What Makes A Game The Worst Of Its Year?

What Makes A Game The Worst Of Its Year?

2014 had a number of bad games, and even more disappointing games. From the broken wrecks, to the sheer awfulness like Rambo and a number of titles that slipped out onto Steam. After doing a list of the best games, and the worst, I decided to focus on a single game. This one game would be the game I pointed to as the worst experience of the year, for me at least. My choice was a title that was set to revive a genre, bring it back to basics, created by one of the key figures in video game history. The Evil Within was primed to set the world alight.

The Evil Within started off well, setting the scene, inserting the player into the universe, setting an effective tone. It’s a shame that same tone is thrown out the window within the first five minutes. My main problem with The Evil Within was it’s identity crisis. Manically shifting from survival horror, to action horror to straight up chaos. It’s tricky to nail down what exactly The Evil Within was going for. The attempts at scaring the player fell victim to tropes seen in modern Western horrors, such as jump scares and excessive gore. The action was frustrating due to ineffective weapons, low ammo, and far too many enemies.

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At times it felt like the game was being developed by two different teams, one aiming for horror, the other for action. There was barely any cohesion between the two styles, instead, the game stumbles around, rarely finding it’s feet. This is a feeling that continues throughout, towards the later stages of the game things become more humorous than horrifying. Factor in the odd decision to give the game borders, obscuring the players view, and the gameplay becomes utterly frustrating.

Horrendous plot and question gameplay choices aside, The Evil Within was a semi-ugly mess, somehow running into frame rate issues. If avoiding barely visible traps on sharp turns wasn’t fun enough, jittery frame rates made the game even more of a pain just to play. There are moments when the game shined, but these are firmly submerged into the slew of before mentioned issues. All these factors made The Evil Within my worst video games of 2014. It wasn’t the worst I’d played, that honour goes to Rambo, yet I still give it the label of the worst.

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It made me ponder what exactly the criteria is when it comes to ‘worst game of xxx’. A simple search of Google and YouTube provided me with various sources to checkout. It became clear that the criteria is much more diverse than you’d initially expect. The last few years have saw the criteria evolve into a much more aware concept. No longer are we judging games purely on the content, we’ve began to look at business decisions, company behavior, PR and more.

While the core principles still matter, audiences are now far more aware of the bigger picture. Assassins Creed Unity isn’t a ‘bad’ game, but the sheer amount of bugs, and the slack nature to way Ubisoft addressed this, led to Unity ending up on a vast number of ‘Worst of 2014′ lists. The same can be applied to Drive Club and The Crew. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeros is a ‘good’ game, but the business decision it represents has seen it enter the worst of 2014.

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 Back in 2013, The War Z (now know as Infestation: Survivor Stories) was badly received, partly due to it’s dull gameplay. Another big reason why the game was shunned was down to the developers behavior. Banning anyone who dare point out criticisms from the games official forums, reacting to reviews in a hostile manner, selling lies, stealing terms and conditions from other games…all the good stuff. The actions of the developer took a game that would have been mostly forgotten about, and placed firmly near the top of many Worst of lists.

Perhaps the change in criteria is linked to the likes of Steam Green Light and the continuing growth in the indie game scene. It would be far too easy to populate Worst of lists with cheap Greenlight/Indie games. Expectations of well known developers, more awareness of how willing the industry is to rip off their customers are all elements that could be linked to the change in how we pick our worst video games of the year. As video games and their players continue to grow and change, surely it’s only natural for our critical eyes to change with the times? It seems like a natural progression. Will 2015 see this change even further? Hopefully, and hopefully the industry will take notice of how aware the modern consumer is continuing to become.

 

Sean Halliday


1 Comment

  1. Mikaella
    January 6, 2015, 4:58 am

    I also think The Evil Within was the worst game of the year…perhaps the worst of the decade by now…..terrible in too many aspects

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