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Total Gaming Network's Biggest Disappointments of 2013

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  • Total Gaming Network's Biggest Disappointments of 2013

    Here we are again, the end of another year. The end of another 365 days of game releases. We just had the added benefit this year of also enjoying the launch of a new generation of game consoles. Games announced for 2014 and beyond are already looking and sounding amazing and there is no shortage of both AAA and Indie titles to enjoy right now!

    When you think about it, we haven't seen a massive launch of a new generation of consoles since 2005 and 2006. 2013 was, to put it mildly, a great year for gaming. Sure, ignore all of the bad things and... No. Wait. Hold on, hold the damn phone. No. Actually, let's not ignore the bad things. 2013 certainly had its ups but it also included its fair share of complete and total garbage.

    Let's just go ahead and fix this title right now.

    TGN's Best Games of 2013
    TGN's Biggest Disappointments of 2013

    In no particular order, here are what I felt were the biggest disappointments in the gaming industry in 2013.

    Infestation: Survivor Stories (aka: The War Z)
    Oh yeah, we're starting off this list with a strong contender for not only worst game release of 2013 but also the biggest fumble from a developer. See, when The War Z was originally released, I don't think many people actually believed it was going to be as good or better than the Day Z modification for Arma II. It was, for all intents and purposes, a rush job to capitalize on that particular genre of game that really hadn't been tapped before. This is in spite of what the developers, Hammerpoint Interactive, said.

    Whatever it is you choose to believe, there is one fact that remains: The game that was released was terrible. It was slammed for bugs, for a lack of delivering on promised gameplay mechanics and features, and for attempting to completely rip off consumers with absolutely insane in-game micro-transactions. Where were servers with 100 players that was promised? The map size of the only location released with the game was found to be a fraction of what was originally promised. Gamers took to forums and reviewers took to their publications to vent their frustrations with the title.

    Hammerpoint handled it in one of the worst possible ways. They downplayed the multitude of complaints. They ignored people. There were reports of accounts being banned or suspended without reason from the game itself shortly after the game's release. The War Z forums went on lock down for a while, preventing anybody from creating new threads or posts. The developers continued to down play the issues, saying only after the game was released that features that were promised for release (and used as a selling point to attract consumers) were still coming.

    Now, the original game was actually released in late 2012, so why is it on a list for "biggest disappointment of 2013?" Good question! Originally, The War Z was pulled from Steam just two days after its initial release. It then also had to change its name since the US Patent and Trademark Office said their trademark of the name was suspended. Apparently movie studios didn't like how close the name was to World War Z, the major motion picture staring Brad Pitt and some zombies.

    It must be said that since its re-release in 2013, Infestation: Survivor Stories has delivered on many of its original promises. You may even think of it as being a fairly competent attempt at a video game now! The problem is, the damage has already been done. Every time the game goes on sale, you will undoubtedly see people shouting to not support that game and the developers to this day.

    But hey, you don't have to take my word for it (but you really should).

    What in the ever living hell happened to SimCity? It's just absolutely mind blowing just how badly EA and Maxis totally fucked up this series to the point that any future releases will be tainted by this release for years to come! I don't even know where to begin when it comes to where these studios dropped the ball with this title.

    There was the terrible "online only" launch that was a complete disaster for days following its release. Consumers that paid good money for the game were unable to play for days after the game's launch all because of the "persistent online" component forced into the game. You just wanted to play single player? Too damn bad!

    People dissected the game's "Glass Box" engine to find out that, well, it kind of sucked. The individual agents it claims to have kept track of were essentially just a bunch of smoke a mirrors. Traffic was a nightmare for the longest time and only really started to be fixed weeks and months after release. City sizes were (and still are) far too small.

    It just wasn't the SimCity game that fans wanted. It was a let down in just about every sense of the word and may spell doom for any future release in that series. There are a lot more issues here that I only scratched the surface of. If you want a more in-depth review of what is wrong with the game, feel free to go back nine months when my SimCity experience was fresh in my mind. It's honestly a shame, because I did have some fun with the game but it just did not hold up. Ultimately, the great un-doing came when I finally made a prosperous city and it constantly locked up my game mere minutes after loading into it. Not only that, but it locked up my friends' games that visited the aforementioned city.

    I uninstalled the game as I promised in the SimCity review follow up video. I have not re-installed the game since then and still have no intentions of doing so.

    Grand Theft Auto Online
    To those that think Rockstar Games can do no wrong, you may want to think again. Sure, they have already screwed over PC gamers with a total lack of TLC when it comes to a PC release of Red Dead Redemption and now a lack of a PC release of Grand Theft Auto V, but this is besides the point.

    I'm talking only about how badly this developer has handled GTA Online. Think about every typical MMO out there and then try to apply it to a game like Grand Theft Auto. In some respects, it sounds like a fantastic idea! A perpetual world that continues after you shut down your console. Different levels and ways to work your way up to the top and become a big shot crime lord. A city where crime runs rampant and it's this gritty struggle just to survive.

