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Beloved games we hate

You know that game you play for hours every single night, and dream about playing throughout every single day? We can’t stand the damn thing. You remember that game you treasured as a child, the one you still get warm and fuzzy and misty-eyed just thinking about? Seriously, it sucks.

Sorry, but as you may have noticed by now, gamers are a diverse and extremely opinionated bunch. If you love something with all your heart and soul, we guarantee you that someone else hates it with an equal amount of passion. Chances are good, in fact, that the person who despises your precious favorite is a person you know, like or even trust.

Your favorite GamesRadar editor, for example…



What follows are the “classics” our individual staffers consider crap. The overrated gems we just don’t understand. You may not agree with us, but that's okay - in most of these cases, we don't even agree with each other.






Inspiring fear through entertainment is an art. It takes a delicate and masterful storyteller to know when to ratchet tension and when to release it... when to go for unsettling vagueness and when to go for full-on shock value. To truly terrify an audience, you need to strike a careful balance.

Silent Hill 2 fails miserably, and oh-so-painfully, at attempting to reach that middle ground. Actually, scratch that - Silent Hill 2 doesn't even try to reach that middle ground.


Above: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most overrated of them all?

It's all build-up and no payoff. You spend at least an hour in the beginning just walking. Walking through a drab, sepia-toned soup that is not only supposed to pass for fog, but is also supposed to be this franchise's defining quality. Later, waste ten minutes of your life descending, on foot, into the underwater prison and your reward is... another endless series of dank hallways and rusty doors that look no different than the last two buildings you rummaged through like a bored vagrant.


Above: The entirety of Silent Hill 2

Know what else, Konami? You can concoct as many bizarre-looking freaks as you want. You can even put them in nurse outfits and make them have dirty bathroom sex with Pyramid Head. But unless you give them some kind of psychologically frightening reason for existing, it's... just... not... scary. (See how you like it when I drag everything out?) "It's all in the character's mind" doesn't count. In fact, that's a total copout. So is making me play through this mess multiple times to get a real, mildly comprehensible ending.

If this is the best the genre has to offer, the genre is broken. Survival horror games can and should be better than Silent Hill 2.



 
Someone, please. Please explain to me why you think Halo 3 is such a big deal. Because every time I touch it, I find myself painfully aware that I'm playing a game that just doesn't really do anything.
 
Let's compare it to the competition. Where Bioshock, Call of Duty 4 and Half-Life 2 have densely-textured, original environments, intelligent, layered stories, and multi-faceted, believably-realized personalities, Halo 3's much-vaunted "epic" plot pretty much consists of,  "Here are the bad guys. Kill 'em, barely-characterised hero man!"

Where Gears of War and Counter-Strike facilitate rewarding, tactical play, Halo 3's meat-and-potatoes, run-and-gun simplicity is a basic, late '90s blandathon with less imagination than a dead cow. Where Quake 3 (and Quake Live) are lightning fast, heart-pounding tests of nerve and precision, Halo 3's sluggish pace and floaty physics make it feel like a "My first FPS" starter kit - the videogame equivalent of training pants for those wishing to play a proper shooter when they grow up.

The graphics? In a genre which drives - and is driven by - technology like no other, they're functional at best, as long as you can ignore the fact that the production design makes everything in this pseudo-dramatic tosh look like a Tonka toy. The enemies? Find me but one that looks threatening or behaves in a genuinely interesting way and you sir (or madam) get a shiny gold star and my eternal respect for achieving the impossible.



Halo 3 is a bog-basic, personality-deprived FPS-by-numbers, a flairless inspiration-void with absolutely nothing of its own to bring to the table bar a glorified level editor. It's the McDonald’s of FPS, and if the original Xbox's first-year line-up hadn't been so largely unexciting, it wouldn't have half the profile it has now.



 
Alright, here's the thing. When I grew up, I was into Sega. Like the Beatles and the Stones, you either liked one or the other, not both. Mario was 'the enemy" and I used to have a mental list of bullet points ready that I could recite to argue my case against a Nintendo fanboy, just like PS3 and 360 fans do to everyone's annoyance today. But I have changed.

You see, I really rate Super Mario Bros on NES. It is, quite simply, a masterpiece. It's still as enjoyable today as it ever was and ever will be. And though my knowledge of Super Mario Bros 3 is limited, I was amazed at the cleverness of the level design when I watched my girlfriend demonstrate its secrets in a comprehensive play-through the other day. These are fantastic games.

