Avatar: The Game
Avatar made a decent amount of money at the box office. A video game tie-in was inevitable. Unfortunately, instead of using some of the box office gross to make this game good, that money was all used on marketing for the film’s re-release in theaters. This could have been a great sci-fi adventure game based off the lore and history of Pandora, but instead we’re given a shallow reminder of a quick buck being more attractive to producers.
When the single player campaign is booted up, a wide selection of characters is given to choose from. It couldn’t make less of a difference which character is chosen because they don’t have different skill sets or abilities. In fact, when I played this game, I chose to play as a woman. Avatar: The Game cared so little about my decision, that I was still called “sir” in all of my cut scenes. Maybe in the Avatar universe, inter-gender relations have progressed to the point that everyone is addressed as “sir” to avoid any mix ups or insults, but that wasn’t pointed out in any cut scenes or listed in the game manual.
The only other option that could explain the “sir” mix up is lazy programming. This could be a reasonable explanation: everything in this game bleeds blue. Everything. Most of the wildlife on Pandora is blue in color, so it makes sense for these animals to bleed when shot. But, all of the humans bleed blue too. This was discovered very quickly into the game. As soon I was given a gun I shot all of my team mates. I unloaded clip after clip into these monsters. At first, I was just bored and looking to make this game fun, but then these humans started bleeding blue. Clearly, the Na’avi had gotten a hold of their own Avatar machine and had sent their own spies to take down our organization. I did my best to stop them short, but they just wouldn’t die.
Or, maybe it was lazy programming.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
When drawing inspiration from a source for a project, it’s important that the source is good. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was a bad film. The video game tie-in being bad should come as no surprise, but the depths of terrible this reaches is astounding.
It’s a shame that they threw out the grand action sequences of the film for the bland gameplay offered here. The game is an arcade shooter. The player controls one of many different G.I. Joes to complete a task. This amazingly exciting adventure consists of walking at one pace and shooting at enemies. Don’t worry about skill: you have infinite ammo and the game automatically locks onto your enemies for you. It’s hard to die. If you do happen to die, it’s hard to think about what strategy changes to make in order to succeed this time since there is no strategy here.
The only positive aspect about this game is the variety of Joes available to play as. They all have different weapons, so picking your favorite is more than deciding which one looks coolest. Although, that being the only positive aspect, every other aspect of the game weighs it down. Level design, enemy AI, gameplay, menu screens, and lack of difficulty really make this game what it is: garbage.
Beowulf: The Game
If someone was handed a copy of the Beowulf film and a copy of God of War, they would churn out Beowulf: The Game. It makes sense. Beowulf takes place in a time period somewhat similar to that of the God of War series, and they both feature some violence. (In God of War’s case, “some” is used loosely.) But, there is no excuse for how badly this game turned out.
It’s hard to not make a hack and slash game repetitive. Most games that can be won just by spamming a single button get old fast. God of War, while sticking with a basic control scheme, manages to stay fun throughout its entirety. Beowulf: The Game got boring before the tutorial was over. I can only kill but so many crabs before a game ends up in the trash. Beowulf: The Game knew this and tested my limits. I’m almost ashamed to say I played this game and didn’t throw it out.
Putting crabs behind, the rest of this game is just as awful. The player is given a small group of team mates to control. Beowulf is able to give simple orders to his squad such as “kill this” and “move this.” The developers took this as a challenge and tried to make this aspect as painful as possible. The companion interface in Fallout 3 is better, and that consisted of scrolling through dialog options for five minutes in order to tell Fawkes to stop using grenades in an enclosed hallway. If you manage to navigate the command screen easily, you will be rewarded with your group of friends managing to take simple orders and failing them.
Wartech: Senko no Ronde
Wartech is a 2D fighting game. Or something. It involves fighting with no jumping, but, honestly, it’s hard to tell what is happening. The stages consist of a grid, excessive diagonal lines, and a bunch of circles. All of this is in mid-air. If that description doesn’t make a lot of sense, I assure you that the real game is no more helpful.
