Haze could have been a great game. It is a first person shooter that has a main plot point of taking lots of drugs. The drug is called nectar, and it gives players the ability to see enemies much clearer by highlighting them. While a drug fueled first person shooter sounds interesting, the idea is implemented terribly.
Instead of a shooting game that allows players to occasionally feel like a god and kick ass, the game is only fun while on the drug. The vanilla combat is dull, unoriginal, and incredibly difficult. The reason for the difficulty isn’t smart AI, which use combat tactics on par with Duke Nukem 64. The difficulty of Haze’s gunplay stems from enemies blending into the background, making the only way to play this game successfully is to be drugged out.
Note, successful does not mean fun. The combat is still far from fun. The fun to be had lies in abusing the drug system. Players have the ability to take different amounts of nectar, including enough to overdose. Overdosing, instead of hurting the character, causes everyone on screen to become a complete silhouette. Friends and enemies alike are all black, and killing a friend by mistake is a possibility. The second side effect of an overdose is the inability to control firing your weapon. It just keeps on shooting. Players have the ability to shoot their teammates nectar container, making them overdose and go crazy. This is fun, but only for about ten minutes. Then the memory that this game sucks comes back.
There are a fair number of games being released with free running elements thrown in the mix. There are only two games that come to mind that have a first person view point with free running: Mirror’s Edge and Brink. Unlike Mirror’s Edge, Brink is a total disaster.
The game has two key elements, free running and shooting; neither of these two work. The free running was promised to us as smooth, easy to get used to, and useful for getting around. In the final game, getting around the map is only made easier when there is something to climb. Vaulting over objects is the biggest problem. To tell the game that you want to maneuver around something, you are supposed to point the camera up. What happened to me most of the time was either the camera wasn’t pointed up high enough, forcing me to run into the obstacle, or the camera was pointed too high and I ended up running around.
Maybe I’m just an idiot and the free running is as good as the developers said it is. Brink is entirely online. If a match is short of a few players, bots fill in the empty slots. The bots play almost as well as a blind person who has never played a video game before. A bot’s usual tactic is to stand still and shoot in your general direction. Shooting back at the bot may result in the bot moving, but probably not.
Monster Madness: Grave Danger
In this day and age of enjoyable, well thought out games, it’s nice to have a change of pace. Monster Madness manages to take a bad idea and make it an even worse game. In this case, the bad idea is a hack and slash game full of boring combat and awful jokes. With that core, somehow the game turned out badly.
The story mode allows players to pick one of four characters and fight zombies. These four characters are all stereotypes everyone hates: the nerd, the cheerleader, the idiot, and the goth chick. Picking a different character will not influence play style, strength, or any aspect of the game other than which voice makes awful puns that makes playing the game a chore.
The gameplay is a pain due to completely uninspired controls. Hack and slash games require lots of button mashing. That’s nothing new. But, when just pushing O over and over again instantly makes anyone an expert. The game attempted to throw strategy in by putting projectiles into the player’s arsenal, but I found they just took away from my goal of playing through this game as quickly as possible and breaking the disc in half.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
If there’s one thing I hate in a game, it’s wasted potential. Raccoon City was nothing but wasted potential. Looking back at old previews is reminiscent of looking through a photo album of that dog you never adopted, and the question arises: why do I have this photo album? Raccoon City is that photo album. Memories of what could have been.
We were promised multiple, fun ways to play. We were promised intense matches between two warring factions and zombies on the battlefield. We were promised more things than I want to remember. Instead of any of that, we got a game with poor connectivity, zombies that barely act as more than set pieces, and unbalanced multiplayer. The Umbrella Corporation won every match. Maybe their weapons were more powerful, or they had more health. I don’t know. Either way, they had a much easier time killing than being killed.
Connectivity issues were par for the course, but that can’t be blamed entirely on the game, as it very well could have been issues with my router. What can be blamed on the developers, in addition to everything else about the game, is the terrible menu system. In between matches, players are forced to stare at the lobby for what feels like an eternity. In most quality online games, we have the option to customize our characters. Raccoon City has customization options, but these options are only accessible for twenty seconds before the match starts.
Legendary begins with someone opening Pandora’s box and releasing mythological creatures into the modern day world. Why this would be done is a very good question. I don’t have an answer to that question as I couldn’t play the game long enough to find out.
The opening action sequence involves running through the streets of New York City and avoiding the chaos around you. The very linear course is laid out by abandoned cars. Every twenty feet, there will be a dead end that a gryphon swoops down and unblocks for the player. It is impossible to squeeze through a four-foot gap between cars, or hop over a car. The gryphon will come in and lift the car block out of the way. This is accomplished via a short cutscene. One would expect a giant mythological creature crashing down and picking up a car to be awesome. Instead, the triggers for these events are faulty and lead to the player standing around for a good thirty seconds before the gryphon is summoned.
Everything about the game is just boring. Shooting creatures, meandering through uninteresting locations, and breaking down the occasional barrier are all incredibly dull. Well, the barriers will make the player think. Not in a good way. Players will think “why did someone nail wooden bars over this doorway? Seriously, it’s an office building that was being used like twenty minutes ago.”
Rock of the Dead
Buying Guitar Hero and a guitar controller isn’t the easiest thing to justify. After Guitar Hero has lost its charm, what will become of that guitar? There aren’t other games that can be played with it. Don’t worry: Rock of the Dead is here to save the day. Putting players in control of a teenager with a guitar, it’s up to you to save the day from invading monsters with the powers of rock.
