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The Overrated and Underrated Games of E3 (Op-Ed) |

All the major E3 awards are out and the upper crust of the gaming journalists have announced their opinions. What qualifies my opinion as worthy of written retort? Channel it into the comments, gaming fans!


Civilization 5: Civilization 1 was a genuine great when it was originally released. But Civ 2, 3, 4, and Civ Revolutions were complete rehashes: with the same game structure, the same game progression, an instantly recognizable tech tree, and identical style of city/empire building. The series has really delivered surprisingly minimal evolution over its lifespan and today’s game critics simply don’t play these games enough to notice. This series is coasting on a reputation that has long passed its prime.

Ghost of Sparta: This is amazing for what it is, but realistically, anyone who has convenient access to a PS3 or 360, and has experienced games like the home GoW3 will be underwhelmed. There is a real niche that doesn’t have regular access to a home gaming setup, and this is perfect for that crowd, but there are simply better picks for best PSP game.

Dance Central: DDR and Guitar Hero worked as genuine twitch games with mechanics that encouraged repeat solo play and serious multiplayer competitions. Karaoke titles worked more as affordable home karaoke machines rather than twitch games. Dance Central doesn’t look like it fits either group. It’s not a twitch competitive game and I don’t think people want an elaborate instructional dance video. Many top critics are naming this game of the show and predicting a runaway fad. I’m not an expert on dance culture and I’d love to be proven wrong, but I am betting against the new pop culture fad.

Portal 2: Portal 1 was unique, simple, fun, and overall a great game. Nevertheless, the accolades got a little carried away. The sequel swept the awards shows, but is it really that good?


Rock Band 3: The music game fad has passed, but wow, the Pro features are mind blowing. PC edutainment titles have long promised the fun of a game mixed with real instruments and never delivered. This game looks like the real deal. This will give families a social license to play real instruments together and will give practicing musicians a new way to play music. Wow!

LittleBigPlanet 2: LBP 1 sure didn’t invent user created content, but it found a new sweet spot between diverse user content and manageable complexity. And on top of that, it was a phenomenal co-op platformer. This is easily in the top three games of this console cycle. And LBP2 looks like it is taking the concept forward in every way.

Patapon 3: This is the *only* PSP game that I would buy a PSP for. I played God of War and Loco Roco and SRPGs and puzzlers and Killzone and all the GTA games, and there is some good stuff there, but if you are looking for a PSP game to supplement your home gaming hobby rather than as a low-tech substitute, this is your game. It’s grindy, it’s repetitive, but it’s great.

Hydrophobia: I’m surprised that something this good can slip through all the major show coverage without mention. PS3/PC owners will have to wait for the 360 timed exclusive to expire, but this looks like a fun and original concept.

Close Range: GOTY.

  • Close Range, lol. First I’ve seen that. Definitely game of the year material.

    I’m looking forward to Patapon 3. I loved the first 2. But I can’t play it around my wife. The Pata Pata Pata Pan drives her insane, lol.

    This pretty much sums it up 😛

    LittleBigPlanet 2 is a must buy. Ghost of Sparta is a maybe..

  • EdEN

    Hydrophobia is the one from the underrated list that I’m looking forward to.

    On the underrated list, I think Dance Central can sell several copies, specially to the teen female demographic.

  • Jay

    lol, Onion News is great

  • Jonaskin

    Isn’t there a Singstar: Dance game coming out for PS3 with Move compatibility? That sounds infinitely cooler than Dance Central IMO, too bad we’ve heard next to nothing about it.

  • LBP2 is probably the game I’m looking forward to the most, it looks amazing.
    Close range is freaking hilarious, one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while.

  • Cybertronguard

    I love that LBP2 is giving the community the tools to potentially build some really cool stuff. I just hope it doesn’t get hammered with sub-bar basic game modes or levels.

    After seeing the trailers for both the engine and in-game stuff for Hydrophobia – it’s safe to say I’m sold. Plus the Main character isn’t too bad either!. I’d save for from that sinking ship no problem!…

  • Axe99

    Darrin, I’m not sure if you’ve played Civ 2, 3, 4 and Civ: Rev, but they are all distinctively different games. Sure, they’re all turn-based strategy, but saying the Civ series hasn’t come a long way is like suggesting the latest Medal of Honor is no different to the late 1990s original. I’ve been playing turn-based strategy since before it was done by computer, and I can assure you that there are significant additions in every one of the mainstream Civs, that have a sizeable impact on gameplay. Sure, they’re still 4X turn-based strategy games based on human history, but saying that Civ hasn’t advanced is like suggesting that FPS’ haven’t moved forward since Wolfenstein 3D. Hell, Civ 5 introduces hexes, which anyone who is familiar with turn-based strategy will tell you is a _huge_ game changer when it comes to combat. Combine that with restricting each tile to one army, and you’ve got a whole new combat system, one of the key elements of gameplay.

