Features & News

Team Talk: The big franchises we hate!

August 23, 2011, Author: The TIMJ Team

It’s time for another Team Talk here at TIMJ towers, and this time we thought we’d focus some more on bile dispensation!

We all have them. Those big games that are so inexplicably popular to everyone else, but you can’t help but wonder how the chuff they garnered the acclaim that they receive.

So, which games made our staff member’s shit lists… You know what to do to find out!

Jesper Hauerslev (Staff Writer) ~ FIFA/PES
I hate football and everything about it. I hated playing it at school because I was never fast enough to keep the ball for longer then a few seconds when a teammate finally did kick the ball to me. I suspect that was always more an act of sheer desperation then team-spirit.

I hate how everybody expects you to love the game. I hate how your are defined by what team you support and how the answer (or lack thereof) will equally define you and stigmatise you to the end of your days.

More then that, I hate actually playing it and I hate the fact that year after year, new games are spat out that are basically last year’s version with a new cover slapped on to make the cash-registers go “kerching!”

What is the point of that? Give me innovation and cool new features that go beyond an updated roster, slightly crisper graphics and more crowd-roars? I want a Rooney Rage-meter, I want to pick a fight with the referee and I want to fake an injury and see if I can get away with it. I want to booby-trap the ball with dynamite, pick-up WAGs, fool around with busty Page 3 girls and issue gagging orders to the press while having an affair with my brother’s wife.

Give me that and maybe I might actually consider playing a football game.

Trent Pyro (Staff Writer) ~ Call of Duty
Since the biblical success of COD4, Activision have essentially hired monkeys to update the story and throw in a couple of new features for each new release. All the campaigns are short and uninspiring, the multiplayer is repetitive and the fanbase are a bunch of irritating wankers. It sells like sun-cream during a supernova but loses GOTY every year because everyone knows it actually sucks. Activision make their billions then close studios and sack people. COD and Activision can fuck right out of it.

CoD = Corny old Dross?

Paddy (Community Manager) ~ Halo
Halo. Two things always really bugged me about the series, and as time wore on, I just couldn’t ignore them anymore. The first was that for a franchise that boasted a story that was epic in scale, it hardly ever seemed to match the lofty heights of its marketing hyperbole. As someone who has read and seen much in the genre of Science Fiction, I wasn’t impressed. In fact, if I’m being truthful here, frankly speaking I was always left wondering what all the fuss was about. For three games I handed over my money, wanting to give it the benefit of doubt, only to come away continually disappointed. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the whole thing hangs on a rip-off of Larry Niven’s excellent ‘Ringworld’ saga from the 1970’s…

The second issue I had was with the media marketing blitz. Every gaming magazine I picked up seemed to have Halo splashed over its cover. Magazines were chomping at the bit for any and every piece of Halo information, no matter how small because they knew it would shift magazines. Whilst I can understand this from a financial standpoint, the sheer volume of far more worthy games that were smothered in the mêlée doesn’t bear thinking about. Crackdown was one such example that only just managed to keep its head above water long enough to eventually prove the naysayers wrong who dismissed it upon release.

There is more to gaming than Halo and CoD. I’m not saying there’s not a place for them, but when the marketplace becomes this saturated with similar products, and starts dumbing down games like Mass Effect 2 in favour of bullets over narrative, I have to stand back and question the bigger picture. Herein lies the problem. When is a franchise too successful? Too powerful? It’s one thing to garner great sales, pad out the pockets of your shareholders, maintain a dedicated demographic and make a name for yourself in the Gaming world. It’s quite another to be the one in the driving seat that everyone else is avidly watching due to the sheer amount of money you’re making.

What can I say? Halo just really grinds my Gears. (See what I did there?) Feel free to send hate mail. I can take it. I’m a big boy.

Same game different strips for two of our guys...

Neil Hughes (Site Manager) ~ Mario
Nintendo have been milking this cash cow with over 200 games since 1981. Although I am happy to admit Shigeru Miyamoto deserves his legendary status, and I have very fond memories of the cheeky plumber and his spreading of communist propaganda; I often find myself pondering if we really need this ageing franchise in the 21st century.

I have been fortunate enough to have seen video gaming grow from its humble beginnings with Pong into the behemoth of mainstream entertainment that is has now become. Games now have similar budgets and profits to rival Hollywood movies, so do we really need yet another tired Mario platform game in our lives?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all about the graphics with me. My biggest idol is Jeff ‘Yak’ Minter who gave us the randomness of Sheep in Space, Attack of the Mutant Camels and Llamatron, to name but a few, which illustrates the power of his imagination. 200 variants of Mario games, however shows a complete lack of imagination which Nintendo have been dining out on for thirty years.

