2008 was a great year for games. Left 4 Dead, GTA IV, Gears of War 2, the list of quality titles is as long as your arm. But it was also a year packed full of video game disappointments. Here, we run down our Top 10: Disappointments of 2008, a list that proves that for every stupendously fantastic gaming moment, there's always a depressing kick to the stomach lurking somewhere around the corner.
10. PES 2009
We'll let the comments from our 7/10 review do the talking. "It's been living on past glories far too long and needs to get up to date." "For anyone still undecided the proof is everywhere, FIFA is officially better than Pro Evo, gulp." "I feel bad that this will be my second year not playing Pro but FIFA is amazing." "I was a PES fan until today. With my mates we used to play in league mode against each other, quite fun to do. Impossible and very disappointing with PES09." "As a pro evo fan until pes2008 I have been really disappointed with that and this year's. I own FIFA 09, and may I just say, buy it. I think it's even better than PES's best. And that's from someone who just bought their first FIFA. Don't reward Konami's mediocre updates and maybe they'll be forced to do an EA and revitalise it next year." Gulp indeed.
9. Too Human
Back in August, Silicon Knights boss Denis Dyack told us that "some games get so hyped up, gamers actually believe that when they get this game it's going to cure cancer". True or not, that kind of comment was classic Dyack, outrageous words from an outspoken developer. Following an almost constant barrage of negativity aimed at his game, Dyack posted on the NeoGaf forum saying: "I feel Too Human is a great game, likely to be better than most that will come out this year. I certainly feel it is the best game we have ever made. I also believe the press and gamers alike will believe this." We didn't. It was good, but not the game Dyack hyped it up to be. 7/10.
8. The Wii's Christmas line-up
The big Christmas games from Sony and Microsoft were great this year. The PS3 had Resistance 2, LittleBigPlanet and MotorStorm Pacific Rift, while the Xbox 360 had Fable II, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and Gears of War 2. Nintendo gave Wii owners Wii Music, Disaster Day of Crisis and Animal Crossing: Let's go to the City. Even the most blinkered fanboy can't help but see the gaping chasm that is the difference in quality between those line-ups. Considering Nintendo fans had Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime: Corruption during the same period the year before, perhaps we'd been spoiled, but, after the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl in June, we can't help but feel as if Nintendo completely ignored the hardcore gamer for the rest of the year.
7. The great PSP game drought
Can you remember all the great PSP games released in 2008? You probably can actually, seeing they can be counted on one hand. God of War: Chains of Olympus was superb, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was brilliant, LocoRoco 2 was an excellent follow-up to a great game and Patapon is probably worthy of a mention. But, after that, the list runs dry. What other quality games came out for Sony's handheld wonder in 2008? Sony released two Buzz! games (which we're not convinced are entirely suitable for the platform) and a number of services (on demand TV and movies, and a GPS system), but real quality games were in very short supply, not only from Sony but from third parties, too. We're hoping for better next year.
6. LittleBigPlanet launch issues
It's not often that a game comes along that promises to let you PLAY WITH EVERYTHING!!! LittleBigPlanet hype reached fever pitch as glowing review after glowing review hit the internet, each carrying the reassuring news: The wait had been well and truly worth it. But then disaster struck. A potentially offensive song had been included on the soundtrack and the game was recalled just days before it was due to hit stores. The October 24 launch was scuppered and gamers were up in arms. When the game finally did arrive, on November 5, we expected LittleBigPlanet's beleaguered beginnings to be over, but in truth they'd only just begun. Numerous server issues meant that for a long time gamers simply couldn't experience the hyped online portion of the game. We can't help but think that some of this negativity hurt sales somewhat. Quality game, but a bitterly disappointing launch.
Hyped as the best game of 2008, everyone expected Will Wright's Spore to be sweeping up at award ceremonies come December. Sadly it's not. Don't get us wrong, Spore is a very good game, a game that we'd recommend you play, but it doesn't push gaming forward in the way we thought it would. Its individual gameplay elements feel like slightly watered down versions of other games, and the final space gameplay is punishingly hard - something that's pretty unforgivable considering Spore was being marketed as if it was the new The Sims. Yes, it's great looking at the various things created by the warped minds of PC gamers across the world, but Spore didn't so much make shockwaves as it did cause a mild disturbance.
4. The rise of exclusive content in multiformat games
Securing exclusive content for multiformat games might make perfect business sense to Microsoft and Sony, but if you're a gamer trying to choose which platform to buy or which version of a game to buy (especially now poor PS3 versions of multiplatform games seem to be a thing of the past), exclusive content is likely to be a big deal. This year Fallout 3, Tomb Raider Underworld and GTA 4 were all released with the promise of exclusive content for the Xbox 360, despite all being multiplatform games also released on PS3. We're not denying that it makes sense for Microsoft to pursue exclusive content, and there's a strong case against Sony that it isn't doing enough to provide its customers with similar offerings, but as gamers it's undeniably annoying. And don't get us started on Yoda and Darth Vader in SoulCalibur IV.
3. We still haven't seen anything solid on Final Fantasy XIII
We know Final Fantasy XIII is coming. We know it's in development. We know it's going to be better than every single role-playing game ever made times by an order of magnitude of about, say, a million, but we don't actually know anything solid about it. We don't even know what year it's coming out. All we've got is a handful of screens and an, admittedly gorgeous, three minute trailer that includes snippets of gameplay footage. For a game that was first unveiled over two years ago at E3 2006, it's not only bitterly disappointing, but shocking that we haven't yet seen it in action with some proper gameplay footage of any decent length. It doesn't make us hopeful for a 2009 Western release, that's for sure. FFXIII looks great now, but if it doesn't hit these shores till 2010, it could look dated, and that really would be disappointing.
2. GTA 4 DLC missing Microsoft's promised Christmas release
GTA 4 fans were looking forward to a DLC filled Christmas, desperate for some new content after finishing April's game of the year contender, but things didn't go quite according to plan. After Microsoft insisted the new content would be out in time for the holidays, fans began carving MS Points into their Christmas lists in anticipation. But as Christmas approached and Rockstar remained tight-lipped, we started to get worried. When Rockstar finally announced that The Lost and Damned would hit on February 17, 2009, we weren't especially surprised, but we were bitterly disappointed, although we imagine Microsoft might have been even more upset.
1. Nintendo's E3 conference
E3 2008 arrived with high hopes, with rumours around Nintendo's showing getting everyone hot and bothered. The Big N, if rumours were to be believed, was going to show off a string of hardcore games that would please long-time fans and prove that the company wasn't only interested in making games for the mass market. What we got was, well, the opposite of that. We sat through an embarrassing Shaun White demo in which a Nintendo exec tried to use the Wii Balance Board, we saw Reggie flail about on stage trying to demonstrate Wii Motion Plus, and we suffered musical torture when Wii Music took centre stage. So what was the big game for the hardcore? Animal Crossing for Wii - a game so similar to previous versions that voice chat was pointed as a major new feature for the series. It's because we love Nintendo so much that Nintendo's E3 conference is our biggest disappointment of 2008.
Agree? Disagree? What are your top 2008 disappointments? Let us know in the comments section below.