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Games You Should Have Skipped in 2010

White Knight Chronicles Screenshot - 866925

Another year is just about over, which usually means it’s time to look back and take stock of the last twelve months—the good times, the bad times, the surprises, and of course, the regrets. This is especially true of the video game industry, in which bad choices can be costly, both in time commitment and cash. Let’s take a look at some of the 2010 titles that you probably could have skipped.

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

With the strides that the Rock Band series has taken to push forward the music genre since 2007, I can only wonder: why is anyone still buying Guitar Hero games? Activision and developer Neversoft at least tried something new with the sixth installment in the main GH series, but the “Quest” in which each character transformed into some sort of rock god was pretty laughable, and with the exception of Rush’s “2112”, Warriors of Rock turned out to be largely disappointing. Some reviewers wondered if the series had jumped the shark; personally, I thought that happened with Guitar Hero III, but either way it has certainly occurred by now.

Medal of Honor

By most accounts, EA’s Medal of Honor is not a bad game. It also wasn’t the sensational series reboot or Call of Duty-killer that it had been touted as since its announcement in late 2009. Going up against Treyarch-developed Call of Duty: Black Ops, the developers had a golden opportunity to snatch the military shooter crown away from the hugely popular CoD series. Instead, Medal of Honor turned out to be an average game with forgettable multiplayer, and the controversy over the playable Taliban, which was removed just before the game’s release, didn’t do Medal of Honor any favors. Despite a lot of marketing and hype, it still fell short next to Black Ops, and with a genre as overcrowded as the first-person shooter, anything less than great is easy to skip. This is the kind of game that’s ideal to get on sale or as a gift, but paying $60 on day one may have been a mistake.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

At first, it seemed like EA was willing to finally take this series in the right direction by trying to capture the dark tone of the final Harry Potter book and movie. Of course, that didn’t happen at all. EA’s “Gears of Potter” felt even further from the actual story than its predecessors did; why on Earth would Harry be walking around in an open field, fighting Death Eaters alone and casting Crucio left and right? It’s easy to ask why anyone would have bought this game in the first place, but with the series drawing to a close, plenty of Potterheads wanted to see if EA could finally realize its potential. They couldn’t.

White Knight Chronicles

The PS2 was an RPG machine. The PS3, not so much. White Knight Chronicles, finally making it to the U.S. long after its Japanese release, was supposed to help with that matter. Fans of the genre had been waiting years for WKC to come stateside, only to be terribly disappointed when it finally did. This JRPG with a massive, sprawling world, an experienced developer, and online play should have been a huge exclusive for the PS3. Instead, White Knight Chronicles fell short, with boring gameplay, annoying combat, and some of the most cliché characters, dialogue, and plotlines ever seen in a genre already overrun by clichés. What could have been a system-defining role-playing game turned out to be a total snoozefest that was easy to forget.

Microsoft Kinect

“No fair, that’s not a game!” I know, but hear me out. Kinect has some impressive technology, and the potential for good times is definitely there. However, I don’t see how a few lukewarm party games can justify the price tag, not to mention the need to rearrange your living room. For many gamers, six to eight feet of open space in front of the TV is just not realistic, and a few rounds of Kinect Sports is not enough incentive to move the coffee table and turn the couch around. Worse than the space issue, though, is a price aimed at a hardcore audience, with a launch line-up that seems designed for the most casual of gamers. You can’t have it both ways, Kinect. Check back with me in 2011 with some more intriguing titles and maybe things will be different.

These games (and in Kinect’s case, peripherals) are by no means the worst products in the industry to come out this year. However, they all fell short of expectations, didn’t live up to the hype, or just plain sucked (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter). I’m sure more than a few of you will want to express your disagreement over how wrong I am about one or more of these titles, but in this golden age of gaming, it’s hard to spend $60 on anything less than great. Besides, that’s what early 2011 is for—killing time with less-than-stellar games bought on sale or acquired as gifts until the triple-A titles start rolling in.

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Shirley Chase
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