Features & News
End of Year 2014: Disappointment of the Year
December 30, 2014, Author: The TIMJ Team
Welcome to the tenth of eleven daily ‘End of Year’ pieces from TIMJ, where in each, we discuss our favourite things of 2014 from carefully selected categories.
Next up is ‘Disappointment of the Year’. What were we most let down by?
Dan Moore (Staff Writer) – Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs by a country mile! This was supposed to be the game that ushered in the new generation, one that caused it to all make sense and provide a new IP with a new universe to discover. Unfortunately, what we got was a confusing, unbalanced mess. Aiden was not a cool new character – in fact, he was barely a character at all. The hacking abilities, while cool in some instances, got old quick and don’t even get me started on the driving.
Having said all that, it did do one thing right: Online. The way it was integrated was really cool, and I hope more games too weave it into the wider context of the world in the future. Even the online game was brought down by the poor gameplay, though, and it just turned into a crappy game made by a developer who we all know can do better.
Here’s hoping the inevitable Watch Dogs 2 is way, way better.
Runners Up: Rise of the Tomb Raider’s crap title, The Walking Dead Season 2
Andy Buick (Features Editor) – AAA Development
I was going to say Driveclub here, but perhaps that’s picking on one game where my response should address the wider issue of games being released when they clearly aren’t ready. The sheer quantity of supposedly AAA titles released with huge problems this year is utterly shameful and makes for far too long a list, from Driveclub, Halo: Master Chief Collection, AC: Unity and on and on.
Runners Up: Driveclub, UFC
Josué Cardona (Staff Writer) – Titanfall
Everything about Titanfall seemed great but I just don’t enjoy PvP so, ultimately, there was very little for me in the final product. The recent addition of the ‘Frontier Defense’ mode is much more my style, but it was too late for me to get back into it. I know 6v6 bothered a lot of people, but it was the lack of a campaign that disappointed me most.
Good on Respawn for making the game they wanted to make and not shoehorning a single-player component if it was not part of their vision, but referring the mashed-up story/tutorial/multiplayer as a campaign seemed disingenuous.
Runners Up: Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Watch Dogs
Andy Corrigan (Editor In Chief) – Watch Dogs
A choice between Watch Dogs and Destiny as to which disappointed more was always going to be a difficult decision for me, but Watch Dogs takes it as it’s the one I stuck with until completion and actually wished I hadn’t. Despite impressing at first with its open-world and semi-decent shooting mechanics, it quickly devolved into the worst kind of AAA game.
Strap in folks, I’m going off on a rant.
The story was abysmal, fuelled by a death it made no effort to make me care about, while Aiden Pearce had literally no personality to speak of. I loved the idea of this network-connected, high-tech city, but was baffled by constant ‘lol video-games’ moments, such as the ability to hack tradies lifts or that security companies thought it was a great idea to keep hackable systems for important doors outside and easily accessible to the general public. On top of that, its touted multiplayer was an intrusive annoyance that I ended up switching off because I wanted it to end as quickly as possible and, even on PS4, it managed to look worse visually than GTAV on PS3.
Its biggest crime, however, was that its missions were just so damn boring. Say what you like about the content found in GTAV, but I can name any number of missions throughout the entire series that were memorable or fun, and when I think of Watch Dogs, I can remember only one clearly, and that’s just because it annoyed me through its own indulgence.
Nearing its end, I remember very clearly hoping that Watch Dogs couldn’t let me down any more. Then it did, with the most poorly conceived and obvious twist.
I cannot believe that this is from the same development team that produced Child of Light… Such a waste.
Runners Up: Destiny, Thief
Jonn Blanchard (Staff Writer) – Titanfall
This might surprise a few people because I’ve already chosen it as my favourite multiplayer game, but whilst Titanfall was an exceptional multiplayer title, it needed to be so much more. Firstly, the biggest issue was the lack of a real single-player mode. The online campaign mode gave a glimpse into how great a true story-driven option could have been, I would have loved to find out more about the world and its characters.
I realise that a lot of players, especially Respawn’s core audience, buy first-person shooters to jump online and compete against real life players, but certainly not all of them. I, for one, like to have something to do if the internet is down or I just don’t feel like being constantly killed by fourteen year-old children. I like to know something about the world I’m playing in and the best way to do that is to play a proper story-driven campaign.
Other than the lack of a single-player mode, I just feel they could have been more imaginative with the game modes. Most of them boil down to the same modes that make up the Call of Duty online experience, but with different names.
Lastly, even in this next-generation, cloud-powered time, we’re still limited to 6 v 6? What happened to the huge battles? I still remember playing 50 player matches in Black Hawk Down on the original Xbox. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. Why have we still not got that?
