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The Top 7… Games that should have sucked, but didn’t

Sometimes we’re let down by big, blockbuster games failing to live up to their potential. In fact, it happens at least a few times a year, and we’re sure to see a few of 2011’s big holiday releases fall flat on their faces.Other times, however, the exact opposite occurs; that rarest of occasions where a game that looks absolutely, positively dreadful ends up being good… or great. It’s less frequent, that’s to be sure, but it’s exciting when we go in with low hopes and leave with a smile on our faces. In 2007 we took a list of games with strange, seemingly uninteresting concepts and got together a list that succeeded our wildest dreams, and now we’re taking another look—this time at a different list of games that rose above the rest and proved us all wrong.

7. 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand

Why it should have sucked: Where do we start? Blood on the Sand had seemingly nothing going for it when we first heard about it. It was developed by a relatively unknown studio and looked like a poor-man’s Gears of War—a game style often mimicked by uninspired cash-ins. It wasn’t even 50 Cent’s first foray into gaming, and the wound was still fresh from the travesty that was 50 Cent: Bulletproof. Oh, and its story might have been the most insane thing we’d ever heard: after being stiffed on the bill during a tour of the Middle East, 50 Cent goes on a rampage in search of a diamond-encrusted skull. Seriously.

Why it didn’t: Yet, somehow, it worked. The gameplay was surprisingly strong, taking after Gears of War but layering on its own mechanics by putting an emphasis on gaining points through skillful kills and tossing in online cooperative play. The story, which sounded like absurdly awful, ended up being just absurd—a work of satirical brilliance that we’re not 100% sure Fiddy knew was meant to be a joke. It’s ludicrous in the best way possible, and a game we’re happy to have played.  There’s even the option to buy new swear words to yell! How awesome is that?

6. Hannah Montana: Music Jam

Why it should have sucked: It’s based on a Disney Channel show about Miley Cyrus (Billy Ray Cyrus’s daughter) traveling the world as pop star Hannah Montana. It’s also one in a long line of games based on the absurdly popular franchise, none of which have broken away from the bottom level of crippling mediocrity. To make things worse, whereas most of the other games tried to mimic the trite affairs of the television show, Music Jam was entering Rock band and Guitar Hero territory—land not often tread on handhelds.

Why it didn’t: It ended up being a mishmash of ideas and concepts that didn’t flow together all too well… but worked just enough to be a huge surprise. The story was just as awful as anyone could have imagined (shopping, yay!), but we couldn’t believe how much we enjoyed making music on the well thought-out music creation system. You can record four instruments separately and play them together, composing your own musical melodies. It’s not as complex as Rock Band or anything like that, but it ended up being much more interesting than we expected, and is still better than Wii Music ever was (despite pre-dating Nintendo’s game by over a year).

5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Why it should have sucked: Even back as far as E.T. for the original Atari, movie tie-ins have been absurdly disappointing. 90 times out of a hundred they’re nearly unplayable, and the other ten times usually aren’t anything to be excited for. Super hero games, too, have always struggled, making X-Men Origins: Wolverine look like it was going to be an absolute unmitigated disaster. Dropping players into the shoes of Wolverine sounded extremely fun, but we didn’t have high hopes that the developers would really be able to convey the feeling of tearing apart bad guys as one of comics’ biggest bad-asses.

Why it didn’t: But they actually did. Raven Software didn’t pull a single punch when making the M-rated X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a game that shattered our expectations completely. It wasn’t amazing, but it accomplished the most important goal it could: making us feel like Wolverine. Later levels were definitely weaker than the earlier ones, but the combat was strong enough to allow us to look past that, and to enjoy the impressive visuals, fantastic regenerative effects (Wolverine’s wounds would heal in real-time, no matter how grievous), and downright badassery that playing as Wolverine allowed.

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63 comments

  • Vulneratus - September 10, 2011 6:31 p.m.

    Noam Chomsky's 'Blood on the Sand' FTW!! Seriously people, watch charlie brooker's Gameswipe... Thats all I'm sayin... I just spread the love... and the justified cynicism
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  • batmanboy11 - September 7, 2011 7:49 p.m.

    Arkham Asylum and Wolverine definitely deserve their spots on here
  • rob619 - September 7, 2011 5:54 a.m.

    Sorry for rabbiting on about JC2 and wanting JC3..but it seems it has a big fan base and im not the only one!! Doesnt look like it is going to happen, as the developers have gone separate ways and there are no future plans :(
  • RedOutlive10 - September 6, 2011 5:51 p.m.

    Sorry but LEGO Star Wars isn't that close to be a good game. It's just a gimmicky toy tie-in.
  • LeSieg - September 7, 2011 2:21 p.m.

    As a lover of all things bloody and gratuitous, even I can say LEGO Indiana Jones (and Kung-Fu panda) was an excellent way to bundle up the 360 at the time.
  • Sleuth - September 6, 2011 4:54 p.m.

