Welcome one and all to 2018 – you made it! Well done!
Now, 2017 was a weird year for the video games industry and hoo boy do I have plenty to get through on THAT subject in the coming days and weeks, as we all collectively try to make any sense of what happened (particularly in the latter quarter of the year). But 2017, whilst it had genre-defining video games that were undeniably amazing, also had some of the WORST games we’ve seen since… well… 2012. No joke, these games made me want to hurl… well, hurl things at windows.
As ever, we kick off with the list that invariably gets all the attention and traffic (because of course you want to see people bitch about terrible games!) – the Worst Games of 2017.
Now, in case you aren’t aware – this year I have decided to implement a new Score System for my worst list covering five categories;
1. Gameplay (Is it fun to play? Does it make sense when playing it?)
2. Extras (Is there plenty to do? Is the DLC worth additional money?)
3. Technical (Are there bugs and glitches? Do they impact the game?)
4. Business (Does the business make sense for the consumer or the company?)
5. Personal (Basically – how much did I like it?)
A game can score between zero and five points – meaning the least a game can score is zero (and at that point, it’s really not even a “game”… more of a “brick” or “frisbee”…), and the most of course is twenty-five.
The system for numbering is thus; 0 = crap. 1 = bad. 2 = okay. 3 = good. 4 = great. 5 = excellent.
All entries for my year-end rankings are listed down and I pick the top/bottom from the list.
Other than that, the usual rules apply;
1 – It had to have released in 2017, and I have to have played it. There’ll be another post for “those games”.
2 – I have to have disliked it enough to accumulate a low score.
Disclaimer; These are MY opinions. If you got something from these games – good for you. But I could have easily done without them.
#5 – RESIDENT EVIL 7 (PC, PS4, XBO — Capcom)
Gameplay 3 / Extras 1 / Technical 4 / Business 1 / Personal 0 – Total Score: 9/25
Look, I don’t like it. There’s a very good reason why I don’t like it – remember when everyone mocked Resident Evil 6 for lacking any real identity, having lots of experimental sequences in it that made the game feel choppy and unbalanced? Yeah. I do, and don’t you DARE tell me Resident Evil 7 is any better, with nine modes different in tone, humour and gameplay style. This feels like the sort of thing that was made by nine different teams who had no real communication with each other – worse, the Not A Hero and End Of Zoe packs were (1) titles which lie to your face and (2) actually contradict the main story campaign, to the point I can’t make heads not tails of it – it makes less sense than any Resident Evil game to date and yes, I include the Survivor games in that. Except maybe Gun Survivor 2. That was a special kind of awful.
What’s worse is in this identity crisis, I don’t see anything of the Resident Evil I have come to love over the years, the game so desperate for something that it rips off dozens of games, movies and TV shows in its desperate fumble to be different or edgy. It’s not that it is shallow – it’s that it is pretending to be something bigger than it really is, a shadow of better indie horror games like Lethe, Amnesia and Xenoclash. Yeah, Chris Redfield is “in it”, but this isn’t even the funny or boulder-shoulder Chris we like either. I understand starting anew but why bring Chris back at all in that case?
Add in a plot which even before the extra content had holes you could sink a Death Star into, and arguably the lamest Season Pass for experimental quickies which should have been given away for free because they’re arguably not worth the extra cost (and then gave them away in the Gold edition nine months later because Capcom wanted to flip the bird to ALL early adopters of this game), and you have a game I really, REALLY can’t love. And I defended Resident Evil 6. You realise how much you need to love a series to defend something like Resident Evil 6?
This should have been a VR Exclusive. In fact, it really feels like it was meant to be a VR Exclusive before Capcom realised that they needed actual money to survive and VR isn’t taking off like people wanted it to. What we’re left with is a game which is all style it has ripped off, and very little substance to compensate.
We’ve been here before. I can see where this is going. Pretend you like it all you want, but in the coming years, if the series continues down this road, you will BEG for Resident Evil 6 again.
#4 – 1, 2, SWITCH! (Switch — Nintendo)
Gameplay 1 / Content 2 / Technical 4 / Business 1 / Personal 0 – Total Score: 8/25
The simple fact is this; even if Nintendo had given this way, it would still be terrible. 1, 2, Switch! is meant to be the “showcase”, the mini-game compilation that shows off the JoyCon and the general freeform appeal of the Switch in general. The problem is… it’s not funny. It’s actually pretty terrible, some weird lame parlour game things which you still need to unlock most of them through play and yes, that’s a thing they thought was a good idea for a series of games that are over in less than thirty seconds or so.
