The most disappointing games of 2010 - GamesRadar's editor choices

Since we enjoyed sharing our personal favorite games of 2010, we thought it was only appropriate to share the games that most let us down last year, the games that most drew our vitriolic ire. These aren't objectively the worst games of 2010 - they are the ones that most rubbed us the wrong way. There are even fantastic games on this list, but if everyone loved the same things, we wouldn't all be unique slowflakes in the great blizzard of life, now would we?

Halo Reach

Eric Bratcher: I know I’m going to enrage a lot of fans, but I’m picking Halo: Reach. It’s not that it was awful; it’s that I expected AMAZING and I got average.

The story, clearly meant to be a majestic, melancholy Saving Private Ryan kind of heartpunch, fell almost completely flat for me. The characters were practically interchangeable, and the plot barely acknowledged their oddly random deaths (tell me again: Why was Kat a one-shot kill? It took me an hour to realize she’d died from that bee sting. And why couldn’t Carter just eject?). As a result, their deaths had no real gravitas.

Above: Personalities, now color-coded for convenient identification

Moreover, the single player campaign felt repetitive and undercooked, with too many small-scale skirmishes against the same three enemies. Where were the aerial dogfights? The vehicular shootouts? The OMG moments? Heck, forget the big set pieces, where’s all the cool stuff? Why do you almost never see Scorpion tanks, or Banshees, or Gravity Hammers, or Hunters, or Plasma Swords, et cetera? When the Scarabs finally showed up, I whooped out loud with joy – until the game made me drive right past them all. Like a friend who invites you to a 360 marathon but will only let you play Kinect games, Reach seemed determined to leave out all the stuff I loved about this series. And that’s why it was the biggest letdown of my year.

Above: When Keyes bought it, I wanted to cry. When one of these characters died, I paused and asked myself “Now, which one was that again?”

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I

Brett Elston: To say I was skeptical of Sonic 4 is an understatement. After years of objectively awful games and repeated promises of a big comeback, Sonic has continuously let me down. From bizarre sidesteps like Shadow the Hedgehog to misguided efforts like Sonic Unleashed, Sega’s former juggernaut has had a seriously shitty decade. But surely Sonic 4, which openly references and plays upon our familiarity with the beloved 2D Genesis games, will be the return to form Sega has promised time and time again. The screens, the trailers, even the pre-released music tracks screamed “classic Sonic.” Yes, this time they must be getting it right.

Above: Hey, look, we're locked on! Oh, wait, no we aren't

Aaaand of course, they found a way to shit it up. Sonic 4 is indeed invocative of the 2D originals, and does pay a fair bit of fan service to those who recall the ‘90s games, but its shortness, price, unimaginative bosses and completely borked jumping physics made it the most disappointing, bafflingly botched game I played all year. I’ve read several people claim the jumping isn’t actually that bad – bullshit, it’s unforgivably awful, as Sonic falls like a rock and has almost no inertia at all. The auto-target attack, meant to zoom Sonic from enemy to enemy, frequently locks and un-locks itself from enemies in mid jump, causing numerous deaths. The music starts strong, then becomes grating and derivative. The final area is rehashed boss battles. And then… it’s over. Episode I complete, sucker! Fifteen bucks for a third of a game. You could buy ALL FOUR original Sonic games on XBLA/PSN for less money and more gameplay! I commend Sega/Dimps for making the effort, and for dropping the extended cast of characters that’s bloated the series to Star Wars levels of ridiculousness, but you have to get the basics down pat – something that was already done nearly 20 years ago.

White Knight Chronicles

Carolyn Gudmundson: White Knight Chronicles' two biggest features, gigantic knights and the MMO-style multiplayer mode, end up ruining the game rather than setting it apart in any positive way. The knight powers are underwhelming to say the least – they look impressively large at first glance (although their size also tends to screw with the camera), but among each knight's handful of attacks, none are even remotely cool or even all that powerful. It feels tacked on and clunky, and the solo campaign is so ridiculously easy (and short!) that I never felt that transforming into a knight was ever necessary. The regular combat is drab too, and although each character can unlock huge lists of special attacks, all the attacks look and function pretty much the same.