But Super Mario World is not. You've got one of the most competent 2D consoles ever made in the SNES, yet this looks incredibly basic. Its tiny character sprites (Bullet Bills notwithstanding), detail-starved backgrounds and limited animation frames are not a patch on other platformers of the time.

The sound is annoying, the music featuring twee little instrument sounds that seem to mimic SNES Mario's stupid little feet as he runs. The level design does not seem as intricate as Super Mario Bros 3 nor as simple and enjoyable as SMB1. Sure, it's peppered with variety, such as riding Yoshi (which I do like) and being able to fly with your cape (again, I like). But then you get some annoying, slow levels like the Ghost House or the scrolling screen sections.

The bosses are weak, both in stamina and design, and feel a bit like an apology to me. The world is also too big to play through in one sitting and the save option dulls the challenge, as lives have no real meaning. The experience feels diluted from the challenge of SMB1.

Perhaps the problem is that Mario is not my childhood friend as he was for a lot of other people, so I don't have that automatic love for him. I have finished Galaxy with 120 stars, finished New Super Mario Bros on DS, completed Mario Land 1 and 2 on GB… I even enjoyed Mario Sunshine. But I don't like this. Deal with it.




 
The entire catalog of Final Fantasy games is untouchable. I’m a huge fan, having played every single one of them because they're all special and unique in their own way. But that can't keep Final Fantasy VIII from being an overwrought bitchfest packed with a whiny cast of teenagers and an insanely tedious battle system.

Heading up the pity-party cast is Squall, a pissy anti-hero who's allegedly falling in love with the delicate Rinoa Heartilly. I say “allegedly” because you see next to zero acts of passion from Squall. His dialogue boxes usually go something like this:



How long must you wait to finally see the happy couple united? Dozens of hours. Four discs of complaining and abandonment issues. Antisocial Squall won't even crack a smile until the ending, yet he's surrounded by supportive (but still whiny) friends the whole time.  Hell, the entire cast of FFVIII is a manifestation of Squall's emotional desert: insecurity (Quistis), overconfidence (Zell), naivety (Selphie), compassion (Rinoa)... it's a list of stereotypical, contrasting personalities. This isn’t Fight Club and Laguna isn’t Tyler Durden. Troubled characters are one thing, but this cast is just plain down in the dumps. Plus, for a game centered around the idea of love (as evidenced by the logo artwork, Squall and Rinoa embracing), it's home to a forced, uninteresting romance rivaling of Attack of the Clones.

As for the battles... could they be any more obnoxious? No magic points, just sucking spells out of enemies? Yeah, that's fun. Makes perfect sense too, yanking healing spells out of butterflies and fire attacks from robots. And how about the unskippable, cutscene-length summon attacks? If we wanted to see monsters beat the crap out of each other, we'd watch Destroy All Monsters, not spend hours pretending to play a game.

Above: Look cool? Imagine watching it for the 10th time in one day

In high school, everyone steers clear of the known jerks. Just because there’s a good heart underneath Squall’s off-putting demeanor doesn’t mean anyone’s going to stick around to find out. I sure as hell didn’t.

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145 comments

  • poderx - April 11, 2013 7:45 p.m.

    Everyone was giving very good arguments...until SSBB... Clearly this way doesn´t udnerstand the point... oh well,,, at least he got paid to say that
  • meeeeep - March 22, 2013 6:32 a.m.

    About the whole Sims thing, I actually kinda like Sims 3, but there IS a major problem: the $400 worth of DLC. And, on top of all that, there are a bunch of furniture items and maps that require some "pay real money to get special in game cash" to UNLOCK. Not buy, UNLOCK. Seriously, EA, WTF?!?!?!
  • PS3WolfUK - April 30, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    About time WOW is slated big time on a site!! Its sad, pathetic and a waste of space! Can't beleive people still pay to play it! I knew a work colleague who spent News Year Eve going to over 6 "WOW" Parites! Hmm one word! "SAD!!!!!!!"
  • Makaveli666 - April 30, 2011 11:34 a.m.

    Great article though I'm surprised one of the Uncharted games didn't make it on the list. I have found those games to be the most bland, boring games I have ever played. I thought the characters were very poor and annoying. I cannot understand why it is so beloved. It's a poor man's Tomb Raider.
  • Lycanthrokeith - June 30, 2010 7:14 a.m.

