5. Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)
My disappointment with this game is more that it exists in the first place, not with the product we actually got. I was a fan of the first Left 4 Dead, though on the list of my favorite Valve games, it’s nowhere near the top. I don’t pretend to know much about the game development process or how Valve does things, but it just feels to me like it didn’t need to be a full on sequel, and certainly not only a year after the first game. Just for the record, I was not one of the entitled “fans” demanding that all the Left 4 Dead 2 content be released as a free add-on for the first game, but I do feel that maybe $5 per campaign would have been a much better fit than a full priced game.
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
As much as I hate what the Call of Duty series has become, and what it represents for the industry, there was a time when I was a huge fan. Like many people, I loved Call of Duty 4, and while I didn’t particularly care for World at War, in my mind the Infinity Ward games were the real ones, and I was really looking forward to Modern Warfare 2. What I hoped would be the next great shooter actually turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Call of Duty series (in my eyes at least), as it just grew more and more popular with a demographic that doesn’t care as much about a quality product as I do. The campaign was insultingly short and sacrificed the sense of drama and weight present in Call of Duty 4 for Michael Bay style over-the-top action. The multiplayer was incredibly unbalanced, and the higher my kill/death ratio soared, the less interested I became. It’s clear the developers were more interested in adding as many “cool” things as possible, like tactical nukes and AC-130s, with no concern for whether the multiplayer was fair or balanced.
3. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “How could anyone have any expectations for Sonic ’06?”, well I’ll tell you. I am a lifelong Sonic fan, and I try to keep my eye on any new Sonic game in the time up to it’s release. After not really caring for Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes all that much, I was past the point of hotly anticipating Sonic games. Then some of the stuff about Sonic ’06 began surfacing, and I was immediately intrigued. Keep in mind, the Xbox 360 was just out, and the PS3 and Wii were still yet to be released, so every new entry in long running series’ to make their debuts on the next generation hardware was exciting. The visuals looked awesome, and Sega was promising the much maligned supporting cast, which was way overused in the Sonic Adventure games and even more so in Sonic Heroes, was going to be much reduced in this game. Whether I was suffering from the Sonic Cycle or not, it’s too late to tell, but I was really looking forward to the game. Then I played it, and was horrified. This is without a doubt the worst game on this list, with some of the worst load times I’ve ever experienced, visuals that failed to impress even early in the console cycle, and gameplay that saw zero improvement from the last generation of Sonic games. Add in the extremely creepy romance between Sonic and a teenage girl, and you’ve got one of the worst games I’ve ever played.
2. Bioshock 2 (2010)
In this day and age, I’m pretty much open to sequels for just about any game. I am of the mind that there is almost always room to continue to tell interesting stories and provide compelling gameplay experiences in any series, provided solid developers (preferably the original developers) are handling it. However, if there is one game that absolutely did not need a sequel (at least in the sense of a true sequel), it was Bioshock. Compounding the matter was the fact that Irrational (then known as 2K Boston) were not involved with this game at all, and you’ve got a recipe for a blatantly obvious cash grab sequel that had zero reason to be made other than that Take Two though it would sell well. The quality of the game is almost irrelevant (though it was obviously not as good); it simply shouldn’t exist. To make matters worse, the focus seemed to be on the combat and multiplayer, two things that are immaterial to what made Bioshock so amazing. I prefer to consider the upcoming Bioshock Infinite (a spiritual sequel with no direct ties to the original made by the original developer, AKA: the way a sequel to game like Bioshock should be handled) to be the true successor to Bioshock, and forget that Bioshock 2 even exists.
1. Dragon Age II (2011)
Unlike a lot of very vocal people, I don’t hate Dragon Age II, but even so, this was an easy choice for number 1 on this list. Dragon Age Origins was such an amazing game, and I had very high hopes for Dragon Age II, but it failed to meet them. I did like a lot of things about Dragon Age II, like the faster more immediate combat, the dialogue and writing, and several of the characters. Unlike many, I even liked the smaller scale story, which ditches the save the world cliché for a more intimate, politically charged narrative that was much more morally ambiguous than the first game. However, there were many other aspects of the game that really brought down the experience, like the lazy way enemies re-spawn during fights, the fact that there are like two different dungeons reused over and over again throughout the course of the 35+ hour game, and the overall small feeling of the game world. Dragon Age II just reeks of wasted potential, and if Bioware had taken their time in development and cleaned up the very rushed feeling of the game, it could have been another masterpiece on par with Origins, but instead it’s just a decent game that failed to meet high expectations; and it is my number 1 most disappointing sequel