There's nothing better than a good console exclusive, the kind which makes other console owners bitter and jealous. Xbox 360 owners would do almost anything to get Metal Gear Solid 4 on their console, and conversely PlayStation 3 owners would most likely faint if Halo was ever announced for their system. But things aren't always rosy in the land of console exclusives. From time to time they land with a thud instead of a bang, failing to crawl out from under the hype that's been crushing them for months. These are VideoGamer.com's Top 10: most disappointing console exclusives.
10. Ninety-Nine Nights
This Xbox 360 exclusive had the involvement of Q Entertainment and Phantagram Software, and looked to be one of the first great Japanese-developed Xbox 360 titles. Rez creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi even worked as a designer on the game. Japanese video game magazine Famitsu scored the game 37/40 and things looked good. How Xbox 360 owners cried when the game we got turned out to be just a slightly better looking Dynasty Warriors. Ninety-Nine Nights sums up the state of Japanese-developed Xbox 360 games pretty well.
9. Brute Force
After Halo Xbox owners wanted the next big thing and standards were at an all-time high. Brute Force from the highly respected Digital Anvil and Microsoft Game Studios appeared to be the game to fill the gap until Halo 2. The game featured controls almost identical to those in Halo, but on its release in mid-2003 it was met with merely solid reviews. The original vision for the game pitched it as a tactical squad-based shooter, where characters would have to work together to complete objectives. The final game didn't feature anywhere near enough essential co-op play, resulting in what felt like just another shooter.
8. The Bouncer
"OMG, are those in-game graphics?" is pretty close to what everyone said when they laid eyes on Square's PS2 exclusive brawler. At the time The Bouncer was shown off for the first time we were all being brainwashed into believing that the PS2 would deliver movie-like visuals, and the early footage had us convinced. The final game looked great too, but the gameplay simply wasn't up to much. We were promised that the game would move video games forward, with true branching storylines and more. In the end what we got was a very good looking fighting game that will only be remembered for what it was meant to be.
7. Perfect Dark Zero
OK, so we scored the game quite highly back in late 2005, but that doesn't mean Perfect Dark Zero wasn't a huge disappointment. As the follow-up to one of the greatest console first-person shooters of all time, great things were expected from Rare, in terms of both gameplay and technical prowess. As a launch title the game didn't look too bad, if a little too shiny, but the gameplay proved to be a short of what was expected. The main culprit was the twitchy controls, which could only be made semi-decent after a prolonged session in the options menu. By no means terrible, but not the sequel to Perfect Dark everyone wanted.
Blinx is a great example of how Microsoft Game Studios has changed since the original Xbox. This time control focussed platformer was one of the platform holder's key titles at E3 one year, demonstrating how the Xbox hard drive allowed the developers to build a full suite of time controls into the game. Considering the main character always looked completely uninspired we probably should have been more sceptical, but it all looked so promising. A bridge collapsed and then you rewound time to re-build it. What couldn't be amazing about that? Well, as it turned out, quite a lot. Thankfully new Microsoft tends to focus on delivering quality games rather than lots of them.
5. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Oh boy, was I excited for this! Having sold my PlayStation to raise funds for an N64, this gorgeous looking exclusive simply had to be purchased on launch day. First impressions were brilliant, in no small part to the superb visuals. Sadly, the game, in particular the on-foot sections, weren't too hot. After a while the great graphics couldn't hide the awkward controls and the sense of disappointment set in. I still have great memories of the space combat levels, but the third-person action levels let the game down big time.
4. Star Fox Adventures
This was Rare and Nintendo, the Nintendo 64 dream team, so expectations were through the roof. Being the UK developer's first GameCube game we wanted great visuals, the usual Rare humour and solid adventuring gameplay. We certainly got the great visuals (few Wii games look as good as this), but it seems Rare forgot about making the game enjoyable. Perhaps preoccupied by its pending sale to Microsoft, Star Fox Adventures will go down in history as one of gaming's great mysteries and for many marks the end of Rare's run of brilliant games. We think its 2008 line-up will have a thing or two to say about that.
It's hard to pin-point where Haze went wrong. The team behind the game is good, with a strong back catalogue of titles, the storyline sounded interesting and the PS3 had already proven itself to be capable of stunning next-gen visuals. So when Haze turned out to be a terribly generic, gung-ho, dated looking FPS with a play time of less than six hours, the disappointment amongst gamers was clear to see. Many had expected Haze to be one of the best shooters of 2008. It simply wasn't.
To say this game had hype is the understatement of this console generation. Everyone believed that Factor 5's dragon flying action game would welcome in a new era for the troubled PlayStation 3. When we finally got our hands on the whole game the alarm bells immediately started ringing. The motion controls simply weren't responsive enough and they were the only way you could play the game - the decision to leave out standard analogue stick controls was simply unbelievable. Add in a less than thrilling series of missions and you had a PS3 exclusive that missed the mark completely.
Perhaps we shouldn't be so harsh on a game whose hype was generated because of one tiny screen shot printed in a magazine months and months before release, but Killzone was labelled as the "Halo Killer" by Sony fans and for a long time people believed it to be true. Sadly the hype around Sony's PlayStation 2 FPS elevated people's expectations to such a high level that a pretty average game with impressive visuals simply wasn't good enough. Killzone, without a doubt, ranks as one of the biggest disappointments in video game history. We're just hoping that next year's PS3 sequel manages to live up to the enormous hype it too is generating.