Thanks to a bevy of trailers, previews, gameplay videos, and major press events like E3, games are heavily scrutinized before launch. Moreover, games that are part of established franchises are scrutinized even more than others, with any change seen as a betrayal of the series’ core tenants. However, many of these criticisms are raised before players have even had a chance to experience said game for themselves.
The fives games on this list, for example, drew harsh criticism before launch, but actually turned out better than most could have hoped. In fact, a few of these games have become beloved classics, proving that sometimes it’s best not to judge a book by its cover.
While the vast majority of Crackdown owners probably picked it up just to play the Halo 3 multiplayer beta, many were pleasantly surprised to find that the game was actually a lot of fun on its own, and worth the price of admission. Fast forward years later, and now Crackdown is one of Microsoft’s primary Xbox franchises, with Crackdown 3 wowing Gamescom attendees with its incredible open world destructibility. Based on the excitement surrounding the Gamescom trailer, we have a feeling that Crackdown 3 won’t have to be bundled with any multiplayer betas to sell well on Xbox One.
4. Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil fans are a passionate bunch, and they were especially vocal before Resident Evil 4 hit the market. The game suffered a very troubled development cycle, with the original vision for the game morphing into Devil May Cry. Numerous other ideas for the game were canned along the way as well, including a version of RE4 that had protagonist Leon S. Kennedy battling ghosts instead of zombies.
Fans were also worried about the game’s significant changes to the core Resident Evil formula, as this entry adopts an over-the-shoulder camera, a more action-oriented approach, and abandons the franchise’s flagship zombie enemies. After gamers actually had a chance to play it, though, Resident Evil 4 quickly became one of the most highly regarded games ever made, and while it may have set the franchise on a shaky path, there’s no denying that RE4 is a bonafide gaming classic.
“You’re a kid now! You’re a squid now!” Splatoon‘s weak and cringe-worthy marketing campaign had many unconvinced that it was going to be a success. The game’s status as an online-focused multiplayer title, a type of game Nintendo usually avoids, also had gamers worried that Splatoon was going to flop.
Since launch, however, Splatoon has quickly become one of the most popular games on Nintendo’s struggling Wii U. It has enjoyed great sales, and thanks to a consistent stream of free DLC, Nintendo has managed to maintain and grow Splatoon‘s budding online community. While its horrendous commercials did some damage to its image, those that have actually given Splatoon a chance have mostly come away very impressed with what it brings to the table.
2. DmC: Devil May Cry
Capcom made a controversial decision when they entrusted the Devil May Cry franchise to UK-based Ninja Theory, and the studio did itself no favors with the amount of changes it made for their first series outing, entitled DmC: Devil May Cry.
There are still some that like to hate on DmC (with most of the anger seemingly directed at Dante’s change in hair color), but the general consensus is that the game is a success, and one of the better games in the series. Thanks to an engaging and exciting battle system, a consistently entertaining story, and a ton of polish, DmC: Devil May Cry has enjoyed critical acclaim, and we’re still holding out for a sequel.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
After the dark fantasy worlds of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, Nintendo fans were supremely irritated when they discovered that The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was ditching the realistic art style of those games in favor of cel-shaded, cartoon graphics. They even began to mockingly refer to the game as “Celda”, and used it as ammo in the age old “Nintendo is only for kids” argument.
Like the other four games on this list, however, once gamers actually had a chance to play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, that attitude seemed to shift quite considerably. Now, it is one of the most critically acclaimed Zelda games of all time.
While there may have been many vocal detractors before the game released, no one was complaining when Nintendo announced an HD remake of Wind Waker for the Wii U. As it stands, The Wind Waker is the prime example of a game that was unfairly hated before launch, but managed to blow away expectations and then some.
Some games just aren’t given a fair shake. These five were all judged unfairly before release, but all turned out pretty good when it was all said and done. The lesson to take away is to at least wait until playing a game before hating on it, as it may later end up being considered one of the best games ever made.
What other games were unfairly criticized before launch, but have become celebrated games? Let us know what we missed in the comments.