With E3 2011 just over the horizon, we started this week with a list of 7 games we’d absolutely love to see at E3. Today, however, as our desperate planning comes to a close and the show really starts to breathe down our collective necks, our minds are wandering to some pretty dark places.
Yes, E3 is a fantastic showcase for games we can’t wait to see, but that’s not all there is to it. Some of the worst (or at least most memorably awful) experiences we’ve had with the industry have come out of past E3, and a lot of them were games that should never have seen the light of day. With that in mind, here are a few games we really hope don’t make it this year.
1. Uncharted Racing
Unlikely as it is that we’ll see another Uncharted game announced in a year when an already-unveiled sequel is still on the way, we’ll gladly extend this to next year, and the one after that – and, hell, every other E3 down the road. The reason is simple: the day Uncharted Racing is announced is the day developer Naughty Dog decides to abandon the franchise.
Does that sound ridiculous? Those who’ve watched the past 15 years so of the company’s history already know there’s a solid precedent here. Twice now, Naughty Dog’s creations have followed a very specific pattern: First, it creates an amazing, smash-hit platformer franchise. Then it creates two sequels. And then, at the height of each franchise’s popularity, it creates a kart-racing game set in that universe. Everyone naturally assumes this is just a weird spinoff fluke – until the fourth “real” game is cranked out by some other developer, and the once-beloved franchise is pummeled into obscurity by diminishing returns.
It happened to Crash, it happened to Jak, and it’s entirely possible that it could happen to Nathan Drake. For everyone’s sake, though, we hope it never does.
2. Anything packaged with/related to a plastic instrument
We sure had fun with these, didn’t we? A few years ago, few activities seemed as enjoyable as getting together with friends and clacking away to beloved songs on fake guitars. Now, however, the market’s flooded with dozens of increasingly useless sequels, spinoffs and wannabes, and our living rooms and dens are choked with dust-coated plastic bullshit.
Above: The last time we actually cared about an improvement to fake instruments
This development was not lost on the industry, which last year tried to counter our growing disinterest with MORE plastic bullshit. Valiant though the effort was, keyboards and guitar controllers with actual strings turned out not to be the answer, and the plastic-music genre –particularly the grossly diluted “Hero” franchise – suffered enough of a drop in sales that even Activision finally re-evaluated its infamous “milk this shit to death” policy. It’s hard to say whether the genre’s truly “over,” or if we just need a long break from it right now. Unless there’s a drastic, incalculably earth-shattering re-invention of the genre waiting for us at E3, though, we’d like it to be conspicuously absent this year.
3. Mass Effect MMO
Just over a year ago, a job listing appeared for “multiplayer programmer, Mass Effect Franchise.” Since that initial post, however, we’ve heard next to nothing about this supposed position at BioWare. Let’s keep it that way. Yes, the Mass Effect universe is as vast as it is deep, and yes, we’ve said it could support its own weekly TV series for years based solely on content from the first two games, but all the things we love about this series won’t translate into a multiplayer, let alone MMO format.
Dense dialogue trees? Yeah, that sounds like a grand old time, watching someone in your party slowly pick through each conversation topic. It’s immersive and rewarding when done alone, but throw other humans in the mix (who want to play a game, not watch you chit chat) and it becomes tedious. Take it out completely in favor of faster (presumably shooter-y) gameplay and well… now it’s barely Mass Effect at all. Upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic retains voiced dialog and other traits that make Mass Effect great, but that raises another concern altogether…
Since the first Knights of the Old Republic game, we’ve seen a so-so sequel and then a complete hiatus while BioWare slowly completes a Star Wars MMO in lieu of more KOTOR – which is what everyone wants in the first place. Now it appears Mass Effect, once this trilogy is completed, could also become mired in a never-ending quest to out-WoW World of Warcraft.
Mass Effect director Casey Hudson recently said an MMO would “make sense” in this universe, and while we agree there’s enough juice to power one, we desperately want this series to stay true to character development, gripping plot points and game-changing choices instead of disappearing into the ether while BioWare makes a PC-only MMO. Who would favor party squabbling and loot quests over the kind of storytelling and intensely personal conversations that have made Mass Effect our favorite new franchise?
4. More Atari remakes
Years before Nintendo was a player, the Atari 2600 was what all the cool kids needed sitting under the TV. Flash forward to a year or two ago, when someone at Atari said, “You know all those awesome old Atari games people love? We should revive those franchises and cash in on that nostalgia!” Now cut to us today, alternating between pure rage and utter heartbreak every time a new one of these misshapen miscarriages of design prison-rapes another treasured childhood memory.
Above: Three of these were great games. Three are garbage. That is a freaking travesty
Haunted House somehow turned out less spooky and unnerving than the original, which looked like a preschooler made it out of construction paper. Star Raiders is a soulless husk of a space shooter, crippled by boring mission design, hopelessly convoluted controls, and an annoyingly stereotypical cast. And Yars’ Revenge actually managed to make the 2600’s most unique game boring and typical. Before, you played as a badass fly-guy who could eat your enemy’s shield, fly in space and spit fireballs. Now you’re yet another stoic anime chick with molded armor and a big gun (though you do have four arms) and you’re gliding through a by-the-numbers rail shooter with terrible enemy placement, lame weapons and an awful camera. And Warlords? Not out yet, but it doesn’t look good.
See, Atari,if you’re going to give a damn and reintroduce these franchises with full-budget, AAA titles that look and feel like they come from the same place as the original, great. But you’re giving us D-grade DLC crapware that could be any generic game and slapping a treasured name on it – and that’s legitimately insulting those of us who have beloved memories of the originals and completely uninteresting to those who don’t. Just stop.
Above: Keep your hands off of these, Atari. We mean it