1. Advent Rising
2005 | Xbox, PC
The game: A sweeping, big-budget sci-fi shooter with vague Mormon undertones, Advent Rising centered on Gideon Wyeth, a young pilot swept up in an intergalactic war between aliens who worship humans and aliens who want to destroy them. The action was fairly standard third-person shooting and brawling fare, but later in the game, Gideon discovered latent psychic powers that completely threw off the balance of combat and hinted at the promise of new gameplay mechanics that would never come to fruition.
Above: Funny how this almost never happens in real life
The ambition: Advent Rising was intended as the first chapter in a massive franchise to rival Halo, spanning three central games, a series of comic books and novels and at least one PSP spinoff - Advent Shadow - that was canceled when Advent Rising tanked just prior to its release. A considerable amount of effort went into fleshing out Advent's complicated plot, and the game famously featured dialogue written by noted sci-fi author Orson Scott Card. Publisher Majesco even started a contest to award $1 million to the first player to find a secret symbol in the game - and that's where the trouble started.
What killed it? Advent Rising was bogged down with idiotic dialogue and plot contrivances from the get-go, but its problems went much deeper than that. Gameplay felt buggy and unfinished, and some of its hot new "features" - like an aiming system that had players flicking the thumbstick to jump between targets - turned out to be liabilities. But Advent Rising's death at retail can be chalked up to a number of factors. Majesco had a reputation for producing crap games (BloodRayne, for example), and the company didn't give Advent Rising much promotion or marketing beyond the contest, which was canceled after it was discovered to be vulnerable to hackers.
Poor reviews, oddly lanky character designs, generic art direction and a general overflow of existing quality sci-fi shooters on the Xbox didn't help, either. In the end, the game's disappointing sales snowballed into larger financial problems (and a class-action shareholder lawsuit) for Majesco, nearly killing the company and forcing it to cut most of its big-budget projects. Sorry, Advent Rising fans, but it doesn't look like there's a second installment in the series' future.