    Your other suggestions seem reasonable enough, although your ‘Ghost of Sparta’ recommendation seems to compare it to main console games. I’ve got a PS3 and _loved_ Chains of Olympus, and will be back for Ghost of Sparta with bells on. On the other hand, Patapon was interesting enough, but the gameplay is pretty basic, and it’s nothing you couldn’t do on PSOne (although, clearly, no-one did).

  • kamakr

    What about Crysis 2? that’s have to be the most overrated game ever! the graphics dose not Evan look that good…

  • Nag

    Dance central could well be a runaway fad in the same way DDR was. Obviously it’ll need to catch on, and that’s less likely with arcades not being so popular anymore.

    How can you say that Portal 2 is over-rated? You say “is it really that good?” Well, we don’t know yet. Portal 1 was great, and if portal 2 is a longer game with the same great gameplay and dialogue, which it looks to be so far, then it absolutely deserves those accolades.

    I agree about all the other points though.

  • darrin

    You know how I know that 3D shooters have evolved more than 4x games:

    3D shooter fans almost universally agree that games keep getting better every year. Uncharted 2 is a big favorite for example. Even the most ardent fans of Doom/Marathon would completely agree that todays games are way better even if they share the same core dodge/aim/shoot mechanics.

    4x fans almost universally agree that the best games are from back in the past. Look at HOMM for example (I’ve put hundreds of hours into that). Fans are almost unanimous that HOMM 3 was the best and none of the sequels ever recaptured the magic (HOMM 4 as particularly terrible). Similar story with MOO.

    Or how about Spaceword Ho!? That game is so old, the last version was released on Palm OS! 4x is a legacy genre (and I’ve played a ton of SOSE and Total War)

    “Hell, Civ 5 introduces hexes, which anyone who is familiar with turn-based strategy will tell you is a _huge_ game changer when it comes to combat.”

    Dude, that’s a pretty small enhancement. Hexes were a strategy innovation 30 years ago?

    “I’ve got a PS3 and _loved_ Chains of Olympus”

    Well, you broke my theory…

  • Axe99

    HOMM? That’s turn-based strategy, but it’s not 4X! That’s more of a battle-sim, along the lines of the Panzer General series. Your comments suggest that you’re not that familiar with turn-based strategy in general…..

    I think you’ll find that most strategy fans would agree that Civ 4 was the peak of the series to date (drop by , and that Galactic Civilisations II (a relatively recent game by Stardock) is the peak of 4X space strategy to date. I’m not sure where you’re finding all of these strategy fans in universal agreement, but the ones I play with are playing Civ IV/Civ Rev and Gal Civ 2, rather than Civ 2 (the first you could play online – although that clearly wasn’t an innovation by your standards) and Master of Orion II (the ‘classic’ of space 4X gameplay – MOO was surpassed by its sequel!).

    And as for 4X being a legacy genre, I think you’re confusing ‘legacy’ with ‘niche’ ;). There are still a steady albeit limited stream of 4X games being released, and they still sell respectably, even though they’re generally only released on the heavily pirated PC platform.

    And hexes being a pretty small enhancement?! They are a _huge_ game changer when it comes to actual military strategy. I never suggested they were new to gaming (and, indeed, they’ve been around longer than 30 years ;)), just new to Civ – which is the game we’re talking about. Suggesting that the shift from squares to hexes, and from unit stacks to individual units on tiles, is just plain ludicrious. Drop on over to and post that in the forum and see how you go – ask them if the series has changed much since Civ 1 as well while you’re there ;).

    On the by, even if you don’t understand the impact of the military changes in Civ 5, how about the introduction of religion in Civ 3, and its enhancement in Civ 4? Or the introduction of vassal states in Civ 4? The ‘core’ Civ series has been constantly evolving and changing, and Civ 4 played very differently to Civ 1.

    Anyways, you’re not actually logically addressing my arguments, but rather trying to deflect the criticism by bringing up new points, which means it’s going to be pretty pointless trying to have a proper discussion with you, which is the most disappointing part (by some margin) in your writing.