Time will only be kind to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. That’s the nature of remembrance, after all. When it comes to remembering the good and the bad of an era, more often than not, people will only remember the good. Bad media fades away while people champion the good that helped define the generation.
That doesn’t mean everyone should just forget the bad, however. It’s important to look back on history and that goes double for video games. As fantastic as the PS3 and 360 era was, both consoles were home to some truly disappointing titles, the sting of which the industry will be feeling for quite a while.
10 BEST: Nier
The original Nier didn’t fare nearly as well as its successor, Nier: Automata. Where the latter released to universal critical acclaim, the original Nier was met with mixed reviews to say the least. Critics found it a bland Zelda clone which honestly says more about video game journalism at the time than the actual game.
Nier is easily one of the best games to release in the PS360 era of gaming. While its gameplay definitely does come off like a watered down Zelda clone, it has an interesting enough magic system to offset the combat, some fun bosses, and an outstanding story. Nier might very well have the best script of last gen.
9 DISAPPOINTING: LA Noire
Speaking of games with great scripts, LA Noire definitely boasts a pretty impressive narrative, one that rings true for its genre. LA Noire could have released as a mini-series and it would have been met with even more critical acclaim. Which isn’t a good thing, honestly, because a story alone can’t carry a game.
As a pure video game, LA Noire is on the very sloppy side. It was the first game Rockstar published after Red Dead Redemption and it does not reach the same level of quality whatsoever. The pacing is all over the place, the shooting is uninspired, and missions are too tedious for their own good.
8 BEST: Bayonetta
Thankfully, tedium is not something Bayonetta has to deal with. More or less a spiritual successor to the original Devil May Cry on the PlayStation 2, Bayonetta realizes Hideki Kamiya’s initial vision for DMC without compromising its own identity. Its sequel may be a Nintendo exclusive, but the first game is arguably better.
When it comes down to it, Bayonetta is simply one of the tightest hack n slash games of all time. It has some annoying elements, such as its QTEs, but Bayonetta excels everywhere else where this is hardly a problem. As far as addictive action goes, Bayonetta is second to none.
7 DISAPPOINTING: Soul Calibur IV
On the flip side, Soul Calibur IV’s action isn’t all that addictive and more or less took the franchise’s wind out of its sails just when it was really starting to pick up. The first game is considered one of the Dreamcast’s best games; the second game is wildly popular (thanks to LInk;) and the third game brought a lot of content to the table.
Soul Calibur IV feels painfully barebones by comparison, and its use of Star Wars guest characters was out of place to say the least. It’s a perfectly fine fighting game, but it’s a massive step down in quality from the first three games.
6 BEST: Grand Theft Auto IV
Although Grand Theft Auto IV was critically lauded upon release, fans came to slowly reject the title with time. Not only was it far more serious than previous entries in the series, its grounded approach to gameplay meant that GTAIV’s sandbox was perhaps too visceral and realistic, a problem that RDR2 arguably has today.
That said, this doesn’t necessarily ruin or hurt a game. As is, Grand Theft Auto IV is an interesting experimentation in realism, one the series should go back to sooner rather than later. Niko’s story is deeply personal and surprisingly relevant even today. The gameplay may not be as refined as GTAV’s, but the GTAIV engine still holds up well.
5 DISAPPOINTING: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
The hype following Metal Gear Solid V’s release was genuinely unreal. This was going to be the Hideo Kojima game. The final product would unfortunately be pushed out the door seemingly unfinished, btu the signs were clear with Ground Zeroes’ overpriced release. For $40, fans could play an hour of a game and then some bonus content.
Ground Zeroes is a difficult game to discuss because it is technically one hour of a larger game, but that in itself is a problem. It’s MGSV’s Tanker Chapter and it’s not actually a part of the full release. As its own game, it’s incredibly barebones, adding very little of value to the MGSV package.
4 BEST: Dark Souls
And why shouldn’t they? Dark Souls has some of the best bosses in the medium, features an incredible story that’s told in a unique way, and has great level design. It’s a challenging game that doesn’t actually emphasize difficult, just its own mechanics. That’s rare for games even today.
3 DISAPPOINTING: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
The first Uncharted was good enough, but it was missing something when it came to gunplay. Far too often, combat would fall into a tedious loop, forcing players to bash their heads against brain dead, boring enemies. Uncharted 2 completely fixed this problem by featuring better enemy AI and creative level design.
Something Uncharted 3 gets rid of while also following Uncharted 2’s story beat by beat. Uncharted 3 lifts so shamelessly from its predecessor that it’s embarrassing. It features its own set pieces if nothing else, but they’re not even remotely as cohesive or well thought out as Uncharted 2’s.
2 BEST: Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar really took the video game world by storm with Red Dead Redemption. While Grand Theft Auto always did well as a franchise, RDR gave Rockstar an added air of legitimacy. Red Dead Redemption was serious, somber, and easily the best video game to release last generation.
Red Dead Redemption may not have the realism of its successor, but it never sought to be so realistic. It simply wanted to be a good, serious video game. Which is arguably more important. When it comes down to it, RDR is able to strike a balance between over the top and down to earth without crippling its own mechanics.
1 DISAPPOINTING: DmC: Devil May Cry
It’s very thoughtful of Ninja Theory to release the definition of disappointment as a video game. Even ignoring DmC’s nature as an ill-fitting reboot for a franchise that did not need a reboot, it’s just not a good action game. It fundamentally misunderstands Devil May Cry as a franchise and ditches in-depth combat in favor of something far more mindless.
It’s possible to pull off some interesting techniques, but why not just play one of the good Devil May Cry games at that point? DMC4 released the same generation and it’s an infinitely better game. With a poor story, horrible enemy design, and a watered down gameplay loop, DmC: Devil May Cry is the most disappointing game of last gen.