Tuesday, December 07, 2010

10 most overrated games of this generation

It’s happened to every single gamer at some point. You buy a game that's had an endless stream of positive reviews in magazines and online, is ever present in the online status of all your friends, and even sneaks its way into the mainstream via celebrity fans or an appearance in the background of a film or TV programme. And you just don’t get it. Whether it lacks a certain indefinable something or has a very specific problem such as an annoying mini game or an underdeveloped gameplay mechanic, you just don’t quite see how it could deserve the praise and high scores lavished on it.

Metacritic’s score aggregator is reputed to skew towards the positive, which must go some way towards explaining the sheer number of games that score 90% or above in their lists. Perfection may be an unattainable goal, but for the Megabits team, even a 90% score is something pretty darn special. To get a score in the top 10% of anything we think a game should be almost beyond reproach, afflicted with only the most minor or subjective of niggles. In Metacritic’s top 10% we’re afraid there are some games that don’t have minor niggles, they have genuine flaws.

What was particularly nice about compiling this top 10 was the clear gradation of the results. The entries at the top of the list represent some absolute crackers that we think fall just a fraction short of the greatness often ascribed to them. Down in the middle spots are some very good games that deserve a place in anyone’s collection without necessarily deserving a spot in the 90 percenters. And finally the stuff that really had us scratching our heads, the Pop Idols of the gaming world, hugely annoying yet inexplicably popular.

Of course, there were some honourable mentions that didn’t make the list. We were tempted to include Bayonetta for the sin of thinking that repetitive action and a leggy brunette in a catsuit is enough to keep us interested, but we realised that yes, it is enough. Heavy Rain nearly made it too - much praise is heaped upon its innovation, which doesn’t change the fact that it’s dull and has little replay value once you know the villain’s identity, but it doesn’t score hit the "90% or above" mark that was our baseline for consideration. Having chosen our rules and stuck to them, here it is, our pick of this generation’s most overrated games.

Agree? Disagree? Think we’ve missed something? Let us know...

Forza Motorsport 2 (Metacritic 90%)
Forza 2 almost had the good fortune to miss this list entirely, but just squeezed into the last spot. Of all the entries in the list, this was the toughest to decide on. After all, we’re acknowledged fans of arcade racing and have often admitted to being unmoved by sparkplug-tweakers. With its attention to tuning and set up and its attempts to simulate a ‘realistic’ racing experience, Forza 2 was never going to appeal to many in the Megabits team.

As it turned out, there were factors counting against Forza 2 that, for all its 300 cars, 12 tracks, 47 different track routes, and the masses and masses of customisation available, meant that Forza 2 had to go on the list. The first is that several members of the team have raced real sports cars on real tracks and can only manage a wistful look of disbelief when Forza 2 is described as ‘realistic’, and the second? Oh, you’re gonna hate me for this: it just doesn’t feel that fast. Sure it’s gorgeous, full of technical detail and challenging physics, but when I play a racing game I want to feel like I’m split-seconds away from a fiery mid-air death, and Forza 2 just doesn’t create that impression of velocity.

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (95%)
While it’s undoubtedly one of the best games on the Wii, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess’s metacritic score of 95% is as much an indicator of the lack of decent competition as it is of the game's overall quality. One of the launch titles for the Wii, Twilight Princess began development as a Gamecube title and benefitted from Nintendo’s intentional backward compatibility between the systems. Sadly, there’s perhaps a little bit too much looking backwards going on here... Ocarina of Time looms over Twilight Princess, and it seems apt that a game about Hyrule being slowly taken over by a shadow dimension seems to live in the shadow of its illustrious predecessor.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s the best looking Zelda game yet, and the addition of horseback combat and the wolf levels do bring something new to the game, it simply isn’t enough. Zelda games have always been about that sense of anticipation as you explore dungeons, that feel of discovering a new cave or wandering into a new forest. It’s a feeling that was perfected in Ocarina of Time, and merely allowed to stand in Twilight Princess. If this is your first Zelda game you’ll love it for what it is - a lengthy, engaging adventure. If you’ve played previous-gen Zeldas, however, you’ve got a right to expect that your latest £40 game on your new £150 console will do more than just feel like a polished version of the game you played several years before.

Grand Theft Auto IV (98%)
We love Grand Theft Auto IV. You only have to look at the way it swept the boards in last year’s Head-2-Head tournament and the praise it gained while doing so to see how much we adore Rockstar’s sandbox crime-sim. For all that, we can’t help think its overrated. Sure, it’s one of our favourite games of this generation, but its 98% score on reviews aggregator Metacritic paints a picture of a near perfect gaming experience, yet an actual playthrough of GTA IV will crop up the same complaints time and again: it lacks the size of San Andreas, it lacks the personality of Vice City, it lacks the shocking newness of GTA III and, the most commonly levelled complaint of all, it lacks the fun to be found in all three of its 3D predecessors.