    In some ways, those things are here. There are levels and ranks but all they do is serve as annoying gates to the content you actually want to have fun with. Rockstar has put an incredible amount of restrictions on content in GTA Online. Want to hop on with some pals and free roam around the city with rocket launchers? Sorry, you need to level up with hours of grinding first! Not only that, but you also need to make sure you have enough money to buy those weapons. This idea applies to every single item in the game. You need to grind out races to unlock the ability to modify your car to higher levels. For example, you need to be a certain level just to access certain paint colors, or upgrade your acceleration, breaks, and other components. The same deal applies to clothing options. The same deal even applies to some of the missions NPCs will give you.

    If you enjoyed free roam in Grand Theft Auto IV, where there were no restrictions and weapons were just littered throughout the city, you will absolutely hate Grand Theft Auto Online. At first, you may love this game. But as with other MMO styled games, you soon begin to see the cracks in the paint. You realize that 16 player lobbies really aren't a good representation of an MMO. You realize that sometimes you want to just go in and blow things up. Don't do that in GTA Online though because if you blow up someone's "insured car" you'll probably get into the Bad Sport lobby for a length of time. This prevents you from playing with your friends in free roam or missions, unless they're also in the Bad Sport lobby with you.

    Yeah, it's a Grand Theft Auto game where you are punished for playing like how a Grand Theft Auto game should be played, even if you're in a private lobby with just your friends. You will also be hard pressed to steal other players' cars since they can simply lock the doors and prevent anybody that isn't them from accessing their vehicle. So, chances are you won't be able to commit grand theft auto in Grand Theft Auto Online. Even worse is when you steal an NPC's car, there's a good chance that NPC will put a bounty on your head, which essentially makes you a target for anybody with a gun (hint: this means everyone). This still happens even if you murder the NPC before the bounty is placed. Even if there is no bounty placed and the NPC is dead, the police will target you simply for driving a stolen vehicle. It's annoying. It isn't fun. That only leaves you with the option of driving around in just your vehicle and being super careful not to blow up someone else's car.

    All of the issues I brought up in my Grand Theft Auto V single player review still apply here. All of the issues above are honestly just the tip of the iceberg. The game after a short time playing turns into nothing more than a tedious grind of the same missions for a small bit of experience and money. Sadly, these both have been nerfed by Rockstar through a variety of patches, making for an even longer grind to get anything you actually want. You can only purchase one property at a time. Again, you are gated by your level. Some permanent vehicle spawn locations will yield different vehicles as you level up, so if you wanted a certain vehicle (such as a Cargobob), you're SOL if you level up past that vehicle's pre-determined level cap at which it still spawns.

    Dare I even mention the money and level glitches that Rockstar has attempted to fix over the past few updates? People are placing bounties on other players that hit the billions of dollars (the limit is supposed to be just $9,000). People are ranking up literally dozens and hundreds of levels almost instantly. People are able to be invincible in lobbies with legitimate players. The economy is a joke at this point. The cheating is rampant. The missions are grind fests. The promised heists are absent and are probably a huge reason why people are fed up and resorting to cheats to get money. At this point, Rockstar needs to re-think their idea of what makes a game like Grand Theft Auto fun and completely ditch this failed attempt at an MMO-like experience. Remove the restrictions. Increase the lobby sizes. Let players actually have fun again!

    Another fantastic idea would be to allow users to set up private lobbies with friends where they can set options. You know, sort of like how free roam was handled in Grand Theft Auto IV? Allow players to turn traffic on or off, or disable the police, or access every weapon in the game whenever they please. Let users set up lobbies where they can do what they want without repercussions such as losing money, or paying insurance, or getting put in the Bad Sport lobby for blowing up cars. Let the players have fun the way they want to.

    Microsoft's Xbox One Decisions
    Where was it ever stated that this list was only going to be for the worst games of 2013? No sir, this list is all inclusive and there is just no way that this list was going to exclude the biggest industry clusterfuck since the Red Ring of Death or the PlayStation Network outage of 2011.

    I've lost count at this point on how many issues Microsoft did a complete reversal on when it came to the Xbox One. The biggest factor was the sharing system and the rather extreme form of "DRM" that was originally slated to be released on the console. A forced online check-in every 24 hours? Harsh. You could sell your used games "for a fee?" Ouch. Kinect would be always-on and forced upon everyone? Ugh.

    In the months following these announcements, Microsoft was slammed by gamers all around the world. To their credit, they did listen to the relentless assaults and caved on many of the initial issues that people had with the system. Unfortunately for them, the damage in trust was done and the reversals still came off as a negative to others. "How can we trust them now? If they can so quickly change their mind like this, how do we know they won't change it back later?" It also really didn't help Microsoft's case that they left the door wide open for Sony to swoop in and promise to deliver on the things Microsoft initially dropped the ball on.

