Hyped up—let down
We saw a lot of great games at E3. As we eagerly await the launch of this next wave, it’s important to remember the many—far too many—examples of games that were touted as "the last game you'll ever need" but that failed to live up to the hype. You were let down, disappointed—even devastated in some cases.
Here are ten examples of the biggest PC game letdowns in recent history—starting with one 15 years in the making.
Duke Nukem Forever
This promised sequel to 1996's Duke Nukem 3D dissolved into vaporware many times over. Then, after 15 years of development, the game finally appeared—and it was awful.
Gearbox Software finished the game as a sort of nostalgic joke to the adoring fans. Unfortunately, Duke Nukem didn't age like a fine wine—it aged like those gym socks you forgot to wash a few months ago.
The mechanics, controls, and even a bit of the graphics felt dated—by about 15 years.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens was a beloved franchise that spanned two decades. But when it released a new game, the fans just wanted to kill it with a flamethrower.
The original gameplay demo promised some pretty nifty visuals and excitement, but as this comparison video shows, the final version didn't pan out. Visuals were lackluster, and the enemy AI was laughable—certainly not a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat kind of experience.
Hyped fans were crushed, and rage ensued. The blame was passed around from developer to publisher, and the whole thing became a finger-pointing catastrophe with one clear consensus: The game was crap.
Fans waited a decade for Diablo III's release. It would have been impossible for any game to live up to that much accumulated hype, but it wasn’t just the game that failed to deliver.
Blizzard wasn't prepared for the onslaught of people trying to connect to its mandatory servers at the time of launch. Many players were met with the infamous Error 37 that wouldn't let them play.
Even once all the server issues were ironed out, players found the game's story lacking. The real-money auction house that Blizzard introduced allowed players to buy their way to victory, giving the game a cash-grab feeling. Finally, players are still waiting on a PvP option for the game.
The first Bioshock took the gaming world by storm with its inventive gameplay and remarkable story—giving the sequel some sizable shoes to fill.
Much of the criticism of the sequel has to do with its lack of new and innovative features. Though you play as one of the most interesting enemies of the first game, the gameplay and setting are more or less the same as it they were in the original.
Today, multiplayer gameplay is a must for nearly every game, and unfortunately that feature was awkwardly forced into Bioshock 2 by a different developer, creating a serious lack of cohesion.
The mother of all letdowns: Fans of the SimCity series waited years for the follow-up to 2003's SimCity 4. Unfortunately, what they got was a buggy, DRM-filled mess.
First came complaints of server issues when the game launched—only a minority of players managed to get a stable connection. Next came the realization that your “city” plots weren’t changeable or expandable, providing a small, boring box to play in. Bugs and behind-the-scenes issues basically nuked any chance the game had.
Though the game has somewhat stabilized since its release back in March, many issues keep the hard-core fan base away from the franchise they once held so dear.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
After many big-budget trailers that lived up to the Star Wars name, this $80 million Bioware MMO finally came to fruition—but was it worth the hype?
It touted grand, character-driven storylines that resembled the stuff gamers love from Bioware RPGs, with iconic locations and space battles. The developer vowed to reinvent the MMO class system to give players more fluid roles with choices. After all the buildup, many felt it was a Star Wars-skinned World of Warcraft with less end-game content.
The individual stories were interesting but were broken up by such typical MMO side missions as killing ten creatures and collecting mundane objects to return for money and experience. Snooze.
This project was a massive undertaking by Maxis cofounder Will Wright and one of the most ambitious game designs to date. Where SimCity was a city-building simulator, Spore was a life-building simulator down to the cellular level.
It was presented at 2005's Game Developers Conference as a hard-core evolution simulation. But when the game came out three years later, it had been completely "cute-ified," with bright colors and a Sims-like appearance.
The developers got caught in the middle of creating a "cute" and "scientific" game, resulting in a product that lacked the depth the die-hard fans wanted.
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight
This classic franchise has seen its fair share of changes and reworking through the years—it even has its own alternate universe. But when the finale of the Tiberian series launched, fans felt like the Command & Conquer name was just lip service.
The 2010 title required an always-online connection and strayed from the traditional resource-gathering mechanism, choosing instead a point-capturing system that alienated average fans.
The fact that you had to play forever before being able to unlock important units, along with the unwanted role-playing mechanics and the lack of permanent base-building, made the game frustrating rather than fun.
Medal of Honor
Back in the day, Medal of Honor was the place to go for intense WWII military action. The early Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is home to one of the most iconic levels in gaming history, Omaha Beach on D-Day. Unfortunately, the franchise has since lost the ability give us anything more than another bland shooter.
In 2010, the developer ditched the WWII setting and decided to take Call of Duty head-on in some modern warfare. But the single-player campaign was bland and forgettable. It gave users no reason to ditch the Call of Duty juggernaut.
Don't even get started on the 2012 follow-up, "Warfighter." Shudder.
In an age of abundant, generic first-person-shooters that take place in the modern Middle East, players were clamoring for a story that wasn't lifted directly from the headlines. Homefront attempted to answer that call with a story that imagines an alternate ending to the Korean conflict, where America is occupied and you're fighting in your own front yard—metaphorically, of course.
When Homefront was released, it quickly became apparent that it was just like the other shooters, only with a new setting. Even though its U.S. locations included the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the game was repetitive and unexciting.
The best PC gaming hardware of E3 2013
E3 has never exactly been a bastion of PC gaming, but if you look beyond the sea of consoles, you’ll find that the computer cadre is indeed well represented at the L.A. Convention Center.
All of the nifty PC peripherals and hardware products announced over the past few months were at E3, just begging to be poked, prodded, and fondled lovingly. Click here to check 'em out.