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

4. LEGO Star Wars

Why it should have sucked: Here, it’s not so much an example of “why it should have sucked” as it is “why would we ever think it would be good?” This was the first game in Traveler’s Tales LEGO series, and they were going after the holiest of holy nerd franchises: Star Wars. We really, really wanted to tell TT to get off our lawns, but we remained somewhat open, even if we couldn’t think of a single reason why the game would be anything less than an affront to all things geek. Oh, and it was based on Episodes 1-3. Yeck.

Why it didn’t: What fools we were! The developers knew exactly what they were doing here, making the gameplay simple enough to be enjoyed with those who don’t typically play games, but still fun and complex enough to appease the hardcore gamers that usually wouldn’t be interested in a “kid’s game.” Better yet, the muted cutscenes were downright hilarious, making the somewhat ludicrous events of Episodes 1-3 worth watching again. Not only was LEGO Star Wars a good game, but it worked as a proof-in-concept title that convinced us that every single game should be LEGO-ized, from Harry Potter to Batman.

3. Dark Void Zero

Why it should have sucked: The closer Dark Void came to release, the more obvious it was that the next-gen flight shooter wasn’t going to be as good as we had hoped. Because of this, we had very low expectations for Dark Void Zero, which seemed like a joke at the time. Capcom positioned it as a “lost NES game” and even got Late Show host Jimmy Fallon involved, trying to perpetuate this myth. Usually, when a developer needs to jump through hoops to promote their game, it doesn’t mean good things. Also, it was one of the earlier DSi releases, which automatically cast suspicion that it was Capcom trying to throw something on the unproven platform to take advantage of the lack of competition.

Why it didn’t: Dark Void Zero starts off by asking players to blow the dust off the NES cartridge, earning some meta points off the bat. Once the game started it was actually a surprisingly fun, nostalgic shooter. The developers nailed the nostalgia level, making it feel like an unreleased game from the 1980s. Not only did it end up being better than we expected—but it bested the “real” game, Dark Void, by most all reviewers. This might be one of the only times that a spin-off joke game ended up being more fun than the big-budget title, but we’re not complaining.

2. Just Cause 2

Why it should have sucked: Just Cause was a mess. It came out early in the Xbox 360’s life and tried its best to be a stunt-driven version of the Grand Theft Auto series. While it succeeded at having some cool stunts, the uninspired gameplay and lack of interesting combat completely crippled it. That’s why the sequel, Just Cause 2, felt completely without merit. The series had so few fans it felt like a sequel, no matter what it did, couldn’t even begin to win back those who had already turned their back on this mediocre franchise.

Why it didn’t: What a difference a few years can make. Just Cause 2 is absolutely colossal, dropping players into a massive island and giving them free reign to blow apart buildings and wreak havoc. Most of the fun comes with the game’s grappling hook, which is the Portal Gun of Just Cause 2. Rico can attach it to just about anything, and then attach the other end to something else. While riding on the top of a car speeding away at 120MPH we could shoot the car and then shoot the ground behind it, watching it flip through the air and smash into the ground. We could even shoot an enemy and attach him to a propane tank, sending him flying through the air with a well-placed bullet. It was a playground of destruction, filled with fun stuff to do and unlimited replayability.

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum

Why it should have sucked: When it came out there were only a few good super hero games released—and none of them starred Batman. Playing as a dark, brooding protagonist without super powers, and without the ability to kill enemies, just doesn’t sound as fun as smashing apart buildings as The Hulk or swinging through a New York skyline as Spider-Man. It was hard to think of any reason that a game based entirely in a giant prison would be fun, especially considering the developer’s only other game was Urban Chaos: Riot Response, an unmemorable game that arrived to lukewarm reviews.

Why it didn’t: Arkham Asylum is the absolute definition of a pleasant surprise. Unrestrained by any movie to reference or pre-established story to follow, Arkham proved that the best way to approach a franchise is to let the protagonist do what the protagonist is best at. In Batman’s case, it means we explored the innards of Arkham Asylum as the world’s greatest detective, using his assortment of gadgets to take down rooms full of enemies without being seen. It has fantastic presentation (fueled by the voices of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill), a stellar story, and some of the most satisfying gameplay around. Saying that Arkham exceeded our expectations is selling it short. Even in a year that included the released of Uncharted 2, Arkham Asylum still nabbed Games Radar’s Game of the Year Award, and it’s a decision we stand by completely.

Sep 5, 2011

The Top 7... Games that should have sucked [2007 Edition]
How could something so wrong go so right?

The Top 7... Games you either love or hate
If you’re in the middle, you’re in the crossfire

The Top 7... Worst games of 2011 (so far)
Early contenders for early bargain-bin retirement


Top 7 WTF


  • 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.

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