Monday, August 22, 2016

The Top 10 Most Overrated Games

Sometimes, hype doesn't equal a good experience.

We've all been there in our life. We've all had that one game, movie, show, whatever that might be critically praised and lavished by everyone we know... and yet you just can't get into it. You just can't enjoy it for one reason or another. Maybe it's the actual experience of it or maybe it's that the hype made you believe that it would be the greatest thing you've ever seen in your life, but the end result is always the same; disappointment.

The video game industry is no stranger to overhyping nearly every game that's released. In 2016 alone, Overwatch, Watch Dogs 2, Final Fantasy XV, No Man's Sky, Call of Duty, and The Last Guardian have been hyped to unprecedented levels just in time for their release. Sometimes the hype is justified, but most of the time the final game is just simply alright. These 10 games are games that have had their hype levels reach astronomical proportions that even to this day, saying that you dislike the game is enough to revoke your gamer card.

Now let me just say outright that if a game appears on this list, that doesn't mean that it's a bad game. Being a bad game that was highly anticipated does not mean that it's an overrated game. An overrated game is a game that is still good, but has enough flaws that it is able to detract my enjoyment, but others refuse to acknowledge those flaws. It may be a form of denial, defending an inanimate object that will magically disappear forever if someone says something bad about it, but some people just refuse to acknowledge the genuine flaws a game may have. And yes, I know this may be pretty close to a Top 10 Games I Hate That Everyone Else Loves, but I don't actually hate all of these games. Some of these games are still good, just not my personal favorites. So there.

Oh, and for the record, in trying to keep this list to 10 games, I overlooked a handful of games just to get us to this point. So throw Braid, Inside, Unravel, and Slender as honorable mentions, a cavalcade of indie games that were all substance with very little style.

#10: Silent Hill 3 (PS2: 2003, PS3: 2012)
Silent Hill 3 is by far the best game on this list if only for how excellent the rest of the Silent Hill series is. However, the fanbase often likes to say that the Team Silent developed games (that's 1-3), are the best in the entire series and that no other game has merit outside of those three. Personally, I have to disagree with that. While I can't say that all of the games post Team Silent are bad, Downpour and Shattered Memories are both good games that I enjoyed immensely. In fact, I enjoyed both of those games much more than I enjoyed Silent Hill 3.

I think my dislike for Silent Hill 3 comes from the intro, the more aggressive combat with worse controls, and the reintroduction of the cult of Silent Hill. The introduction was very long and took an eternity for the plot to actually get going, and it wasn't even until the halfway point that we actually got to Silent Hill. The subway in particular was an overtly long, boring, and generally labyrinthine level that sucked all of my enthusiasm for the game out. Enemies were also much more aggressive, but for some reason I felt like the combat was even less responsive. I don't know, but I played Silent Hill 3 for the first time immediately after playing Silent Hill 2 and the combat was like day and night for me. Plus when the story returned to address elements and characters from the first game, I lost even more interest in the overall story.

That doesn't mean that the imagery is no less shocking, and the game has some of my favorite moments from any Silent Hill game, but I'd be lying if I said that the game didn't leave my a bit disappointed after playing it for the first time.

#9: Mario Kart Wii (Wii: 2008)
I'm normally a huge fan of the Mario Kart series, and there's no getting over the fact that Mario Kart Wii is the best selling installment of the series. It has easily sold over 20 million units over its 8 year lifespan, and it's still a staple in most Wii owner's libraries. That being said, I can't stand actually playing the game.

I will say that I love the inclusion of bikes. The addition of a new vehicle for the series was a brilliant move that gives more strategy to the tracks. Should you go in a kart, or a bike? They have different stats and control options, so you have to choose very carefully if you're planning on doing a cup with four tracks together.

With that out of the way, the biggest flaw in this game is that none of the tracks are that memorable. In any Mario Kart game, I can usually name a track or two that I love and want to play whenever I load up the game. Mt. Wario, Yoshi's Valley, Baby Park, and pretty much every single Rainbow Road. In Wii, all of the courses just left me unimpressed. Nothing stood out to me as being an amazing course, and the Rainbow Road in this game was barely worth mentioning. A bad Mario Kart game isn't really that bad of a game, but as the most successful and mainstream game of the series, I wish that it could have gone to 64 or 8.

