Over the past few weeks we've taken stock of the console exclusive arms race as it currently stands. Last week, we saw the best exclusive offerings that Microsoft's Xbox 360 has to offer, and will now move onto the titles that failed to reach those high standards and expectations.
These games are not necessarily "bad". They represent developer ambitions and/or fan expectations that were never quite met, hence the disappointments. What follows is our list of the most disappointing Xbox 360 exclusives titles - limited to full retail offerings, one entry per franchise, and listed in alphabetical order.
Some of these titles can also be found on PC, but will be placed in Microsoft's camp as we examine console offerings, as they were marketed as such.
Crackdown 2 encapsulates a very particular brand of mainstream game development. It's a sequel that fears innovating far beyond the blueprint of the original. It offers an environment and characters so focus-grouped and market-tested as to be utterly bland. It's an open world game filled with only a limited selection of mission types. Its setting is a destroyed, decaying city. It features zombies. Need more be said? I'm cringing as it is.
<img src="/newsimages/colin/xbox-360-exclusives-that-were-outrageously-disappointing-2.jpg" alt="Crackdown 2, Ninja Gaiden II, Perfect Dark Zero, Shadowrun, Too Human, Ruffian Games, Team Ninja, Rare, FASA Interactive, Silicon Knights, Xbox 360" width=610" />
Ninja Gaiden II
The original Ninja Gaiden set the bar high for action-adventure games, largely due to its considerable combat depth. The series became revered by players looking for a pure strategic experience, making expectations for the inevitable sequel soar. Unfortunately, a troubled development cycle at Team Ninja, one that saw series creator Tomonobu Itagaki leave the company after an ugly dispute, lead to an underwhelming offering. Ninja Gaiden II suffered from several performance issues, uninspired level design, and an awkward camera, among other things. The series' future remains uncertain without Itagaki at the helm.
Perfect Dark Zero
Perfect Dark was one of the first games to show the potential of first-person shooters on consoles, building on Rare's work with GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64. With that in mind, the prospect of a high-definition sequel was widely touted as a potential leap for the shooter genre, especially after Microsoft purchased Rare for a substantial sum in part to develop the title. When Perfect Dark Zero launched with the Xbox 360 in the fall of 2005, it wasn't the game-changing force fans expected, in fact, it was far from it. Zero didn't stray far from its predecessor and failed to justify its long development process.
2007's Shadowrun had a lot going for it leading up to its release. It was one of the marquee launch titles for Games for Windows Live and had a longstanding series lore to draw from. FASA Interactive pitched the online first-person shooter with role-playing elements based on its long-term value through a stream of downloadable content. In the end, Shadowrun was released with little content variety to keep players engaged and never reached its creators' lofty ambitions. FASA closed its doors a few months later, and Games for Windows Live ultimately failed to become a viable gaming platform.
Another game that garnered substantial media attention prior to release, Silicon Knight's Too Human was meant to be the first installment in an epic trilogy. Throughout a long and seemingly troubled development process, hope remained for Too Human to turn into something great based on Silicon Knight's past work with titles such as Eternal Darkness. Ultimately, Too Human's repetitive environments, rigid animations and overall brief nature didn't live up to expectations, leaving the planned trilogy on the cutting room floor.