Nostalgia is a powerful thing, but it is also a double-edged sword. It can provide us with that addictive sensation of joyful longing for treasured sensations or moments of our past but, at the same time, in can treacherously create heavy clouds in our heads that obfuscate the past, hinder our better judgment, and warp our memories to the point where they hardly resemble the reality of the moments in time that they recall.
Today, we're dealing precisely with the previously mentioned negative aspects of nostalgia, specifically in regard to video games.
The early 2000s were a monumental time in the games industry. Where previous generations had seen tremendous leaps in technology and innovation, the early 2000s were more about refining the newly minted concepts of next generation gaming… though they also had their own moments of groundbreaking innovation, too.
Alas, many of the early 2000s games that were hailed as “revolutionary” or “classics” at the time haven't aged as well as one might hope, and we're tackling them head on with our list of 20 Early 2000s Games We Used To Play (But Are Actually Really Bad Today.)
We've taken off our nostalgia goggles, and we recommend you do the same. Some of these entries are going to be a hard pill to swallow, and we don't want our rose-tinted memories stopping us from revealing the painful truth.
20 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
THPS is actually still a really good game. It's got great gameplay and depth, a ton of extra content, and hours upon hours of entertainment.
Unfortunately for THPS2, it hasn't aged anywhere near as well as its predecessor.
Where Tony Hawk's Pro Skater feels tight and sharp, THPS2 is loose and imprecise.
It suffers the most in its level designs, though: THPS' stages are carefully curated and a joy to fluidly traverse, while THPS2's levels are too big and try too hard to feel like “places” rather than expertly-designed playgrounds.
Known for its snappy writing, immersive stories, exciting adventures, and jaw-dropping cinematic moments, the Uncharted series became an instant classic upon its initial release.
After time, though, the explosive and memorable set pieces start to lose their luster and the once-intriguing story becomes predictable. All that's left is the shallow gameplay, and it's just not strong enough to hold up the game on its own.
18 Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X wowed PS2 owners with its gorgeous graphics and cutscenes which, even by Square's already-impressive standards, were on a totally new level. The gameplay and world were fun, too… but that isn't enough.
While not technically “bad,” the game's biggest draw (its at-the-time impressive graphics) has lost its luster, and there are three far-superior Final Fantasy entries from the previous generation (yes, including VIII) that are more worthy of your time.
Banjo-Tooie isn't a bad game, really. It's just a game that is far too ambitious for its own good.
While it arguably corrects some of the issues that plagued its (still superior) predecessor, it added a whole chunk of new ones: the framerate is horrible, the worlds are far too large, far too complex, and far too empty, and it's just a slog to play.
The final product is impressive in its own ways, but it's a definite case of “just because you could, doesn't mean you should.”
BioShock's greatest strengths are its engrossing story, beautiful aesthetic, and oppressive atmosphere, but its gameplay (and the so-called “hard choices”) was never that special.
While BioShock is still worth playing for its artistic merit (especially if you're experiencing it for the time), its already-mediocre gameplay elements have only gotten worse with time.
15 Gears Of War
The Gears of War series helped usher in a new standard for third-person shooters and excellent couch co-op. There is no debating those facts.
Unfortunately, those are the only genuine praises that the game still deserves.
Despite being a franchise, hindsight has shown that Gears of War was more of a fad than a staple, and it's likely due to it not having enough substance to start with.
14 Kingdom Hearts
Before the storyline went off-the-rails, and before the series was cluttered with absurdly-named sequels, prequels, sidequels or whatever, there was Kingdom Hearts, and it was beautiful.
The bizarre union of Final Fantasy, Disney and anime-storytelling is still as charming as ever, at least in concept, but the game itself is a frustrating mess, and the hollow retellings of Disney films only make you yearn for the real thing.
13 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Oblivion was a massive hit both financially and critically, and it helped pave way for the titanic success of Skyrim (which has now been re-released approximately 500 times.)
The thing that ends up being weird about Oblivion, though, it's easily one of the weakest entries in the Elder Scrolls series.
Skyrim is obviously superior… but so is Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind… and so is Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (which is still the best game in the series.)
When Oblivion was your only real option, that was one thing, but these days? There's no reason to touch it again.
12 God Of War
God of War may have revolutionized the 3D hack-and-slash genre with its over-the-top spectacle and tight, exciting gameplay, but what was once the ultimate example of supreme bravado has become something cringe-worthy and sort of embarrassing.
The gameplay still holds up for the most part, but ends up feeling shallow and obsolete as you inevitably compare it to the GoW sequels. And then there's the story and “characterization” of Kratos. While all this ultra-violence and drama was exciting back in the day, it's now absurd and screams “EDGELORD!”
