Oh dear, here we go. It’s time for the five games I have enjoyed the very least. Merry Christmas, I guess…
I said in the intro to my last post that 2015 was a better year than 2014 and 2013. I’ll stand by that – mostly because I actually had to struggle to come up with five games I really didn’t like -at all-, in any context.
That said, when there were lows – holy crap, there were lows. I mean, I had to shuffle around the five disappointing games of 2015 a little – there isn’t enough space or time or anything in order to complete that particular list. However, there was one game which was always, 110% cast-iron guaranteed to be in this years worst list. See if you can spot it. Yes, it’s an “Atari” game. Ugh.
Same rules apply as usual – 2015 Release, PAL Region Release, not a remake or remaster and I need to have played it – otherwise I could just point you in the general direction of Steam’s new releases tab. Oh and there’s no, “Hey, this is the WORST GAME of the year!” thing.
But it’s that Atari game, just so you know.
Jesus H. Christ on a Souped-Up Sinclair C5 With 6-Inch Alloys, this is exactly the sort of trash I hate in the modern games industry. Controversial subject matter gets critics foaming at the mouth and spouting nonsense – only creating completely unjustifiable free publicity for a game who, without all that shallow social vengeance rubbish, would have come and gone without anyone barely registering its existence – not because it’s thematically bad, but because it’s an actual, technically bad video game.
We’ve had plenty of games which encourage us to be cold-blooded killers (Hotline Miami, Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto…), but we give them a pass because most of the time it comes off as cheesy, brainless kill-count fare. Hatred is delivered deadpan straight, with nary a hint of irony – the emo-goth anti-hero hates the world and he’s going to shoot people because he can and he’s got guns. I assume he was a One Direction fan and just needed a cuddle from his mother when rumours of their split got going.
And believe me, Hatred is technically awful; the engine is kind of okay and impressive I guess, but the gameplay is plain dull, the checkpointing system was utter garbage, the difficulty was all over the place and the game had a lot of one-hit kills – I assume as a point, but still, game logic game designers! It looks so uninspired and dull – calling it generic is an insult to generic, because generic has a place. This is just every boring stereotype of the angry teenage emo who wants the world to suffer – it’s just so damned BORING! It’s not fun to play, not even in a somewhat ironic sense. It’s just a truly boring game.
A truly boring, terrible game that sold a ton of copies because people like to thumb their noses at authoritarian idiots. Why do I get the feeling Dead or Alive Extreme 3 is going to make an appearance on my list next year? Seriously, this has to stop! Stop reacting to this garbage! And libertarian types, stop buying it purely to spite those seeking unjustified retribution on the world. Come on. Let’s agree to disagree and make sure this isn’t repeated in 2016. Oh right, DOA Extreme 3. Maybe 2017?
THE ORDER: 1886 (PS4)
The reason this is on my worst games list is simply that it’s a game that wants so, so hard to be a clever blend of Gears of War and Beyond: Two Souls with just a dash of Nightmare Creatures (consequently, Bloodborne had a heaping spoonful of that spice too). The problem here is that the proportions were just all wrong – too much Beyond: Two Souls and not enough Gears of War. And if you’ve read my past stuff, you’ll know how it hurts for me to write “not enough Gears of War”, without wanting to take a screwdriver to my eardrums.
The game was touted as a true next-gen experience, fully playable blah blah, and the first thing you do – is a compulsory quick-time event to SPEAK! Oh, shine on you crazy diamonds! The story is inconsequential, the villain is another rich old white man – clearly the new oppressed section of society for the disenfranchised to get behind in future, right? RIGHT? – and the game just… isn’t that great, technically or narratively. And after years of wanting werewolves in my video games that weren’t relegated to a novelty addition in an Elder Scrolls game, to get two in the same year which didn’t live up to even modest standards makes me want to cry.
The thing is The Order: 1886 doesn’t know what it wants to be – all it knows is that it has to end on a cliffhanger to get sequel funding! Except, this game sold extremely poorly when reports came in that it was a £50 game which lasts about three to four hours. And if you don’t have a sequel already lined up, games industry – STOP WITH THE FREAKING CLIFFHANGER ENDINGS! This isn’t funny any longer – it’s insulting and pathetic and we’re now getting to the stage that it’s beyond ridiculous. Make a decent game – if it has future potential, great. And The Order: 1886 does have future potential. It just needs to be given instead to Platinum Games, who can do the proper Nightmare Creatures-style spiritual successor that The Order: 1886 advertised itself as being a couple years back.