    Rock Band/Guitar Hero: Wow, how badly did the point get missed there. I'm guessing you don't like karaoke either. RB and GH are just another way to live out a fantasy. They are to being a rock star what Ace Combat is to flying a real fighter jet, or Madden is to playing pro football, or countless games are to being the hero and saving the day and having cool powers to do it with. I have tried learning guitar. I don't have the patience for it. I also don't have the money to spend on equipment and such. RB and GH are simple, fun ways for me to do what a video game's ultimate purpose is: Let you live out the fantasy life you don't have otherwise. And granted, Rock Band 3 has instruments that are bridging the gap; fine for those of us who want that. I'm happy with just eating my cake; I don't care to learn how to bake the damn thing. World Of Warcraft: You forgot the biggest point of contention: There is absolutely no reason WHAT SO EVER to be forced to pay to play a game you've already bought. Especially coming as it did from a developer like Blizzard, who ran incredibly good servers for years absolutely free. I want to blame Activision for this (oh, how we've forgotten our roots), but Blizzard did this years prior to the merger. You want to have charges? Either make the game free, and then charge a fee for the play, or charge for the game and give the play for free, while funding the server costs through optional bonus items and such. Doing both is inexcusable, and anyone who enables them to keep going by funding their social stupidity experiment deserves the ridicule they get. All they're doing is making things worse for the rest of us, both in mainstream perception of the community and in passed-down costs to the players. The Sims: As a horror/fantasy fan, I did get some enjoyment out of two Sims expansion packs: Nightlife and Pets, since I could make communities of vampires and werewolves. Amazingly, even that became boring. It's worth noting that a large part of the Sims' success has been from the mainstream, people who usually don't play games anyway. So, like pretty much all things mainstream, it's inherently wrong, and their opinion on this is really irrelevant. GTA San Andreas: And yet, the biggest problem with this game was overlooked: Hot Coffee. A stupid, juvenile, waste of disk space minigame that set the public and legal perception of the industry and of gamers back to near-criminal standards. I shudder to think of how close the games industry came to government regulation as a result; the ESRB, the games industry's self-policing body, is the only thing standing in it's way, people, and Rockstar/Take Two made them look like corrupt inept idiots who willingly let pseudo-pornography through. Coupled with most non-gamers perception that all video games are still like Pac-Man, and therefore all games are clean and pure and kid-friendly, it was a recipe for atomic-level disaster. I work for a major game retailer. The fine for selling ONE M-rated game to someone under 17 (or even someone who looks young but doesn't have ID) is $5000 to the EMPLOYEE, instant termination, and a ban from ever working for any retailer who sells M-rated games, R-rated movies, or Parental Advisory CD's. In New York State, they add a charge of Contributing To the Delinquency Of a Minor, which is a mandatory 6-month prison sentence. FOR ONE OFFENSE. Literally, it is the most hated part of my job; it frightens the hell out of me. (Point of comparison: The fine for the same offense at most liquor stores and tobacco shops is $1000 to as little as $250. I wonder what selling an actual firearm and ammo to a kid would get you fined? Just goes to show how ludicrous people think media is as a violence catalyst. Of course, these are mainstream, out-of-industry and community beliefs; the folks who impose these rules don't play video games or listen to rap, but they do drink, smoke, and have NRA memberships.) Personally, I didn't buy or even play a Rockstar game for years after that whole debacle, considering that when they were caught, they BLAMED GAMERS for making it (specifically, PC gamers who allegedly cracked it and retro-fitted it in somehow). As much love as I have for Red Dead Redemption, I wanted Rockstar and Take Two to go right the hell out of business for that cowardly stunt. If you're a gamer and you weren't outraged that they threw you under the bus like that, then you have no business playing games.
  • Hendetta - June 6, 2010 7:32 p.m.

    I disagree about Smash Bros. The series was created for fans of Nintendo, hence all of the references. The game wasn't made to be revolutionary and change fighting games as we know it; it was made to honor Nintendo's huge, awesome history and appease the fans with tons of characters and stages from their favorite games. Also it is hard to argue that the gameplay isn't addicting and pretty solid.
  • spencerisgod1990 - May 15, 2010 6:47 p.m.

    i agree with most of what was said, but i think sports games have to be up there. all EA games are reskins of the previous entry, followed by a deteriating gameplay that gets more dull the following game (and day). today i played 2010 FWC and thought "wtf, there is nothing changed apart from players look partly better than Fifa 10". i also played NBA live 2010 yesterday, what aload of crap, just exacly the same as NBA live 2001 (last one i played since" also p.s i noticed that with san andreas the moment i put it
  • yonderTheGreat - March 23, 2010 9:16 a.m.

