After spending almost a week rambling away about some of the best video games of 2014 it’s time to shine a spotlight on some of the worst. The following list contains the broken games, the games that disappointed, games that were overhyped and under delivered, games that were plain bad and generally the games that simply pissed me off in 2014. This list was depressingly easy to write.
Platforms XB1, PS4, 360, PS3
Of course this list was always going to start with Destiny. Destiny wasn’t just the biggest disappointment of 2014, it’s one of the biggest let downs in gaming history. What we were promised was a game changer, the kind of game that only comes along a few times a generation. Destiny was Bungie’s grand game that was going to change the way we played and thought about first-person shooters forever. All we got was an MMO-lite with no story, and no real point, besides endless grinding for gear that had a 66% chance of being completely useless. While the basic gameplay of shooting enemies was stellar, the enemies themselves offered no challenge beyond being varying degrees of bullet sponge. The entire game revolves around doing the same things over and over again. I could talk a lot more about where it all went wrong with Destiny, but my friend Matty already summed it up perfectly, so I’ll just link to his thoughts here.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Platforms PC, XB1, PS4
There could very well be a worthwhile game hidden somewhere in the download (or on the disc) of Assassin’s Creed: Unity. It could be a solid entry into the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Unfortunately I never managed to find it, or even play the damn game, because after having to restart for the fourth time after the game deleted my save files, I simply gave up trying. Assassin’s Creed: Unity was a game that quite simply did not work upon release. The game was released in a shameful state. Two months on from the games release and they’re still patching it to iron out all the bugs. This game wasn’t even an alpha when it was released, as I’ve played more stable alpha’s on Steam Early Access. Ubisoft should be ashamed of themselves.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
Platforms PC, XB1, PS4, 360, PS3
Ground Zeroes is actually an excellent game, it’s not on this list because it’s a bad one. The gameplay is extremely solid, satisfying and fun. What earns Ground Zeroes a place on this list is the way it was released, and the way it was covered in the games media. Ground Zeroes, as I posited in a post on the game back in March, was pre-release DLC for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. It’s a prologue, little more than a tutorial or opening level, that cost £30 at release and was widely praised throughout the games media. The fact this it was critically acclaimed and sold quite well sets an alarming precedent for more companies to try and pull this crap in the future. As I said in March: “If Ground Zeroes is popular enough Konami, or another company like it, will do this again. There are companies that would kill for the chance to sell you a tutorial or a demo for £30 before charging you full price for the main event.”
Platforms PC. XB1, PS4, 360, PS3
Thief achieved my ire when it released for two reasons; in that not only was it a barely functioning mess of a game, but the game itself was terrible. Getting the game to start at launch (on PC) was a nightmare, and getting it to keep running was arduous. When the game was stable enough to keep going for a decent length of time it just wasn’t any good. Thievery, the activity that should have been at the heart of a game in the THIEF series, was relegated to an optional activity. You could steal some stuff if you wanted to, but you don’t really need to. Thief came with an unnecessary hub world that forced you to sneak between missions for no real reason other than padding. And when you got to the missions the level and AI design were God awful. And then the game broke.
The Evil Within
Platforms PC, XB1, PS4, 360, PS3
Okay, let’s get something out there right now; if you think that old school survival horror games were scary because they featured a limited inventory system you need to stop playing horror games and never come back. The Evil Within was a mess in almost every way possible. With some questionable design choices that included a dodgy FOV and black bars from a cramped aspect ratio, The Evil Within was a technical disaster. Defenders of the game will tell you that these things were added to make the game scarier and more claustrophobic. Let me tell you something, if you need to rely on self imposed (and cheap) technical limitations to make you gamer “scarier” then your game was never scary to begin with. The only thing scary about The Evil Within is how widely praised its been, because it’s a colossal step backwards for the horror game genre that I’d rather not see repeated.
Platforms PC, PS4
Daylight should have been a good horror game, all things considered. Wandering around a few procedurally generated locations with only a smartphone and some flares, being stalked by an unpredictable ghost and encountering procedurally generated scares. Unfortunately Daylight simply doesn’t connect at all. The smaller scares are queued at random, and aren’t really building to anything, so they quickly become background noise. The big scares, with the ghost, become so laughably predictable that you’ll already have a flare out well before “Susan” turns up. And it’s all well and good having levels that are randomly generated, but when every room and corridor looks the damn same in each area it’s hard to tell the difference. Coupled with a story that is utter bollocks, Daylight just isn’t a game that’s worth any amount of time or money.
Platforms PC, XB1, PS4, Wii U, 360, PS3,
Watch Dogs was an average game that suffered from two things; being overhyped to a ridiculous degree and having Ubisoft as a publisher/developer. Watch Dogs has courted controversy for its graphical downgrade from its initial showing at E3 2012, but when modders found that all the settings to enable the E3 graphics were in the game but simply turned off, people quite rightly hit the roof. It turns out that high-end PC gamers could very easily have had a game that looked like Watch Dogs circa-2012, but Ubisoft decided not to allow them to have that experience, in the name of console parity bullshit. Honestly, none of this would have mattered so much if Watch Dogs was anything more than a painfully average open-world experience, but that’s all the actual game could really amount to.
Civilization: Beyond Earth
I never thought I’d ever be putting a Firaxis strategy game on a list of disappointments, but here we are. Beyond Earth is essentially Civilization 5 in space but made worse. Everything Firaxis has tried to do to make improvements to the game (and there aren’t too many changes) made the game a little bit worse. Indigenous aliens replace the barbarians of Civ 5, and they make early game exploration next to impossible, because they’re so bloody hard to kill that any time you get near them you’ll lose all your troops. Scrapping the myriad of historical figures for a small handful of bland AI leaders with no real personality was a misstep, and there’s just a sense of unimaginativeness with the whole game. It really feels like Firaxis just weren’t trying with Beyond Earth, which is hopefully just a single misstep that will be rectified with their next release.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
Platforms PC, 360, PS3
You can file this under the header of games that I forgot were even released in 2014. Seriously, I forgot that I had even played this, way back in February. I guess I must have tried to repress the game, successfully as it turns out, but once I remembered all the things that were bad about Lords of Shadow 2 came flooding back to me. It’s not that the game is even that bad. Mechanically it’s fine, but there has been little to no attempt to actually iterate, the combat and platforming is pretty much exactly what you’ll remember from Lords of Shadow, which feels quite lazy. Lords of Shadow 2’s big problem is it’s story, which can’t make it’s mind up whether you’re actually the bad guy or the hero. It stutters between letting you be the bad guy, but not being that bad, but no you’re definitely the bad guy, only not really. Eventually either your head will implode or you’ll just ignore the story altogether. In the end Lords of Shadow 2 is, as it turns out, an entirely forgettable experience. Literally.
Sonic Boom: Rise of the Lyric
Platform Wii U
Please Sega, please just put Sonic out of his misery. You can’t make Sonic games anymore. They’re bad. Like, really bad. Rise of the Lyric was simply the worst game that saw release in 2014. You can’t even use the excuse that it’s a game for children, because kids aren’t this dumb, and they’ll see the game for the shallow, pathetic excuse for a cash grab that it truly is. Just put Sonic to rest now.