Top Five Games That Need a Kick in the Ass

All of these games are best sellers and are highly regarded in the gaming industry. They are the standard that games should be held to. However, we as gamers should never be complacent with our expectations. Game developers should continue to push the boundaries of what we expect from the games we buy. They should be on a never-ending quest of improving their product. I’ve played or owned all of these games (and series) at one point or another. I want the best for these games, mostly because I want to experience the best that these games can offer. So, I present to you:

The Top Five Games That Need a Kick in the Ass

5. Madden (on 360 and PS3)

For the past six years, the Madden series has been a huge money-maker. Year after year, EA Sports releases its yearly edition of Madden. With every new Madden release, we hear phrases like, “best AI ever,” or “most realistic football game ever made.” No. Just no. Madden fan-boys trot out to their local mall or game store a few hours before 12 AM on release date. They wear their jerseys and talk trash to each other about who is going to throw the most touchdowns this year (the answer is Tim Tebow; it’s always going to be Tim Tebow). I used to be one of those fans, and I am proud to say that I broke the habit two years ago. I have played but not bought the last two installments of Madden.

Each Madden game tricks football gaming fans into buying it. Here’s the equation that EA uses with their Madden games:
screenshot of stadium lights’ reflection in players’ helmets + announcement of yearly gimmick feature + revamped features (like rookie scouting) that still won’t work + no mention of previous bugs being fixed (ratings of a player being different in depth chart and team roster) + lots of marketing + horde of Madden fans that will buy it no matter what because it’s the only NFL licensed game available = $$$.

What I don’t understand is, why does the Madden community continue to buy it when most of the forums about Madden are filled with fans that are tired of the status quo. Since Madden 2006, the first installment of the series on the next-gen systems, no Madden game has come close in features and gameplay to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions. Parts of those versions were stripped when the series was introduced on the 360 and PS3, and they have slowly been added back as new features. THEY AREN’T NEW IF THEY USED TO BE STANDARD FEATURES OF THE SERIES!

I will admit that Madden 12 does look promising. It looks like they are finally offering features that disgruntled Madden fans have been asking for. Maybe this will be the year that I go back to buying the game, as the game shows promise for the series. Then again, I’ve been tricked before.

4. Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty is becoming the new Madden. They release a new game every year, and the series has a huge following of fan-boys that will buy it no matter what. The game is fueled by a strong, story-driven campaign and arguably the best online shooter experience. **Insert a Larry David “Eh” Here**

While the story keeps your attention, it seems like it insists upon itself. It’s all over the place. Also, at this point it feels like they can get as ridiculous as they want, in gameplay and story, and just use the “Hey, we’re Call of Duty” excuse. Still, it’s the multiplayer gameplay that I find the most faults in. I wouldn’t say that Black Ops’ multiplayer is amazing. It’s no where near what it was in Modern Warfare 2.

The main thing I hate about it is how fast people move. Apparently, in the 1960’s soldiers moved a hell of a lot quicker than soldiers do today. Also, how were the guns more accurate in the 60’s than they are today?

It feels like the multiplayer was a step back. Nothing new is introduced. The whole process of getting experience to level up and unlock new weapons and attachments is being done by every game. I don’t care if they are copying what Call of Duty made popular; I’m waiting for the next great idea. That great idea wasn’t the separation of experience and currency. So, now I have to level up and buy a weapon– joy.

At some point they have to introduce something ground-breaking, right?

P.S. Never ever should swiping someone across their body-armored chest with a knife result in an instant kill, when it takes six shots from an assault rifle to do the same thing. Just saying.

3. Grand Theft Auto IV

Okay, so you’re running around a city, stealing cars, killing innocents, shooting stuff up, doing jobs for crime bosses, starting gang turf wars, and testing the shocks of many an automobile with street walkers of the night. Guess what game I’m talking about. Are you having a hard time distinguishing what entry into the GTA series I’m talking about? That’s because they’re all the same.

Liberty City, San Andreas, Vice City– no difference. Other sites, as well as GameZone, have rated the game a 10. It’s a perfect game. There is nothing wrong with it. I disagree. Rockstar games made a stellar environment; the city is detailed and massive. Then they place less than stellar character models in the game. Throw in the same, repetitive quests that you’ve been doing for the last three GTAs, and you can see why I lost interest in the game. I used to think the series had witty humor, engaging and exciting characters, and a main character that was worthy to be the face of the game. Niko is the most bland main character in the series to date.

The whole vibe of the game has a darker tone. I feel like people think darker and grittier equals better. It worked for Batman Begins, why wouldn’t it work for GTA IV? GTA lost its charm. I found myself not caring what happens to Niko.

