2014 In Reflection: The Disappointments So Far
As the busy window of major release comes ever a closer, it seems like a good time for a spot of reflection. 2014 was set to be the next generations first year of glory, but has it been the case? 2014 has been a strange year, filled with delays and more questions than answers. With hardware questions and concerns aside, the games of 2014 (so far) have been a mixed bag. Major releases, returning favorites and under the radar games, plenty of choice.
2014 has so far left a slight bitter taste in my mouth, mainly due to the failings of some of the biggest games. Pointing out disappointing games is easy, what’s hard is underlining exactly what made them disappointing. Watch Dogs, arguably the biggest game released so far, was a prime example of curious disappointment. Watch Dogs is not a bad game, in fact it’s a decently crafted game with some nifty ideas….but that it never goes beyond decent. Watch Dogs felt safe, so safe that it became unremarkable.
When a game is ear marked as one of the biggest releases of the year, it’s hard not to expect something beyond decent. Watch Dogs came and went, it’s impact never truly felt as profound as it was once expected to be. Watch Dogs wasn’t the only big title to result in underwhelming reactions, EA made sure they took that crown with their half arsed UFC title.
After a full year of hype, PR, heavy marketing campaigns and constant plugs, EA’s début UFC title felt like only half a finished product. While the game looked and sounded fantastic, the gameplay was uneasy mix of arcade and realism. For a game that boasted about how true to life it was, the gameplay felt silly. The stand up was decent, the ground game was a utter mess, the lack of content was unforgivable. EA UFC, as a whole product, was utterly hollow. While Watch Dogs felt like a flat, but well crafted game, EA UFC felt like a rushed out cash in on the fattest growing sport. A true disappointment in every respect.
Titanfall fronted Microsoft’s Xbox One charge, the next big thing into competitive multiplayer, and to it’s credit the majority bought into hype. Familiar gameplay married with smooth movement, jet packs and mechs, it’s easy to see why Titanfall created such a buzz. Upon its release, Titanfall was hugely enjoyable. The fast paced action, the meta game, the game within a game, the engaging action, it all worked. Titanfall is well made, it’s confident, but it’s also lacking. The lack of maps and game modes hurt the game in the long run. Titanfall soon became a overly too familiar experience, and was yet another game lacking content. After all the promises of Titanfall changing the multiplayer shooter scene, the end result felt more like a sign of potential rather than a statement of intent.
On the flip side, InFamous: Second Son shared a similar fate. While the game was truly beautiful and well crafted, a wafer thin story and lack of content left the game falling short of high standards sets by previous entries. Second Son was hugely enjoyable, but it’s abrupt ending and sloppy story detract from the overall experience. After the story was complete, the lack of content truly became clear. Traveling around the environment is initially fun, but wares thin pretty quickly. Taking out enemy outposts and collecting bits and bobs was the only real additional content, which was a crying shame. A good showing of what the PS4 is capable of, but hardly a compelling experience like the last two InFamous titles.
2014 has so far provided a number of disappointing games, but it’s also played host to some surprises. Surprise contenders for Game of the Year, fantastic modern experiences bleeding with classic mechanics, a pure fun. These surprise titles have all offered something different and already began to earn themselves a cult following. We’ll look back at these titles in the next reflection.