    Aliens: Colonial Marines
    Do you like shooting and killing Aliens? Too bad you won't be doing that in much of Aliens: Colonial Marines! Hey, at least the visuals have been somewhat improved since its initial release.

    Ten months later, I'm still disappointed with Gearbox Software and the thousand other developers that worked on this game. And no, I'm still not going to review it.

    Cube World
    The idea held such great promise. It looked like a more stylized Minecraft but with a huge emphasis on combat, questing, and dungeon crawling. It sounded great on paper, so I succumbed to the peer pressure and plunked down my $20 for Cube World. For the first couple of weeks, I had some great times with the game. My buddies and I went around and leveled up. We crafted items, cooked foods for health regeneration, and explored vast biomes.

    And then the developer went silent. In what felt like a case of the independent developer simply "taking the money and running," nothing was heard for months about updates to the game. No updates came out. Their blog was silent. Twitter was silent. It was a largely unfinished game with only the core mechanics having been completed to any sort of playable state.

    It wasn't until fairly recently that news updates started to be posted once again for Cube World. Apparently, development is still going on, which is nice to hear. There still haven't been any significant updates released in all this time, but at least something is being done.

    The problem here lies with the fact that the developer could have easily handled the situation better than simply going silent. It did not, and still does not, leave a consumer with much faith in the future of a product. I still have hope for the game's future but that once high hope has been cooled by the lack of information. It has also put me off of investing in other similarly styled games that promise many of the same things that Cube World did, which is a shame. I could be missing out on some great titles all due to my buyer's remorse from Cube World.

    Battlefield 4
    The term "hot mess" was made with Battlefield 4 in mind. On one hand, it's a new Battlefield game that incorporates some of the best features of previous titles. That's awesome! On the other hand, the game is unquestionably a crash-filled and buggy piece of trash on every platform. How bad is it? DICE has apparently halted development of current and future content packs until the game is fixed enough where it doesn't crash or lock up for people that paid good money for it.

    It seems as though every patch that has been released has included fixes for fairly major crash bugs. The game shipped with sound issues that nearly everyone encountered on very specific maps. Hit detection was (and still is) terrible in many cases. It's especially revealing that these issues aren't really limited to just one platform but for every platform this game was released on.

    It was rushed, pure and simple. Another few months in development may have completely avoided most of these issues and I'm sure consumers would not have been anywhere near as upset as they are right now. But hey, they had to beat Call of Duty to release, right? Even though the gameplay is stale, at least Call of Duty: Ghosts worked just fine at launch...

    THQ Bankruptcy
    The beginning of the end for THQ came in 2012, however the final hours and distribution of assets happened earlier in 2013. It's always a sad time when a studio closes and it's especially rough when it involves a company that had been making games for over two decades. THQ released games starting with the NES and ending with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. In the gaming industry, that's damn impressive.

    So, it was unfortunate to see the once great company dissolve into nothing. In some respects, THQ continues to live in thanks to other development studios and publishers that picked up old THQ assets. Volition is still cranking out Saints Row games with Deep Silver, THQ Studio Montreal was sold to Ubisoft, Relic Entertainment went to Sega, and many others are now with other studios.

    It's Forever Tuesday
    Sometimes in this industry, it isn't necessarily news about a game or a company that hits the hardest emotionally. Sometimes the news that brings to the table the strongest showing of emotions, solidarity amongst communities, and kinship comes from those that bring you the news about those other stories. For me, the worst piece of news this year came when it was revealed that Giant Bomb's Ryan Davis had passed away.

    See, I never knew the guy. I never met him at least. I never spoke to him. But learning of his passing hit me really hard and for a while I really couldn't understand why. Why did I feel so strongly about the passing of someone I never even met? The reason why slowly came to me.

    I love Giant Bomb. I think they are easily the most honest and enjoyable gaming website in the world. So, every week I would download the latest Giant Bombcast and listen to it when I could. It always opened the same way, with Ryan saying to those listening at home, "hey everybody, it's Tuesday" as only he could. Here was someone who, through videos, podcasts, and written word shared more about his life than many others. In some cases, I knew more about him than I know about people I have actually met.

    He had such a great passion for gaming, movies, and life and it showed in every piece of content he had a hand in. You might be asking yourself, "why does this make a list of 'biggest disappointments of 2013'?" Well, it's disappointing that he is no longer with us. It's disappointing that we will never get to hear his opinions on the new generation of hardware and games. It's disappointing that he was taken from us too soon. It's easy to feel sad over someone you never personally met when you realize just how much that person was actually a part of your life.

    Ryan Davis was a friend you've never met.

    At the very least, it's nice to know that he and his legacy will forever live on in the hearts and minds of gamers and those in the industry. His work has and continues to serve as an inspiration to me. I only wish that I could have thanked him for everything he's done.

    And with that, this list of TGN's Biggest Disappointments of 2013 comes to an end. Stay tuned for TGN's 2013 Games of the Year.