#8: Kingdom Hearts (PS2: 2002, PS3: 2013)
I don't get it.

I just don't understand how a massively popular and overblown franchise like Kingdom Hearts could have spawned from a game like this. I make it no secret that I don't like the Kingdom Hearts series, but it isn't because of the gameplay or anything obvious like that. I dislike the series for its continuity, its story, and the need for it to spin its wheels for the better part of a decade giving very little in terms of content and instead rereleasing older content to milk the franchise before it becomes irrelevant after Kingdom Hearts III.

But that's a list for another time. Instead, I wanted to talk about how the first game is a frustrating mess of a game. See, this is the reason why this list is more of an overrated games list than a game I hate that no one else does list. If I was talking about games I hate, I would have easily thrown in Dream Drop Distance as the entry for the series instead of the original Kingdom Hearts. While I dislike both games equally, Dream Drop Distance isn't nearly as popular or as well received as the original Kingdom Hearts. The original Kingdom Hearts defined the series and set up the foundation for Kingdom Hearts II, which was the best game in the series even though it set the franchise up on a long and convoluted path towards bewilderment. And what exactly did Kingdom Hearts define? Poor combat, even poorer platforming, a fairly okay camera, and a soundtrack that got old REALLY fast.

Now this may just be because the original game has aged poorly, but if you were to go back to play the original after Kingdom Hearts II, you would realize just how playable and good the sequel is compared to the original. Combat is slow and clunky, while the focus on platforming in some levels made life a living hell for players. The story was dull and trite, merely a vehicle for the rather interesting premise of the series; Disney meets Final Fantasy. As a game though, when you look back at the original Kingdom Hearts, it really doesn't hold up, but at least it allowed for better games, albeit more complicated and annoying games, to be released.

#7: LittleBigPlanet (PS3: 2008)
LittleBigPlanet was probably the originator of the "content created platformer". Sure, ROM-hacks certainly existed before LBP, but this was the first time I can recall massive custom creation as the biggest selling point of the game. I know a ton of people love the idea of content creation, hell just look at Minecraft and Super Mario Maker, but Little Big Planet always just seemed so... barren to me,

I'm not including the sequel LittleBigPlanet 2, or any of the other sequels for that matter here because those games had such an insane amount of depth that creators could turn a simple platforming game into an RPG, shooter, horror game, or a whole variety of genres. That's impressive! You couldn't really do that in the original and most of the tools, while extensive, just seemed too limiting in all honesty.

The base game is boring and the amount of time and effort needed to create a solid level was way more than I think anyone envisioned. And all of that would be fine if the base mechanics were fun and enjoyable. After all, look at the millions of levels created for Super Mario Maker. All of those levels are built upon the great foundation of the Mario series and classic platforming mechanics. None of those mechanics are here and the game is a bit too floaty for me. It feels like nothing has weight here and that all of the levels are, for lack of a better term, flat. The sequels did improve upon this, but man was it a rough first game.

#6: Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360: 2012)
Now you see, this is an overrated game that I'm actually defending for once!

If you were someone who played the Mass Effect trilogy upon release, you would have been immersed and absorbed into a gigantic world of space battles, political turmoil, and fast paced action with a lovable squad of characters. All three games were great games and I would argue that the series is probably the definition on how to do a video game trilogy well. When Mass Effect 3 was released though, people were immediately pissed off and enraged about the ending of the game, an ending so infamous that it seared itself into the annals of video game history as a moment where fan outcry won the day. Many people perceived the original ending to be unsatisfactory, so massive petitions were made to get Bioware to change the ending of game to something more suitable for the players. Bioware conceded, but let's be honest here, the ending really wasn't that bad.

I find it funny that I'm putting a game on this list not for being bad, but for being good. People have made out Mass Effect 3 to be the weakest of the series, or even a genuinely bad game just because of the ending. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with that. The ending might not have been perfect, but the controversy surrounding the ending was just simply ludicrous. The game ended the way that the developers wanted it to end. No one at Bioware woke up one day and decided to piss off its entire fanbase just because they felt like it. The ending might not have worked for others, but I thought that ending was fairly strong for what a massive, sprawling game could allow. No matter what, when you juggle so many moral choices and options over the course of three games, it's hard to have a singular ending that could be achieved through all of the playthroughs. If not, then you would leave the fans with too many options when it was clear that this was meant to be the end of Commander Sheppard and his adventures. The ending was fine, and the fact that people still haven't stopped talking about it goes to show that some people just can't get over it.

