We’ve all done it. We get a little too excited, expect a little too much, buy a little too early. We need to justify our decisions or opinions, so we convince ourselves we made them or hold them for legitimate reasons. Perhaps we’re wrong though? Perhaps if we quint a little closer at that gold, it might start to look more like brass.
I’ve done my own soul searching, and have made a list of five games that got way more credit than they deserve. I’ve included each game’s Metacritic score, as well as a quote from a review that had the right of it from the start. Check out mine, and then tell me your own.
Bioshock Infinite (Metacritic – 94)
I like the franchise but I was thoroughly disappointed with this instalment, which is why I was pretty damned surprised to see critics rave about it.
It’s the type of game reviewers describe as “ambitious” and “breathtaking”. The latter I can get behind (it is rather pretty), but ambitious it is not.
The story is pretty flimsy and a little tedious at times, the environment novelty wears off fast and somewhere between the unexciting combat and annoying sidekick you quickly have to face the realisation that the gameplay just isn’t really there.
It feels like a movie that blew its entire budget on the visuals, and then tried to cobble together an actual film around that.
Voice of reason: “It is fascinating, and also boring.” – Videogamer
LittleBigPlanet (Metacritic – 95)
This one is cute and presented some novel ideas, and frankly I think people were just so excited to see an actual platformer with support from a big player like Sony.
It was so cutesy, in fact, that it seemed nobody took the time to notice that it handled like a hippo on iceskates.
Bad controls on a platformer is The Unforgiveable Sin, and I can’t give LBP a pass on that.
Voice of reason: “Don’t believe all the hype.” – Jolt Online Gaming
Black & White (Metacritic – 90)
This is around the time Peter Molyneux’s hype furnace was burning at its biggest and brightest (excepting of course recently when he pretended chipping away at a digital cube for a crappy prize that was never delivered on was both revolutionary and life-changing), and I really, really think each and every overly positive review here didn’t make it further than the press release.
This was Molyneux’s so called “God Game” that was supposed to feature incredibly realistic “learning”, from peasants and pets alike.
Anyone who actually played the game however would have realised that as usual the features were overblown and overhyped nonsense that delivered very little of what they promised, and the so-called “learning” was about as sophisticated as a Tamagotchi.
Once you got done flinging villagers around or physically assaulting a bipedal bovine, there wasn’t much more to do.
Voice of reason: “It’s a brilliant toy but also a jumbled mishmash of original ideas and mundane gameplay that fails to deliver a cohesive experience.” – Computer Games Magazine
Skyrim (Metacritic – 94 [PC])
Uh oh, this is heading into dangerous territory.
I’m going to come right out and say that Skyrim isn’t a BAD game, but I don’t think it’s a GREAT one either. Keep in mind, I’m talking the mod-free, vanilla version.
As much as it offers in terms of beautiful environments and exploration opportunity, it fails to deliver on actual gameplay.
Granted I’m not a massive RPG fan, but I gave this one a try on several occasions. I think Skyrim suffers from being overly ambitious – it tries to do so many things, and does them all reasonably well, but none of them amazingly.
It lacks depth, the combat is clunky and not very fun, and the NPCs generally range from severely intellectually impaired to downright annoying.
The longevity of the game makes sense though – the modding community goes a long way into adding depth where it’s lacking in the original, and frankly some people just love a giant sandbox to play in.
Voice of reason: “It has its share of imperfections and broken promises, but it’s exciting and fascinating nevertheless. Wait for a couple of patches, and download the best mods.” – Absolute Games
Destiny (Metacritic – 76 [PS4])
You all knew this was going to be here. Although, to be fair, the critics had a surprising amount of clarity on this one.
I’ve had a chip on my shoulder about this game from the get-go, but it’s not just because it was console exclusive.
What annoyed me about it is that it was the most expensive game ever made, and didn’t show any of that. There was no ambition, no originality, and no aspect or feature that didn’t fit into a tightly structured formula. Even the story was bland.
Quite simply, it had no soul. It’s the usual Skinner-box approach that attempts to suck you in with a loot and levelling system that has you on a constant hunt for better gear, combined with admittedly solid and smooth gameplay.
But for a game that broke sales records and Activision’s piggy bank, it was tragically forgettable.
Voice of reason: “Right now, it’s a rock-solid shooter with no underlying purpose … or soul. Destiny is a ship floating in space without a place to go.” – GamesBeat