    Great list. Just Cause 2 is a pretty addictive game.
  • SirNinja - September 6, 2011 4:32 p.m.

    Big thumbs up for Just Cause 2...easily one of the most-improved sequels ever, and a hell of a lot of fun. Bring on Just Cause 3!
  • therawski - September 6, 2011 9:57 a.m.

    Just Cause 2 I an amazing game, I recommend using your own soundtrack on separate speakers and muting what little music there is in the game. I've listened to plenty of TalkRadars while playing Just Cause 2
  • shawksta - September 6, 2011 5:42 a.m.

    I definitley agree with Batman, that game was amazing and shocked us that finally a superhero game did well, Spider-man did good once but coming from DC thats a suprise. You should have a Top 7 games that did hugely better than expected, with choices like Metal gear solid 4 and Mario galaxy 2
  • DecoyOctorok - September 7, 2011 4:28 a.m.

    How did MGS4 and SMG2 do hugely better than expected? They were both highly anticipated games. Everyone expected them to be great.
  • inkyspot - September 6, 2011 5:40 a.m.

    I love Just Cause 2, hoping and waiting for a JC3 (Easily one of my favorite games in my collection), Batman, wasn't expecting much, but now I can't wait for the new one (I love it when I get more than I was expecting), Never played that 50 Cent thing, maybe when the money reveals itself and it's real cheap. These few months will break my gaming bank account, so much to buy.
  • SilentTee - September 6, 2011 4:22 a.m.

    Must start off by saying I hate 50 Cent as a rapper and an actor but I really dug Blood on the Sand. I got it on clearance, expected it to be total crap and was pleasantly surprised when I played it. It was silly as hell and that's what I loved about it. I'm a big cheerleader for the silly.
  • jmcgrotty - September 6, 2011 4:01 a.m.

    First a site issue: That little "characters remaining" counter says that you're allowed 5000 characters, but won't accept anything over 3000. Not nice. And yes, that sadly means that I did try to post a 5000 character comment. Oh well. Well, I wanted to comment on Star Wars, but instead, I posted a thread in the forums in the General Off-Topic category with a subject of George Lucas Isn't The Anti-Christ. Anyway, as to the non-SW stuff... Not a bad list, but a couple mistakes. First, notice a common theme? 5 of the 7 games are crossovers, being video games based on other media (movies/music/tv/comics). As the article said, it all harkens back to the days of ET and horrible adaptations throughout the history of the industry. For me personally, I thought that the Wolverine game at the time looked intriguing. Maybe I was wearing Jubilee-colored glasses, but I don't really remember any large outpouring of disgust about the game before it's release. Along the same route, I had Just Cause, and I loved it. I honestly didn't see any negative comments about the game except for a lack of variety (lots of the same type of missions in different places. Like all sandbox games). Batman: I disagree with it's inclusion here, in regards to the specifics of the article title. It never should have sucked; There was no reason for people to feel that way. There just was no reason to think it would be good. The distance between "suck" and "not good" is big. Now, onto the big one. LEGO Star Wars.... First off, the picture you used is from "Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy" and not "Lego Star Wars: The Video Game" (the first game). While I don't remember much pre-release buzz or anything about any of the LEGO games, I know that for myself, I've liked them since the first time I played them. All except Pirates Of The Caribbean, of course. So, I really am not sure if people thought it would suck or they were just without an opinion at all. But, it is true that it was better then most expected, no matter what scale you use. OK, That's the game-related stuff. Want to hear me whine about Star Wars, check the forums.
  • jmcgrotty - September 6, 2011 4:03 a.m.

    Sorry. Wish I could edit my last comment. Wanted to say that I didn't mean "a couple mistakes" as much as I meant a different point of view on the list. A bit different than mistakes.
  • quincytheodore - September 6, 2011 3:40 a.m.

    Good list, that's exactly what I thought when I played X-men, Batman Arkham and Just Cause 2. They were pleasant surprises. I recommended them to my friends, some of them didn't even like superheroes, but they eventually agreed that Batman and Wolverine were good. Just Cause 2 is okay, the dubbing is abysmal though.
  • austincharlesbond - September 6, 2011 2:08 a.m.

    I would add Goldeneye for Wii to this list but yeah great list. Arkham Asylum is awesome.
  • AuthorityFigure - September 6, 2011 12:22 a.m.

    Goldeneye 007 on the Wii could very easily have sucked, but it turned out very good.
  • Its_Over_9000! - September 6, 2011 12:13 a.m.

    I thought unreal tournament was gonna suck, and as it turned out... i still think it sucks
  • ThatGamerDude - September 5, 2011 11:41 p.m.

    Glad to see some of the games ive enjoyed are on this list especially Just Cause 2. Had for over a year and im still playing the hell out of it. Just wish a sequel will get announced soon.

Showing 1-20 of 63 comments

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