The 2008 Bottom Ten
It has been a year of contrasts and no mistake. We've already had the ten best of the year (Grand Theft Auto IV a safe choice as 2008 number one; but kept on its toes all the way by a whole host of other top titles), so it is perhaps fitting that as the public recovers from a post-Christmas hangover, that we take a sombre look through the ten games which didn't do much for the good medium that is gaming. In fact, the titles that follow were shot down in a blaze of flame and, erm, effluence. Without further ado, the hall-of-shame begins with...
10. Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (35% Xbox 360)
We expected much more of Spark Unlimited and Codemasters, and it is with painful regret that this first-person shooter gone oh-so-wrong squeezes its way onto our list of 2008's worst games. But here it is, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty potentially arriving as one of the year's biggest let-downs. We didn't see it coming... indeed, the ideas behind the game sounded solid, but were near-destroyed by utterly flawed implementation.
This from our full review:
It's ugly, it's poorly executed, it's riddled with technical glitches, its A.I. is laughable, it's boring, unoriginal and thoroughly unrewarding. More than anything, despite its calamitous faults, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is a stinging slap in the face to videogame creators working tirelessly to better the FPS genre, and also the ever-faithful consumers who are expected to pay the same price for this as they are for the likes of BioShock and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. And, by way of a warning to any FPS fans looking further into 2008 for a standout shooter to continue the recent resurgence, Spark are also the team behind the upcoming Legendary: The Box. Forewarned is forearmed.
9. Iron Man (30% 33% Xbox 360 PS3)
We must be gluttons for punishment, we really must. Not only did we review the Xbox 360 version of Iron Man's gaming tribute; adjudging it to be utter tripe, we then reviewed it again on the PS3 - with similar results. I can only assume it must have been a quiet month, or that certain reviewers needed a virtual spanking. Which they certainly got in playing this disastrous cash-in. Botched key gameplay elements and dire presentation combined here to graphic effect.
This from the 360 evaluation:
We've been here so many times now I have to wonder why I'm even in the slightest bit surprised that a comic book film tie-in has ended up being a rotten excuse for a game. I guess it's because somewhere in the future there's a superhero game that will actually deliver on the promise of characters that really, all things being equal, should be ideally suited for games what with their special powers and large rosters of existing well-realised enemies. Unfortunately Iron Man is defiantly not the game to usher in that brave new dawn, if its finger cramp you're after though knock your self out, you're onto a winner.
8. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (32% Xbox 360)
The Gundam series has its fans, as does the long-running Dynasty Warriors IP, but the two really don't hit it off in this next-gen attempt, which sports super-repetitive gameplay that even ardent fans are unlikely to forgive. Occasional instances of visual flair fail to lift the title from the mire of misery, and an air of incompleteness is the final nail in the coffin.
This from the review:
I lost interest in this game so fast that it was a real slog to carry on going. However I tried another mode, this time a space battle hoping that it would offer something different to the mix that was so desperately needed. Instead I was faced with a flat battlefield that was even worse than the cave environment of earlier simply due to the fact that you could just 'fly' in a straight line anywhere hacking and slashing the whole way. The word boring doesn't even register with this game... more like 'Mind Numbing'.
7. NBA Live 09 All-Play (30% Wii)
EA want everyone to be able to enjoy their games, and even more they want a slice of the Wii console's illusive non-gaming audience. These aims aren't appalling in themselves - but sadly this first shot at it from the NBA series misses the mark by a huge margin. The Wii's disruptive controls are actually better avoided, and with them evapourates much of the point of this game, that just doesn't really work.
An extract from the final review for you:
If you hope to get any satisfaction at all out of NBA Live, your only real option is to give up on the motion controls, and hold the remote sideways. Removing your reliance on the game's poor motion detection and using button presses instead removes a significant number of its all too many problems. Yet when you find yourself playing an ugly and unsatisfying basketball game, using the same controls as Nintendo's first ever console, on a machine that announced itself to the world as a 'Revolution', you can only ever feel short changed. Compared to the great strides forward made by most of EA's other sports titles this year, NBA Live is an embarrassment.
6. Celebrity Sports Showdown (30% Wii)
The Wii has witnessed some terrible games in 2008, it really has, but few are so instantly dislikable in the way Celebrity Sports Showdown is. It could have tapped into the comic potential of MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch, but by making everything just far too 'nice', with some frankly bizarre celebrity choices, this game doesn't look like a laugh; it looks like a desperate attempt to "get" the Wii's non-hardcore gamers. Needless to say it fails.