But it’s so much deeper than that for me – Nintendo is actually good at this mini-games compilation thing. Wii Sports was more than a tech demo for motion controls – the games in the pack were actually well designed, constructed and fleshed out, and it stood on its own merits as a product. NintendoLand was annoying but not for any reason beyond reminding us of all the series we were ultimately going to need to wait years for – the games themselves were solid, fun and well constructed and on its own merits… yeah, it should have been cheaper but it still could stand up AS a game you could sell separately from the console in question. Then you’ve got your Mario Party games and the Sonic and Mario sports games… as I said, this is stuff Nintendo does better than this poor excuse for a game.
It’s very much like Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival in my dislike of it – even when Nintendo is making absolute crap, the worst of the worst, it still holds up technically. Nintendo puts a lot of time and effort and polish into its turds and it still ends up as a turd, but they genuinely seem thrilled to put it out there, like we’re not supposed to see through the glitter and the frilly lace and all that. This is why I can’t stand 1, 2, Switch! – it’s just conceptually a complete disaster, and I know some may have had some fun but for £30? Come on, Vroom! In The Night Sky was awful but at least that had the common decency to be cheaply awful so it could be buried.
The Switch has seen plenty of better games demonstrate the appeal and the mechanisms of the device over the last ten months, so if you want a “party game” for the Switch… get Snipperclips. Trust me, it’s so much better that words can’t even describe the distance.
#3 – MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA (PC, PS4, XBO — BioWare/EA)
Gameplay 3 / Content 3 / Technical 1 / Business 0 / Personal 0 – Total Score: 7/25
To put a Mass Effect game on this list makes me sad but everything EA did this year was just outrageously awful and I’m genuinely surprised that it didn’t immediately tank the entire company in 2017. I mean, you’ve seen all the technical nonsense; the facial “animations”, the backwards guns, the crab-running and all the other crazy nonsense that just made it look like it was cobbled together by a bunch of amateurs who couldn’t believe they’d blagged their way to a massive IP (oh, wait…). But the thing is – that could be kind of interesting and you can see EA has tried to fix some of the worst elements of the game – the faces in particular.
What they cannot fix, however, is that this game should never have borne the moniker of Mass Effect. They had to narratively go out of their way to explain why this single game, a sequel, was not governed by the “endings” of Mass Effect 3. If you have to spend time and narration and other elements trying to keep your distance from the original trilogy, chances are you’re already onto a massive loser (see Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams). This could have been something new, something interesting, something that dared to be more than the sum of its parts and something the studio in question could have found themselves investing in but instead it’s just a lame, boring and surprisingly linear experience that has none of the wit, zip or sparkle of the original trilogy.
Say what you want about how Mass Effect 3 ended things, but it at least -ended- them. This really does feel like a game that is ghoulishly running around with something elses face on, pretending that it really is who they say it is, and I can’t get behind that kind of identity theft. I’m sure the people who worked on this – who were unceremoniously fired a couple weeks after it launched because this is EA we’re talking about so of course you don’t get a second chance – will go onto better things and make things they are in danger of caring about even a little, because every inch of this game just felt uninspired and dull. Even the combat and dialogue lacks punch.
It’s sad this is how Mass Effect had to end – not with the bang of the Mass Effect 3 backlash, but the whimpering sobs of a game trying to be something it isn’t. Godspeed, Mass Effect, into the great beyond. You deserved a better send-off.
#2 – BUBSY: THE WOOLIES STRIKE BACK (PC)
Gameplay 2 / Content 1 / Technical 2 / Business 1 / Personal 0 – Total Score: 6/25
Okay, this one is on me. Quick explanation – I actually remember Bubsy’s first time around in the 16-bit era (Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind), and let’s be honest – in an era of Mascot Platform Heroes like Cool Spot, Mr. Nutz, Mick and Mack: Global Gladiators, Zool, Boogerman and more – Bubsy was a cheap knock-off even in this period, far more interested in trying to be funny and have ‘modern’ jabs at things than being a good game in its own right. But – here’s the thing; weirdly, I was okay giving Bubsy another shot at the big time. It’s been twenty years since he got run over by the 3D Truck (Bubsy 3D was just… the worst… thing… ugh…) – and who knows, the focus might be to make a small, cheap, fun little platformer this time… maybe?