Above: If ever there was a herp derp face...

Bizarrely, Level 5 insisted on awkwardly wedging your avatar into the story campaign without actually giving him/her a part in the lackluster plot, so your avatar goes through the whole game as a member of your party despite none of the other characters ever acknowledging his presence. Even more bizarrely, since your avatar never gets knight powers in the story, he apparently can't have knight powers in the multiplayer either. The multiplayer quests were supposed to be a big deal, but you can't even use the knight powers – it makes no sense!  With no knights, you're left with the most crushingly bland pseudo-MMO ever, with boring combat and only a handful of locations and enemy types.

Alan Wake

Henry Gilbert: I played games that were worse this year certainly, but a game like Alan Wake, with more than half-a-decade’s worth of anticipation and hype about its ability to change gaming as we knew it, had a lot farther to fall. Now, the gameplay and graphics were fine - my biggest gripe was what should’ve been Wake’s strongest point: the writing. Alan Wake was so full of itself and the power of prose that its average, benignly-told horror plot was a huge letdown. It “borrows” heavily from creators like Stephen King and David Lynch, but anyone who’s seen a Lynch film or King adaptation, let alone read King’s work, will see Wake as just a poor imitation of what those masters of suspense and horror have done. Also, Wake’s designers failed to steal any subtlety from those two, as all metaphor and subtext in Alan Wake basically slaps you in the face, underestimating its audience and screaming “GET IT? GET IT!?!?!”

Above: It's James Joyce! No, wait, Dean Koontz! Oh, that's right: it's "insert author name I know to prove I actually read books"

Plus the game steps all over its oh-so-precious story constantly. How can you feel any tension during a chase when you turn on a TV to see a Verizon commercial? How can you care about a character’s development when you’re searching for your 17th hidden Thermos? How can you listen to the bland dialogue and believe it when it has some of the worst lip syncing seen in a major title? What’s so inventive about game storytelling that relies so heavily on cutscenes for any plot development? I suppose when compared to just how weak plots are in basically every other game, Wake’s story is better, but gaming should aim so much higher, and I refuse to settle.

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  • austinracer999 - January 22, 2011 1:43 a.m.

  • austinracer999 - January 22, 2011 1:41 a.m.

    GT5 was amazing there were no flaws and the graphics were never as bad as it shows in the pic
  • Samus934 - January 18, 2011 1:42 a.m.

    All I can say about this article is, go F--- yourself gamesradar. I can tell you have fun writing articles filled with sarcasm, dissing games real gamers actually like. So, this right here is exactly the reason I stopped coming to your sh!tty site in the first place.
  • BossADC - January 14, 2011 11:38 p.m.

    Okay first off, Halo:Reach is THE best game of the year in my opinion, so I dont know what this guy has been smoking. I also really enjoy Alan Wake, though it does have its problems. I dont think it deserves to be on a list of the worst games of 2010. For the others I actually agree with him ompletely.
  • CoktorBloktopus - January 14, 2011 7:16 a.m.

    The joy of not being a games editor is that I only have to play games that I want to. so this was a pretty good year my friends.
  • Joker117 - January 11, 2011 10:39 p.m.

    D@mn Cheryl del rosario is hot haha sorry but completely distracted me anyway I thought the fight was a good game but more for a work out and taking out aggression on fake ppl lol
  • FanofSaiyan - January 11, 2011 4:15 p.m.

    I don't really know what I would pick for most disappointing game of 2010... probably Black Ops. Activision could have used that time and money to save some of their dying franchises *coughcoughtonyhawkcoughcough*.
  • lastonein - January 11, 2011 1:54 a.m.

    Charlie, I agree with you completely. I just got a touch, downloaded Angry Birds and deleted it almost immediately. The idea of mostly guessing how a shot would result was incredibly annoying and ruined the game completely.
  • DeathbyFira - January 10, 2011 9:19 a.m.

    I Havent played most of the games and on some i knew it was going to happen but Bayonetta COME FREAKING ON!!!!!!!!! the combat was excellent i loved the boss fights yea the story kinda lacked but wtf i had no issues with the camra and i didnt mind jumping into the fire maybe it is cuz i played devil may cry and it was made by the same dude and i agree with @noob with what he said the art direction and the graphics where amazing i totaly do not agree with ya on that
  • KnightDehumidifier - January 10, 2011 4:09 a.m.