GTA needs get back its humor. It needs the most compelling character its ever had. I personally think that it’s time for the main character to be female. It needs renewed and refreshing combat mechanics. By god, it needs mini-games that I want to play more than once or twice. There will be no complaints from me for a new level of detail with the environment the game is set in. Rockstar is bound to do that on their own.

I’m begging for this series to get creative with characters and quest design. Charm my pants off, Rockstar. I know you can do it. My car is ready for it.

2. Halo Reach

The problems with doing a prequel nine years after the original came out is that it makes what is supposed to be the future seem dated. How were the weapons and equipment better than they were in Halo, Halo 2, and Halo 3? Did Bungie not learn anything from Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars? How are jet packs available to Noble Team but they are nowhere to be found when Master Chief could use them?

Let’s face it, everyone plays the campaign, but everyone buys the game for the multiplayer. Combat truly has evolved from guns with scopes, to not having scopes, then back to scopes again, and no dual-wielding, to dual-wielding, and then back to no dual-wielding. It all makes sense. Throughout the course of a war, some soldiers become shell-shocked and develop disorders. Maybe they were so traumatized that they forgot how to hold two weapons at once. Or, maybe only Master Chief has the strength to be able to dual-wield.

There’s nothing new to the combat. Halo Reach has the same gameplay as Halo 3. “Hey! There’s jet packs and invisibility in Halo Reach!” I’m pretty sure Halo 3 had one-use abilities that the player could find scattered around the map. All Bungie did is take those, give them a different name, and make them reusable. They don’t change the multiplayer experience at all because the abilities were just items in a previous game.

The Firefight mode is real original; I’m happy Gears of War didn’t think of it first. Halo Reach could have been truly different. There was no Master Chief, so you weren’t tied to the same type of gameplay. Bungie could have taken some risks and make the game feel and play differently. Instead, they offered up an offering of Halo 3 with the same multiplayer experience and a storyline we already knew the outcome of.

Hopefully Halo 4 is going to be as awesome as the trailer for it was. With 343 Industries taking the reigns, maybe they won’t be afraid to inject some new ideas and take some risks. Note: I don’t want risks that aren’t faithful to what Bungie has done; I want risks that build upon the Halo foundation and improve it.

1. World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, and Cataclysm

Is this even a game anymore? Seriously. Can you honestly call it a game? It’s more of a stamp collection at this point. Collecting emblems, gold, and items to get an item that gets you into a better raid to get a better item is not a game. It’s a vicious cycle. The only difference between collecting stamps and playing WoW is that I don’t get a dry tongue from playing WoW, but I still get a bad taste in my mouth.

I used to love World of Warcraft. Vanilla WoW was where it was at. I used to skip my college classes to run a raid or try to siege Hammerfall at 3 AM. The game was fresh. It was captivating. It wasn’t about GearScore. Ugh. Vanilla WoW put emphasis on teamwork and wasn’t a race to get to 60. With each expansion it became less of a game and more of a chore. Five more levels. 10 new talents for each class. A new race. No new classes. No housing. Eight new dungeons/raids. Only one acceptable build for each class otherwise you won’t get taken in raids. You won’t get into “z” raid without “x” gear and “y” achievement. Don’t have “x” gear? Run “____” dungeon 45 times to get required emblems for piece 1 of 5 for “x” armor set.

Does your head hurt yet? Mine does. Why am I paying $15 a month for an MMORPG that takes the freedom out of the RPG part? I’m not anymore. The game is just repetition. There is no way to be unique in the game.

What did the latest entry, Cataclysm, offer? Two new races that will have you play through the whole game again. Yes, they did change the original land masses and came up with all-new quests, but only to play through the entire game again in a rush to 85. Then the rest of the game will be a retelling of Groundhog Day in an effort to get gear.

WoW made tons of money and had the most subscribers ever for a reason. Unfortunately, after time, you need to offer more than just more levels and items for a game to not become stale/repetitive. This is where Blizzard failed. They needed to introduce something new for you to do in the game. Not another profession. Not another race to level up. A whole new game mechanic– one that isn’t a requirement to get into a raid.

Be it housing, customizing how your gear looks, or something along those lines, WoW needed it. The next expansion– if there is one– will need more than what keeps being offered in order to keep WoW from slipping into irrelevance.

So there you have it. These games are successful, but they need a big boot to the posterior in order to stay on top. They have a duty to provide a cutting-edge gaming experience to us.

If you have another game that you think belongs on this list, or you agree/disagree with something on here, comment below and tell us why.

You can follow Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