No. It’s… it’s just Bubsy. The same old talentless mess that I remember from my teenage years, and it all came flooding right back. It plays like a really odd flash platformer, it has no sense of pacing or good level design, the boss encounters were badly cloned and put together and oh yes, he just… doesn’t… stop… talking! I hate platformers like this that are so infatuated with being comical that they can’t ever let up on the wise cracks, to the point where it just loops incessantly and makes you want to suck the chrome off of a Doom Shotgun. It’s also disastrously short – or maybe that should be “mercifully”? I’m not sure. I can’t really tell anymore.
The sad thing is there is a market for this era to make its comeback – Sonic Mania is proof enough that you can do so much more in the two-dimensional platformer now than you could ever do back on the SNES and Mega Drive. Games like Stardew Valley make it clear as day that there is even a deep-rooted longing for games to take the best from the past and marry them to the best things of modern gaming, and weirdly, I could even see an angle where Bubsy could even work in this context; it’s not hard, Bubsy was not above spoofing stuff so go and spoof stuff. It’s not like the games industry isn’t ripe for a character like Bubsy to rip it several new orifices.
But that’s the problem – Bubsy’s comeback is far too serious, and yet not serious enough where it matters. It’s a game which for some reason misses its calling and reminds us why we didn’t like the furry douchebag even in the 90’s. There was every chance this could have been a real breakthrough comeback – but instead it melds into the Steam Trashcan along with the rest of the rubbish that Valve lets through on any given day. I expected better. I come out disappointed. And I’m not sure why I’m surprised.
#1 – DRAWN TO DEATH (PS4 — Sony)
Gameplay 2 / Content 1 / Technical 1 / Business 1 / Personal 0 – Total Score: 5/25
I think most people forgot about this absolute train-wreck with the whole EA/WB Interactive/Activision stuff (which will be in the next post) happening in the latter half of the year but not me. Oh no. Sony had a year it will struggle to live down for a good long while – the Destiny 2 ads, being the main console attached to the Star Wars: Battlefront II advertising, Life of Black Tiger, that weird chat show thing they pulled at PlayStation Experience which had me commenting in real time begging for anyone reading to streak the stage because god knows it needed something to liven up the proceedings, but nothing tops Drawn to Death. A game they couldn’t even give away – and they tried.
Drawn to Death is supposed to be some kind of multiplayer arena thing. But I didn’t really get an opportunity to try it out because barely anyone was playing it and this was back when Sony was trying to push it on PSN – as I said, couldn’t even give it away. And it wasn’t hard to work out what was wrong – a puerile, offensive game that thought it was oh-so-funny when in truth it had all the wit and humour of… well… I’d say Amy Schumer but even she doesn’t deserve that kind of insult. It’s a bunch of 2D scribblings in a 3D environment and the game is eager at every opportunity to just swear, insult the player and generally just come off as grotesquely unlikeable.
It also looked pretty crappy and played worse – the tutorial section almost put me off outright because I just thought “is it me, or is this just the stupidest thing Sony has ever made?” And as I said – I wanted to try more on the actual multiplayer but it was deader than a dead thing in a shoebox at the bottom of the Thames. So all I had to really go on was the little I could play of the game and oh gosh, it’s not worth that kind of effort. Trust me.
What amazes me is Sony actually put money into this and after the PSN thing then tried selling it for £20. What made Sony think that they could sell it if they really couldn’t even give it away?
But more than anything, this is one of those games which makes me feel dirty. The kind of thing you need a good shower after playing because it just feels like you soiled yourself in some weird way. There aren’t many games where even dipping your toe in feels like you’ve spent sixteen hours rolling around in toxic waste, but this… this is it. Say what you want about Life of Black Tiger and it’s general racist tone – I’d take fifteen of those over another Drawn to Death. If this is the fruits of Sony’s attempt to find a Splatoon-killer, then they have not only failed but they need to stop, and be made to stop, because this is just embarrassing.
In short, Sony – don’t EVER do this again. But whilst you’re down there, can you at least now start considering a Primal reboot? Please?
And those are my Personal Five Least Favourite Games of 2017.
The next post will be about “those” games; the other five ‘Worst’ Games of 2017. I really need a better hobby/distraction…