The Biggest Disappointments of 2017

Posted in Kulturecade by - December 20, 2017
The Biggest Disappointments of 2017

As this hellish, nightmare of a year that was 2017 comes to an inexorable conclusion, we are left to ponder exactly where everything went completely off the rails. We are left our tea leaves to determine whether the future shows sign of anything other than a continuation of the uncompromising horror that has been the last 300 some sunsets. While the streets run thick with crimson and civilization crumbles to oblivion, video games have been our most reliable escape to a galaxy more desirable than our own

Friends, it is my sad duty to report that our last bastion of promise has been compromised.

On the surface, some of the biggest releases of 2017 appeared to alter the course of gaming in the right direction. Several “triple-A” titles released to grand fanfare and cries of “greatest game ever.” Many fans shared in this sentiment, shelling out millions of dollars to experience these games for themselves. However, through the benefit of hindsight many chinks appear in the armor and what was once thought to be a Perfect Ten is now a mere Funkasaurus.

Friends, 2017 was a shitty time to be alive. About that there is zero doubt. However, below is a list $299.95 worth of games, or $299.95 (plus tax) worth of flashy marketing and corporate double-talk that no doubt made your year that much worse.


Super Mario Odyssey

Never before have I been so at odds with the masses on the general consensus of a piece of media. Dismissing every rated film or acclaimed television show, in a vacuum, one would gather the impression that Super Mario Odyssey came complete with a printing of The Mona Lisa with a voucher redeemable for a personalized replica of The Thinker. Super Mario Odyssey was Zelda, Halo, and Gears of War wrapped in a single package. Everything that every other previous Mario game did right, Odyssey did better.

Except that was a complete and total lie. Never before had I been so instantly turned off by a beloved franchise than the opening hours of Super Mario Odyssey. If Super Mario Sunshine is Bioshock Infinite, Super Mario Odyssey exists as Gears of War Judgment… a title in skin only with none of the charm or substance of those who proceeded it.

The core concept of Super Mario Odyssey revolves around the collection of Stars, err… Moons as you power the flying car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang across the country to stop the impending marriage and subsequent rape of Princess Peach Toadstool. As Mario, you control a sentient hat which allows the former plumber to control said object or enemy, adding an admittedly attractive and appealing new dynamic to the Mario formula.

Vampiric hats aside, the true issue with Odyssey is the Moon system. In previous titles, obtaining a Star or its equivalent felt like something of true accomplishment had been achieved. Of course, yes there were tasks that were easier than others, but in general, getting a star was something to be proud of. The complete and total opposite is true in the world of Super Mario Odyssey.

Moons can be obtained by completing the most basic and mundane of tasks, from defeating a basic enemy to simply opening a box. Yes, when one can simply complete a level by wandering around accomplishing nothing even the most challenging of trials become diminished. Boredom sets in and before you know it you can’t turn the game off fast enough and find yourself frantically searching your house for the receipt.

In the interest of integrity, I have not completed Super Mario Odyssey, nor do I foresee a situation in which literally every other form of entertainment inside of our house has somehow been rendered useless. Perhaps in a different mindset, or through a steady and firm hand from my employer, I’ll put the card back in the console, but as it stands now, Super Mario Odyssey is the latest title sure to be covered in a thick layer of dust.


Destiny 2

Repeated Developer Fuck Ups: The Video Game has certainly had a bit of a roller coaster launch if that roller coaster were Splash Mountain. Through a combination of terrible design changes and horrid business decisions, Destiny 2 proved to be more an exercised in convincing oneself that their sixty dollars didn’t just get pissed into oblivion. While the original Destiny was by no means a masterpiece, it had bits of entertainment mixed in with a passable multiplayer suite.
Destiny 2 promised more of everything. More narrative to complement a better single player experience. More loot to reward fireteams that stick together and explore the cosmos. Hell, this one even came with a raid that you can play right out of the box! Destiny 2 seemed to have all the makings of a proper hold over until Borderlands 3 releases.

However, delving deeper under the hood of Destiny and you’ll find your countless hours with a mediocre first-person shooter to be in vain. Your time is rewarded by multiple iterations of the exact same gun complete with the exact same stats, sometimes dropping at the exact same power level. After hitting the “soft cap” in terms of power level, this experience becomes far too common.

Where in Borderlands, using a gun that may not fit your playstyle is a necessary means to progression, no such system exists in Destiny. Your character progresses at such a slow pace, that equipping a gun with a slightly higher level is not a requirement, especially if that gun is one that you don’t enjoy using… which in this game is likely anything other than an auto rifle.

Along with worthless guns devoid of variety comes a multiplayer experience devoid of strategy or entertainment. Thankfully, the skill ceiling in Destiny 2 is rather low as gameplay revolves around a simple concept: ride the coattails of a teammate and shoot at what he shoots at. Getting the jump on an enemy as a lone wolf is nearly impossible, save for a situation when you have power ammunition or a supercharged. Armed with a typical ballistic weapon and come across a two on one situation the one will lose nearly every single time.

