My annual & controversial post is back again.
There are a few changes this time around, which are listed below, but the most notable change is that I’m going to focus on the games I played this year. Things have changed, Valve has opened the floodgates on Steam. Between that, Greenlight & Early Access, there are more games in the public eye now more than ever. As such, I’m limiting the list this year to those I have personally played. It’s mostly to keep my sanity as the list would spiral out of hand if I had to list them all.
Here’s the rules for the list:
- I have to have played the game this year. It doesn’t matter when it was released.
- There is no minimum or maximum number of games that can be on this list.
- No cheapshots at other companies this year.
- These games aren’t in any particular order, just the most memorable of this past year.
Keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily the worst games of the year, but the ones I found the most disappointing/maddening. There has certainly been worse games but these are the ones that I view could have been better and weren’t.
The Witcher 2: Assassin’s Of Kings Enhanced Edition:
As I played more of the Witcher 2, I began to wonder if the people who sing praises about this game have actually played it. At least, played it after the opening chapter. Sure, it’s graphically impressive but only at the times when textures aren’t low-res or objects aren’t popping in five feet away from you. Sure, the soundtrack is gorgeous but tracks are repeated a few too many times. Sure, the combat is lethal but it flows from overpoweringly easy to frustratingly hard for no discernible reason. Add on a repeating formula for each chapter, QTEs for mini-games that never change and the game can get downright maddening. At chapter 3’s big boss, I finally had enough. It was nothing more than a giant sword sponge despite having some of the best weapons and armor up to that point. I will give the game kudos for good graphics and some really well done script writing and voice acting. But it feels like the story & graphics was prioritized over the gameplay and it shows. In the worst possible ways.
Sniper Elite V2:
It’s boring, generic and bland. To make matters worse, its clearly conflicted between a desire to be Call of Duty as well as a stealth game. As such, you get scripted sequences where bad guys can spawn out of nowhere and shoot you up, just because the game dictated it that way. Sure, the headshot cam is cool…for about five times. After that, it becomes tired as you shoot thousands of generic “evil” Nazis in the head the entire time. It’s simply too linear to be enjoyable as a stealth game and can cause a lot of frustrations because of it. As it did in my case.
Despite an interesting premise with its shadow platforming, Contrast is simply lacking. The platforming is wonky and the story is far too short. Contrast got a lot of build up but when we finally got our hands on it, it showed its budget roots all over the place and I wish it had been given more depth & polish to make it a really solid game. As it stands, Contrast became a curiosity of 2013 that had promise.
Planetary Annihilation was published out of BETA earlier this year in a questionable state at best. Features were missing (DRM-free offline play!), performance problems were still there and it wasn’t considered a finished game by beta-testers. It got even worse when the company then announced a whole new Kickstarter-game (Human Resources) while promising that they would still continue to work on PA. That KS quickly failed. It’s not hard to wonder why.
PA’s unit balance is iffy at times, with units you expect to be tougher or longer ranged to be the exact opposite. (Most notably, the static missile launcher. Wow, the range is hilariously small on that unit). There’s a lack of variety and the planets could have been a little bit…idk…unique is the word I’m looking for. PA also requires you to be a monster multitasker as you manage an entire planet & the space system as well. It feels like there could have been some useful automation or UI tools to help manage it but were completely missing. It doesn’t help when the most efficient way to win is to spam T2 units and you basically win whoever gets the most. T2 is simply superior in every way and the downsides are tiny in comparison to the advantage you gain from building them.
Planetary Annihilation still feels like a BETA product. While I give them points for continuing to release patches for it, I have to shake my head for the poor state it was “released” in. It felt like they ran out of ideas or wanted to move on from PA as quickly as possible so they shoved it out the door to be rid of it. It’s a pity because I was really hopeful about this new RTS finally being unleashed for RTS players.
