It's funny how the games business works. Big successes become popular franchises, we keep buying 'em because they keep getting better, and developers keep churning 'em out. Later, we'll complain about Call of Duty being the same stupid thing, buy it, verify our complaint, and keep the cycle strong. What about the stuff that doesn't review well, though, or doesn't sell, or doesn't quite live up to the hype? Those games are usually left for dead, and an original IP hoping to make its big break becomes a one-shot failure.
Aren't these the games we should see sequels to? Disappointing games are the ones that need the most improving, and are the games that'd benefit the most from a second chance. Remember, Assassin's Creed eventually became Assassin's Creed II. We'd love to see some of this generation's biggest bummers – even if they had a lot going for them – take off bigger than they have.
Above: Just looking at this game breaks our hearts
The Ark, an island city that's both colorful and clinical, sold us on Brink from the start. Fusing competitive multiplayer and the campaign? Even better. Everyone can climb, slide, and leap all over the place with sick parkour moves? We immediately wanted that mechanic in every FPS ever. What should have been a beautiful, unpredictable multiplayer shooter ended up as a bunch of jumbled ideas that worked sometimes. When Brink clicked, it was on fire. It didn't always click.
The disappointment: The multiplayer maps weren't built with parkour in mind, and the actual free-running was slow and clunky. Having boxes near ledges does not a good map make, unfortunately. Fluidity wasn't Brink's strong suit when it came to mission objectives, either. Vying for control over specific spots, whether you were protecting or destroying them, didn't have the competitive tug-of-war feeling we live for. Respawn cycles meant dead dudes spawned at the same time in large groups – a fine idea, but one that often led to stalemates as waves of guys smashed into each other every 20 seconds. Playing against the A.I. was worse, especially considering you could steamroll them with partners. The entire co-op aspect of the campaign was a wash.
Brink had a depressing amount of network and stability issues on consoles too, although the hollow environments were the worst offender. Battles were supposed to be about a civil war, a struggle between rowdy rebels looking to leave the oppressive lawmen behind. The story ends there, and so does the populace. Brink doesn't have any women or civilians. Everyone is a soldier, and they're fighting over crap maps.
Why we need a sequel: Brink's on-the-fly objectives were smart, encouraging us to try out different classes to lend a hand. More often than not, though, defenders could hunker down with turrets to create impassable defenses. Odd oversights like this slaughtered an otherwise sound multiplayer game with novel ideas. A Brink sequel would ideally synchronize its ideas – big maps, plenty of places to go parkour crazy, etc. – while injecting some life into its stale setting. Flesh this out, Splash Damage. We want to love this game long-term, and we can't if you won't commit to making Brink 2 the craziest and coolest.
Above: Look at it. Honestly, what's not to love? Oh. Right. Many things
Whoa, hold on there, us. Why is Brutal Legend, a game we adored so much we slapped it with a stellar score (and apparently some words, but we don't ever read that stuff), on our list of disappointing yadda-yaddas? Well, us, if you'd give us a second to explain before getting all cranky and shit, we'd be able to tell you. God, we are such irritable babies sometimes. Sit back, relax, and prepare for the nuclear truth-bomb fallout. This is gonna hurt to hear.
The disappointment: Brutal Legend bummed us out because of its, um, gameplay. As a whole. The melee combat was shallow and the boss fights invariably boiled down to the same patterns we've been bored of for years. Driving was only ever necessary because the empty world was far larger than it needed to be and our objectives were always a bit dull. Then the second-half surprise: Real-time strategy. We welcomed a break from the bland, but this was inelegant and a bit out of place.
Why we need a sequel: We persevered because everything else about Brutal Legend rocked. Most franchises create unremarkable settings and stick with 'em for years. This is a universe we desperately want to explore more of – and wouldn't it be nice to get involved in a better, lessons-learned version of it? Its lovable characters were written brilliantly, and not just because they were funny. We felt for their cause and the game's themes, and that masterful, metal-inspired setting was a large part of why. All those skulls, flames, and battleaxes really did it for us. Also, the leather. Don't ask.