my attention any more. I actually look forward to Halo 4 having a new developer because maybe now we will see some big iteration with the series that will make it a more appealing game. I would actually enjoy it a lot more if it was the exact opposite of what Halo 3 turned out to be.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
After the repeated success of the Uncharted franchise many were looking forward to Uncharted 3, myself included. It started extremely strongly, with an amazing opening and subsequent encounters that helped elaborate on the back-story of the main characters. However as I progressed through the game I found myself disliking the experience more and more thanks in part to the gameplay as well as the story.
Uncharted 2 was extremely well written, acted and paced, leaving little to be desired, as its conclusion wrapped up any loose ends in its contained story while leaving itself open to another set of adventures with two of the leads hooking up. As you progress through Uncharted 3 all of your favourite past characters reunite and team up with you, however these encounters do not last as long as you would hope, leaving you wanting more interactions and laughs. Many plot points are left unexplained by the finale, including what happened between Drake and Elena after the events of the second game, which is barely elaborated on and vaguely implied. You also never find out what happened to characters that disappeared earlier in the adventure due to injury. The last thing about the story that left me wanting was that the evil presence they were trying to prevent escaping wasn’t fully revealed. This left you with a rather large anticlimax and a sequence that felt all too familiar from the second title.
Gameplay was this titles main problem however, due mostly to poorly designed combat encounters. One of the things that makes games fun is challenge. If you breeze through an entire game without any failures or problems it feels completely unfulfilling. However if you ramp up the difficulty in specific parts for no good reason (thanks predominantly to instant kills that come from off camera and poorly placed checkpoints which make you replay large amounts of tedious gameplay repeatedly), you are unable to learn what you were doing wrong and how to overcome it.
The only thing that Uncharted 3 had going for it was the drop dead stunning visuals that never disappointed through the whole of you’re time playing it. All in all, it is an extremely underwhelming sequel and disappointing end to a franchise that felt like it couldn’t drop so badly in quality.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
In my mind, Batman: Arkham Asylum is not a good game. But I need to specify that it’s not a bad game simply from a game perspective but a Batman perspective, which is the opposite problem most superhero games have. While I may not be the biggest Batman fan, I know my Batman and I know it well. You’re talking to a guy that has read most major graphical novels including Hush, The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Killing Joke. You talking to a guy that has seen every Batman movie and even the Adam West TV show. More importantly, you’re talking to a guy that’s seen the entire Bruce Timm cartoon series. Twice. To say that Rocksteady got it wrong is an understatement. Let’s break it down.
Story: Personally I thought that story was horrible, or more correctly, laughable. Batman The Animated Series wove much deeper, darker and, in the end, better tales. But the cartoon-esque story could have been offset by the visuals. If the visuals had been made to resemble a cartoon, the story wouldn’t have been so bad in my mind. Instead they took a queue from Christopher Nolan and tried to create a Batman that lived in reality. It’s just too bad they didn’t actually put him in reality. I mean, Bane’s serum, that’s the best you got? I mean, did the guys at Rocksteady even watch TDK?
Detectivizing: One thing that everyone I know loves about B:AA is that you are actually a master detective. Little did I know that being a master detective means that you turn on your win-goggles (i.e. Detective Mode), let Oracle figure everything out for you and then follow some trail of something to the next combat scenario.
Equipment: In B:AA, you start with only a few pieces of your inventory and you pick up the rest through the story. But why in the world did Batman go fight the Joker in the first place without all of his wonderful toys? I understand the Metroidvania style of gameplay that B:AA was going for but it just didn’t work conceptually. If Batman doesn’t have all his gadgets, give him reason. The whole time I played the game, I kept thinking of the BTAS episode (ep. 31, Dreams in Darkness) where Batman is locked in Arkham and is in a straightjacket but still manages to be awesome.
Depiction of Bane: Bane is not a muscle-bound idiot that runs into walls if you dodge him. Bane is a smart and maniacal man that was able to wear Batman down until he was able to break him, both psychologically and physically. There’s a reason Bane is the main villain in The Dark Knight Rises, he’s a good character. The guy in B:AA is not Bane.
Controls: Don’t put 8 things on a D-Pad! Simple as that.
I understand that many people love this game, I just don’t know why. It failed to make me feel like Batman on any level. I didn’t feel like a great detective or even a great superhero, I felt like a arbitrarily hampered Sam Fisher in a world fit for a Saturday morning cartoon and as you can imagine, Splinter Cell and cartoon don’t mix well.
Well, that does it for the Critically Acclaimed Games We Hate. Let us know if there are games you would like us to talk and if this is something you would like to see again. As always, leave your comments in the, er, comments below.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.