Looking Back at my Worst of 2014 List

Similar to yesterday's post reflecting on my favorite games of 2014 and if or how those opinions changed in the year since, I thought I'd tackle my least favorite games of 2014 with the same approach. Republishing what I wrote last year with 2015 commentarty added for good measure.

So with that out of the way, here are (were) my 5 Worst Games of 2014.

5.  Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns and Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster - SquareEnix kicks off my list with a tie for 5th place. Lightning Returns was just disheartening because it felt like the whole Lightning trilogy went way off the rails. None of the games were good and the story seemed like such an after thought that there's virtually no connective tissue between the three games. Sure, a handful of characters existed across the series but it was pretty much in name only. The characters themselves are wildly different in each game. So much so that it ended up feeling like they only used Lightning, Serah, Hope, et al because they already have the game assets. Lighting Returns' story is so laughably bad and forgettable that it outweighs the one thing that the game does get right: its combat. The action RPG elements of the battles belongs in a much better game. What a fall from the glory days of Final Fantasy IV through Final Fantasy IX? Which leads me to...

The Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Why did I buy this game? Even worse, why did I buy it for both the PS3 and Vita?! This game made its way into my collection on pure nostalgia. As the first voiced Final Fantasy games, I remember them being a huge deal. Funny how your memory can play tricks on you. The performances are really awkward and wooden and it's immediately clear that SquareEnix didn't really know what it was doing with voice acting yet (and unfortunately as Lightning Returns shows, they still don't have much of a clue). These kinds of games don't hold up in a post-Persona 4 Golden kind of world. And the fact that they made the game Cross-Play but not Cross-Buy is why I wound up with two copies. The games belong on my television screen but I also wanted the freedom to play them lying in bed or on the go so I picked up the Vita version as well. I will definitely remember 2014 as the year that SquareEnix pretty much burned through the last of my Final Fantasy goodwill.

2015 Commentary: Ever since I kind of crapped on Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD during my appearance on Kinda Funny Gamescast #21my friend Nathan has turned it into a running joke about them being my favorite game in the series. We even pitched the idea of X-III: A Ronso Love Story on Twitter as a dating sim featuring Kimahri. Fortunately, I had the self-restraint this year and didn't buy SquareEnix's cheap cash-in by releasing the port on the PlayStation 4 as well. In fact, that pissed me off most of all because there's absolutely no reason they couldn't have released that in 2014 alongside the other two versions. It just reads as a desperate cash grab probably helping to pay for Final Fantasy XV.

And the entire Lightning trilogy sits at the bottom of my Final Fantasy rankings. But hey, at least this year we finally got the announcement that Final Fantasy VII Remake was a real thing, in some form or another.

4.  Super Smash Bros. for 3DS - This is probably the most controversial pick on the list given how many people were falling over themselves to praise the game this year. But I stand by all of the concerns that people had before they got hands on with the game. The 3DS is too small to be able to follow the frenetic pace of a Super Smash Bros. fight. And as I touched upon in my best of write up, the 3DS as a controller is pretty much garbage, especially for games like this one that need precision timing. Add to that the idea that I couldn't use the d-pad for movement and was stuck with the thumbstick I despise and this game just left me angry with no real desire to try and complete every challenge. I played enough to get all of the characters and stages but that was about it. Maybe if I had a group of friends to play with, I'd be singing a different tune, but I'd probably also just bite the bullet and get the Wii U if that were the case. Because it seems to me that Couch Multiplayer is about the only thing Nintendo is still doing well in the console wars. And this game was essentially an expensive demo of the far more system-appropriate Wii U version of the game.

2015 Commentary: I haven't touched my Super Smash Bros. on 3DS this year but, sure enough, 2015 was the year I finally buckled down and got a Wii U and Super Smash Bros. was indeed one of the titles I picked up for it. The idea was that Cat and I would be having our friends over more for games of Mario KartMario PartySmash Bros. and the like but that didn't really happen. So I didn't even play enough of the Wii U version to unlock everyoneI might still come back to it now that all of the DLC is wrapping up, including Cloud. But it might also just keep gathering dust on my shelf instead.

3.  Destiny: The Dark Below - While Destiny got an honorable mention nod in my best of list, the expansion pack makes the worst of list because it makes pretty much zero effort to respond to the complaints of the core game. Specifically, this was Bungie's first opportunity to respond to the universal criticism of the lackluster story and they just gave us more of the same. I hopped back into the game to play this expansion since it was already included with my initial purchase and noticed a few things. First, there were a lot of little tweaks to the game that had occurred while I was away and I had to go digging through Bungie's notes to identify how now level up my Exotic gear. Second, I quickly breezed through the new story content and strike missions. Given the price of the expansion, it seemed as though there should have been about twice as much content than there was. And once again, as a solitary player, I'm pretty much unable to enjoy the raid. I'll revisit the game again when the House of Wolves pack is released but this time, I'm not getting my hopes up and I'll probably wind up putting the game down for good after that.

