My most controversial post of last year has come back with a vengeance this year. Just so we avoid some of the controversy that was generated last year, I’m going to spell things out about this list. To avoid any possible confusion, let me be perfectly clear about this list: the only requirements for a game to be on here is:
- I had to play or deeply investigate the game on my own time through a variety of different sources this year. A game CAN and WILL be on this list that I didn’t personally play.
- Why? Because some games install software that I do not trust and if I don’t trust that software on my computer, I will not install it. EA Origin’s and other DRM software are examples. I will also not pay money to get scammed by certain devs just to verify the game is crap. I do not have the finances for that right now.
- This is not a “worst games of 2013” list. This is a list of games that I had personal issue with for reasons discussed below. There is a big distinction so please keep that in mind when reading this post.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about my most disappointing and dishonorable games of 2013…
UPDATE: I added Ride to Hell: Retribution 1% after I realized I had forgotten to put it on this list. It is on #2 of the list.
By Irrational Games & 2K Games
I’m a mechanically inclined gamer. I don’t play games to have interactive movie experiences. When I sit down to play a game, I’m there to play a game. Not have a game played for me. We’ve had a lot of games guilty of that this year of being barely-interactive-movies and it’s disappointing that Bioshock Infinite is being hailed as the great game of our time. When in reality, it’s just a beautiful hallway with one of the worst FPS combat systems I’ve seen in a long time. Add in a sense of pretentiousness and a very limited exploration/looting system and I wonder why people are raving about this game so much. Oh that’s right, they got distracted by the, admittedly gorgeous, graphics and LOST-esque storyline. The sad fact is that Bioshock Infinite doesn’t live up to even it’s own predecessors: the System Shock series. As an interactive experience, Bioshock is one giant rollercoaster ride. Why similar games have been hailed as such great experiences is unknown, but the consequences are grave for the gaming scene in general. I’m just waiting for a game to come along that doesn’t allow us to control or do anything and forces us to watch six hours of cutscenes. Heck, some came close this year.
All that being said, the reason this isn’t higher on the list is that the world is well realized and the story, from what I’ve seen, is very good. The characters are also fairly well fleshed out and there is definitely a reason to see more of the game. I just hope the next “big” game of 2014 is something more than another pretty version of Bioshock Infinite.
Red Faction: Armageddon
By former THQ
Take a competent third person shooter, add in a sci-fi world to explore and add in the fact that all the terrain/buildings can be destroyed. Sounds like an awesome premise right? Well, apparently it was. Before Armageddon came along in the Red Faction franchise. The fourth game in the series, Red Faction Armageddon, is so dreadfully dull that towards the 2/3rds mark of the game, I set the combat to easy and raced through it as fast as I possibly could. It’s a generic sci-fi storyline with lackluster combat. For a concept that has such potential, the execution is sorely lacking and the characters are incredibly two dimensional. It has a lot of potentially neat stuff in the game but the game just feels so meh that what should be “awesome” moments, just bounce off of me. It’s disappointing at how lackluster this game is.
Cthulhu Saves the World
By Zeboyd Games
What kills me about CSTW is that I really want to love it. I really want to call this one of the better RPGs I’ve played recently but…..the combat system is simply too boring. Ten hours into the game and I hit a wall of sheer boredom. It felt like I was executing the same or similar attacks over and over at what might as well be the same generic enemies. There was little strategy involved other than trying to avoid running out of mana. The story and characters are great and it kills me that I won’t be able to finish it but I refuse to torture myself with a bad game just to enjoy bits and pieces of dialogue. I really hope the developers work on the combat system with their upcoming games because they have the makings to do some really awesome things.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
By Terminal Reality and Activision
If there has been one genre that has exploded this year, it’s the “survival genre”. Or the Rogue-like/lite genre. And there’s been several good attempts that have largely been outweighed by the bad ones. This one is one of those bad attempts. It’s really insulting that this is the game to come out after the excellent Walking Dead point and click game by Telltale games. Heck, it’s insulting that it came out at all. A lazy cash-in that has a poor execution, phoned in writing/story and a multitude of other issues. Why Activision didn’t have them put better effort into this game considering the success of the Walking Dead series I will never know. But, until then, I will keep shaming these terrible cash-ins until they stop. We don’t need nor desire these games. Please quit making them unless you’re serious about making them good.
