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The Top 7... Disappointing games of the decade

When you look back over the past ten years, what will you remember? The sparkly new consoles? The fantastic new franchises? The exciting, unforgettable moments that made you proud to be a gamer?

Yeah, we’ll certainly reminisce about those over the coming week of decade-themed features. We’ll pick the best characters, the sexiest stars, the most memorable moments and the important-est games. Our choices will be celebratory, our tone triumphant and our eyes misty with nostalgia.

As cynical and bitter journalists, however, we can’t just let the bad stuff slide. We can’t leave the 2000s behind without publicly shaming the games that nearly ruined them. These are the seven biggest disappointments of the decade. Let’s bitch one last time, then agree to never speak of them again. Deal?


7) RED STEEL

Year: 2006
Platform: Wii
Developer: Ubisoft Paris

What we expected: The evolution of the first person shooter. The evolution of interactive controllers. Perhaps even the evolution of consoles, period. Thanks to savvy timing and marketing, Red Steel came to symbolize hardcore gamers’ hope for the Wii, Nintendo’s new motion-sensitive toy. You could swing, thrust and parry your sword in real-time with the remote! You could aim and shoot your gun with the Nunchuk! The graphics looked great in screens, and the gratuitous content seemed Mature! So long as Red Steel delivered, we could ignore all the casual crap. The Wii wasn’t just for families… it was our system, too.

What we got: Everything we secretly feared. The game was rated Teen, of course, with truly adult fare like MadWorld and Dead Space: Extraction over two years away. Far more damning, however, were the clumsy controls. Yes, the remote reacted to your swinging, but not in any kind of intuitive or realistic way. Yes, the Nunchuk aimed a gun, but usually at the ceiling or floor, not the obvious bad guy standing in the dead center of the screen. Within minutes, most of us had grabbed the instruction manual, desperately thumbing through its pages to see if a GameCube pad would work instead.

Almost as bad were the blurry, boring visuals. While we realized the Wii only did 480p, Red Steel’s incredibly deceptive publicity shots had fooled us into believing that developers could perform miracles with this limited resolution. Now we knew the truth… a truth that continues to sting us to this day. Third-party Wii games will almost always look – and usually play, too – like dated, forgotten bargain bin garbage. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s busy with Wii Music and Wii Sports Resort. Have fun!


6) LAIR

Year: 2007
Platform: PS3
Developer: Factor 5

What we expected: A fantastic combat-flight sim from the minds behind the Rogue Squadron series, with beautifully savage, PS3-rendered dragons to ride instead of X-Wings and TIE Fighters. Lair was going to be an epic adventure unlike anything to come before, in which we’d be able to strafe or stomp entire armies made up of hundreds of medieval soldiers, melting them in their armor with fiery breath as our dragon’s enormous talons effortlessly tore the heads off their huge war-beasts. It would be a chance to live out our long-cherished dragon-riding dreams in the most brutal fashion imaginable, and it would cement the PS3’s position as an unmatched powerhouse, capable of delivering experiences that its competition could only dream of.

What we got: A beautiful-looking, broken mess that was not only grossly inferior to the last-gen Rogue Squadron games, but was emblematic of everything wrong with the PS3 around its launch: it was clunky, buggy and embarrassingly overconfident, and it put such a premium on visual fidelity that gameplay and mission design seemed secondary concerns. Stomping armies was still possible, but those armies had been trimmed down considerably in order to avoid slowdown. Meanwhile, ripping heads off beasts or fighting with dragons boiled down to tiresome button-mashing, controller-shaking quicktime events.

But we might have been able to overlook all that if Lair hadn’t forced players to use the Sixaxis motion controls, which quickly proved to be an annoying novelty. And nowhere was it more annoying than in Lair, where a false twitch could quickly send you careening toward the ground. Worse, the controller had a tendency to misread your twitching in the heat of combat, and would frequently send you veering away from an enemy when you meant to lunge, or vice versa.


Above: Oh, and trying to keep these stupid things from blowing up was all kinds of fun, too

That part of the game was eventually fixed, of course – but it was too little, too late, and only served to make the game’s shallow design that much more obvious. Certainly, the PS3 has come a long way since then, but if Lair had any value, it was in convincing PS3 developers to never again attempt what it did.