Here's an extract born of pain:
Celebrity Sports Showdown is not the worst game on the Wii, but its not a long way off. Only the SouthPeak Interactive crime against humanity Pool Party stands out as much worse than this, but by a lot narrower margin than any game should. I have resolved to go back to the local games emporium and see if I can instead give them 3 GBP to take this disaster far, far away.
5. Baroque (30% Wii)
We didn't want this game to suck, we really didn't. The Wii's third-party developers have been kicked enough in this list, but the problem is that Baroque fails to live up to its promise on every level. More over... the game actually seems to delight in frustrating the player. It could have been good, but its not. Its pants. Unforgivably so.
This from our review:
And so then, with forty long and irretrievable hours of my life behind me, I pressed the Wii eject button on Baroque for the final time. What relief! I promise you, pushing one little white button has never felt so good.
4. The Incredible Hulk (30% Xbox 360)
If Iron Man was bad then the Hulk's movie tie-in fairs no better. Its arguably worse, but to split hairs over such half-arsed cynicism seems utterly pointless. The plot is only related to the film in the most rudimentary fashion, while the gameplay seems to miss the point of the whole IP entirely. A poorly constructed title all-round, that could easily be held up as a shining example of why film tie-ins often suffer from such bad press. Ouch.
Here's the cutting conclusion:
Naturally I hate The Incredible Hulk: The Official Videogame. I hate it for all those that enjoy playing computer games; for those who immerse themselves in our sub-culture; for the kids who're too young to appreciate how awful this is; for the fan-boys punching walls until they see the white-meat; for Play.tm who are forced to sully its pages with the mere mention of the game (and with it this review), and for myself because I had to play it for hours, and for the missus for watching me play it for the five minutes she could stand.
3. Donkey Kong Jet Race (25% Wii)
Oh no. Another Wii game receives an unrelenting poking on our critical spears. But we really are getting to the business end of the list now, Jet Race proving why the Wii's controllers don't always result in Wii Sports, and can occasional result in pure, unadulterated agony. The gameplay is derivative, the presentation shoddy, while actually playing the game becomes painful long before any of its other shortcomings can detract still further. This really is a mess.
From our "glowing" review:
If you belong to that weird subset of racing game fans who feel their life won't be complete till there's a game that enables you to race around the sky using a control method inspired by a love of percussion instruments then you may possibly eek an evening's worth of entertainment out of this, if you're forgiving. For the rest of us there's nothing to see here, keep on walking, someone will be along soon to sweep up the mess.
2. Bakushow (20% DS)
We probably shouldn't have even reviewed it, but we did, and the numbers speak for themselves; Bakushow being a game that simply shouldn't exist as it would be more fun to play with a pen, paper and stopwatch. Seriously. This offering shows exactly why the DS doesn't always hit the mark, and why game-based versions of real-world 'things' don't always have the desired effect. Bakushow is cheap - and you can see why.
Here's a conclusion, for the completists:
Bakushow is, in a way, a tough game to score. I mean, its rubbish, but it does do exactly what it claims to and does it perfectly well. The fact that what it does is quite clearly the most pointless game concept in all of history is obviously a bad thing but it doesn't try to hide its flawed plan so anyone who buys it is hardly in a position to complain. If you love writing your own quizzes, have a paper allergy and have always wished that PictoChat included a stopwatch feature then there's a chance this is the game for you. The rest of us however should feel secure in the knowledge that there's now a clear winner of the worst game of 2008 award and then move on to something else. Quickly.
1. Godzilla: Unleashed (16% DS)
Okay, so we may have been showing off a tad with the scoreline, but sometimes a point has to be made; and that point is that game makers can't get away with making bad games based on films. The Godzilla name on the box didn't have to equal a terrible, terrible game, it really didn't, neither does the fact that this is a DS game. Mind-numbing, poorly conceived gameplay is the dark heart of Godzilla: Unleashed, as is a complete lack of appreciation for the nuances of the format. And bad visuals. And a lame plot. And near-endless repetition. And... well, you get the point. This, ladies and gentlemen, wins the dubious accolade of 2008's most awful release. Someone hand me the gin...
This from our decidedly acidic review:
I played more engaging games 15 years ago on the GameBoy. With every level taking exactly the same design but with a slightly different background this title reaches new levels of repetition. The only slight appeal this might have is with younger gamers that can pair up in the co-op mode but fans of the Godzilla series should be furious that the mighty beast has put his name to this pile. The only marks I can award this are because somehow the developers managed to couple together something, get it to work and then have the audacity to pass it off as a game.