GTA IV is grim and gritty, a game in which the ‘light relief’ characters are a compulsive gambler and a leathery skinned muscleboy who swings between just barely staying in the closet to bursts of murderous ‘roid rage. In place of the old manic base jumping and stunt flying that got your blood pumping you get emails from your mother and tedious mini-games played to make people like you. It might as well be renamed "Freshers' Week Simulator". GTA IV is rightly adored for its brilliant gameplay and involving characters, but it lacks the manic feel of its predecessors and surely doesn’t deserve its spot as Metacritic’s most highly rated game.

Halo 3 (94%)
Where Modern Warfare 2 is the FPS recast as what you watch on the news every night seen through the fevered eyes of an angry teenager, Halo 3 is the FPS as a soaring, glossy space opera, one in which neon gunfire, ancient mysteries, fanatical aliens and desperate humanity converge in an epic and exhilarating sci fi adventure. Except, is it?

While the first Halo brought us wide open spaces, clever AI and a sense of humanity on the brink of annihilation, and the second one gave a sense of the scale and complexity of the forces arrayed against us, what did Halo 3 offer? Wide open spaces. Been there in Halo. A disappointing ending? Been there in Halo and Halo 2. Co-op and the Forge were the only strikingly new additions to the game, and while we enjoyed both, the addition of an extra player and the ability to build your own maps are bolt-ons to the central gameplay rather than developments of it. Worse still, there are not one but two interminable slogs through the Flood infested city of High Charity, both as tedious and shotgun reliant as Halo’s infamous ‘Library’ but substituting the oppressive, doom-laden atmosphere which made that level tolerable for a bewildering layout and an avalanche of cartoon monsters. We love the Halo series, but adding little that’s new whilst repeating old mistakes makes us question the high scores Halo 3 has received.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (94%)
Few games have provided such a reliable online meeting place for 14-year-old American racists than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but the brattiness found in the games maps and lobbies isn’t our big problem with the Modern Warfare series in general and its second instalment in particular. It's the uneven tone. Whereas the WWII era Call of Duty’s carried with them the underlying melancholy of a global conflict seen from the perspective of the soldiers unwillingly swept up in its tide, Modern Warfare’s love of torture and atrocity carry the whiff of juvenile cynicism, of the teenager who has read his or her first grown-up book and now overuses the word ‘realpolitik’.

Except for all its cynical ‘realism’, for all its insistence on airport massacres and nipples wired to car batteries by the SAS, Modern Warfare’s desperate desire to seem authentic can’t compete with its desire to be big and bombastic. It’s a game that tries to excuse its worst excesses by claiming “this is how the world is” while simultaneously nuking the eastern United States and having the player machine gun his way through the White House. Not for Modern Warfare the frozen starvation of Stalingrad, the hot, dusty siege of Tobruk or the inch-by-inch reclamation of Western Europe.

Freed from the constraint of conforming to history, Modern Warfare is a game with a few too many crescendos, a few too many twists. Every time you think you’ve found the right mindset to approach the game with, it shifts gears again, preventing you from ever becoming truly immersed.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (90%)
The shift from overhead view to third person over-the-shoulder lets you know that this ‘Stealth Action Game’ is slowly deprioritising the ‘Stealth’ in its presentation no matter how many camouflage cloaks are added to the actual gameplay. It also has very little chance of topping the excellent and affecting ending of Metal Gear Sold 3: Snake Eater. It’s hard to know what the point of MGS 4 actually is. Temporarily aging Snake and making him suffer from back pain doesn’t add a great deal, and the idea that battlefield stresses need to be alleviated with a bite to eat and a quick leaf through a jazzmag sounds like the sort of idea that was put into the design document as a joke.

Of course, you do get the customary Kojima cutscenes, those epic mixtures of stock footage and embarrassing, unwieldy dialogue. It’s all very beautiful and polished, and never makes a technical mis-step, but if Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 3 are the vital instalments of the series, then Metal Gear Solid 4 stands alongside Sons of Liberty as a disappointment, a game that feels like it should have been a momentous step in the series but, in fact, turns out to be less than the sum of its parts.

Killzone 2 (91%)
What the hell is wrong with you people? Seriously, what the hell is wrong? You take a perfectly mediocre shooter, a game that suffers from a bizarrely low camera angle, disjointed pacing that makes you slog through several deathly dull hours before it starts to get good, and which repeatedly falls back on the old staple of warehouse fights. Sounds utterly middling, doesn’t it?

