Every now and again, a video game comes along that, while perfectly playable and decent, is hated by a large majority of people. I get that the enjoyment of video games, like any other creative medium, is largely subjective. But sometimes, you’re just left scratching your head, trying to figure out what it is about certain games that people hate.
Each year, you'll have a bunch of games that ride the hype and marketing train. All those well-crafted E3 trailers, screenshots, and developer interviews can’t save them from the eventual scorn they receive. Maybe they promised too much and brought this upon themselves, or maybe they are just unfairly targeted, but once you strip away all the pre-release hype and examine them as just games, you start to see the good in them.
Many of you probably have those games you love that everyone just hates on. I’ve got a selection of them, and I am starting to question my own taste in video games after seeing how much hate they receive. But I know what I like and why I like it. None of the games listed here are perfect, but they stand tall on their individual merits and, for me, are some truly great experiences. I’ve decided to share some of the games that I feel people just hate on for no reason at all.
15 Assassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed III is the black sheep in an already strange family of games. Contrast it to the Ezio trilogy of Assassin’s Creed games, it is a huge shift, tonally speaking. This is partly due to its protagonist, Connor Kenway.
That’s not to say Connor is a bad character, nor that Assassins’ Creed III is a bad game. It was a large, sprawling adventure across the wilderness and growing towns of Colonial America. It offered an interesting and dramatic take on a crucial time in American history and placed you at the centre. Connor’s story ends as a stark reminder that no matter how ‘in the moment’ we may feel, we may never even end up as a footnote of history. Compared to Ezio’s bombastic and charismatic antics, Assassin’s Creed III offered a more human story.
Plus, have you played Unity – now that’s a mess.
14 Metroid: Other M
The Metroid franchise is one of Nintendo’s best (and one we don’t see enough of). When Metroid: Other M was released on Nintendo Wii in 2010, it was well received, but die-hard fans of the series didn’t fall in love with it as expected.
Sadly, Other M tarnishes the reputation of the beloved lady bounty hunter from the iconic universe. Her character is shredded to bits in Other M, and fans took note. That being said, Metroid: Other M plays really well, the action works, and the shifting perspectives make for an interesting approach to the series' signature gameplay.
13 Fable III
Fable was a massive success when it came out on Xbox in 2004. I remember playing it and feeling like it was The Legend of Zelda, but more mature- grander in scope and design. Like all good franchises, though, it grew tiresome, but the third entry deserves more praise than it does flack.
Let’s not think about how poorly optimized it was for PC and just focus on how alive the world felt in Fable III. When I look back at the first Fable title, it was a great game for the time, but its world felt fragmented. Too many spaces designed solely for the purpose of enemy encounters. They did not feel like living, breathing parts of a real world in the same way Fable III did.
12 Metal Gear Solid 2
The opening, tanker mission in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was great. When Solid Snake leaped over the side of that bridge, onto the tanker, I was like: “Yeah! There he is!” I enjoyed sneaking around the interior of the tanker; it was a great prelude.
Then, you’re subject to a cut-scene reminiscent to the opening of Metal Gear Solid, of your protagonist swimming towards the Big Shell oil rig, captured by terrorists. Once inside, you find that it is not Solid Snake you are playing as, but Raiden. Urgh, Raiden.
This is enough for some people to really hate this game. That, and the story is criticized for being a bit obtuse. But, as a stealth-action game, it is top-draw stuff. It could be argued that the story ‘jumps the shark’ in the final act but, canonically, it works and is narratively ambitious. Kojima is known for creating games that confound and are implicit. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is a great example of this.
11 New Super Mario Bros U
As a launch title for the Nintendo Wii U, New Super Mario Bros U was an underwhelming game for many. After the fantastic Super Mario Galaxy games on Wii, it was odd to see Nintendo rest on their laurels with the Super Mario franchise by giving us another 2D platformer – a genre they’ve mastered – instead of pushing forward with the 3D Mario titles.
Still, as a 2D Mario game, it is strikingly reminiscent of Super Mario World on SNES – one of the greatest 2D-platformers ever made. It is pure nostalgia fodder, albeit well-crafted nostalgia fodder.
New Super Mario Bros U has that difficulty sweet-spot that Nintendo often hits, making it an all-around accessible title. It also showed off the potential of the Wii U gamepad – potential that, sadly, was never truly realized.
10 No Man's Sky
There is no bigger example of a game being hindered by its own hype train than No Man’s Sky. Hello Games just couldn’t help themselves, could they? They promised the literal universe and, in the end, we got a half-finished game, many of its promised features absent.
We’re almost a year on from the release of No Man’s Sky and a lot of people haven’t changed their mind about the game. A hard impression is always hard to shake, but you can’t say Hello Games aren’t giving it a good try.
With major updates having released, providing base-building, PS4 Pro support, ship-specialisations, and classes, in addition to shops and traders. The full list of improvements is exhaustive, but it is noble that Hello Games want to rectify such a horrible launch and are working towards achieving the vision they promised in the first place.
9 Fallout 4
After a seven-year hiatus (not counting Fallout: New Vegas) we finally got the sequel to Fallout 3. It was supposed to be a glorious day for western-RPG fans everywhere. Bethesda’s shining moment - their tour de force. However, like anything that has been anticipated for a long time, people were invariably disappointed.
Fallout 4 is not a bad game, and improves over both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas in significant ways. Sure, it’s not a graphical powerhouse, but it streamlined all its systems, from crafting, looting, inventory management, and leveling up. They also got the guys from ID Software to show them a thing or two about how to design decent shooting mechanics. It made us all less reliant on the V.A.T.S system, which while a staple of the franchise, served to take us out of the experience on occasion.
