Posted February 14, 2013 by Amy in Features

Love Hurts: The Games That Broke Our Hearts


This Valentine’s Day, we’re holding a grudge. Sure, it’s easy to wax poetic about the best of the best, the games we adore. From Fable III to Mass Effect 3 to Torchlight to Shenmue 2, we’re letting out all those hard feeling over the games that made us weep for what could have been (insert obligatory Taylor Swift “never getting back together” joke here). Join us as we give voice to our sorrows, and share your own pain in the comments below.

Amy:  So, I had this idea that we need to have the requisite cheesey Valentine’s post up on the site, and I was thinking it should be about those games that either were really looked forward to and then reeeeeally sucked, or games that were awesome all the way through and then had a stupid ending. I know what you’re thinking – it’s brilliant! (Why thank you!) Problem is, I can think of any games like that. I know they’re out there, but as far as my sadly caffeine-deprived brain knows, every single game I’ve ever played has been kissed by angels and delivered upon a shining bed of chocolate. So help me out? What games have totally made you weep?

Troy:  Fable III’s conclusion was severely rushed, and made me cry.  Of course, there’s the infamous WTF ending for Mass Effect 3 that put gamers up in arms until they released follow-up DLC to explain it better.

HannaForbes says that for 2012 –AC3, ME3, Diablo 3, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Realms of Ancient War and the biggest disappointment? Game of Thrones. Some bullshit male website (no offense) says Haze, Tony Hawk: Ride, Aliens v Predator, Sonic the Hedgehog and Bionic Commando were your top 5 heartbreakers.

Amy:  I liked the Games of Thrones game! Of course, I’ve only read the books, haven’t seen the show, but it wasn’t horrible.

Dan:  Mass Effect trilogy is a clear winner.

Peter:  My initial thought is Gryzor on the Amstrad CPC; Gryzor being the European release of Contra. On gunning your way through the game, instead of just being given a message simply saying “Mission Completed” (as the C64 version did > http://www.c64endings.freeolamail.com/endings/g/gryzor/gryzor.htm > thus making it another candidate for a heart breaker) it had a message that destroying the final boss triggered a self-destruct… that destroyed the earth. The cherry on top are the final words “How sad”. (Fast forward to 7m30s)

I’m trying to remember which NES game it was that had a completion screen simply reading “Well done! Now play a harder game!” I thought it was Super Mario Bros, which although it ends with simply a few lines of text does say a little more than that. Oh! And Bad Dudes vs Dragonninja – you save “President Ronnie”, and the completion is him saying “Thanks for rescuing me. Let’s go for a burger!”

Bringing things up to date, little by little – Halo 2. Definitely. Me and a friend played through it co-op, and the final level has a lot of build up – you have Elites and Hunters, getting support from a Scarab… you have so much firepower on your side, it’s eye watering. It’s working towards something big… then you fight Tartarus, the game ends, and you go “is that it?” Also, the original Borderlands, prior to any of the DLCs. A great game, and one I’d happily play through again… but the ending is just “oh, you didn’t get into the vault. And here’s the Claptrap you’ve wanted to shoot for so long becoming evil, even though when you go see him he isn’t. So long!” Blah. Claptrap Revolution was extremely cathartic in that way.

Adam:  Mass Effect 3′s “bad” ending meant that many people overlooked the fact that the rest of the game was actually an incredibly tedious closing chapter. Most of the game play consisted of heavily *heavily* repeated trawls through the galaxy map and the Citadel (still not as well realised as it was in the first game). The rest of it was a narrow corridor shooter without any of the depth and scale that the first game had. It’s interesting that Mass Effect 2 massively de-scoped the ME universe that you could explore and the freedom to do so, and ME3 went even further than that. Most games add features over the course of their sequels, so in a way the Mass Effect series is quite unique in doing the complete opposite.For atmosphere it still dominates quite highly, but still.

I’ll never forget, after the absolute sublime Formula 1 97, just how frigging atrocious Formula 1 98 was on the PS1. Graphics that looked like complete arse, handling mechanics that were truly terrible. It was an awful game that had me reaching back for my copy of Formula 1 97 again. And if I’m quite honest with you, no F1 game has ever quite managed to steal my heart since.

Peter:  I’ve just thought of another heartbreaker – Torchlight.Thing is, I love Diablo clones; I played D1 and D2 to death, I bought Fateyears ago, and managed to fill some of the meantime with Prince of Qin,Sacred 1 and 2, even games like Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity because they looked “a bit like…” (though they’re not in the slightest). And yes, this means I’m loving the Path of Exile beta I wrote about the other week, even if I only get about two hours total in a week.

Yes, I realise that Diablo clones are just super-super-simplified Roguelikes, lacking the range and depth of a game released in 1980, let alone the magnificence of NetHack and Angband nowadays. But they’re still fun. So when Torchlight came out on XBLA, I jumped at it – day one purchase I think. And with a smile on my face, the grinding began. Grind grind grind walkover-boss grind grind grind grind walkover-boss grind grind grind…… And at somewhere around this point something clicked, and I asked myself “is this it?”. I can’t quite place it, but suspect it was the side-area maps that drop – good for more loot, but they also mean that you essentially powerlevel yourself, and by the time you face any of the bosses they are ants beneath your armour set’s boots. There didn’t feel like any challenge to the game. A friend has told me that the sequel improves on the original a lot though I haven’t tried it yet. I did finish it though; but the day I got 100% achievements was also the last day I loaded the game.

Oh, and for another – Shenmue 2. In contrast to Torchlight, I thought the Shenmue games were magnificent. I even enjoyed the fourth disc of Shenmue 2, which is basically a long conversation while walking in the countryside. So, why is it a heartbreaker? The game ends on plot points to be continued in Shenmue 3… WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN MADE!

Ooooohhhh….love hurts, but you have to pay to play, right? Sometimes you drop sixty bones on a game and it is sweet, sweet romance right from the start. But those times when you pop in a fresh new game, all full of hope and love – and then it rips your still beating heart from your chest and stomps on it with nothing but a bad ending to show for your time and money – those times are enough to make you swear off gaming….till the next release day, anyway. Happy Valentine’s Day!


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)