The Order: 1886 would have been considered a knock-off back in Generation 7. Here, now, far removed from the Gears of War thing? It’s just plain dated. It’s kind of pretty… but that’s all it has going for it. And bonus (negative?) points for the pathetic “thirty frames a second is just more CINEMATIC” excuse that no-one with a working set of eyeballs will ever believe. Hell, I only have ONE functional eyeball and I prefer 60 frames every single time…
It’s telling that this game is hitting a lot of worst games lists at the moment. It almost feels like picking on it… but this cost a lot of money, and frankly, that’s money Sony should have used better.
MORTAL KOMBAT X (PS4, PC, XBox One)
And oh look! It’s that “controversial” entry that everyone who reads this will raise an eyebrow to. Go ahead.
Look, setting aside for a moment the clearly toxic business bull faeces that comprises the restriction of bloody Goro behind a paywall and “Easy Fatalities”, and that shoddy PC release – a running theme amongst WB Interactive releases lately – there are plenty of reasons why I simply got rid of Mortal Kombat X within a month of buying it.
For me, a fighting game needs style, sass and characters that you immediately want to play. And sure, it’s great to see the likes of Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Ermac back and doing their thing – but the new entrants? I mean, Cassie Cage does have the best fatality in the game – YouTube it – but ageing Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, and most of the primary cast of the series, was a mistake. Oh right, the new entrants. They’re just not compelling enough to give a damn about, and several of them like Ferra & Torr, Takeshi, Kung Jin, D’Vorah and Jacqui Briggs just feel so completely and utterly disposable that you get the impression this will be the ONLY game in which they feature. Hardly a shining light for an ageing franchise in desperate need for new characters to pad out its cast roster!
I’ve heard people say this game was made under the scrutiny of hardened fighting game enthusiasts. You know what? It shows. It’s not that the game is hard, per se, because it isn’t – not really – but it’s very complicated with a lot going on. It feels odd to complain about Mortal Kombat becoming too complex when you think of how and where the franchise began (as a simplistic ultra-violent competitor to Street Fighter 2), but we’re through the looking glass here. And sure, I like the new Brutalities. Except the vast majority of them are better than the fatalities – try saying that and not facepalming yourself into a bloody mush!
Oh, and Scorpion’s toasty fatality – the most ICONIC part of the game since it began back in 1992 – was also locked behind paid DLC. Yeah. I can’t get behind a game which gates so much of its content behind paid brick walls like this, and I’m sure many fans were happy to pay up for it. Good for you. I’m glad you felt it necessary to pay extra for this stuff. Stuff that people like me would have expected in the base game. I’m not against additional DLC characters like Predator and Jason Vorhees; that’s kind of awesome as a gimmicky thing. But there’s just so much that feels like it should already be in the game. Sonya’s classic – ahem, sorry – “klassic” flame kiss fatality? Paywall. Sub Zero’s equally iconic spinal decapitation fatality? Paywall. Hell, they even put Johnny Cage’s simple and let’s be fair, dull decap uppercut behind a paywall. I wouldn’t piss on that fatality if it was on fire!
The mix of bland new characters, a stodgy single-player campaign riddled with quick-time events and those toxic business decisions just makes me want to punch Ed Boon in the face, and considering I wasted a ton of money in my youth on Mortal Kombat in the arcades, that is not a comment I make with any brevity. It’s not the cavalcade of crap that comprised Armageddon, that’s true, but I wouldn’t exactly call this a huge step forward from that – and it feels like a step back from its better prior entrant. Mortal Kombat 9 had it’s issues of course, but it straddled the fine line between cheese, style and sauce without skewering its nads on the sharp blade underneath. Mortal Kombat X slips and is cleaved in half on that knifes edge.
ANIMAL CROSSING: AMIIBO FESTIVAL (Wii U)
Poor Nintendo couldn’t escape a mention this year, despite the quality of much of their output. Karmatic balance and all that, I suppose. I tried this fairly briefly not in my home – this is the one game this year I didn’t actually buy. But I didn’t want to buy it after even the merest few moments of gameplay.
It cements all my deep-rooted issues with Amiibo as objects; the game is bare-bones, full-price and requires paid special Amiibo in order to unlock content. Basically, this is like Evolve and Rainbow Six Siege – a game whose entire raison d’etre is simply to make hard cash from idiots, but Evolve and Rainbow Six Siege had at least allusions to being actual video games in spite of the horrible business practices working behind the scenes. Amiibo Festival, sadly, hasn’t got anything to hide behind. And that just makes it stand out as an awful, horrible thing all the more brightly.