Topics

Top 7

50 comments

  • somerandomchap - December 28, 2009 10:31 a.m.

    oh poor video games, you people are very mean, but so true, oh the lulz
  • k1ng94 - December 28, 2009 10:57 a.m.

    Great artical as always, however I was a bit suprised when Haze wasnt there. That game was hyped a hell of alot and turned out meh.
  • ryno - December 28, 2009 2:05 p.m.

    lair was great
  • Ironarm - December 28, 2009 3:48 p.m.

    I'm gonna say it. Here it goes. I liked Enter the Matrix. I enjoyed that game for whatever reason. Go ahead...do your worst internet.
  • Ridgley - December 28, 2009 4:46 p.m.

    I'm not gonna lie... SWG was great. People didn't leave in droves until the CU and subsequent NGE.
  • dante1924 - December 28, 2009 5:02 p.m.

    Don't worry, Gamesradar, the too human sequel will come out... in 20 years! And it will be even worse than the original! My crystal ball doesn't lie! Also, my crystal ball says that project needlemouse will be a cruel, cruel letdown. And it will have even more trapped in the sky moments! Red steel sucked. But so far, the reaction to the sequel has been positive! Let's cross our fingers, because my crystal ball can't predict if it will be good. ReCaptcha: he Hence
  • GameManiac - December 28, 2009 5:02 p.m.

    Do the words "Common Sense", "Review", and "Improve" mean anything to those game developers? Will Sonic EVER rise from the dead?
  • toastedmilk - December 28, 2009 5:08 p.m.

    i agree with ironarm, etm was a good, or at least decent, game. it wasn't what it could have been, but #1 most disappointing game of the decade is a bit harsh.
  • JustTheBoBreaker - December 28, 2009 5:23 p.m.

    Sonic's the walking corpse of a different era of videogames. I still think a badass next-gen Sonic game is possible, but it's never gonna happen. Sega should put that Hedgehog down before they damage the brand any further.
  • Yeager1122 - December 28, 2009 5:40 p.m.

    Red Steel and Enter the matrix FOREVER...........................................................jk they both sucked.
  • speno93 - December 28, 2009 6:10 p.m.

    so true, i hope your other decade articles are more uplifting and be full of awesome stuff.
  • Hurricrane - December 28, 2009 7:07 p.m.

    I;m glad you guys always take the "anti-game of the year" approach with your articles. They're always more fun to read and there are WAY to many sites doing exactly the same thing right now... slowly churning out GOTY awards and it's FUCKING BORING. I can always come to GR and laugh at Sonic's expense
  • axis56 - December 28, 2009 7:23 p.m.

    i agree with the decision on ETM, the word for that game is gray. it was so dull in one of films most bizarre universes. shame. sonic was a write-off from the word go.
  • Dexsus - December 28, 2009 8:05 p.m.

    Hmm, I liked Enter the Matrix and actually taking on the agents instead of pissing it away from them, It looks horrible now though. Path of Neo was great as well as mentioned. I definitely agree with everything else on this list, R.I.P. Sonic.
  • lovinmyps3 - December 28, 2009 9:01 p.m.

    It was still a fun decade. =)
  • BAMchucknorris - December 28, 2009 9:48 p.m.

    the decade wasnt all bad! I mean, there was halo, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty (all the ones except for the terrible wii and DS versions), and countless other great games including Bioshock and the second Assassin's Creed!
  • twishart - December 28, 2009 10:41 p.m.

    I would have hoped to see an entry titled "96% of Wii games". Is that too generous? I don't think I've played ANY of these.
  • Master_Leep - December 28, 2009 11:04 p.m.

    um, spore should be number 1 or at least make the list :P biggest disappointment for me ever after watching that GDC conference....
  • vitoruss - December 28, 2009 11:43 p.m.

    I gotta agree with Ironarm. I liked Enter the Matrix. Granted the plot was shit and it was buggy as hell and got really redundant, at the time I was young and highly entertained by the bull(shit)et-time gunplay. Looking back, the game wasn't that great and I could never beat it due to a gamebreaking glitch, but whatevs.
  • Defguru7777 - December 28, 2009 11:57 p.m.

    Red Steel was a big letdown for me. But if one thing was fun in that game, it was shooting guns out of people's hands. And the worst part for me was the horrible "cutscenes." I don't know if it was one of the most disappointing of the decade though. But it is one of the worst games I own.

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