    I am quite and thoroughly surprised no one mentioned Xbox's Game Room.
  • mrtimmy - January 10, 2011 1:58 a.m.

    I didn't know there were others who hate angry birds as much as I do. It clearly doesn't deserve its popularity. If you have to play a game like it play Crush the Castle or Fragger. They're much more enjoyable. If they make one more version of that game I'm going to hurt someone.
  • TruckThunders - January 10, 2011 1:44 a.m.

    The more I think about it, Rock Band 3 was a pretty big disappointment. It looked good and the new music was nice. But after experiencing how frustrating the keyboard can be and how unrewarding it is, I rarely use it anymore. Once I've played the 30 songs I actually like on the disc, I kind of get bored with it. New DLC is nice, but I hate buying money for DLC that is fun for maybe 10 minutes.
  • XSgtShootemupX - January 10, 2011 12:06 a.m.

    Didn't expect to see Metro 2033 here. Not because I think it's flawless, but because I didn't realise anyone remembered it now it's more than a week after release. As much as I love the game (Found it to be one of the highlights of 2010) I do completely agree with the points made. Also, Gran Turismo 5. It hurts. So much potential, so little realised. The physics are far greater than all previous installments, but it's just let down basically everywhere else. I don't however, get why people claim you need to rank up to get damage. I had an extremely bent S14 Silvia in the first race I took it out in.
  • Phazon117 - January 9, 2011 11:41 p.m.

    Sorry, Chris, but you're rationale for why Rock Band 3 was your most disappointing game of the year was more disappointing than Quantum Theory. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BUY EVERY ACCESSORY, that's like saying a PC is crap because it can do more than any other PC on the market, if you're willing to spend a little more IF YOU WANT TO. Not even a half of songs on Rock Band 3 have keyboard support, it's not like every song has it implemented. Also, I thought with how much you hated Splinter Cell: Conviction, you'd pick that, instead of the best music game since Guitar Hero II.
  • jackthemenace - January 9, 2011 9:22 p.m.

    Matthew Keast can burn in hell D:< Bayonetta is the best game i ever played! :D And i just bought angry birds today for my Mac from the new apps store, it's so fun! How can ANYONE hate that?
  • w3ap0nx - January 9, 2011 7:36 p.m.

    I agree with all of the games but bayonetta! actually that game blow me away maybe because I wasn't expecting much of it. I love halo reach but it was a big disappoinment
  • thedonut - January 9, 2011 7:29 p.m.

    I'm kind of disappointed in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Just felt like the first one, but with Yoshi and 2 new power-ups added to it.
  • sklorbit - January 9, 2011 6:23 p.m.

    im glad i finally read one of these "most disappointing games of 2010" articles where they are not littered with the all the top games of the year. Gamesradar understands the most disappointing games shouldnt just be all the great games that just didnt live up to their ridiculous expectations. almost all the games on this list simply were not that good. alan wake was one i actually kinda liked, but i get that it should have been better. Gamesradar, thank you for THINKING when picking these games and not just picking games like Red Dead Redemption, and Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Mass Effect 2 because of cource they are overhyped!
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - January 9, 2011 5:03 p.m.

    I was really looking forward to the Force Unleashed II, but after playing the demo and hearing all the bad stuff about it, I probaly won't get it at all.
  • Squander - January 9, 2011 1:13 p.m.

    kamenryuki, glad u enjoyed FINAL FANTASY XIII, but I think you represent a minority. Considering the development-time and hype (and the continously high quality of its precessedors) FFXIII is a mere disapointment - also thanks due the -) senseless loot-grinding -) uninspired item- and weapon interaction -) the "always-doing-the-same-just-background-changing"-type of dungeon crawling -) even the characters in battle hardly distinct: just play with Lighning, Hope and Fang throughout the whole game and you are on the safe side! Conclusion: beautiful presentation aside, at its heart, the game is pretty shallow: for me it ranks top among my personal lacklusters 2010 - has nothing to do with naysaying