#5: Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, Xbox 360: 2008)
Oh GTA IV. Such an unremarkable game.

When Grand Theft Auto IV came out, people were calling it a revelation. This was the open world game that people were clamoring for. This was the next generation Grand Theft Auto game that fans were praying for, but when the game finally came out, it was just so boring to play through!

That isn't to say I don't like the story or Niko Bellic. I think Niko is a very well defined character with a lot of nuance and the idea of exploring "The American Dream" is a great concept for the series, but the gameplay just seemed so toned back for this release. What do I mean? Well, the game just seemed to have lost the fun of previous GTA games.

Gone were the stories of Tommy Vercetti in Miami. Gone was the gang warfare from San Andreas. Instead, we had a very serious tale of Niko trying to survive in America with some occasional comedy and insanity thrown in. But it just seemed to lack the heart of other entries in the series. I can't explain why, but I just never felt any joy while playing through the main campaign or doing any of the side missions. I felt joy in the DLC, which had you play as a member of a roaming biker gang and as a bodyguard to a gay night club owner. Those were fun! The base game wasn't.

I feel like the game was just too immersed in its serious, but solid story to remember that it was a video game where previous installment had you flying around in a jetpack and hijacking tanks. At least GTA V rectified that.

#4: Donkey Kong Country (SNES: 1994, GBA: 2003, Wii: 2007, Wii U: 2014, N3DS: 2016)
Now consider this an unpopular opinion. A video game on the SNES that sold over 16 million units and had only average platforming that was overlooked solely because of its visual design? I can't possibly think why this is an overrated game.

Out of all of the Donkey Kong Country games, the original game bizarrely doesn't do anything for me. I adore the sequel, Diddy's Kong Quest, a ton, but the original game just doesn't have the same charm of deeper gameplay mechanics that its sequel had. In all subsequent games, which Kong you played as actually meant something, since some could fly, hover, or even pogo your way to the goal. Here, the gameplay was just rudimentary to me. Even Super Mario Bros., for how basic of a game it is, has more depth and complexity than Donkey Kong Country.

I really have nothing more to say about this game other than that I firmly believe that graphics don't make a game, and even though the graphics were revolutionary in DKC, it just couldn't have been supported by the gameplay.

#3: Bioshock Infinite (PS3, Xbox 360: 2013)
I remember back in 2013 when the biggest question was which game was better; Bioshock Infinite, or The Last of Us. Both games were single player affairs that had a great art style, a fantastic studio behind it, and hype that was simply astounding. People were fawning over this game left and right, talking about its themes, ideas, and throwing out phrases like "Ludonarrative Dissonance" like they knew what the hell they were talking about.

Nowadays, nobody even bats an eye at Infinite  because of how shallow of a game it really it.

The combat is vastly simplistic, with Booker only able to hold two weapons at a time instead of a whole arsenal like in the original Bioshock. While the game does have a fantastic aesthetic, it's let down by somewhat subpar graphics that makes key moments like the ending feel much weaker because of the character models. And let's talk about that ending for a little bit, shall we?

In short, the story is garbage to watch now. Given the fact it's a three year old game, I'll still spare the spoilers and not go into an incredible amount of detail, but Bioshock Infinite is just like the movie Interstellar in my opinion. It tackles some interesting concepts in interesting ways, but the story just collapses in on itself because it doesn't understand human emotion. We should relate to Booker, Elizabeth, Comstock, and Daisy Fitzroy because of what they're going through, but instead the player in confused about who we should support because the game is more interested in telling you how smart it is than relate it to its characters. We're supposed to sympathize with Elizabeth and what she goes through, but by the end she becomes completely emotionless when explaining every major twist in the game. By the end of the story, nothing you did really mattered that much and you're just left with smart sounding phrases, but not much else.

The original Bioshock still holds up today because of its lively characters, great combat with difficult foes, and a story that's both smart and interesting. In Infinite, we have a game with a story that thinks it's incredibly smart and interesting, but misses why the original Bioshock was such a breath of fresh air. I can still sit down and enjoy it, but man does its story really collapse in on itself.