Phil Ubee (Staff Writer) ~ Halo
It seems Paddy has, to some degree, stolen my thunder here, but I honestly believe that the Halo series is the single biggest, over-hyped, waste of time since home consoles began. The first game was an ‘okay’ shooter in its own right, at a time when the genre was only just starting out on consoles. The second game was hyped beyond recognition and was again, no more than an average title, yet is somehow claimed as the game that has defined a generation.

Halo 3 is one of, if not the most underwhelming games I have played on current generation consoles. The story was ridiculously short, the gameplay predictably repetitive, and the graphics decidedly average. Even the multiplayer, hailed as the best thing since sliced bread left me feeling incredibly blasé.

Since then we have had a number of similarly over-hyped spin-off titles, which have once again failed to deliver. So much so that I simply refuse to even rent Reach in order to avoid tarnishing my Xbox 360. Now to make matters even worse, we have the news that Halo 3 wasn’t the last game in the series after all. I for one have chosen to ignore the passing bandwagon titled ‘Halo 4’ as it gathers momentum. The build up to which will, inevitably be, another over-hyped, average shooter.

You say Halo? Phil, Andy K and Paddy say 'Goodbye'...

Debbie Lloyd (Staff Writer) ~ Call of Duty
As I write this I am actually sat on Wikipedia and staring at a list of gaming franchises, trying to think very hard about which ones I hate the most. From memory there is not really any franchise in particular that gets my blood boiling. I’m not a hater, I’m a lover of all things, but I suppose that Call of Duty is a massively over-hyped franchise for me, so that’s close enough to hatred.

It is common knowledge that I am a bit of a fan of the FPS genre regardless of its setting, but I just find Call of Duty to be an ultimately dull experience through-and-through. It is a franchise that hasn’t really moved forwards at all in my eyes, only going for shock value with its realism, topical and heavily political subject matter.

Video games should not be political; they should be fun and not weighed down with heavy topics from the news. It’s like playing through the reels you see on the news of war and destruction.

Call of Duty is not a bad franchise; it is just one that I find terminally dull and at times depressing to play. No doubt that it is action-packed, but the massive political agenda is just too much sometimes.

James O’Leary (Staff Writer) ~ Call of Duty
It may seem like the fashionable choice at the moment to dislike the Call of Duty franchise, but hopefully this point of view is a slightly different view on the hate that gets directed towards CoD.

My issue with Call of Duty lies within the competitive scene of the franchise, specifically with regards to the announcement of Activision’s $1,000,000 tournament for Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Wait, isn’t Black ops getting replaced by Modern Warfare 3 in just a short few months? Seemingly Activision-Blizzard have decided to sprinkle a little of their oceans of money back on to a select few professional gamers.

What’s wrong with this you say? It dumps all over everything that people have tried to build for FPS competitive gaming, and with long-standing favorites like Quake being phased out of the e-Sports scene slowly and reluctantly, the annual replacement of one of the larger games in the e-Sports world leaves a somewhat bitter taste in this gamer’s mouth.

As for the recent games in the franchise, they’ve all been mediocre in innovation when compared to other games like Battlefield, with its immersive and destructive frostbite engine. Unless Modern Warfare 3 is a gigantic leap forward for the series and sticks around for longer than 12 months without a replacement, I may change my mind.

Unfortunately I’m more convinced that the next installment of Duke Nukem will rear its ugly, unwanted head within the next year than Activision not making money angels with their next Call of Duty game.

Neil shudders when he hears 'It's-a me!'

Andy Corrigan (Editor) ~ Resistance
This was a tough choice as there are a number of contenders. Special mention has to go to the tedium of the Call of Duty annual update, and I could rant at some length as to why the Metal Gear Solid series has been a bag of unintelligible crap since its decent PSOne debut. Just for a change I’m opting for Resistance.

When I got my PS3, I looked to the exclusives to make it feel like a worthwhile purchase. While the likes of Uncharted, Little Big Planet and Killzone duly delivered, one of the titles people were telling me to buy into was Resistance: Fall of Man and its sequel. With all the praise I expected something special.

What I got instead, was two dull-as-dishwater, derivative games that bored the living shit out of me for the entire combined playthrough. If I was to describe my experience in one word, it would be ‘blank’, as in that’s how I felt when I played them. I felt nothing for setting or the characters, the combat was boring and by-the numbers, and the action was painfully uninspired. If it wasn’t a PS3 exclusive, it would have passed without a murmur.

