This is going to sound weird, because it is, but sometimes video games are like Jimi Hendrix albums. While some are great (Are You Experienced?) and some are not (Crash Landing), there are others that have one terrible bit that doesn’t really make them any less great (Electric Ladyland).
And while those bits may not ruin the game in question, you still can’t help but wish that they’d never let Noel Redding write a song. Uh, I mean wish that they’d fixed the mistake before putting the game out.
Below are eight of the biggest mistakes in otherwise great games; the “Little Miss Strange” moments, if you will.
8. ‘HALO 2’
The Mistake: Gravemind looks like the plant from ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’
Left unchecked, The Flood in the Halo games could overrun the galaxy. It’s why the Forerunners created the Halo rings: to destroy all sentient life, thus destroying The Flood’s food supply. But a lot of the terror of The Flood was lost when, in the original version of Halo 2, Master Chief comes face to face with Gravemind, The Flood’s hive mind, and it looks like Audrey II, the giant and chatty Venus flytrap in 1986 movie Little Shop of Horrors. Which, despite its name, wasn’t a horror flick, it was a musical comedy, and explains why Halo 2 players couldn’t help but chuckle (and shake their heads, and mutter, “seriously?”) when they saw Gravemind for the first time.
7. ‘METAL GEAR SOLID 2: SONS OF LIBERTY’
The Mistake: Raiden
After Metal Gear Solid, gamers were excited to get another adventure with that sneaky bad ass Solid Snake. But after a short prologue, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty turned the reigns over to Raiden, a blonde pretty boy who couldn’t beat Snake in a game of checkers, let alone a round of Hide & Go Seek. But the problem with Raiden wasn’t just that he wasn’t Snake, it was the game’s bait and switch move, leading gamers to think they’d be playing as Snake, not as his understudy.
6. ‘MASS EFFECT’ SERIES
The Mistake: The male version of Commander Shepard can’t act
In the Mass Effect games, you can either play as a male or female version of Commander Shepard. But while Fem-Shep was voiced by the exemplary Jennifer Hale, who gave the character the strength and gravitas you’d expect from the heroic commander of a space ship, Man-Shep was voiced by Mark Meer, who gave the character the stiff and wooden personality you’d expect from a desk. Which is why no one who ever played the game as a lady later played it as a guy. At least not for very long.
The Mistake: No single-player mode
The sci-fi shooter Titanfall was one of 2014’s best games. But it would’ve been one of the best games ever if they’d just given it a story-driven single-player campaign. Sure, it had a campaign of sorts, and it kind of had a loose story—they even hired Jesse Stern, the NCIS writer who co-wrote Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, to help out—but you had to play it with other people. That meant that if you tried to play that mode a few months after the game came out, you were boned, because no one else was playing it anymore and it would never find you a game. But what made Titanfall’s lack of a real campaign truly annoying is that the game was made by the people who previously did Modern Warfare and its sequel, two games that had amazing single-player campaigns full of movie-style action and massive events, all of which would’ve fit Titanfall perfectly.
4. ‘ROCK BAND’ AND ‘GUITAR HERO’
The Mistake: So many terrible covers
In the second and third Rock Band games, the worst songs were the ones made by people who work for Harmonix, the game’s developer. But in the first Rock Band, the worst songs were actually crappy covers of otherwise great tunes, including Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” and Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” which sounded like they were done by a wedding band who’d eaten too many shrimp cocktails (not surprisingly, the real versions were later released as DLC). Even worse, when Harmonix made the original Guitar Hero in 2005, all thirty songs—including Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” Queen’s “Killer Queen,” and David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust"—were done by that wedding band-sounding bunch, WaveGroup Sound. WaveGroup even released their versions on iTunes as The Guitar Hero Recordings, proving once and for all that there’s no accounting for taste.
3. ‘BIOSHOCK 2’
The Mistake: They released extra levels almost no one could play
While I could ding the original BioShock and its second sequel, BioShock Infinite, for not having any online modes, I’d instead like to call out BioShock 2, which did have multiplayer but also included a paid, downloadable map pack that hardly anyone actually got to play. Three months after the game came out, 2K released the “Rapture Metro Pack” DLC, which included six new multiplayer maps. The problem was that if you were in a multiplayer lobby with even one person who didn’t own it, the game wouldn’t let you play in any of its maps. And since the lobbies were always open to everyone, and so few people bought the “Rapture Metro Pack” at first (and even less so after this problem came to light), you never had a lobby where everyone owned the new maps, and thus hardly anyone got to play in any of the new maps. Y'know, the ones they’d paid extra to play.
2. ‘UNCHARTED’ SERIES’
The Mistake: Elena as a character
In the Uncharted games, Nathan Drake is constantly falling in and out of love with a journalist named Elena Fisher. It’s just too bad that Elena has as much personality as a desk (and no, to answer your next question, she wasn’t voiced by Mark Meer; she was voiced by Haven’s Emily Rose). What makes it worse is that in Uncharted 2, we get to meet another of Drake’s lady loves, the feisty and funny Chloe Frazer (Farscape’s Claudia Black), who’s not only sexier and smarter than Elena, but is actually way more interesting of a character than Drake. Which reminds me…
1. ‘UNCHARTED’ SERIES AGAIN
The Mistake: Nathan Drake’s a shmuck
Some people like to describe Nathan Drake as a rogue in the mold of Han Solo or Mal from Firefly. But he’s actually just a jerk who cares only for himself and has no respect for people’s property. Plus he always chooses Elena over Chloe for some dumb reason, which is why I’d really like Naughty Dog, who make the Uncharted games, to ditch Drake and Elena and to make a game starring Chloe. They could call it something like Rise of a Tomb Raider. Oh, wait…
Paul Semel has been writing about games (as well as music, movies, books, and other fun stuff) for over twenty years. You can find him online on his own site, paulsemel.com, or follow him on Twitter at @paulsemel.
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