I hate to be Captain Buzzkill, but it’s time for us to talk about the most disappointing games of 2012. Some were outright bad. But most just didn’t live up to their potential.
Consider this to be a love letter to good game makers who made bad moves.
1. “Max Payne 3” by Rockstar for Xbox 360 and PS 3. Previous “Max Paynes” were psychologically compelling, neo-noir wows written by Sam Lake in an excellent Raymond Chandler style. But Rockstar turned this sequel into a big-budget, clunky shooter hobbled by bizarre visuals, and a rote narrative about drugs and mobs and blah. Dear Rockstar Games, I love you, but you hurt noir. Please resurrect it.
2. “Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City” by Capcom for PS 3, Xbox 360 and PC. This zombie-shooter was completely awful. That is all.
3. “Syndicate” by EA for PS 3, Xbox 360 and PC. This one broke my heart. I loved the shooting and supernatural
powers in this futuristic, super-soldier shooter, fighting robot Earth soldiers. But I could not take out the first boss, Agent Tatasuo, after an hour. I tried everything. I’m a pro. This left me angry and sad.
4. Not enough Vita games. Sony’s handheld PlayStation Vita is an awesome machine. But how many masterful games came out since February launch? One? Two?
5. Not enough 3DS games. Likewise, Nintendo’s handheld 3DS came out in 2011. It’s potentially super cool. But how many must-have games are available? One? Two?
6. “FIFA Soccer ‘13” by Electronic Arts for Xbox 360, PS 3, Wii U, Vita, PC, Wii, 3DS and PSP. This wasn’t terrible. But I didn’t enjoy it at all. How hard is it to make a fun soccer game?
7. “Assassin’s Creed III” by Ubisoft for Xbox 360, PS 3 and PC. The good: It was huge, pretty and had interesting moments in its fighting/role-playing missions. But dialogue was a drag, hurting the story. Fighting was easy. Eavesdropping missions stunk. And riding a horse through towns and woods for 15 minutes at a time was a yawn.
8. “The Amazing Spider-Man” by Activision for Xbox 360, PS 3, Wii, 3DS and DS. I gave this “Spidey” two out of four stars for the nice web-flying, cinematic scenes and voice acting. But game play is boring, villains are cookie-cutter and web-combat is ho-hum. A stumble after previous, great “Spidey” games.
9. “Madden NFL ‘13” by Electronic Arts for Xbox 360 and PS 3. This footballer earned three stars. But “Madden’s” new software engine felt flaky. To my eye, it looked herky-jerky. My running blockers were terrible. I fell to the ground from slight brushes against my own players. Looking forward to next year.
10. “Resident Evil 6” by Capcom for Xbox 360 and PS 3. This game earned a respectable three stars. Not bad. But it takes a gazillion bullets to kill zombies. Boss levels were absurd. It could have been masterful. Instead, it was just good.
(“Max Payne 3” by Rockstar retails for $20 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $30 for PC — Plays no-fun. Looks great. Challenging. Rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence, partial nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs and alcohol. One star.)
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Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at http://www.lvrj.com/columnists/ Doug_Elfman.html. Twitter at @VegasAnonymous.