But throw a few extra pixels at it and everyone forgets the old maxim the ‘graphics don’t make the game’ and gives it a score of 91%. You know what’s really irritating about that? The real sand-in-your-swimming-trunks aspect of that score? In Metacritic’s PS3 rankings this triumph of adequacy has outscored the likes of Fallout 3 and The Orange Box! We’d laugh, if we weren’t so busy stabbing ourselves in the thigh with a salad fork.

Mass Effect (91%)
Our revered blogmaster Bojeeva can take the blame for this one. No sooner had some of us bought a 360 than we received an email linking us to a copy of Mass Effect available for just a tenner. With 25 years of gaming experience behind him, a recommendation from Bojeeva was solid gold, surely? I’m afraid not. Mass Effect is the gaming equivalent of ‘My Dinner with Andre’, endless conversation articulating opposing worldviews. If you don’t like a lot of talk, then don’t even consider tackling Mass Effect.

Perhaps the rest of the game can compensate? Alas, no. The inventory and upgrade system is both complex and vaguely explained, planetary exploration consists of clumsy vehicles pottering around a selection of small, palette swapped fields, the combat is stodgy and unforgiving, and the environments that look like wide open spaces often turn out to be nothing more than carefully linear pathways that turn the game into a corridor shooter. We’ll give it some credit for an engaging plot and brilliant cutscenes, but a quick look at the brilliant Mass Effect 2, which fixes almost all the problems of its predecessor, makes it clear just how much Mass Effect got wrong. How it scored so highly we’ll never know. You know what the punchline is? We confronted Bojeeva with our disappointment at his recommendation and his response? "I've never played it, never liked the sound of it, I just thought it was a good price."

Super Smash Brothers Brawl (93%)
I suppose there’s a certain humour to be had in pitting Solid Snake against Yoshi the Dino-turtle, a slightly sadistic pub game of ‘who wins?’ It’s a joke that will get tired pretty swiftly, however, which is why it needs to be paired with a very good game. Shame then, that Super Smash Bros Brawl is a game of relentless and apparently random camera zooms and particle effects acting as window dressing to disguise an moveset implemented with typical Wiimote imprecision.

Super Smash Bros Brawl’s vocal fanbase will tell you that the speed and noise, the sheer kinetic excitement of what’s happening on the screen is what makes it fun, but without depth, variety and precision, all that speed and noise feels rather disconnected from the player, feeling more like an iTunes visualiser than a game.

Guitar Hero II (92%)
It fills your living room with plastic tat, fills the games market to saturation point and features gameplay in which the controller feels more like an obstacle to immersion than a conduit between you and the game on the screen. Of course all these charges could be levelled at any game in the Guitar Hero or Rock Band series, but for sheer disappointment Guitar Hero II steps forward on behalf of its fellows to take the award.

Contrast the endless series of heavy metal peaks on the soundtrack of GH with the limited number of crackers on its sequel, which is padded out with far more novelty numbers and lesser lights and you have the template for the future iterations of the plastic tat franchises-weaker and weaker content piled higher and higher.


yeah, you lost credibility in the smash brothers part.

Yeah, you dumb. Just trying to get peeps relied up! Well... you got one all hot and bothered! Rarrrr!

Bad list! Bad!

LOL Are u alright ??
MGS4 ?
all the mentioned games were and are a success ...
do u even own a console ?

killzone 2 overrated you sir are an idiot and MGS4 at the same time as taking a stab at MGS2. grow some balls and stop praying that the SNES will make a suprise comeback. yet another flawed waste of time opinion piece.

You just try to post controversial comments to get more visitors to your page, but you know you are wrong on almost all counts. If you didn't like/understand a game don't say it was overrated.

my taste > your taste article

are you trippin balls MGS$ 4 Mass Effect what the hell have you been smoking

Cant stand GTA4 and having to make friends and play multiple silly mini games. Actually caused me to lose interest!!!

I think the only purpose from this topic is to generate traffic on the website. I truly believe that's your first and only goal. I don't think anyone with a sane brain would put such an idiotic list. So Sir, i congratulates you because you succeeded, enjoy the high traffic.

You are dead on right with this list. Halo, CoD, and mass effect have all been way over rated. The games are laggy spawn killing fests with 13 yr old racists and wanna be gangsters.