What’s perhaps worse is that it’s a clear Mario Party wannabe; and we’ve all kind of gotten over the Mario Party thing. Those games aren’t particularly good anymore. And somehow, in some strange way, Nintendo managed to cherry-pick the WORST elements of Mario Party and mesh them with the WORST marketing problems of Amiibo in an orgy of unbridled awfulness. That someone inside Nintendo thought this was a good idea is alarming.
Unlike other games, it does at least work. But that’s not the issue; it works because Nintendo make games that, well, work. It’s what they do. And it makes it all the harder to take when they release a game like this which is just plain rank in every way.
On the positive side, it seems this thing tanked whereas Nintendo’s other top-notch games like Splatoon have gone on to sell more than two million+ units. I said a couple years ago about New Super Luigi Bros. that Luigi, as a character, doesn’t work when he’s in Mario’s shadow; Luigi needs the space to be himself. A similar lesson here; Nintendo, please, stop trying to be the rest of the video games industry. EA, Activision, UbiSoft, Capcom, Square-Enix; all of them have been routinely slammed for horrible video games. You don’t need to be like them; they need to be like you, so bin this tat and go back to being the offbeat Nintendo that we all know, love and want to throw our money at.
It’s time to drop the annualised party game thing. That ship has been christened Titanic, sailed and struck an iceberg already. We expect better from you, Nintendo. Don’t do this again!
ALONE IN THE DARK: ILLUMINATION (PC)
Oh look, Atari ransacking another gem from its bag of historically-laudable back-catalogue of franchises and turning out a game which sucks so hard I’m surprised it isn’t considered a black hole.
Look, we have to get this out of the way. It’s a four-player co-op game in the sort of vein as Left4Dead, so there’s no “Alone”. The game is, for the most part, based around light and the aforementioned “illumination”, which means it’s not nearly as dark as it needs to be. So the name “Alone In The Dark” doesn’t work – but I assume, “Together In The Light” just wasn’t really going to cut it.
And oh sheesh this game blows chunks of gory demon meat! I mean, Left4Dead had the decency to go for a movie presentation and give each scenario a roundabout storyline; Atari just skipped that part with a loose narrative of “Hell dimension blah blah allergic to light blah blah gifted people blah blah”. The four-player co-op class system is woefully inadequate – it’s just not balanced in the slightest, which just makes for an irritating gameplay experience. The stage design randomly locks bits off to make things more interesting – when better games know a more OPEN experience is preferred by players. The spawn system is terrible – oh yay, I finally kept the monsters out of here OH MY GOD WHY IS THE GAME NOW SPAWNING THEM IN HERE?! And that’s before you get to the horrendous audio and visual stylings on their own merits. I mean, straight-up, this was a mistake from the conceptual stage. Not one person thought this was a bad idea. This is what is wrong with the video games industry. People who probably don’t play video games and don’t talk to gamers all that much making sweeping generalisations and assumptions about their audience and what they might want.
I’m going to say this right now – and this is one of the boldest statements I’ve ever made: this game is every bit as bad as Uwe Boll’s Alone In The Dark movie was. But I only spent what, £5 on a movie ticket back then for a late-night showing in some corny theatre? This game was snuck out into the market with no press coverage for £25, and that price has been tumbling ever since. Good job Steam has that refund policy now, right? Right?
It’s fair to say that Atari is nothing more than a stitched-together abomination at this point anyway, a creature made from many different parts of many different companies. The final insult to the once fine legacy of the companies illustrious heritage is to watch, helpless, as its master compels the cursed amalgamation of parts to cobble together new monsters from their long-dead but still respected franchises and send them out into the market to terrorise hapless consumers.
That’s a sad, bitter ending to a gaming legend. And putting a bullet in its head at this point would be a mercy.
And those are my five worst games of this year. Well, of the games I’ve played, at any rate.
I’m sure there are worse games; Godzilla? Sure, but that was obviously never going to be good. I get it, I’d love to see a good Godzilla game too but time and history has taught me to wait and see if the next attempt is any better than the last. Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma? Looks kinda crap, but they snuck it out without me noticing. Evolve? UbiSoft did it worse with Rainbow Six Siege, and both games were blatant about it long before release. You bought those games at your own risk. Nice to see people getting burned by what was obviously going to rinse their wallets and take them to the cleaners.
On the upside, I really did struggle with this list this year. So woohoo, everything is not terrible! Hooray!