11 Wind Waker
It's ironic that the Wind Waker's most hated element, its art style, is probably its most beloved feature. And, if we're being honest, it's one of the very few good things the game has going for it.
Sailing across the sea is fun in theory, but it's boring and time-consuming in practice. Making matters worse are the handful of boring and occasionally frustrating dungeons and puzzles.
An epic showdown with Ganondorf does not make up for major design flaws.
Praised for its absolutely amazing customization and charming aesthetic (which, honestly, is still mind-numbingly cute to this very day), it was easy to ignore the multitude of ways that LittleBigPlanet faltered… but not anymore.
There's no point beating around the bush: LittleBigPlanet's platforming is clunky and generally devoid of fun, and not even the unrivaled endearing adorableness of Sackboy can fix it.
A critical darling, Braid was basically the herald (and normalizer) of the incoming easily-accessible, high-quality, quirky, and charming indie-game invasion that would soon flood the marketplace.
This was the advent of Super Meat Boy, Fez, Minecraft and more… so where does this leave Braid? In the dust, unfortunately.
Everything this game had going for it now feels tired and lackluster, but that's the price of progress.
8 Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Let's be real: the lightsaber and Force-centric gameplay of Jedi Outcast is still amazing and enthralling to this day, but it's, unfortunately, only a portion of the game.
Alas, a large chunk of gameplay is truly awful first-person shooting with gigantic, awkwardly designed levels, manual saves, and brutal, impossible-to-predict spikes in difficulty.
Half of this game is still a masterpiece… but the other half is worse than ever.
7 Twilight Princess
For everything Twilight Princess had in its corner (like its graphics, giant world, combat, story, and characters), it fumbled its most critical components: gameplay and design.
The world is big, but empty. The dungeons are beautiful, but simplistic. The music is grand, but forgettable. The bosses are imposing, but easy. And then there's that excruciating, extended tutorial…
Twilight Princess might know how to make an audience of grown men weep with nothing more than a trailer, but it doesn't know how to be a good game.
6 Assassin's Creed Series
It sort of boggles the mind to realize how long the Assassin's Creed series has been going on. Although it improves with almost every iteration, its core is still that of the half-baked original.
The original game, which became the basis for padded-out Ubisoft open-worlds, was experimental, fun and mind-boggling when it released, but it was almost immediately made obsolete by its exponentially superior sequel which, simultaneously, revealed just how sloppy and boring the first game was all along.
5 Super Mario Galaxy
It boggles the mind to know that so many people genuinely believe Super Mario Galaxy is not only better than its sequel, but one of the best games in the Mario franchise.
Here's some advice: play Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 back-to-back, and see just how infuriatingly poorly SMG1 has aged in comparison to its wildly superior and refined sequel.
SMG1's boring hub world, minimal level variety (they actually palette-swap entire worlds!) and occasionally frustrating gameplay all add up to an inferior product that doesn't stand the test of time like SM64 or SMG2.
4 Metal Gear Solid 4
MGS4 was when the increasingly-wacky series truly went off the rails… and not even nanomachines could save it.
While lengthy cutscenes are something the series is known for, MGS4's are preposterously long. You'll legitimately have watched more of the game more than actually played it by the time the credits role.
Then there's the issue of the story's overwrought absurdity. Aside from making awful retcons, it's so complicated that it barely comes together in the end.
While there are still plenty of great moments, this is the one MGS game we find hard to recommend to anyone.
3 The Halo Series
The crown jewel of the Xbox line of systems, the Halo series is synonymous with the modern day concept of online multiplayer.
There's no denying how influential the series is, but there's plenty of room to complain about how mediocre the actual games are.
The gameplay lacks the punch that even the N64's Perfect Dark perfectly delivers, the story is conceptually awesome but told unbelievably poorly, and there's just an unyielding sense of nothing feeling as good as it should.
2 Conker's Bad Fur Day
Conker's Bad Fur Day is undeniably hilarious, and the novelty of truly dark humor and unrelenting, fully-voiced swears on the N64 is still a treat to this day. Unfortunately, the actual game fails to deliver anything worthy of Rare's pedigree.
Unfair difficulty, brain-dead objectives, frustrating, drawn-out mini-games, and a camera that barely functions are just the tip of the iceberg.
The biggest crime, though, is that Conker's peers successfully pull off everything it fails to, which is truly unforgivable.
1 Sonic Adventure 2
The chants for a “new Sonic Adventure” rumble up from the bowels of the Sonic fanbase every so often, and we can't help but ask “why?”
Sonic Adventure's fondly remembered sequel is often held in even higher esteem… and we genuinely can't figure out why.
Spastic, imprecise controls coupled with unreliable level geometry and an unprecedented level of glitches make Sonic Adventure 2 a jaw-dropping experience, as new players will find it hard to believe that anyone, anywhere, could ever adore it as much as they do.