Metro 2033 Redux & Metro Last Light Redux
I think my two scathing reviews (Metro 2033 Redux & Metro Last Light Redux) are all that I need to say about these two. Otherwise, I’m mostly going to end up repeating myself. But the short version: the Metro Redux series is a step backwards with simplified mechanics, more concentration on spectacle over substance and the re-releases still have bugs, crashes & performance problems. The fact that the games still have many of the same bugs, crashes & performance problems that the originals had is, to me, insulting. Expecting us to pay for a glorified Game-of-the-Year patch/bundle is even more insulting. It has considerably worsened my mood towards the franchise and I will probably give their future games a pass. It’s hard to ignore how badly burned I feel from this one. Don’t get me started on how long it took them to publish the Linux version…
I get angry or frustrated with games. It happens. Sometimes, its that one little thing about the game that frustrates me one too many times. Or it could be something that happened that day that’s got me off my usual calm & cool center. Usually, I put the game down for the night or week and wait to calm down. Then I come back to tackle it renewed. Knytt Underground earns the rare distinction of being a game I couldn’t complete over too much rage-quitting. Its overly bloated with “content” (read: busy work) and frustrating precision platforming. The writing and story is a terrible science vs religion theme that I quit caring about in the first ten minutes. The characters themselves are literally two-dimensional in every aspect and many are jerks just to be jerks. With no reason given for their actions. While 1,800 rooms of 2D exploration might seem impressive at first, most of the mechanics are shown early on and nothing else really replaces it to keep the game interesting. When I got roadblocked at one point in the late game because I didn’t have enough of one certain item, I threw up my hands and quit. Pacing is a very important aspect of games and this one has the worst pacing.
Defense Grid 2
I was a backer of Defense Grid 2 and I’m sure that colors my impressions of this game but….this is my least favorite game of the year hands down. Defense Grid 2 was a misfire. It is graphically unimpressive at the best of times, muddy at worst. The audio is a cacophony of indiscernible sounds. The game balance seems more skewed towards one way of winning now more than ever before. The PC settings are subpar, lacking many of the fine-grained controls I’d expect out of a sequel. And the story, oh the story, its awful. It tries to be something really big and important and instead just turns into a giant 10-way conference call with AIs you barely like, much less know anything about. To top it off, most of the voice acting is so bad, I have to wonder why the actors and actresses even signed up for this game. It felt like half the time they didn’t try! I mean, these are big names (Ming-Na & Alan Tudyk) in the Sci-Fi scene and they give out some really awful performances. The only person who puts his best foot forward is Jim Ward voicing General Fletcher and even he sounds like he’s losing interest at the end.
This game may have killed what remained of my interest in tower defense games. I’ve already lost a lot of interest in the genre because it has gone bad to worse in recent years with the rise of freemium versions that are so dull you’re better off watching paint dry. But to take Defense Grid 1 and just make a worse version of it may be the final nail in the coffin for me and this genre.
Defense Grid 2. What a disappointment. Read my review here.
Foreign Legion: Buckets of Blood:
……the hell is this? I uninstalled this game after two minutes after being presented with horrendous gameplay and graphics of the 3rd person shooter variety. I was having none of it. I believe I got this in a Humble Bundle because I don’t think I would have sanely bought this on its own. Yes, I do think two minutes is sometimes enough to realize a bad game is a bad game but that’s why its down here and not up there with the rest of them.
Rise of the Triad:
Despite being an upgraded experience, Rise of the Triad still has the problematic issues of the original. It was clearly made for vets and those nostalgic for this game experience and I wasn’t one of them. I put it here because I realize that the devs aren’t selling to me and that’s fine.
Revenge of the Titans, Ultratron, Titan Attacks & Droid Assault:
I finally sat down to try out Puppy Games’ catalog and was left mostly unimpressed. Having mostly graphical reskins of modern gaming classics does not a fan make me. I’m not really sure what I was expecting with these games but I just didn’t find any of the changes compelling enough to really invest me.
Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it! If you disagree, you can always leave a comment. My top favorite games post is coming soon so keep an eye out for it.