The game begins with the player choosing their character. It should be noted that Wartech is a game about combatants in mech suits fighting to the death for some kind of a war. It should also be noted that most of the characters available are young girls. Maybe there is a cultural difference between Japan and America, but when war time comes, little girls are the last thing we strap into mech suits to fight grown men.
Putting illogical draft policies behind, Wartech is a difficult game. Not in the sense that there is a fun challenge to be had, more that the controls are hard to learn and there is no menu to help you out. Once the controls are learned, the fights are also frustratingly hard. The learning curve is intense, but the incentive for increasing your skill is gone. The game simply is not fun.
Hulk Hogan’s Main Event
Kinect games are a gamble. Most of the time you’ll find gimmicky shovelware, or terrible tie ins. In the case of Hulk Hogan’s Main Event, we get a little bit of both. Much to no one’s dismay, players do not assume the role of Hulk Hogan. Instead, there is the option to create your own wrestler. Doing so is a pain, as the Kinect sensor does not pick up on the subtle hand motions necessary to navigate the menus. In the end your hard work and effort are not paid off as any character created will look like trash thanks to the games terrible art style (a lame cartoon style).
If a player manages to get past the act of creating a terrible character, the terrible gameplay begins. There are exciting things to do such as attempting to throw punches and head butts, only to end up cursing the Kinect for not registering you. For whatever reason, if the game decides to actually have your character act out your action, nothing can prepare you for the complete lack of accomplishment you will feel as there are zero things to unlock in this game that are worthwhile.
Perhaps the reason someone bought this game is Hulk Hogan’s recently released sex tape, and they want to see Hulk play out some awesome wrestling moves. These consumers will be severely disappointed by Hogan’s lack of involvement in this game. His voice can be heard in the menu, and a little version of him is in the corner telling you what to do. Oh, right, there is no strategy or thought to Main Event. Players simply mimic what Hulk Hogan does. There is nothing to learn, so the frustrating, mandatory tutorial is completely unnecessary.
Hannah Montana: The Movie - The Game
There’s one thing gamers have been crying for: an interactive Hannah Montana experience. Thankfully, our prayers have been answered. Unfortunately, we were so wrong to have wanted this. There are two sections to the game: performing as Hannah, and living life as Miley. Deciding which is less of a kick to the head is the hardest part of this game.
The game starts as all of the best games start: an unskippable, half hour tutorial. Through this torturous segment, players learn all of the dance moves Hannah Montana uses on stage and how to play all of the instruments. It’s surprisingly hard, only because the game is so unresponsive. Even if this abomination doesn’t register the dance moves you tell it, you will not fail. The worst rating a player can earn is “OK.” No matter how hard you want Hannah to mess up on stage, it won’t matter. You will always be “OK,” and she will never fudge a dance move.
Miley’s life is simpler, but just as awful in every way. Although, through living this awful life, we see just how bad of a person she is. Her grandma asks Miley to go to a farmer’s market with her to sell some crops. Miley goes with her, carries one basket, and runs off shopping. Shopping is actually a required event and takes longer than anyone would ever want. She then runs off to the fair where her brother calls. It’s at this point we realize that Miley Cyrus owns a phone that displays holograms. It would be fair to assume this a joke about how rich she is, but the fact that this technology is not shared with the rest of the world is angering. Last, but not least, Miley finds her brother being attacked by an alligator. Her response? “Meh.”
Hail to the Chimp
For all the things a video game can cash in on, a presidential election is probably the dumbest of them all. Hail to the Chimp is the first, and hopefully last, “presidential party game.” The game was released in 2008 prior to Obama’s election, and its welcome was worn out in 2008 prior to Obama’s election. Players can pick from a wide arsenal of animals vying to be President of the Animal Kingdom.