Andrew Knight (Podcast Editor) ~ Halo
I’m so glad to see a few of my TIMJ colleagues agreeing with me here. I’m usually lambasted by the guys for my negative and cynical view on games, so to see Phil and Paddy (wow, never saw that coming) with me on this one, is something of a relief.

To me, Halo is the most over-hyped franchise today, even more so than COD. Okay, so it showed the way for the FPS genre on consoles back when the original Xbox was launched, but almost a decade later, the ‘Combat Evolved’ really hasn’t developed much since that first title. Admittedly, they have mixed it up with the last few games featuring more of a squad-based experience, but that was more to accommodate the growing trend for a multiplayer story experience. That was more necessity, not pushing the gameplay to new, groundbreaking areas.

The new forthcoming anniversary edition to be released later this year only serves to prove my hate for this franchise to a tee. It’s the old game, but now doused in full HD graphics. Thing is, playing the old games with the new graphical upgrades on, you’ll easily start to get confused to which game in the franchise you’re playing. The Halo universe is all very samey, to the point of set-pieces and backdrops becoming redundant.

So little mechanically or design-wise has changed the gameplay. It’s gone from what was once the premier console shooter, into a stale, outdated and boring experience. It baffles me that so many people still play the games. Oh and I loath the look of the Grunts; least scariest enemy in gaming history!

World of Borecraft more like! Am I right?!

James Sheppard (Reviews Editor) ~ World of Warcraft
I’m a gentle soul, so thinking of a franchise which I actually hate enough to rant about is a difficult task for me. Instead, I’m going to opt for the next best option, which is a hugely popular game that left me underwhelmed. World of Warcraft has subscribers in the millions, all more than willing to hand over their £8.99 fee to Blizzard every month.

In fact, World of Warcraft is infamous for practically taking over peoples’ lives, ruining their education, and destroying relationships. A quick look at my Xfire profile revealed one ‘friend’ who had sunk more than four-and-a-half-thousand hours of their life into the MMORPG. Naturally, I was quite curious to try it out, albeit a little apprehensive, lest I was also sucked into its dark void of addiction.

So, full of optimism, I bought the game along with all expansion packs up to Cataclysm. To make the experience more enjoyable and give me an edge in combat, I purchased a Belkin Nostromo speed pad and 17-button Razer Naga mouse, placing a dearth of fully-customisable hotkeys at my disposal. Heck, when my initial impressions were positive, I even bought a SteelSeries World of Warcraft mouse mat.

However, it didn’t take too long for the novelty to wear off, and I don’t mean the novelty of my nerdy peripherals and merchandise. After a while, the repetition of the game’s quests started to grind (no pun intended). “Bring me twenty wolf skins, mighty warrior!” “Slay twenty-five of these dinosaurs, then twenty-five of these slightly stronger dinosaurs, then twenty-five of these, the strongest dinosaurs of all!”

What existed of the story was completely dull and uninspiring, to the point where I started skipping almost all NPC dialogue just so I could be handed my samey quest quicker and get on with it. Joining a guild and playing with others redeemed it a little, but almost any game can be enjoyable when cooperating with other people, no matter how shoddy. As time progressed, I found less and less incentive to play, and subsequently didn’t bother to renew my subscription when it ran out.

Literally boring.

Ray Willmott (Site Manager) ~ FIFA/PES
Like Jesper, I’ve never been a Football fan. I’m more actively interested now than I was back when I was fifteen, but my thought is still generally the same. As such, this makes for a bit of an unfair vote for both the FIFA and PES series. Here you have it, though. Dating as far back as FIFA 95 to present day, the thought of playing football on a computer screen couldn’t be less appealing to me. Management Sims are different, and I’ve always felt quietly sad that I’m not into football so I could enjoy the delights of Championship Manager. Alas…

It’s not just the fact that it is Football, though. I hate yearly installments (and this is actually a criticism for the likes of Call of Duty as well as Football games). It doesn’t give a development team a chance to really deliver innovation and provide a quality product. The problem is, they know people will buy the same game year on year, because it offers something slightly different and resembles a more accurate roster for the players in the Premier League during that season.

Football games have become figureheads in the industry for yearly instalments, and it utterly irks me. With so many other quality games out there essentially being ignored because everyone is waiting for the new FIFA or PES, I find myself feeling quite bitter and resentful towards them. I don’t endorse repetition, I want to see fresh, hard-hitting experiences in this industry, and even though EA and Konami say they’ve done something different with their games each year, I can never really notice the difference.

I secretly have to admit, though. I am fascinated to see what kind of Kinect support FIFA is going to get next year…