There is one shining light though and that’s the time you spend with friends. Although, yes your time can certainly be better spent playing much better games, Destiny 2 somehow brings people together. Perhaps is the silent recognition that you’re all playing a game that at its core isn’t that great. Maybe it’s the sting of having content locked behind a paywall only to have the company sort of backpedal when we band together and tell them we’re pissed. We all know it’s repetitive as hell and the enemies uninspired but there’s something about the experience that makes playing with a friend a bit more enjoyable. Sometimes though, that isn’t enough to make that sixty dollars spent hurt a little less.


Splatoon 2

Splatoon was one of my favorite games of the year when it first released. A Nintendo branded third-person shooter with an amazingly clever gameplay twist was right up my alley. I purchased day one and played for hours on end. I became a golden god, wielding my paint bucket with prejudice towards none. I was a monument to the sins of humanity, dispensing justice match after match.

In summation: I loved that game!

But there was one thing I didn’t love… the matches were too short.

Standard matches lasted a total of three minutes and not a tick longer. Three minutes is hardly enough time to become investing in the flow of a match. So much can change on the battlefield in longer games that having a game limited to three minutes gives me no time to develop a rhythm to compliment or counter the movement of my opposition. There’s a lot of information to decode in an intense shooter contest and three minutes simply isn’t enough time.

What’s worse, I found myself bored with the prospect of playing the game in record time. It seemed, just as teams were starting to pick up their paces or an amazing comeback was imminent, that jolly fat cat would appear to crown a winner. Such rapid rewards and completed games are something I expect from a jaunt with Angry Birds, not a sixty dollar video game.

Splatoon 2 fixes none of the issues from the first game and even creates more in the process. The much-lauded Salmon Run, Splatoon’s answer to the hip new “horde” mode from a game 8 years it’s senior can’t even be played on demand. Also of note, Salmon run only lasts three waves… and really isn’t that difficult. Made for the modern cell phone age, Splatoon 2 promises so much and delivers on none of it.

Recently, I’ve quit selling games. The return on the investment obviously isn’t in your favor and watching my collection deplete isn’t fun. I sold Splatoon 2 to my local GameStop for $48.00.

I don’t regret it.


Prey

Imagine if you would a video game with the initial charm of Bioshock and the gameplay fluidity of Desert Bus. Now picture if you will multiple videos of said game being completed in minutes. Prey had all of the charms of a modern day sci-fi shooter with none of the staying power or mechanics to back it up. There’s a very clear reason most people forgot about this early summer release… it was kind of crappy.

Nothing about Prey was particularly interesting or memorable. Interiors were dull and lifeless, relying on collectibles tried and true collectibles to tell a story. Enemies were even blander, faceless shadows rummaging around reanimating corpses. True be told, without doing even basic research, I couldn’t tell you what the main character’s name was nor recite any plot details. Even for the purposes of this article, doing so would be a waste of time.

Perhaps the only thing memorable to come out of Prey was a gun that shot foam. Unfortunately, it wasn’t white viscous foam that you could spray indiscriminately against the walls or your Zootopia Blu-ray but a hard foam that could be used as a defense or to create steps to reach higher elevations. That was kind of cool.

The flashy marketing and well-choreographed trailer gave Prey the look of a modern take on Dead Space, a tale of horror as death and terror lie behind every corner. Instead, you are treated to a listless game of hide and seek as you attempt to discern whether or not an enemy has possessed a briefcase. I made it about five hours in before I tapped out to Prey and its bland take on a very loose definition of “fun”.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

While my time with this game was admittedly short and there is a genuine intent to return to the barren, empty land of Hyrule, my general disappointment of this game stems from simply not understanding what exactly what all the fuss was about. While certainly, a departure from the series’ roots, the first impressions of the universe presented by Breath of the Wild has all the charm of rural Utah and the appeal of a wet carrot.

The comparisons of Wild‘s open world to Skyrim can’t be denied and what set by side the difference couldn’t be clearer. Skyrim presents varied terrain from lands scarred from a relentless snowstorm to putrid swamps hiding both countless perils and unimaginable treasure. Breath of the wild presents to you all the endless green space of an 18 hole golf course consisting of nothing but par five holes.

Perhaps my ten hours with the game simply wasn’t enough, but I don’t know that I ever experienced anything resembling entertainment during that time. I can certainly admit that Breath of the Wild contains a certain appeal for those who have been longing to see an upgrade to the modern Zelda formula, but Breath of the Wild feels like the baby brother of Skyrim.

However, my distaste for Breath of the Wild comes with a somewhat depressing realization. Perhaps a dumbed down version of a game I once loved featuring a beloved character I was always lukewarm towards isn’t enough to impress me anymore. Perhaps this is what the future looks like… maybe I’m finally getting old.

This post was written by
He is the senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A Nebraska boy born and raised, where he spends most of his time as a writer. When not tearing up Xbox Live, he spends most of his time divided between Magic: The Gathering and his fiancee.
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