Runners Up: Elder Scrolls Online, Driveclub
Jade Sayers (Staff Writer) – Watch Dogs
If 2014 has taught me anything, it’s to keep expectations low to avoid disappointment. A pity then, that I didn’t employ this ethos earlier as I could have saved a lot of time spent complaining. Whilst ultimately I did enjoy Watch Dogs to a degree, it didn’t deliver on what I was expecting it to be.
Perhaps this is my own fault for having such high expectations of a seamless world and running amok in an open city, but having been presented with Watch Dogs in its final form, it didn’t have nearly enough action to keep me hooked, to make me go back for more.
Where the storyline was uninteresting, gameplay was average and didn’t feature enough of the technological warfare I’d been hoping for. It was all bundled up with, frankly, deplorable and boring characters and thus, it failed to interest me.
It now sits bottom of my pile of shame, waiting for me to truly scrape the barrel before I revisit.
Runners Up: Singstar: Ultimate Party, InFamous: Second Son
James Sheppard (Reviews Editor) – Destiny
I’m often patient with new video game releases, and unless I’m tackling a review copy early in order to write about it for TIMJ, I’ll wait to see if the consensus is generally positive before handing over my cash. For this reason, my disappointments of the year are more to do with them ‘not being for me’, rather than me having fallen for the hype and ended up with objectively terrible games.
Top of this list is Destiny, a game that I know is imperfect but that many have nonetheless ploughed countless hours into with friends. The problem here was with my own expectations. Being a big fan of Bungie, I had rather naïvely hoped that it would be a grand-scale Halo MK II, with a couple of MMO elements thrown in for good measure.
As I played, however, it became apparent that this was more MMO-like than I had expected, and not in a good way. There was going to be a lot of grind, and a lot of repetition. Before investing too much time into it, I decided to cut my losses and trade it in.
Runners Up: Hearthstone, Final Fantasy XIV
Jasper Pickering (Staff Writer) – Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs easily tops my biggest disappointment of this year, and of course it would have won in 2013 but it had more delays than Southern Rail on a Sunday.
This was supposed to be the showcase for ‘next-gen’ (now current-generation) AAA gaming. The E3 trailer had me mesmerised by the smallest details, like a bag blowing in the wind a-la American Beauty. When it was released, I didn’t even have to buy it as I was universally told “don’t bother” by my friends. I wasn’t sure if they had just purchased a bad game or if the whole experience brought about unwanted memories of being lied to through the medium of ‘teaser trailer’ (‘teaser’ being the key word here).
Now? I can’t even remember what it feels like to be excited about anything any more, because I am worried that it’s just going to let me down like Watch Dogs did.
I’m not mad, Watch Dogs, I’m just… disappointed.
Runners Up: Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Day Z
Matt Best (Staff Writer) – Gamergate
For me, the biggest gaming disappointment for 2014 was not a game. For years, the gaming community has endeavoured to convince society that we are mature adults and the days of pimply-faced kids living in mum’s basement are gone, but in 2014 there was a section of the gaming community who seemed hell bent on proving society right.
Everyone by now should be aware of the Gamergate ‘movement’. Those who felt it their duty to rise up against those so-called ‘Social Justice Warriors’ threatening their gamer culture: a culture which seems to involve making rape and death threats to principally female journalists and developers. In order to give themselves a sense of legitimacy they defended their actions by laughably declaring they were fighting for ‘ethics in games journalism’, and continue to wave this flag of self-delusion.
The issue is obviously too complicated to go into detail here, but it is the actions of these clowns that has truly marred 2014, and have done nothing to improve gaming’s standing in society. I don’t even think a weeklong marathon of Aliens: Colonial Marines, Duke Nukem Forever, and Rambo: The Video Game could overcome the foul taste it has left in my mouth.
Runners Up: The hysteria about Grand Theft Auto V, Rambo: The Video Game
Matt Parker (News Editor) – Civilization: Beyond Earth
Hear me out. This is still a great game, but it’s not as great as I’m used to when seeing the ‘Sid Meier’ name.
Beyond Earth ended up playing like an extended mod. The changes made certainly added new systems to consider and provided further depth to what you already know about the game of Civilization V, but that’s the issue. It’s clearly been built upon Civilization V.
Right down to the UI, the way the units stack (or don’t) and the way it all controls, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed by lack of changes.
I’ve clocked in over fifteen hours, which is a lot for me, so it’s by no means a bad game. I just expected a little more is all.
Runners Up: Halo: Master Chief Collection, Ubisoft in general
Feature Type: 2014, End of Year | Tagged Assassin's Creed Unity, Civilization: Beyond Earth, Destiny, Driveclub, Final Fantasy XIV, Halo Master Chief Collection, Hearthstone, Rise of the Tomb Raider, thief, Titanfall, UFC, Watch Dogs