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Plugged In

The 5 biggest video game disappointments of 2013 (so far)

Plugged In

By almost any measurement, 2013 has been an embarrassment of riches for gamers. The Last of Us earned some of the highest scores of any game this generation, BioShock Infinite is a critical darling, and the reboot of Tomb Raider was masterfully done.

But while the hit to miss ratio has been skewed towards hits, the misses have been painful. The only thing worse than a bad game is a game that was supposed to be good, but totally failed to deliver on its promise. You know, like these five stinkers:

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(Credit: Gearbox Software)

Aliens: Colonial Marines (Metacritic score: 43-48)

The set up was perfect: Aliens: Colonial Marines was to be a continuation of the iconic film series, coming with the (implied) blessing of creator Ridley Scott. Gearbox Software, creators of the beloved Borderlands, was handling development duties. And the first footage shown from the game looked great.

When it hit shelves, though, it was like a shot of acid to the eye.

The graphics, gameplay and design weren't nearly as good as the video fans had seen. Gearbox, it soon came out, had outsourced development to other studios. It was rushed so quickly through certification and QA that it was barely playable. Things got so ugly, in fact, that one gamer actually sued Gearbox for false advertising.


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(Credit: Activision)

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (Metacritic score: 32-38)

After Telltale Games’ impeccable handling of The Walking Dead franchise, people were skeptical of Activision's shooter based on the TV show. Turns out those instincts were correct.

While it sounds cool to walk in the crossbow-toting shoes of Daryl Dixon -- and to interact with his brother Merle -- there was simply nothing to the game. No character development. No suspense. No diversity of weapons. There were, however, repetitive missions and bad graphics.

Polygon summed it up best:

"Playing Survival Instinct is like listening to a roomful of barely competent musicians, each of whom is playing a completely different song,” they wrote. “And every once in a while one kicks you in the groin. Also, you have a sunburn."


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(Credit: Namco-Bandai)

Star Trek: The Video Game (Metacritic score: 42-46)

To be fair, this one had the odds stacked against it: it was a movie tie-in, and Star Trek games have a spotty record.

But when early footage was shown at E3, it didn't look too bad. The Gorn, re-imagined as terrifying lizard creatures, were intimidating enough to earn five "Best of E3 2011" awards in 2011 from outlets like Official Xbox Magazine and Electric Playground.

What seems to have been a heaping dose of film studio involvement in the ensuing months and years took its toll on the game, though. When it came out, there was none of the magic the early demo possessed, just lots and lots of bugs and really bad gameplay.


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(Credit: 2K Sports)

MLB 2K13 (Metacritic score: 48)

For a few months there, it looked like baseball fans wouldn't get any new installment of MLB2K this year. Take-Two Interactive Software's contract with the league had expired and management had shown no interest in renewing the deal. The two parties worked things out, though, and the game arrived on March 5.

Bad? That would be one thing. Instead, critics noted it was essentially the exact same game as last year (Game Informer called it “an embarrassing whiff”) only with updated rosters. No new gameplay, no new game modes and no online leagues, which were part of the 2012 game. Contract issues notwithstanding, it probably shouldn’t have been released.


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(Credit: Replay Games)

Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded (Metacritic score: 56)

Larry Laffer was video game comedy gold in the 1980s, but like your weird Uncle Bob, he’s had a hard time changing with the times. A series of disastrously bad Leisure Suit Larry games have plagued gamers for years now, but the most recent release was supposed to finally bring the adventure game legend back to form. A remake of the original overseen by franchise creator Al Lowe? What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. The humor that was so raunchy back in the day is tame (and lame) today. As a result, the game -- which was funded through a Kickstarter campaign -- feels dated, shallow and boring.

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