Ah, the hype machine.
"Awesome! Lifelike Graphics! YES!"
We've all seen the commercials, right? The YouTube vids, those huge, screen-filling ads that bug the crap out of you when you're just trying to find a movie time or game review. Quick cuts and metal/rock/dubstep dominate those TV commercials that play endlessly. Let's Play's, with a slightly muffled voice extolling the virtues of Game X.
You go into GameStop, and you're assaulted with huge posters and cardboard standees, all pushing Game X on you. The sales staff pushes Game X on you. "Would you like to reserve something? Say...Game X?" (Side note: generally, the staff at my local GameStop doesn't push reserves down my throat, because they're great people. Your mileage may vary). In addition, they have video loops of Game X playing around the clock, maybe with interviews with one of the designers. As you go to make a purchase, there's a stack of Game Informer magazines, and guess what? Game X is on the cover, with a headline that goes something like "Game X: Changing Gaming's Landscape Forever," or "(insert genre here) Redefined."
Then there's word-of-mouth. That buddy who tells you Game X is amazing, that it opened his eyes to a whole new world of gaming. He or she tells you "It's not as bad as all the reviews say. You shouldn't read reviews." (Side note: when a game costs 60 bucks, you better believe I'm reading reviews, bub). Oh, there's also "It's just like the movie/TV show!" A favorite one of mine is "It's like Game A meets Game B, and it's better than both of them."
Then a demo comes out, generally giving you a vertical slice of the best moments of Game X. Like a movie trailer, you've probably seen the best the game has to offer. The demo ends, and my GOD you want more.
And you start to think "OMG I NEED THIS GAME!"
And yet, regardless of the actual quality of the game, the hype machine will do anything in its power to make sure you know Game X is the best game ever made.
The hype machine is a combination of all these factors, and probably some I missed. It's not the publisher's fault. They have to sell their product. Really, it's nobody's fault. It's simply what happens. Hype often spirals wildly out of control.
So here's a few games from the soon-to-be last gen that I think were overhyped, relative to the quality of the final product. Games that fell victim to the Hype Machine. Games that fell just short of the hype, and games that didn't come even close to living up to the hype.
Duke Nukem Forever
Might as well start with the big one, right? In development in one form or another for an incredible fifteen years, Gearbox finally brought the Duke back to life, releasing in 2011. Gearbox promised a return to old-school gameplay, and the kind of chaos and mayhem that only Duke could provide. The trailers had us going. Gearbox was so convincing, and they gave us Borderlands, so what could possibly go wrong?
The answer, sadly, was everything. DNF, which, coincidentally (or maybe not) stands also for Did Not Finish, comes off as a half-baked game; a collection of ideas that simply will not blend. When you're attempting to go for old-school shooter gameplay, and you limit Duke to carrying just two guns, you've already lost. And yet the game was hyped like crazy. "Duke's BACK!!!" He was, but he'd changed, and because of the massive hype combined with an insane development schedule, he's probably not coming back.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Another Gearbox game. Another protracted development schedule. A: CM was announced way back in 2001, before being delayed, restarted, and delayed again. A demo came out, showing us a pretty awesome looking game.
Too bad that demo didn't really represent the final product. And, in a rare case, the demo was better off than the game.