The nine most overrated games of 2009

Named & shamed: the nine most overrated video games of 2009

  • 2009 sure went by quick, eh readers? It feels like only yesterday that we were sticking the boot into [[artnid:273546|the most overrated games of 2008|The most overrated games of 2008]] (did Grand Theft Auto IV really come out two years ago?) Before we know it, it'll be 2010's turn. We're putting our early bets on Gran Turismo 5, natch -- provided it actually comes out this year. But we digress.

    Here are the nine most overrated games of '09 (do you see what we did there? We're such wordsmiths.) While none of these games are bad in the [[artnid:328566|Rogue Warrior|Review: Rogue Warrior]]/[[artnid:265106|Damnation|Review: Damnation]] sense, they were all over-hyped, over-praised or over-bought. This year, we've included the score for each game on the list, as well as what it actually deserved...

  • 9. Brutal Legend (PS3, Xbox 360)

    Has Tim Schafer ever made a game that wasn't overrated? From The Secret of Monkey Island (which he merely co-wrote) to the deeply uneven Psychonauts, his games seem to garner a lot more praise than they actually deserve. Brutal Legend is no different. Despite openly acknowledging that the gameplay is quite weak, most games journalists awarded the game a score of 80 per cent or more — presumably because Tim Schafer's name was on it. We refuse to believe that they're all heavy metal/Jack Black fans, which is the only way you could love this video game.

  • Game Rankings score: 82%

    Now that we're all sober: 69%
  • 8. Braid (PS3)

    Some of you might think we’re being needlessly harsh by including Braid on this list. After all, it’s just a cheap little PSN download by a tiny independent developer — surely it deserves a (love) bone or two?

    While we appreciate the Herculean effort it took to get Braid made (developer Jonathan Blow reportedly sunk his lifesavings into the project), we feel that some critics went a little overboard in their gushing praise. We think the universal acclaim Braid received says more about games journalists than the actual game itself: namely, that they mostly comprise of pompous Gen-X nerds who never got over 16-bit consoles. With the exception of Mario, 2D platformers are dead guys. Let it go.

  • Game Rankings score: 94%

    Now that we're all sober: 70%
  • 7. Resident Evil 5 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

    Resident Evil 4. [[artnid:326185|With added racism|ZOMG, that's racist!]].

  • Game Rankings score: 88%

    Now that we're all sober: 75%
  • 6. Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360)

    We confess to having a bit of a soft spot for Halo 3: ODST. But there's not getting past the fact that the game is too short. Way too short. It should have been released as a mid-priced expansion, as per Bungie's original intention. At full price, we expect a bit more meat on our Spartan bones. The lack of matchmaking in the online Firefight mode is also a major letdown (especially if you're a Nigel No-Friends). [He speaks from bitter experience. — Ed.]

    In an attempt to boost the perceived value of the game, Microsoft opted to split the single-player campaign and multiplayer maps across two discs. The only thing this achieved was to annoy lazy gamers who had to peel themselves from their couch more than necessary. [See above. — Ed.]

  • Game Rankings score: 86%

    Now that we're all sober: 75%
  • 5. Left 4 Dead 2 (PC, Xbox 360)

    And people complained that Halo 3: ODST was little more than an expansion pack? Pfft.
  • (Note: our adjusted/retconned score is for the neutered Australian version which took out almost all of the gore.)

    Game Rankings score: 89%

    Now that we're all sober: 55%

  • 4. The Sims 3 (PC)

    Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation summed up the faults in this game far more eloquently than we ever could. So we won't even bother trying. ([[xref:|Check out his review here.]])

  • Game Rankings score: 86.94%

    Now that we're all sober: 70%
  • 3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)

    Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a tour de force in video game storytelling. Few other games (if any) can match Uncharted 2 when it comes to top-notch acting and exciting setpieces. In fact, it's sometimes more fun to watch than play — which is a bit of a problem for a video game.

    When it's not throwing cool scripted sequences at you, the action in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves can be quite linear and one-note. The lack of environmental damage in the game is also disappointing. Sure the game looks better than Gears of War et al., but at least they let you shoot up the scenery. We also think Nathan could have handled a little better — too often we fell off a ledge to our death due to the finicky controls.

    To make matters worse, there's usually no room for experimentation or error during the scripted events in the game — if you don't do exactly what the game wants, instant death awaits. At times, it almost feels like you're playing a grittier sequel to Dragon's Lair, but with a more annoying protagonist.

  • Game Rankings score: 96%

    Now that we're all sober: 89%
  • 2. Dragon Age: Origins (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

    Dragon Age: Origins is arguably the most hackneyed RPG in the history of the genre. The plot is a creatively-bankrupt mishmash of a hundred cheap fantasy novels, all churned into a flavourless paste. Every character you meet in the game speaks reams of Ye Olde Fantasy pap that seems to go on forever and ever. (Even your dog gets its own cut scenes!)

    The combat mechanics in Dragon Age: Origins are pretty much identical to Baldur's Gate from 12 years ago. You select some spells, click on some enemies, and then watch the computer have all the fun while you sit back and twiddle your thumbs. Correct us if we're wrong, but hasn't the RPG genre sort of moved on since then? Just look at the action in Mass Effect and Fallout 3 — while remaining reasonably tactical, they still managed to give your pulse rate a workout. In Dragon Age: Origins, the only thing that gets a workout is your mouse finger.

    Despite the 'Origins' subtitle, there's almost nothing new to be found in Dragon Age. It's like every D&D game you've ever played.

  • Game Rankings score: 90%

    Now that we're all sober: 65%
  • 1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

    For all its unadulterated brilliance, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a long way from perfect. There are flaws in this game that threaten to derail the player’s enjoyment — and we're not just talking about the javelin glitch.

    Firstly there’s the single-player campaign: not only is it short; it’s messier than a post-nuke Sergeant Jackson. Roach and Ramirez’s globe-trotting missions feel like soulless roller-coaster rides that hurl the player from one incomprehensible set piece to another. The character beats are all-too brief, and the plot — with its rapid-fire cross cutting and frequent betrayals — is often hard to follow. There are several big plot twists in the game that are poorly foreshadowed; you simply don’t get the emotional payoff that you should.

    The decision to unleash hell on American soil also cheapens the game tonally. This is B-grade science-fiction dressed up in military fatigues. Sure, the attack on the White House might be thrilling, but it’s also completely implausible. By dialling the spectacle up to 11, Infinity Ward has robbed the franchise of its gritty authenticity — it feels more like Starship Troopers than Black Hawk Down and the game suffers as a result.

    And then there's the online multiplayer. No dedicated server support for PC gamers? No matchmaking for novice players? No local search options? Compulsory Steam account shenanigans? Rampant online cheating? Clearly, Infinity Ward fumbled the ball here. Don’t get us wrong, Modern Warfare 2 provided some fine entertainment in 2009 — but did it really deserve a free pass for all of those flaws?

  • Game Rankings score: 94%

    Now that we're all sober: 85%
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