Great concepts, bad games


Scribblenauts became an Internet darling after its highly successful showing at E3, and nobody could blame the Internet for being excited. 5th Cell, a studio that already had a history of amazing DS titles (Lock's Quest is a must-have), had managed to create a game where absolutely anything you could imagine is conjured simply by writing its name. The ambition was unmatched, the potential unchallenged. The final result? Unsatisfactory.

Scribblenauts wasn't terrible, but compared to its promise, it fell far below expectations. Sure, it was impressive that the game recognized so many words, but with so many re-used object renders, useless items and limited character interaction, not to mention the dreadful controls, Scribblenauts didn't work out as intended. Hopefully Super Scribblenautsl will fix all this, but it's a shame that it couldn't be done right the first time.

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

I write about Kane & Lynch a lot, and it's because the game is so very fascinating to me. In terms of its narrative, characters and inherent experiences, Kane & Lynch does some innovative and very clever stuff. Unfortunately, everything it ever did right has been constantly and forever overshadowed by the things it did wrong.

Kane & Lynch isn't very good. The shooting is mediocre, the difficulty all over the place, and the glitches abundant. Yet it's also full of truly fabulous levels that have not been done before or since in a videogame. The prison break and bank robbery stages stand out as examples of truly unique and epic game sequences, while the decision to cast two disgusting, reprehensible scumbags as main characters is something that very few games have had the balls to do. Then there are the hallucinations co-op players suffer when controlling Lynch. Outstanding stuff, and all hidden away in a bag of feces.

Area 51

Remember a PS2 game called Area 51 that starred David Duchovny and Marilyn Manson? Of course not, you're all thinking about the arcade game instead. Hardly surprising, since the PS2 version was crap. It really shouldn't have been, however, because Area 51 has a freakin' stellar first twenty minutes. Scary, challenging, and littered with waves of deadly aliens, Area 51's intro is a great way to kick off a game.

Despite this strong opening, Area 51 gets more and more dreadful as it goes on. Bit by bit, the terrifying darkness is swapped for generic sci-fi corridors, the aliens replaced by frustratingly resilient space marines, and the horror elements replaced by a boring, unfinished, inexcusable FPS semi-effort that should have been scrapped. If the game had been released as a glorified demo disc for three bucks, it would have been a wonderful experience. Shame that the full game is a load of bollocks.


The latest and greatest example of a game with outstanding narrative but miserable execution has to be Square Enix's Nier. The game's eccentric cast of characters made for some superb dialog, surprisingly affecting scenes, and more than a fair dose of humor, while the main premise of a terminally ill girl and a father who'll do anything to save her managed to be more emotionally engaging than the plastic relationship between Ethan and Shaun in Heavy Rain.

Unfortunately, the game is full to the brim with insipid minigames, dodgy combat that lacks essentials like a targeting system, and a whole host of inexcusably lazy backtracking, fetchquests and repetition that permeates the experience on a scale that could only be classified as shameless. With competent gameplay that wasn't churned out with last-generation thinking and abhorrently idle filler, Nier could well have become one of the biggest surprises of the generation. Instead, it was the disappointing game that everybody had expected it to be.

For a game to shoot itself in the foot like that is almost disgusting, really.

Sep 10, 2010

The Top 7... Disappointing games of the decade
We expected so much. They delivered so little


The Top 7... Worst parts of best games
The most criminal imperfections of all time


Eight crap games running on great technology 
Technology evolved... these games didn't


  • listerinemarine - September 10, 2010 10:43 p.m.

    It never even got NIER to achieving it's potential.
  • Redeater - September 10, 2010 10:48 p.m.

    I'm so sad about Scribblenauts and Cthulu......such promise
  • iLuminate - September 10, 2010 11:03 p.m.

    Where is APB on this list?
  • FauxFurry - September 10, 2010 11:14 p.m.

    You could add Kung-Fu Riders to the list now. Anyone who could both a wonderfully daft concept such as that deserves to be kicked square in the head after they've downhill slalomed on an office chair in rush hour traffic,a feat made easier but aiming one's boot at their rear-end where their head is kept when not in use,which is to say round the clock. reCAPT:schente Citizen Is Schente located somewhere between the states of Disappointment and Shock? If so,I very well may be a citizen of that region without knowing it.
  • ElderGamer - September 10, 2010 11:17 p.m.

    Turning Point: Fall of Liberty had a great concept of a storyline. The Germans invading America and you play as a construction worker caught up in the action. Too bad the level design, repetitive enemies, badly written dialog and story (still a good concept), meh graphics...I could go on.
  • FauxFurry - September 10, 2010 11:18 p.m.

    ^Blast it,I meant 'botch'! How about a list of Great Games,Idiotic Concepts?
  • mattrickhoffman - September 10, 2010 11:29 p.m.

    Stretch Panic. That's all I have to say.
  • TDUBBS - September 10, 2010 11:32 p.m.

    Fracture would fit well on this list. All the surface-morphing business was cool, but it played like ass. I'll forget choosing it over Gears 2.
  • TDUBBS - September 10, 2010 11:33 p.m.

    *I'll NEVER forget choosing it over Gears 2.
  • gamingfreak - September 10, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    I think I'm the only person who likes Nier.
  • Tenfey - September 10, 2010 11:43 p.m.

    Why must games be so disappointing?
  • Cyberninja - September 10, 2010 11:44 p.m.

    metroid other m
  • Stabby_Joe - September 11, 2010 12:04 a.m.

    Now now, I actually got a lot of enjoyment out of Call of Cthulhu. Poor graphics and somewhat clunky gameplay, sure but the story and atmosphere was (unlike some games) enough to get over the technical short comings.
  • Metroidhunter32 - September 11, 2010 12:09 a.m.

    I still intend to get Fragile Dreams, it's just fallen low on my list.
  • shadowreaper72 - September 11, 2010 12:24 a.m.

    You guys forgot about Darkest of Days time traveling back to past conflicts with futureistic weaonry was an awesome idea. Too bad the developer 8 Monkey Labs sucks balls
  • nemesisuprising - September 11, 2010 12:39 a.m.

    I really like nier :(
  • ProfessorBonk - September 11, 2010 12:53 a.m.

    Sorry Jim, I have to strongly disagree about CoC: DCotE as well as Fragile Dreams and Nier. I had a great time playing them. Sure, they would have been better being released a generation earlier, but that's part of what makes them so charming and fun to play. I adored the atmosphere and slow pace of Fragile Dreams. I loved the clunky point-and-click-meets-fps feel of CoC. And I enjoyed to badly-made, senseless, over-the-top aspects of Nier. In terms of professionalism, they're bad games. But in the eyes of a gamer who wants to be immersed in an experience, they're all perfect. Could have been better, true, but didn't really have to be.
  • Onepersonwithnoopinion - September 11, 2010 12:58 a.m.

    My opinion, not yours: I thought The Conduit was fairly disappointing, but I blame the hype for that. The idea was nice(a well executed FPS on the Wii that pushes the power of the machine to its limits), but the execution was meh.
  • triplesalmon - September 11, 2010 1:36 a.m.

    You know, me and my friend spent ungodly amount of hours on Area 51. During our 5th and 6th grade years, we played it to the end some four times, collecting every little file and video and scannable item and relishing in every detail of the games little lore. Despite the poor critical reception, the game is still special to me, and the cliffhanger ending still annoys me on occasion to this day.
  • theodyssey547 - September 11, 2010 1:53 a.m.

    You forgot Aion.

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