The Top 10 Most Disappointing Video Games of 2013

04. Rome II: Total War

Created by game studio The Creative Assembly, Total War: Rome II is an action-strategy game and the eighth standalone game in the Total War series.

The direct successor to 2004s Rome: Total War, which was possibly the most commercially successful game in the series, it should not be all that great a shock to learn that based upon that gamers were expecting this sequel to have that sort of impact and presence.

The problem with that assumption is that it was based on the expectation that the same approach in the development process would be used for Rome II, and here is where expectations met the wall that was built from creative control and a desire to make a historically accurate game.

Where the original Rome bent and often broke the facts when it came to the weapons and capabilities of each of the unique cultures depicted through that vast distance of time, with the intention being to make for as entertaining an experience as possible, Rome II did just the opposite, though I don't wonder that it was only half on purpose.

While I cannot prove this, I suspect that at least part of the problem -- the disconnect -- has to do with the perennially thorny issue of promotion and position. The simple reality is that the team that came together to create Rome: Total War in 2004 is NOT the same team that created Rome II.

The original Rome Team meant to make an entertaining game at the cost of historical accuracy, while it seems obvious that the team that made Rome II meant to make a historically accurate game at the expense of entertainment.

Where the original Rome focused upon the combat experience, Rome II focuses on portraying each culture of the classical era as accurately and as in-depth as possible. I would not be shocked or surprised to learn that members of that team are also members of the SCA (which I am also a member of)... But don't place all of the blame upon intent -- the game was also buggy as hell at the time it was released!

Those two factors combined were very nearly the kiss of death.

Put it this way: two weeks before release Rome II was one of the most anticipated games for the 2013 gaming season. Two weeks after its release Rome II was one of the most despised games in the 2013 gaming season.

The thing is if that was all that there was to it, I could live with that. The game genuinely was more realistic than anticipated -- fine! Historical accuracy means more difficulty. More difficulty means you have to work a little harder to master the tactics. Since we buy games like this one to master tactics and seek out relative glory in that fashion, who am I to argue?

The bugs were a little hard to swallow because there were a lot of them. A regular amount of bugs I can live with, but when a game at release is so buggy it takes months of patches and updates to fix them to the point that it is stable enough for full play, well, that is a bit extreme but again, I can deal!

The thing is there are some things that are just beyond the pale when it comes to a new game title that you paid forty bucks for - one of the very few games for Windows PC you actually looked forward to -- and you immediately get the sense that your game was made by a sleaze-merchant.

What am I talking about? Bear with me and I will enlighten you, as I am talking about the source of major disappointment in this game.

In an era where game prices for PC tend to fix around $40 and for consoles from $50 to $60, you want to be sure you get what you are paying for. But the problem is that a lot of game publishers (note that I am not necessarily saying studios) create marketing plans and try to predict the profits curve in advance of the game release mostly so that they can offer predictions to their investors.

One of the easy ways to ensure that profits for a game fall within a specific path is to prepare extra content in the form of paid DLC in advance. Basically that means creating expansion packs and content add-ons prior to the release of the game.

I don't have a problem with that - as long as this is content that is separate from the game mind you. What I DO have a problem with is when a publisher sells online DLC content packs that, once you pay for them and punch in the code, the content is instantly added to the game.

What that means is simple - that so-called expansion content was ALREADY on the disc. What you bought was a code to unlock it!

I am not unique in disliking that practice. As far as I am concerned I paid full price for that game, I should have access to EVERYTHING that is on that disc.

The folks at Creative Assembly are aware that there are gamers like me out there, and in fact in one of their Q&A's about the game the spokesman for Creative Assembly expressly stated that none of the main game's content was held back for release as DLC.

So imagine my surprise and disappointment when paying for the DLC caused a 'switched on' event and it became clear that there was DLC content on the original media - exactly what the studio said they did not do.

When the issue was put to the studio instead of crying mea-culpa, our bad, sorry they instead said that the reason that DLC content was on the disc before it released was so that in multi-player the content would be available in the case of gamers who had the game but not the DLC. If that 'excuse' doesn't disappoint you then you don't understand what they did.

It certainly disappointed me. I am more than willing to accept bugs, as long as they are eventually fixed. I am more than willing to accept historical accuracy since they never said it wasn't... But I don't accept lies, and damn lies? They disappoint me.

Posted: 26th May 2014 by CMBF
Xbox 360,