3) STAR WARS GALAXIES
Developer: Sony Online
What we expected: The fulfillment of every geek’s dream: to finally live in the Star Wars universe. Be a Jedi and fight the Empire anywhere in the galaxy! Be a lowly stormtrooper on a Star Destroyer and work your way up through the ranks to command a fleet! Be a Wookiee and swing through the majestic trees on Kashyyyk! Hang out with your secret sci-fi man crush, Han Solo and/or Boba Fett!
What we got: EverQuest… and not even in space. Until the Jump to Lightspeed expansion, Star Wars didn’t actually let you go to the stars. Instead, you ran around a dozen low-poly planets – on foot – that didn’t look anything like the beloved universe. The characters and art style didn’t match, either, with grinding mobs and break-dancing Wookiees taking the place of epic galactic struggles. Worst of all, the path to becoming a Jedi was so convoluted and so time-gobbling that nearly everyone gave up along the way.
Above: That’s either Tatooine or some kid’s dresser with toys arranged on top
Disappointed players left the game in droves, or never bothered trying it in the first place. And when the developers at Sony Online attempted to bring subscribers back with the NGE, or New Game Enhancement, they only made matters more frustrating. Classes were radically revamped and now – lo and behold! – practically anyone could complete Jedi training. What’s stupider than a Star Wars MMO with only a hardcore handful of Force masters? A Star Wars MMO with five million of them, set in a time period during which Darth Vader was supposedly, you know, killing them all off. The game’s balance was totally destroyed, and players who had already sacrificed their social lives to reach Jedi level pre-NGE were totally screwed.
BioWare? The Old Republic? We hope you were paying attention, and understand exactly what not to do in the coming decade.
2) SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
Platform: 360, PS3
Developer: Sonic Team
What we expected: Sonic’s glorious return to form… the one that publisher Sega had explicitly promised us after years of pimping our beloved childhood icon in craptastic kiddie ware and street snowboarding idiocy. Initial screenshots showed the Hedgehog blazing through dizzying loops and hoops, leading us to believe that maybe – just maybe – the franchise could work on 3D consoles.
What we got: An insipid storyline filled with bullshit mini quests and more load times than an 18-Wheeler weigh station the day before Black Friday. Rather than focus on actual gameplay or the characters we wanted to see, Sega introduced a horrifically unwelcome human element, then padded the ultra-brief levels with agonizing talk-tasks better suited for a JRPG.
Basically, this game marked the death of Sonic Team as a legendary developer. Before 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog, even the series’ worst entries had been somewhat defensible. Any redeeming quality found here, however, was grossly overshadowed by the horrendous controls, unfair difficulty and a billion other telltale signs of an unfinished game.
By the time it arrived on PS3 a couple months later – with all the game-ruining glitches still intact – the over-hyped reboot had all but solidified the once mighty mascot’s irrelevance. Sonic had finally worn out his welcome with fans, and this disappointment is most responsible for transforming him into the punching bag we regularly beat on to this day.