gordon freeman half-life

Last week I had a look at some of the most underrated games that I’ve had the pleasure of playing, hidden gems that didn’t get the press or appreciation they deserved.

This week, as promised, I’m flipping it around and having a look at the games that got tongues wagging and critics hot under the collar, but weren’t necessarily worthy of all the praise heaped upon them.

P.S. I was just trolling with that Half-Life header. Now that you’re sufficiently angry, in order from least to most overrated:

#5. Skyrim

This will probably be the most controversial game on this list. I know it’s vast, I know it’s got a passable storyline and you get to walk for miles and punch dragons in the face or whatever. I know it’s not a bad game. I just don’t think it’s as good as everyone made it out to be.

I think people expected a lot from Skyrim. The Elder Scrolls games had generally been pretty fantastic and Bethesda isn’t exactly one to drop the ball on RPGs. While Skyrim was by all means a decent game, I think the hype surrounding it and the franchise pedigree over-inflated it in the public’s eye. I thought it was a little mundane and long-winded at times, the story wasn’t particularly engrossing and the characters weren’t particularly interesting. The environments were a little dreary and the graphics weren’t good enough to make up for that.

I know many people loved this game, and rightfully so, but a Metacritic score of 96 (for the Xbox) is just absurd.

skyrim_dragonborn_screen_4

DRAGONS OMFGSDGBDSGHNNNNNNNGGGGG

#4. Wii Sports

People will probably be a little embarrassed to admit how much they loved playing Wii Tennis when it first came out, but it stands as a shameful reminder of how we can all get a tad overexcited about things.

When you get past the novelty of swinging a controller around your living room, Wii Sports is kind of the worst thing ever. The gameplay is horrendous and one-dimensional, there is no real actual game to progress through and the control on things like Wii Boxing was just atrocious. We all lost our minds with the Wiimote, but this is probably the worst-developed game anyone has ever gotten that excited about.

Hilariously, this still has a Metacritic rating of 76. Oh the shame.

Good enough for 76 on Metacritic, apparently.

Good enough for 76 on Metacritic, apparently.

#3. Every Call of Duty after 4

I loved the first Modern Warfare. The first time I played it, I was blown away; it was just so different from any other military shooter at the time.

The gameplay was so varied – you’d go from a hyper-stealth creep through the brush to fighting for your life while getting assaulted by waves of enemy soldiers. The characters, shallow as they were, still had actual personalities. The in-game cut-scenes and set pieces reminded me of Half-Life (an easy way to get me excited), but at the same time felt like something that hadn’t been done before. Do you remember when your character got nuked? To actually play through that and experience it, if only for thirty seconds, was a big leap from a simple cut-scene. It was immersive, it was new, and it was awesome.

Then came World at War. And Modern Warfare 2. And Black Ops. Infinity Ward’s breakthrough Call of Duty game set the ball rolling for a gaggle of annual, underdeveloped cash-ins. Activision realised that a brand had been created, and no matter how rushed, a Call of Duty game every Christmas season was like printing money.

I have to admit, these games aren’t bad. Every year Activision manages to inject a little originality into them, to try and not let people remember they were playing the same game last year. But at the same time, they don’t have that greatness the first Modern Warfare had, they don’t make your jaw drop. They feel disposable, a cheap thrill, like a new Transformers movie – it’s a hastily produced sequel pushed out in time for December; check your passion at the door, please.

Modern Warfare 2 securing a Metacritic score of 94 just makes me weep.

#2. Diablo III

No-one wanted this game to be good more than me. In fact, I spent a long time thinking that it was good.

I gave away most of my soul and childhood to Diablo 2 – I played that game long past its expiry date, many times doing the classic reinstall-after-three-years and getting addicted all over again.

At first I convinced myself that I liked the new skill and experience system. It was new player friendly, but it also meant you didn’t have to work so hard? What’s not to like right?

And the auction house! How cool would that be? You mean I can sell my items for real money? It would make finding sweet loot so much sweeter! But in fact, it made the loot system much, much worse.

The auction house ruined Diablo III. No matter what awesome item I found, no matter what giant monster I killed, I could find a much better item for my character for a couple of thousand gold, for basically nothing. It took all the fun out of finding loot, which in turn sucked all the fun out of the game. The lower difficulty levels basically didn’t matter, the only point at which you could actually find items you couldn’t easily get off the auction house was on the hardest difficulty level, turning the game into an incessant grind to reach level 60.

The real money issue complicated matters even further. Blizzard had to do ridiculous things like making bosses drop crappy items to prevent people from farming them. What world am I living in when I kill Diablo and I don’t even get a rare item?

I’m sad to say I haven’t even played with all five characters; I just lost all motivation to start the game over when there was no real reward. A good idea gone wrong, unfortunately ruining a game that we waited ten years for.

"OH MAN LOOK AT ALL THIS MEDIOCRE STUFF!" - Noone ever.

“OH MAN LOOK AT ALL THIS MEDIOCRE STUFF!” – No-one ever.

#1. World of Warcraft

Now this one is just too easy. The other games in this list I can at least see how people could like, but this one will always baffle me. I came to WoW curious, as I’m sure many others were, just what was it about this game that ended marriages, lost jobs and emptied bank accounts? Could it really be that good? No, no it couldn’t.

I gave WoW a real honest-to-goodness try, but after about twenty minutes I was seriously contemplating hanging myself with my underpants. Every single mission basically amounted to “kill ten of X and bring them back to me”. What the hell do they need ten rats for anyway? I would steer clear of the inn’s stew night.

People inevitably insist that “it gets better” you just have to “sign here in blood” and “give up your worldly possessions” (I may have paraphrased a little). The point is, why must I grind my way through hours of tedious boredom to get to the point where I start having fun? Would you watch the first four Twilight movies if I told you the last one was awesome? (it wasn’t)

Most people who play a lot of WoW aren’t exactly a strong endorsement either – they have the vapid gaze of someone who’s seen horrors we couldn’t imagine, the hooked hands of the gamer who wants to stop, but doesn’t know how to function in reality anymore.

This sinkhole of happiness and all that is good achieved a Metacritic score of freaking 94. Someone put these people out of their misery.

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