#2: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64: 1998, GC: 2003, Wii: 2007, 3DS, 2011, Wii U, 2015)
You know that if any game is ever called "The Greatest Game of All Time", it's bound to be just a tad bit overrated. In the case of Ocarina of Time, while it's still a good Zelda game, time has not done it any favors. Once upon a time, it may have been the greatest video game ever made, but even when compared to the rest of the Zelda series, I personally think it's just a good entry. Not great, but good.

I actually don't dislike the game for being overrated, but instead I actually feel a bit sad for Ocarina of Time in a way. This was a game that was in development for over 3 years and was teased countlessly to the public. The internet was not a common thingback in the 90's, so any info that could be given about the game was monumental. When the final game was released, it defined what it meant to be a 3D action adventure game. Z-Targetting, a fully responsive camera, a full fledged, instrument, a huge, seamless world with several dungeons all around, it was any gamers dream!

But then every Zelda game did those things and made them even better. Majora's Mask had a better story, Wind Waker had timeless graphics, Twilight Princess had fantastic combat, and even Skyward Sword had a breathtaking art style going for it. Looking back, what did Ocarina of Time had that no other Zelda game had? Well, smart dungeon design for one, but that was about it.

Ocarina of Time is a victim of time funnily enough. As time went on, better games came out, but people still continued to love this game for what it introduced. Historically, it is one of the most important video games ever made, but that needs to be a key distinction; importance vs. best. People always get that distinction mixed up, so when people say that, say, Super Mario Bros. or Tetris is the best game ever made, people tend to really mean that it's one of the most important games ever made. Now if any of these three games are your favorite games, more power to you, but be sure to distinguish them between subjective opinions and objective facts. That's all I'm saying.

#1: The entire Assassin's Creed franchise (2007-2016)
My God, for the life of me, I cannot stand the Assassin's Creed games. Whenever a game comes out, people usually start to praise them up the wazoo for doing the same thing it's always done for years on end with minimum improvements or changes, and yet people will still call each game one fo the best games of the year. Do I need to go down a list of reasons why this franchise is terrible and incredibly overrated?


The first game sucked, the second game was good, but barely evolved the mechanics from the first game which was still very ho-hum, the main story surrounding Desmond Miles was boring an uninteresting for 5 straight years only to then be followed up by an even more boring an uninteresting game, the time periods chosen for each game sound interesting in theory but you never do anything actually cool or world changing in any game, the Ezio saga lasted for far too long and only served to milk the one entry that people legitimately liked, Ubisoft rushes out a new game every year, bugs be damned, in order to reach some kind of quota, it touts that each entry is "iconic" or a character has an "iconic item" before the game actually released so we could judge for ourselves, Unity was just a piece of trash, the series has refused to adapt to the times with the exception of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, which was a breath of fresh air only to be followed by the worst story in the entire series, no end is currently in sight, interesting time periods are relegated to comics where they will never be made into games, ninjas still aren't a thing, and the upcoming movie looks like it's going to focus on the boring real world story than the fantasy Spanish Inquisition story that actually looks good, and WHY DOES THIS FRANCHISE SELL MILLIONS OF UNITS EVERY YEAR???

I personally cannot stand any yearly franchise because you simply cannot release a game in a series in a year that doesn't differentiate itself from other installments. Pokemon, Call of Duty, and Madden are all the same way. If you don't like the base gameplay, each entry will not improve upon each other. Minor adjustments will be made, but you're stuck with what they give you until the franchise becomes unpopular, time is taken off, and it comes back with new life breathed into it.

Thankfully, that's happening with Assassin's Creed. For the first time since 2008, then is no Assassin's Creed game releasing this year so Ubisoft can "refocus the franchise", which hopefully means that they're looking at what players want, giving more of that, and making each installment feel important rather than rush each entry out to make money. I mean we still have the awful looking movie to watch out for, but that was doomed ever since it was announced years ago.

Gamers are slowly starting to realize that Assassin's Creed, as a franchise, is old and tired. It needs new life and it needs to take a break because all of the games are just blending into each other at this point. What distinguishes Assassin's Creed III from Syndicate at this point in terms of core gameplay mechanics. Yes, it may have been fun to run around on rooftops once, but 8 times without any changes? If that's not a definition of an overrated franchise, I don't know what is.

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