Friday, December 21, 2012

Worst of the Year 2012

I was so wrapped up in Sleeping Dogs last night that I forgot what day it was, so no Demo Friday this week. It is just as well as there were no new releases, anyway. Instead, it is time to tabulate the worst game of the year.

First, a few disqualifications.

Twisted Metal offended me because it was the exact same game as Twisted Metal Black, which was also the exact same game as Twisted Metal 2, which was as good as the series ever got, in 1996. Times have changed, cars blowing each other up being the extent of game play is not good enough anymore, and Twisted Metal's refusal to advance made it irrelevant. I made it about two levels in and gave up.

Dragon's Dogma will not be considered because it being bad was actually my fault. I played the game in such a way that it became impossible to play it any longer. The game didn't tell me, which is certainly not optimal, instead it just killed me for my ignorance. Tough love, I suppose. Dragon's Dogma has more in common with Dark Souls, a game that I didn't even bother trying to play because I know it's not my thing, than what I hoped it was aping: Skyrim. My expectations were in the wrong so the game gets a free pass.

I am quite tempted to break my 'finish the game' rule for Risen 2. The game does everything wrong: the combat is bad, the writing is bad, the graphics are bad and quests are tracked in an incredibly obtuse way. A pirate themed open ended RPG is something that I really want. This was not it. Honestly, Risen 2 is the worst game I attempted to play this year but it will not get the award because I didn't force myself to see all of its terribleness.

It's a tough call this year. I hope you are ready for


There are no winners here, only bigger losers.

This is a contest between trying and failing and not trying at all. Which is worse, to have a few good ideas that are wasted because you lacked the skill (or money, or time) to see them through to the end or to have no ideas, steal everything from other games and still get it all wrong?

I do enjoy the basic tenant of NeverDead: a character who is immortal but not invincible played for laughs instead of badassery. The game around him is so uneven that it made enjoying rolling through a level as a disembodied head impossible to enjoy, and that's not easy. Aside from this one redeeming feature NeverDead is a collection of bad gaming habits that competent developers know to avoid. Huge sections of the game are escort missions that give Knight's Contract some serious competition. Difficulty spikes are extreme and frustrating, culminating in a final boss that introduces a new mechanic (jumping...) and you have to kill several times.

NeverDead is not without merit; it has a germ of a good idea that is killed by laziness and a reliance on ideas that have already been beaten to death. This makes its eventual failure all the more difficult to endure.


Where to begin with Blades of Time?

Oh yeah. Her.

The tarted up Lara Croft with the preposterous accent who ends up with wings at the end of the game because someone spilled coffee on the original design document and had to start making shit up. The woman who stars in a game that used motion blur as a bullet point for the back of the box. The game whose combat is so disconnected and soft that it is difficult to tell when and if you are making contact with the enemies. The combat that stole time manipulation ideas from other, better games and still managed to get it wrong. The other, better games that I have should have been playing instead of Blades of Time.

I usually don't get mad at games for being bad. Playing just about everything is just part of what I do, and with that comes exposure to some heinous things, but I usually have a general idea of what I am getting myself into. I knew that NeverDead was questionable before I started, and I knew that Blades of Time was not going to make Bayonetta nervous in any way, but I was not expecting to to be as aggressively bad as it was. The game knew what worked and intentionally did the opposite. There is no other way to explain it. I do not want to live in a world where a game as bad as Blades of Time can just appear out of the ether. It has to be intentional.


Blades of Time 'wins'. NeverDead at least tried. Blades of Time punished me for playing it. The game has no redeeming features. It has no reason to exist, not even as an example of how not to make games. The fact that Gaijin Entertainment continues to exist while THQ is selling off its assets, struggling to remain financially solvent is a god damn crime.