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
By Remedy Entertainment
After playing Alan Wake, a very competent 3rd person horror/shooter, I had some pretty good hopes for the expandalone game from the developers. Unfortunately, that hope was quickly dashed in the first 30 minutes of the game. It reuses content (three times!), the voice acting and script is corny as heck and the combat system felt like a giant step backwards to appeal to 3rd person shooter fans more. It just felt so lazy that I quit right after the first “reboot” of the same level. I’m really not a fan of reusing content like that and there wasn’t any other compelling reason to play the game.The game feels like a lazy cash grab which is a bit confusing considering that the studio was independent. Was it really necessary to release this expansion? Especially when your series has been quiet since it’s release? Its a confusing situation and one that Remedy Entertainment will need to…remedy…before they return to the series.
By Benjamin Rivers
I’m not sure what I was expecting from Home. But to be completely befuddled and bored with an hour long pixelated game was not what I had in mind. It wasn’t horrific, it wasn’t much of an adventure and the murder mystery felt like an afterthought. I think I understand what the developers were going for with Home, but the execution is severely lacking. The story doesn’t make any sense and you feel little investment with the character or the environment around you. All you do is walk around for an hour reading random paragraphs and the game ends. Really? That’s it? I feel like I wasted both my time and money with this title. Some say you need to play it multiple times to appreciate it but I refuse to waste my time playing this game over and over just to “appreciate it”. Maybe if the atmosphere was better, maybe if the story was more intriguing or maybe if there was just something more to this game, I could buy into that. But as-is, Home is an avoid unless you have nothing better to do with your time.
I can point to one game in particular that killed my interest and involvement with the Steam Greenlight system and that would be Miasmata. The game came out in a bit of mess. It was poorly optimized, (my GTX 660ti’s fan would start spinning up really fast as soon as the game loaded) had worse graphics than games made 10 years ago and had a broken AI for the main antagonist in the game. You play on an island all alone except for a mysterious predator. This predator shows up about four hours into the game. The creature’s AI is broken and gamey. You can get behind a tree that it sees you go behind and will think you’ve disappeared, rather than chase after you. It even came up to me and at point-blank-range swiped at me and did….no damage. I stood there for a good while and it didn’t do anything to me. There are some interesting mechanics in the game like the mapping and the crafting system is close to being a very deep system. However, the game is in serious need of love and care. Unfortunately, the developers abandoned it after two or three patches. It’s playable but only barely. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, sliding and falling off of cliff sides as you collect one-plant-at-a-time until you can eventually cure yourself. There are the underpinnings of a great game here but the budget, execution or talent simply wasn’t there to bring it out to its full potential.
Read my shortened review of Miasmata here: http://kingisaaclinksr.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/kings-shortened-review-miasmata/
Dead Space 3
By Visceral Games and EA
Nothing sounds the gongs of death in a franchise like the words “make it more accessible” and “you need to get to audience sizes of around five million to really continue to invest in Dead Space“. Anyone with half a brain would have realized how impossible five million copies sold would have been for this third person horror/action game. But EA did everything it could to appeal to as many people as they could (which ultimately means it appeals to no one). The game that came out got a lot of criticism. It included a Freemium system because that’s what iPhone users expect, co-op, less inspired enemies and lots of grinding. What those mechanics had any business doing in a horror game like this I haven’t a clue. The original Dead Space had a lot of promise but Dead Space 3 was a guaranteed franchise killer, if for no other reason than EA’s expectations were simply too ludicrous for this release. The franchise looks to be at end because sales didn’t match expectations. At 605,000 sales. Gee, I wish I could have a game series “fail” at 600,000+ sales.
The game has had issues since in that you can game the grinding system, the multiplayer portions handled by Origin haven’t been stable and players have reported being unable to play for weeks with their friends. While not nearly the disastrous fiasco of the next game on the list, it’s clear that EA has a lot of online issues to solve in 2014. It’s sad to see such a promising franchise like Dead Space get the treatment it got at the end.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
By Gearbox Software and Sega
It’s still amazing that crappy licensed games still get released after The Walking Dead, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and others got released last year. But it seems there will always be a publisher out there that doesn’t care about the franchise they are making a game for. Gearbox crafted this monstrosity after lots of hype and promise. The finished product was anything but what had been advertised. Worse still, it seems that Gearbox may have been using the money that was supposed to go towards Aliens to their other franchise, Borderlands. Regardless, the end result is a game that is broken, buggy and incredibly underwhelming. It’s also very insulting that it came with a season pass for DLC on day one. The game had a very difficult and long development hell and was being outsourced to TimeGate Studios for the most part. The switching of hands constantly shows in the final game that was released publicly. The AI is bonkers, the combat system is questionable at best and the overall quality is a lot lower than should be tolerated from such a developer. The absolute explosion of controversy surrounding this game went on for weeks. It’s a game to avoid.