The way an animal is elected President of the Animal Kingdom is by having the most clams. Clams represent votes, I guess, but that was never really made clear by the game. There are various games the animals compete in to get clams, but none of them are enjoyable. There are a few uninspired maps to choose from, and each one is a bore. The less than quality level design is made only more frustrating by the one camera angle, which has a primary goal of ensuring no player has any idea where their character is. The camera meets its goal constantly.
The variety of party games available to choose from is decently large. The only problem with that is each game plays exactly the same: collecting clams. Sure, one game mode has holding onto clams as long as possible, while another just has players stockpiling as many as quickly as possible, but it’s all collecting clams in a confusing level. The only reason to own this game is if you hate the people at your house, making them play this will force them to leave.
Pimp My Ride
The number of times the word “pimp” is used in this game is probably a world record. The city it takes place in is Pimp City, the name on the back of your character’s jersey is “PIMP,” and everything is described as being pimped out. The point to this game is to pimp out cars, by putting ironing boards in the trunk and smoothie machines in the dashboard.
Pimp My Ride is the most realistic open world game of all time. Cars handle with the accuracy of a broken toy, no damage can be done on your car, and there are groups of people on every corner waiting for you to holla. There are some thrilling things to do around town, such as ghost riding the whip, which is street for dancing next to your moving car and having it steer on its own. This exciting feature involves pushing the face buttons at the right time to ensure your character hits all of his dance moves. Bad at this kind of thing? Don’t worry, what you do doesn’t affect your character at all, as he will never miss a step even if a single button isn’t pressed.
The difficulty keeps on coming, as players work through other side missions that all resolve around pushing buttons to a rhythm. When it actually comes time to pimp out a ride, you drive from shop to shop to buy different parts. This actually makes no sense. If players assume the role of someone that works in an auto shop, why do they not have all of the necessary components at their shop? Maybe the Pimp my Ride shop has hit hard times since people stopped wanting nine plasma screens in their cars.
Shrek the Third
If your child is a huge fan of the Shrek films, and you hate them, this is the ultimate birthday present. Fans of the films will be upset to hear that the original voice actors did not lend their talents to this game. Instead of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, we get impersonators who occasionally hit the mark but usually just remind players of the money wasted on this purchase.
The only thing this game does well is constantly remind players to be more frugal when shopping for games. Aside from the voice acting, Shrek the Third accomplishes this by changing the title character from a funny grump to a murderous psychopath. In the film series, Shrek may have reacted to a group of villains by scaring them away or yelling. In the game Shrek just kills everyone. His attacks are child friendly enough: all he does is slap or punch, and no blood is drawn. Considering Shrek’s size and fury, though, his punches are enough to knock someone’s head off. Shrek kills dozens of people every level.
The theme of murder is made slightly less disturbing by giving Shrek a series of witty one-liners to say after a fight. I’m sorry, I meant “way more disturbing.” Instead of merely killing a batch of villains, he kills them and then mocks them for dying. His character model adds even more to the disturbing nature of the killings. Shrek only has one facial expression: a smile with his mouth slightly open. As he spouts insults at a pile of corpses, his crooked grin doesn’t move. Either Shrek has telepathic abilities, or my nightmares have begun seeping into video games.
Attack of the Movies 3D
A game’s title matters. If a feature, let’s say 3D capabilities, is listed in the title, then one can only imagine that there will be some quality three dimensional visuals. Attack of the Movies 3D does not follow this logical pattern. Instead of following through on its promise, players are rewarded with a slight double vision. Yes, I played with 3D glasses on. The game is just badly designed.
I’m not one to rage quit. I’ve been frustrated with a game and taken a break, but I’m not one to just quit on a game completely out of rage. Attack of the Movies 3D is one of the hardest games I have ever played, and I am not ashamed of the quitting I did. It’s a first person on rails shooter where enemies come at the screen. Up to four people can cooperatively kill these enemies, but it won’t help. Even on the easiest difficulty and four people playing, I never saw past the first level.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.