    Best review of Halo 3 that has ever existed.
  • Zeb364 - March 23, 2010 12:19 a.m.

    Final Fantasy, San Andreas and The Sims Sucked Ass. GTA IV gets pretty tedious after awhile and the constant cell phone calls/relationship upkeep is just fucking annoying. And COD4 lost all concept of fun in the later campaign levels and online due to frustratingly easy it is to die and how ridiculously broken the matchmaking system was. And I agree what was said about Halo 3, it is a dumbed down, kiddie "my first FPS" style game where the most intense strategy is when to throw a grenade but it serves a wonderful purpose of being a more relaxing, less intense online shooter experience then say, Gears of War 2 or Modern Warfare 2.
  • BertTheTurtle - March 22, 2010 10:30 p.m.

    I agree with the Halo thing (but custom games are still fun) but Silent Hill II is awesome. I have also discovered that I can start arguements by uttering the statement, "Bad Company beats MW2." This amuses me.
  • Green_Shade - March 22, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    The Sims : Vietnam FTW
  • RanTheAwesome - February 19, 2010 1:48 p.m.

    A lot of the hate for these games are pretty weak, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Seriously, that's like telling someone not to play Call of Duty and become a soldier IRL, same thing with other simulation games. And Paul Ryan, once again you do something utterly stupid. Though I can agree that some of GTA IV's realism took away from most of the fun in previous games, but I still loved it and thought it was fun, however, you forgot one thing; You spelled Niko's name wrong. God forbid an Eastern European or Serbian came across this article, they would tear you a new one for being ignorant as Hell. Next time, research, get your facts straight, and actually PLAY the game, otherwise you'll sound like the IRateGamer, except much worse.
  • NINJA90 - November 30, 2009 2:30 a.m.

    And brawl... again its sheer scale is what makes it enormous... It obviously DOES get VERY repetitive tho.
  • NINJA90 - November 30, 2009 2:26 a.m.

    What I say about Halo... CAMPAIGN SUCKS ALL ASS EVER! However, the sher customizability of the custom games is what I like. I don't know anyone who EVER plays the campaign, when we play, we play inspired game types like cops and robbers, tuskan raiders... That is why Halo 3, and none of the other halo games, are good. (Firefight was pretty good tho).
  • legendofzeldarocker - November 26, 2009 4:43 a.m.

    Matt Cundy and Shane Patterson deserve a punch to the balls, but they will probably die from a coma because they jacked off to way to much CP.
  • sveini22 - November 23, 2009 2:23 p.m.

    halo 3, cod 4 and brawl are good games
  • RoxasXXion - November 20, 2009 7:42 p.m.

    I actually liked Ico but i can understand why some peeps would hate it. Agree with pretty much all of the rest but ive never actually played halo before
  • jackthemenace - November 19, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    I lvoed the fact that i'm NOT the only one that's thinks halo 3 is too run-and-gui and is completely crap, but matt cundy can never be forgiven for disowning SSBB!! and @danomeon- please take back that part about GoW, because, y far, it beats hao, both in story and in gampeplay
  • SilverWerewolf - October 31, 2009 8:21 p.m.

    I loved this article. Braid, Halo, WOW, Final Fantasy, Super Mario World, and GTA IV are among the games I can't stand, although GTA IV did grow on me a tad when I TRIED to move past the realism aspect. Plus, I agree with Tyler that WOW is barely more than a level grinder, as is Everquest II and other MMOs that I have tried. (In my opinion, Guild Wars escapes this classification since you can freely respec your skills and hire henchmen to help you.)
  • Hawkeye719 - May 21, 2009 6:35 p.m.

    dave houghton? i wonder whos idea it was to hire you? u cant say halos crap n blabber on, when it obviously isnt, ur head is so far up ur own backside the lump in ur throat is ur nose. if halo is a crap game why oh why did it sell so many copies and why is it enjoyed by every gamer ive ever come into contact with? ill tell you, people love the game, so what that the main part of it is gunning things down, thats the main goal in COD4 too, n how can u compare gears of war to halo? GOW is a tactical based shooter, halo is a fps, there two completely different types of games with one thing in common, oh yes its true they both revolve around gunning things down, every time i play online on halo 3 its always a laugh, the map editor has allowed alot of skilled gamers show what they can do and some of the editations are amazing, ur argument is like water running through a siv, full of holes

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