SimCity 5 (2013)
By EA and Maxis
The epic trainwreck that is SimCity 5 is well documented. Both on the blog and elsewhere. SimCity 5 was a massive miss on EA’s and Maxis’ part. The always-online DRM was, as predicted, completely broken for months and still has issues to this day. It was so bad that it forced Amazon to quit selling the game and give returns to those that requested it for a while. Something Amazon has rarely ever done. Not only that, but the worse sin committed here is the devastating amounts of damage EA and Maxis have done to the SimCity legacy with this release. The game suffers from engine problems, inherent game mechanic issues (the game is broken once you reach a certain point) and a lackluster community. As someone who has really enjoyed the SimCity franchise in the past, to see it come to this is really unfortunate. I can only hope that this game serves as a warning to EA and other developers/publishers that doing an always-online game like this will not lead to the results that you’ll care for. The game is inherently broken in that the game maps cannot be expanded beyond their current small size, the RCI model is also completely broken and it suffers from a bugs and errors. You can’t create the city that you envision in this game and compared to previous entries in the franchise, that’s the worst thing about this game. There is no creativity and the multiplayer is an afterthought at best. “This is a new SimCity that delivers unprecedented depth of simulation“….I wish.
Ride to Hell: Retribution 1%
by Deep Silver and Eutechnyx
If there is one thing I’ve regretted about this list, it’s the fact that I completely forgot to put Ride to Hell: Retribution on it, until now. Maybe it’s because I wished the developers behind this craptastically bad game had rode to hell for daring to sell this piece of garbage software. One of the worst games this year and only beaten out by the next game because these devs didn’t attempt to censor public criticism of the game. Ride to Hell is a broken, buggy and trash-ridden game. There isn’t one thing that isn’t broken about this game. It has caused game reviewers to be scarred for life for even trying to complete the game. I only know of one reviewer that has completed the game and I don’t know how he managed. Nothing about this game is worth the trouble. It’s childish, sexist, one dimensional, ugly, terrible, horrible, brain dead, terrible (whoops, said that already) and brain dead on every level. And Steam shouldn’t be allowing it to be sold, but they are. While they continue to keep games off the service that are actually good. Because logic. The fact that Deep Silver dared to sell this obviously incomplete game says a lot about them. It even has DLC I kid you not. There is no redeeming factor about this game. There is absolutely no reason to play this game. Do not support this utter trash that is a disgrace on Deep Silver that adds onto their list of problems they’ve had this past year. I guess the title is actually apt for this game. Because playing this game is like riding to hell.
Worst Game of 2013: Infestation: Survivor Stories (Formerly WarZ)
By Hammerpoint Interactive and OP Productions
Well, here we are at last. The worst game of the year. This game very nearly broke my love of gaming. Horribly executed and still largely unfixed nearly a year after release, this game fully deserves its award of The Worst Game of 2013. The fact that the company continues to profit off of this pile of garbage amazes me to this day. We have all sorts of studio houses closing every month and people continue to support this disreputable and disgusting developer. This developer who has done everything he can to shut down legit criticism of his game from false YouTube’s copyright claims to outright censorship on the Steam forums. The game itself is a complete mess of PreFreemium business models, broken game mechanics, horrendous graphics, outright false advertisements, broken promises and so much more. It was so bad that Valve removed it from Steam for a short time until it could be patched up. Not only that, but the developer ran into trouble with the World WarZ IP and had to change to Infestation: Survivor Stories. It is clear that this developer had no interest in being honest or upfront about this game and was intentionally trying to confuse people into thinking it was a better game than it actually was. It was released on Steam in a tremendously bad state and continues to suck in people who don’t know better. Why anyone can still support this studio still escapes me to this day. The studio has shown to be completely without ethics and have still not solved the many problems the game suffered from on its release. This game is a complete avoid. I don’t care if it ever gets to a playable condition in 2014/2015/2016/whenever they get around to it. I refuse to have anything to do with this developer, this game or anyone associated to it. No one is more deserving of The Worst Videogame of 2013.
Thanks for reading! The Top Honorable Games of 2013 post is coming soon!