I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.
There were a lot of really bad video games released in 2015, but chances are you never saw or heard of most of them. Which is as it should be: heavy turds tend to sink to the bottom of the bowl, to be flushed and forgotten.
And while there were definitely high-profile games that had significant problems – from Fallout 4’s many glitches to the way Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain started strong before getting tripped up by its own repetitiveness – most of them still ended up enjoyable and memorable.
But some games promised a lot and simply failed to deliver, while others had amazing premises or characters that were criminally squandered by a lack of talent or vision. Here’s my own personal look at the biggest gaming disappointments of 2015.
After the catastrophic mess that was 2009’s Tony Hawk: Ride, many of us long-time fans of the Birdman’s skateboarding games hoped Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 – the first new full-fledged Tony Hawk game in many years – would be a return to form for the series. Instead, what we got was a game in which the only fun to be found was in its legion of bizarre bugs. Half-baked, dull and an insult to the legacy of this once-great franchise, THPS5 could be the single biggest gaming letdown of the year.
Who wouldn’t love to trample cities, battle giant creatures and blast puny humans’ tanks and planes with Godzilla’s radioactive breath? After a successful cinematic reboot in 2014, the timing was perfect for a new game featuring Japan’s most famous monster. But this one plays like a slow-motion beat-em-up, as ol’ Gojira stomps generators and dukes it out with rival kaiju in battles that are too similar to one another to be much fun. It’s boring and bare-bones, except during times when it becomes infuriatingly difficult. A nuclear disaster.
The original Blood Bowl, based on the board game of the same name, is a great game trapped in a horrible, kludged-together presentation. I’d desperately hoped this sequel would right the wrongs of the original, and while the animation of the football-playing orcs, dwarves, elves and whatnot looks amazing, it still suffers from counter-intuitive, newbie-unfriendly menus and interfaces, as well as a host of minor irritants (I can’t turn off subtitles? Seriously? That’s Game Design 101, folks.) If there’s ever a Blood Bowl 3, I’ll be forsaking it and going back to the old-school board game instead.
The Order: 1886 (PS4)
This action-adventure game set in an alternate, steampunk-flavoured Victorian England was one of the best-looking games of 2015. It was also one of the shortest, taking about five hours to complete, and its incredibly detailed world was hamstrung by pedestrian, linear game play and underdeveloped ideas. It’s such a shame, because it’s clear a lot of effort went into developing the look of the game and capturing great performances from the digital actors. It’s a better movie than it is a game.
Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One)
Make no mistake, Halo 5 is a solid, slickly produced title with a polished multiplayer component. What it’s not is the game that Microsoft’s marketing campaign sold us on: a showdown between Master Chief and his new nemesis, Spartan Locke. Master Chief is scarcely in the game, and when the two super-soldiers finally clash, the conflict is handled in a non-interactive cinematic cutscene and then forgotten. Halo 5’s convoluted storyline – even for a Halo game – did it no favours either, and despite this being the franchise’s debut on the Xbox One, it’s one of the weaker entries in the series.
The creators of the game captured the visuals and sounds of the Star Wars universe with breathtaking fidelity, but the online-focused game play lacks depth and stickiness – I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in and out of love with a game quite so quickly. Add to that the $ 70 season pass for an already-thin $ 80 game, and it feels like an expensive, hollow shell. It’s not bad. It’s just disappointing.