If you don’t own a guitar shaped controller, the game can be played with a Playstation controller. This is how I played the game. While I haven’t played with a guitar, I can confidently say the rhythm aspects were not enjoyable with the face buttons acting as the guitar frets. Were this game well made, the colors of the button prompts would match up with the colors of the face buttons. Since this game is not well made, green does not mean triangle, and blue does not mean X.
As this is a music game, one would expect there to be good music. One would be disappointed, as the rock music featured here is only a little bit better than Miley Cyrus’ cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” While there is no licensed music, there are terrible original songs. There may have been only one song. I couldn’t tell; they all blended together. The lyrics “yeah....yeah....of the American” have been stuck in my head for over a week, and they will never leave.
There are not a whole lot of games that take place in the 1860’s. There are even less games that take place in the 1860‘s with robots and motorcycles thrown into the mix. Damnation took on the challenge of explaining to us exactly why that is. The first thing players notice about this game upon starting the single player game is that this is a very quiet game, and the volume needs to be turned way up. The second thing players will notice is that the gameplay is insanely loud and your speakers have broken. Someone thought it was a good idea to make the cutscenes half as loud as the rest of the game.
Once the game begins, players are treated to more brown than Hole Digging Simulator 2012. Even the character models in this game are brown, so they tend to get lost in the backgrounds insanely easily. That issue will only intensify as the game goes on and the action on the screen gets more hectic. Attempting to take cover on a specific object that looks exactly like everything around it is a huge challenge.
Thankfully, the gameplay is too bad to warrant playing for long. The controls are detrimental and would make a good game suffer. In order to fire a weapon, players must hold L2 to keep the gun out. In a game that revolves around shooting, this couldn’t make less sense. R1 is used for interacting with the environment, such as operating elevators. Hints will pop up telling players when the option to interact is available. If players are as lucky as I am, the very first hint box will glitch and stay on the screen for the remainder of play time.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Fatal Conspiracy
This may come as a surprise to no one: point and click games do not work very well on consoles. On a computer, with a mouse, these work fine and can be enjoyable. Using a controller with less control over the cursor and lower sensitivity is not enjoyable. Is there fun to be had in ways that the developers didn’t intend? No.
One of the things that will strike anyone as odd is the inhuman aspects of any character on screen. The eyes of everyone are completely soulless and dead, and their mouths move with little regard to the words being spoken, making The Muppets more convincing at imitating human life than these characters. If players manage to not suffer from too many nightmares and play further, than the gameplay will drive them up a wall.
There is a number of tools at your disposal. Knowing what these tools do before playing isn’t necessary. Guessing and checking is a perfectly acceptable way to progress. Just like at real life crime scenes, there are no repercussions for taking too long much time or for ruining finger prints on a piece of evidence by pouring a plaster cast over top of it. If someone is looking to go into criminal science as a career, save the money you would have spent at Devry University and buy this game instead.
Dragons are badass. Instead of fighting them, in Lair, you ride them. Even more badass. Unfortunately, controlling the dragons in Lair works about as well as one might, realistically, expect controlling dragons would. This is made infinitely worse with the default control scheme being the Sixaxis controller. Instead of guiding dragons from checkpoint to checkpoint with the precision of analog sticks, players shake a controller back in forth in their laps while cursing at the television.
The lack of fun is made even worse by the awful decision on the developer’s part to make it impossible to crash the dragon. Maybe it’s the bitterness speaking, but I want the ability to ram every dragon in Lair straight into the ground. This feature was probably excluded due to the fact that the Sixaxis controls lead to more mistakes than Mad Catz controllers.
Putting all desire to see every dragon in Lair splattered on the ground, there are other serious mistakes with the game. The dragon combat is done in one of the stupidest ways imaginable: pressing “O” has your dragon soar halfway across the map to buck an enemy dragon out of the sky. That’s it. Pressing one button locks onto an enemy a mile away and kills them. There is no challenge, fun, or accomplishment.
In most of these games, I’ve made a point in making fun of lame AI. It’s just something every bad game has. Believe me when I say that MindJack has the worst of all the games on this list. The game is a third person shooter with a twist: mindjacking. Players can jump into the mind of any person or robot in the area. That might not actually be called mind jacking. The game’s sound was mixed badly and I couldn’t understand the introduction.
The reason MindJack is so easy and painful is the AI, who has tactics equivalent to a Sim attempting to leave a doorless room. The best dodge an enemy can do is moving slightly to the side. The robots that accompany human enemies are almost more worthless. These flying bots can shoot with bad aim. That’s about it. They do not know how to move, so it’s less of a challenge than Duck Hunt
The online play is interesting. While playing the single player campaign, other players have the ability to join in and mindjack any enemy AI, allowing them to try and kill you. Interesting, of course, does not mean good. The kind of person that plays MindJack is not the kind of player to have skill, as it takes no talent to play this game well. I’m sorry, Fleshandblod1, but you are not a noteworthy adversary.
Article by Chris Lohr
Chris Lohr is a freelance writer currently in film school. If you’re looking for him to write for your website, manifesto, or Russian bride catalogue, send an email to email@example.com. Put today’s date as the subject line and include a picture of yourself. Must be DDD free and willing to host. All Articles by Chris.