Fallout 4 embodies everything Bethesda has learned about creating video games and is one of their best. Just because it doesn’t have the same vibe as their previous games, doesn’t make it any less an experience.
8 The Order: 1886
It’s a short game, I’ll give you that. The campaign ends before it really begins, and the gameplay can become a little repetitive. Sure, I’ll acknowledge these points. But, as a means of showing off how impressive the PS4 is, The Order: 1886 certainly wins points.
You can criticize The Order: 1886 for having a lackluster narrative, but in terms of its world-building – a steampunk rendition of Victorian London, plagued by werewolves and vampires – it's captivating. Those scenes in the London Underground are some of the most atmospheric and tense of modern video games, better than many games whose focus is solely about horror.
Plus, those beard and mustache physics were top notch.
7 Rogue Warrior
I appreciate that having a first-person shooter that controls like you’re moving a tank isn’t ideal, but Rogue Warrior is discredited entirely for this reason. How about we look at what makes Rogue Warrior great: the cheesy one-liners – they’re just wonderful.
Mickey Rourke is the voice actor for the game's protagonist, Richard Marcinko. Over the course of this six-hour action-movie style adventure, he spits out some cracking, one-liners, up there with the most absurd and outrageous of them all. His outbursts are a bit on the strong side, but they are examples of a videogame not taking itself seriously and just wanting to provide a bit of light-hearted fun for people who want to shoot some virtual guns.
6 Dragon Age II
Dragon Age II is, in terms of critical reception, the most poorly received of the Dragon Age franchise. Not many people want to admit to liking this game, as they feel the story was too slow and the map size, compared to the vastness of Dragon Age Origins. But there’s a lot to love here and maybe you should take another look.
What Dragon Age II sacrifices in scope with its open world, it more than makes up for by improving the combat system, building upon the skill trees and providing more dialogue options. There is nothing wrong with streamlining an experience and opening it up to a wider audience, which is clearly what Bioware were going for here. Its world also feels more alive than its predecessor, and is probably the most enjoyable 50 hours you’ll put into an RPG.
5 Star Fox Zero
Nintendo have a bit of a problem when it comes to gimmicks. It’s their thing, after all, to try and do something wacky to differentiate themselves from the other big dogs in the industry. The Wii U gamepad was one of those ideas that Nintendo put out there but never fully utilised. When it came to Star Fox Zero, Nintendo tried to implement the gamepad in the most obnoxious way possible – by forcing you to use the gyroscope to aim, rather than a traditional control system.
The control system is tough to adjust to, but when you get past it, Star Fox Zero is a fun game. In typical Nintendo style, they look back to the previous generations for inspiration and manages to pay homage to Star Fox 64. Delivering well-crafted levels and arenas to battle it out. It also manages to be the first on-rails Star Fox game for a long time, which in of itself, is pretty darn great.
4 Kane And Lynch: Dead Men
Looking back on Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, it was a bit messy, sure. But when you consider the squad mechanics, the overarching, lengthy campaign, interesting and varied missions, Kane and Lynch: Dead Men is an underestimated gem, sadly forgotten and overlooked. Also, don’t pretend that both Kane and Lynch are not absolute badasses. They may be unlikable, but that’s sort of the point. It adds to that anti-hero charm that they exude. If it works for the Grand Theft Auto franchise, it can be the same for Kane and Lynch: Dead Men.
Even the sequel, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days was an okay game and —despite its short campaign— is in no way deserving of the scorn it received at released. It is a shame that we may never see a third entry to the series and find out what happened to these lovable psychos after they hijacked that plane in Shanghai.
3 Condemned 2
The sequel to the 2005 thriller, Condemned, was a bit of a mixed bag. Condemned 2: Bloodshot keep the core mechanics of the game and improved somewhat, by way of attack combos, but strayed too far from realism, which most people hated.
Let’s consider what it did well: Improved controls and visuals, to start with, which both make the game more enjoyable to play and look at. The story, while simplistic is a fun romp through rain-drenched streets and abandoned, decrepit buildings. A lot of people disliked this game and, as a result, it sold poorly. So poorly, that developer, Monolith Studios, have said that a third entry in the trilogy is unlikely. All we can do now is hope that Monolith will give us another chance to bash some homeless guy’s face in with a block of wood.
2 Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil had long started to stray from what made it great in the first instance. It began as a tense, survival-horror game, where you were not too overpowered, but with some wit, you could survive and make it through the night.
As the years passed, Capcom needed to do more to bring the franchise forward. So, Resident Evil became more cinematic. In addition, weaponry and ammo became more readily available and zombies easier to mow down. The old-school fanbase took this to mean that Resident Evil was losing its way.
Resident Evil 6 was hated for this reason, but it is a relentlessly enjoyable experience. One that you can just switch-off mentally while playing and just shoot some zombies. It may have lacked the traditional Resident Evil vibe, but you can’t blame Capcom for wanting to do things differently.
1 Mass Effect 3
It’s the ending, isn’t it? I don’t blame you – it was a bad ending. After all the time spent plowing through the game, seeing Commander Shepherd through to his grand finale, the ending made it appear that your choices were all for nothing. But as the adage goes: It’s all about the journey, not the destination.
The journey that Bioware takes you through with Mass Effect 3 is one of the greatest of the RPG genre. It far succeeds its predecessor, and even its successor, Mass Effect: Andromeda. Regardless of how you felt about that ending, seeing Commander Shepherd’s story end was an emotional moment – one of the finest in gaming. Nothing Bioware will do is likely to match what they achieved with the first three Mass Effect games.