Fantastic article

Metal Gear Solid 4 is the worst overrated piece of trash yet

Galo 3 is a worthless pile of last - gen crap that isn't anywhere near a REAL game. It definetly deserves to be on this list, it was the single biggest embarassment to the videogames industry, EVER! I am Mark and I have spoken.

mw2 mass effect super smash bros zelda and halo :O are you maddd ?? you ofvs no nothing about games some one sack think game hater

Great List. Three Games that stood out for me were:

Zelda Twilight Princess. Were they trying to reach a younger audience? It lacked action, had too many cut scenes (I did more watching than playing) and was just way too kiddied out.

Mass Effect. Way too much dialogue, short on action and a crappy combat system.

SSBB. Side scrolling, button mashing ultra repetitive piece of crap.

MGS 4 is overrated as is Killzone 2... I played killzone 2 and never beaten it and multiplayer is bland... MGS 4 i didn't pass the 1st level... Smash brothers is a joke... all it is a rehas of the last game for the cube just with newer characters and motion remote... IT IS THE SAME THING more then madden and such.. Halo 3 isn't Overrated more of overhyped.. And forza 2?

While I usually don't pay attention to these pathetic excuses of journalism that pop up on the internet from time to time, I have to say that this one in particular is a stand out in idiocracy if I have ever seen one. While yes, Modern Warfare 2, GTA IV, Mass Effect, Forza 2, and I'll even give you Killzone 2 were overrated, the others you listed were not. Halo 3, while not deserving of a 94, was a very good game. Metal Gear Solid 4 was an excellent game in almost every way. Guitar Hero 2 was a very good rhythm based game and deserves praise for being one. Smash Bros. is a very good "party game" and deserved the praise that it got. Twilight Princess, like just about every other Zelda game, was amazing. From what I can see, you are just an attention seeking troll who made a list of everyone's favorite games and crapped on them. Gameinformer's Sacred Cow Bar-B-Que is much more well written and entertaining. Please troll on another internet.

YOU PUT MASS EFFECT ON THIS LIST? ARE YOU HIGH OR JUST STUPID? DON'T EVER TRY AND DOWNPLAY BIOWARE.... You have little sense when it comes to games. Mass effect is perhaps the best game made in this generation.

I clicked this link saying that anyone who didn't say Super Mario Galaxy is one of the mopst overrated games of all time is a complete hack. So, yeah, thanks for clearing that up.

whoah watch the words you use, your making your opinion seem like fact. MGS4 was clearly made for MGS fans- stealth is still by far the best way to play it. Kojima just added the shooter element so that retards could headbutt their way through it. I havent played much of the other games so i wont comment but MGS4 was one of the only games in history to live up to the massive hype that preceded it. END OF.

dude.....your an idiot for writing this article, i can understand halo 3 and forza sport but MGS4 & COD:MW crossed the line real talk.

I don't think MGS4 or Brawl were over rated, but this is all opinion. All the other were spot on though.

This is my incomplete overrated list.
1. CoD: MW2

2. Halo 3

Did you actually played those games?
I wish not for you, because if you did, you have trouble!

I agree to everything except Mass Effect...

Who the hell is this guy? MGS4?? Catch a fucking grip...

Another list in which the author gets the best games of the generation and says they are overrated

do u even play video games?
u just named few of the many games that made this generation!

People, he's not saying these games are bad, he's just saying that they were a little over rated. I actually agree with most of the games on this list. I've played almost all of them and have been a little disappointed in each for different reasons.

Come on, i understand this is an opinion but opinions have to be valid. recognize an idoit and acknowledge this article it for what it is, garbage. hopefully this will keep more garbage from being posted and wasting our time by concerning ourselfs with these blasphemy's.

Halo 3 (and the entire halo series) is overated, CoD MW 2 is overated, GTA (and the entire series) is overated, Killzone 2 is overated and Forza is too.
And I think TP gets too much credit too because it is too easy.
And MGS4

But you lost ALL crediblity at calling SUPER SMASH BROS BRAWL OVERATED!!!!!!

halo was not overrated it is awesome and anyone who crites zelda hates games ill give u gta4 cause although a good game it was not as good as sanandreas killzone 2 did suck and mgs4 lacked the fun factor MW2 is a good game worthy of high scores and mass effect1 is now really boring after playing me2 but supersmash brawl how much of a hater are u
u picked some of the greatest console exclusives and called them overrated

GTA 4 definitely is not over-rated, because game has great graphics, game was released in 2008 with that beautiful ragdoll engine euphoria and sexy car damage, game was pretty simple and not much to do and not so much detail, but gotta say, if you just want to see crazy things as no other game has, GTA 4 is just the game, i have never seen so beautiful open world game, that also is realistic.

100% With on on everything. Although i loved a couple of games on your list, that 90% score is way more than they deserve. And whatmore : Mass Effect is truly one of the most boring games i've played, thanks for putting it into words.