games / Columns

The Top 8 Video Game Disappointments of 2021

January 25, 2022 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Guardians of the Galaxy The Game Image Credit: Square Enix

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! I’m writing this today, January 24th, which is my birthday, so that’s fun. I wanted to take one last look at 2021 with the big disappointments of the year. This is both specific video games and also new stories that did/did not take place over 2021. Let’s begin:

#8: Guardians of the Galaxy

I actually don’t think Guardians is a bad game. Far from it, the actual “game” part of Guardians is pretty solid, especially later on when you have all four elements unlocked and your teammates are sufficiently powered. The disappointing stuff for me is the plot and, especially, the voice acting. The plot kind of meanders around, not really having a clear focus for a lot of the time. Even if the plot was good, the almost uniformly bad voice acting that the characters have, really doesn’t help matters. I’ve heard better voice acting in an Eastern European-developed hidden object game, much less an AAA game, which is what Guardians is.

#7: No Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3

This was actually very early on in January of 2021, but once Activision moved Vicarious Visions from a general subsidiary to a Blizzard-branded subsidiary, you knew it was game over. It’s a shame since Tony Hawk 1+2 was a really solid game that could’ve used more levels. If they basically made Tony Hawk into the framework or platform, and you could buy levels from 1-THUG 2, then I would’ve bought most of that stuff, though I probably would have skipped Tony Hawk 4. They didn’t though, and honestly, the likelihood of another Tony Hawk game coming out is fairly slim, given the recent acquisition.

#6: Assassin’s Creed?

Showing just how much both Covid and the sexual harassment stuff impacted the world, there was very little new Assassin’s Creed news for much of 2021. They did announce Assassin’s Creed Infinity in July but there was no trailer, or really, any specific details on the game. The only real news was them announcing a second season pass/expansion for Valhalla that is more Odin based. Which, frankly, I don’t care about. I don’t care about the meta-nature of Valhalla, that you are Eivor who is somehow the reincarnation of Odin, blah, blah blah. At least they didn’t announce another godforsaken movie, but as someone who does like Valhalla a lot, Ubisoft keep bolting more crap onto the game doesn’t really make it better.

#5: No Analogue Duo News

Considering that Analogue could barely get the Pocket out in 2021, the lack of Duo news isn’t surprising, but it’s still a bummer. Announced in October of 2020, the Duo is two consoles in one, a TurboGrafx-16 and a TurboGrafx CD drive into one unit. Basically, a modern version of the TurboDuo that was released 30 years ago. Well, Analogue announced they were making it and then…nothing. The only news since them was late last year saying the Duo would be delayed till 2022, at the earliest. Frankly, even that is a longshot, I expect 2023 at the minimum. Still, I’d like to be able to pre-order the damn thing, so I can make sure to get one. At least I got the Pocket and that thing is killer.

#4: Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition

Pretty much from the day they announced this, I knew it’d be a disaster. Little did I know how big of a technical mess this actually would end up being. Ideally, this package should’ve been based off of the original Xbox version of the trilogy, or barring that, at least the PS2 versions but they weren’t. They decided to go with the mobile ports, which were already a compromised, lesser version of the games. It’s a bit funny, EA knew they had to get the fan base back with the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, so they took the time and effort to actually do it right. Rockstar took the lazy/cheap/stupid way out, farmed it out to unproven developers and then had to throw them under the bus when their work was shoddy.

#3: Call of Duty/Battlefield

I’m kind of collectively putting both these games up for nomination here. I don’t think anyone actually cares about Battlefield 2042, aside from the legions of negative Steam reviews and the dwindling player counts. It’s so bad that Battlefield 5 is handily beating it on the Steam charts, and even Battlefield 1 is outperforming it. As for Call of Duty: Vanguard, I honestly wouldn’t know. They didn’t bother to send me a review code (thanks for that, Bobby), but the general consensus is: the story is awful or at least tone deaf, zombies is barely there and the multiplayer has no real innovation in it. Don’t worry, I’m sure the new Call of Duty game with the Energy Sword and Gravity Hammer will make up for it.

#2: N64 Expansion Pack

Much like the GTA Trilogy, I knew going in this wasn’t going to work well, but it did surprise me a bit. I thought it would be a disaster due to Nintendo STILL not getting online multiplayer right. Some games are fine, Splatoon or Mario Kart 8 work fairly well, but Mario Maker 2 has never had good multiplayer and hey, it’s only been 3 years, why bother fixing it now? So multiplayer was going to be a non-starter but the disappointing thing is the N64 emulation. It not being accurate is weird, especially since some of those games (Zelda) worked better on the Wii U or even GameCube better than they worked on the Switch. They are slowly fixing it, having just released an emulator update a fe days ago, but it’s still something that never should have happened.

#1: Axiom Verge 2

Other disappointing games like Balan Wonderland, Destruction AllStars, eFootball, the second you look at them, you knew they were going to be train wrecks out of the gate. With Axiom Verge 2, I actually thought it was going to be a great game. I loved the first one and taking the game basically “outside”, on the surface of a planet instead of a series of cave systems, looked cool, and it still had some impressive bosses and music. But then I got it and played it. I almost thought someone else developed it because it is such a profound misread on what made the first one good. Instead of the almost two dozen weapons the first game had, Verge 2 has nine weapons. And only about 3 of them (I think) are ranged, the rest are melee. This might work fine, but most enemies just rush up at you, giving you little chance to melee them. Even if the game had poor combat, you could excuse it by exploring but this is even worse. You’re constantly having to switch between the real world and a micro-world, which is pretty hard to navigate. The map is also terribly designed since it’s so low resolution youcan’t actually see the topography in any one section accurately. Thank god I didn’t get a physical copy of this game from Limited Run, or else I would’ve been more pissed about it than I already am.

For comments, list which games/video game stuff disappointed you in 2021 and why.

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