Feature: We’re six months into 2012, which means we’ve enjoyed six bitter months of crushed hope and expectation. Here are BeefJack’s five most disappointing games of 2012 so far, because more list features!
5. Quantum Conundrum
Format: PC || Review: 6.1/10
What we expected: Portal 3, basically. Quantum Conundrum is a first-person puzzler from Kim Swift, one of the original members of the Portal development team, meaning comparisons to Valve’s game were always going to occur, and her latest effort was always going to be seen as somewhat of a spiritual successor to the Portal series. Instead of playing with portals, though, you’re given the chance to play with dimensions, in what promised to offer puzzles just as mind-bending.
What we got: Portal without the precision, well-crafted story, and genuinely funny jokes. It wasn’t that Quantum Conundrum was a bad puzzle game, it just wasn’t great, displaying the odd flash of brilliance, but always drowning it among a mire of clumsiness.
Even outside of the hit-and-miss puzzles, it lacks any real charm, with a simplistic plot that acts as a backbone to tie the puzzles together. Portal’s narrative was as good as the puzzles, and the writing is some of the best we’ve seen in videogames. Quantum Conundrum’s writing, on the other hand, isn’t very funny at all, despite trying its utmost at every possible occasion, and there’s no grand themes underlying it all. At the end of the day, it’s a mediocre puzzle game, and nothing more.
4. Kinect Star Wars
Format: Xbox 360 || Review: 5.5/10
What we expected: Star Wars is what motion-control was invented for. We’ve all swung an imaginary lightsaber through the air while wearing a bathrobe, playing the part of the heroic Jedi on a force-finding mission. Kinect Star Wars should’ve been a chance to live our imagination through the screen, allowing us to save the galaxy one melodramatic swing at a time.
What we got: A game that showcased the very worst parts of Kinect, with inconsistent motion sensing that at times failed to work all together. If that wasn’t bad enough, it completely bastardises the ultimate Jedi dream, with lightsaber tracking the worst offender of wonky controls, especially in Duels of Fate mode where battles are a mundane series of scripted moves and you rarely feel like the Jedi you want to be.
3. Final Fantasy XIII-2
Format: Xbox 360, PS3 | | Review: 4.8/10
What we expected: Of all the games on the list, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is probably the one that people should’ve known better than to get excited about it. Final Fantasy XIII was a disappointment itself, but its problems were all things that could be ironed out, and the sequel promised to do exactly that, returning the franchise to its glory days.
What we got: Final Fantasy XIII-2 did actually fix some of the complaints from its predecessor, making it less linear and not forcing you though a glorified 20-hour tutorial before throwing you into the brunt of the game. Unfortunately, it also had a story that made little-to-no-sense, constantly throwing a paradox in your face that is used to explain everything that happens throughout the game, as well as chucking in new mechanics that harmed the experience rather than improving it.
2. Lollipop Chainsaw
Format: Xbox 360, PS3 | | Review: 4.6/10
What we expected: We expected what we always expect from Suda 51: the unexpected. Suda has never stuck to convention, subverting it whenever possible, boasting a back catalogue that includes oddities ranging from Shadows of the Damned to Killer 7. From the start, Lollipop Chainsaw was always his attempt to woo the Western audience, in what looked like the videogame equivalent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as cheerleader Juliet Starling went to war with the undead hordes.
What we got: Everything we expected, actually – it just wasn’t very good in practice. This was clearly Suda 51 having fun, and perhaps a little too much, cramming far too much in and completely mucking up the game’s pacing in the process. The game was littered with compulsory frustrating mini-games, from zombie baseball to a variation of Pac-Man, while the main combat was the same brand of decent if uninspiring hack-and-slash that we’ve seen plenty of times before.
The biggest disappointment, though, was that Lollipop Chainsaw was a misogynistic mess that couldn’t decide what message it wanted to send. At times it felt that, yes, this was a satire, pointing out how utterly ridiculous videogame conventions are, but that would be quickly punctured by a flash of Juliet’s underwear, which the camera rarely gazed away from. It just didn’t feel smart enough to pass as commentary, such was its lude fascination with the female form.
Format: Xbox 360, PS3 | | Review: 1.5/10
What we expected: The ICO of survival-horror: a game not just about what lurks in the shadows, but about the emotional connection between two people, as you’re tasked with not just protecting the vulnerable child Amy from the big bad monsters, but from her own emotions as well.
What we got: One of the worst games not just of this year, but of any year – everything that could’ve gone wrong with Amy, did go wrong. It was a broken mess, with the actual technically broken bits often discernible from the bits that were just designed badly from the ground up.
Problem after problem crops up: the less-than-impressive visuals; lackluster, inconsistent voice acting; ill-fitting music; unfair difficulty that punishes you for failing by wiping your entire inventory; and a clichéd, muddled attempt at a story. The only positive thing to be said for Amy is that it acts as a guide to future game developers, teaching them everything to avoid when making a game in one completely mangled package.
Disagree? What? You mean you actually liked some of these games? Then you should totally shout about it in the comments.