2015 Commentary: As discussed in yesterday's commentary on Destiny, I largely sat out the game this year. I didn't even bother diving back in when the House of Wolves content launched because I heard that the real draw of it was the PvP contentEventually, I played through it a couple of weekends before Taken King launched and that pretty much cemented that I wouldn't be picking up the new expansion. Have fun, Guardians! I enjoyed my time with you but not enough to keep coming back.

2.  Watch_Dogs - Watch_Dogs makes the list because of its wasted potential all-around. The story was cliched. The main character was milquetoast. The driving was atrocious. The novelty of the hacking mechanic wears off far too quickly to carry the game. Ultimately, there just wasn't anything here to keep me engaged so I stopped playing probably somewhere in Act II or Act III. I might revisit it during a drought in gaming this year but it's pretty low on the backlog so I may just opt to play through games I actually enjoyed again, instead. This game was often described as Assassin's Creed with technology. So I really should have taken that as a sign because I absolutely hate the original Assassin's Creed. But to their credit, they did make Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag which I really enjoyed. Speaking of...

2015 Commentary: Phooew. Inserting my commentary in here completely breaks up my segue into Assassin's Creed Unity. Oh well. I don't think I ever really thought about Watch_Dogs this year. But in retrospect, we clearly should have known it was going to be dumb, what with that stupid underscore in the middle of it's name. That's right Nick_Scarpino and Fred_Sully. That dig was directed specifically at you two and only one of you is even aware of this website. Anyway, back to that great segue about Ubisoft making this game and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag...

1.  Assassin's Creed Unity - Fuck. This. Game. Up front. I didn't even have any of the crappy glitches or issues that plagued this games launch. This was just a shittygame that soured me on the whole series. Now, to be fair, I already didn't have a ton of love for the game. As I alluded to above, I absolutely hate the first game. I tried playing it a few years ago and just walked away from it because it handles horribly. But since there wasn't all that much to play when I got my PS4 in 2013, I picked up Black Flag and actually really enjoyed it. So much so that I even went back and played through the other games in the series. I still hated the first one but I fought my way through it hoping that some of the features/weapons that I enjoyed in IV would appear. They never did. So as soon as I finished it, I moved onto ACII which I liked far better. And for the most part, I enjoyed the entire Ezio trilogy just fine. I never got too far into ACIII, which as I understand it is for the best. But all told, ACIV was my favorite game of the series so I was excited for Unity. Then I played Unity. And pretty much everything about the game made me angry. Right off the bat, in the Tutorial level, the controls just felt like shit. The character never went where I wanted him to go. Next, the game proper starts and UPlay is immediately thrown intrusively into the mix (but pretty much nothing about the Initiates site was working). Oddly, I've actually stuck with the stupid companion app and am about to complete the final missions on that because I really enjoyed the Kenway's Fleet aspect of Black Flag and that game was essentially the same setup. But as soon as I get through these last couple missions, I'll pretty much be quitting the franchise unless a game comes out with significantly better reviews. The story was forgettable and frustrating. It was pretty obvious early on where they were going with it. And it was lazy storytelling 101 to fabricate stakes where there otherwise were none. Arno angered me because he was such a non-character. And for all of the hype that was put towards the beauty of re-creating Paris, I would have much preferred they had put the time and effort into fixing the problems that pretty much every entry in the game has. If the gameplay isn't fun, I don't care how much time and effort you put into building the world, because I have no incentive to explore the world. You can put 500 NPC characters on screen at once now? Why should I care? Does that make the game better? No. It's just the easiest statistic to relay what the new generation of hardware can do. That's just 500 people that are now in the way between me and an objective. Congratulations AC Unity on souring me from the game so much that I won't be picking up Rogue until it's a free PS Plus game or something. And thanks for moving at least one game off my docket for next holiday season. I will think of you disdainly as I'm playing through a game of actual quality come Q4.

2015 Commentary: Wow. I remembered that I hated this game and true to my word skipped on Syndicate this year. But I had forgotten going on that diatribe. But yeah. Fuck Assassin's CreedBy avoiding this year's installment, I was able to squeeze in a couple of games that I'm sure will feature in my Best of 2015 list.