I started my top 10 list of 2015 yesterday with games #10 through #6. Before I continue with my top five tomorrow, I wanted to go through my five worst games of 2015. This was actually a somewhat harder list to fully populate this year because I did a pretty good job of weeding out games that I knew I wouldn't like (I'm looking at you Assassin's Creed Syndicate). For reference, my 2014 list featured a double dose of Final Fantasy, the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros., Destiny's first expansion pack The Dark Below, Watch_Dogs, and Assassin's Creed Unity. Based on those games, I avoided purchasing a third copy of the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for PlayStation 4, avoided most of the 3DS library, skipped Destiny: The Taken King, and avoided everything from Ubisoft this year. Let see what lessons I learn for 2016.
#5. Fallout 4('s bugs)
No I'm not talking about Bloatflies, Radscorpions, and Stingwings (though seriously, fuck those last two). But rather the litany of technical bugs and glitches that keep Fallout 4 from being a better experience. Spoiler: Fallout 4 will be featured on tomorrow's top 5 list but these bugs represent the very worst of the game.
I was fortunate and didn't come across too many bugs in my 100+ hours with the game but I did have a string of game crashes at one put when I was trying to get the Alien Blaster. Three times in a row, after shooting a Super Mutant Suicider and running away from his buddies outside a hospital, the game crashed out to the PlayStation menu and I had to reload a save. Not until I just avoided the whole thing by fast traveling across the map was I able to proceed. Other times I was unable to trigger the next objective in a quest. And there was of course the usual frame rate slow down and character pop-in.
Ultimately, though, I view glitches in the same way I view the length of a game. These are both scapegoats that people tend to complain about when in actuality, they're just not having fun with the games other elements. I believe that's why I saw a lot of people who complained about Assassin's Creed glitches giving Fallout glitches a pass. An image of a glitch (or "how long a game is") is far easier to point to than detailing out specific grievances like lackluster combat mechanics or an empty world.
So yes, Fallout 4's glitches, especially the game breaking ones, were terrible, but they didn't destroy the overall experience I had with the game.
#4. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
Case in point: the glitches I encountered in Saints Row IV: Re-Elected are the moments that stuck with me the most because the rest of the game was a pretty bland experience. Having the game crash as frequently as it did was particularly atrocious when you consider this was a remaster of a last-gen game. As someone who hadn't played any of the other Saints Row games, I didn't have any connection to the cast of characters so that may be why I barely remember the game's plot. But when you also factor in a very bland open world (even if it was a digital simulation) and a progression system that made you too powerful too soon to be rewarding, this game earned a spot on my list and I doubt I'll ever be returning to the franchise.
#3. The Order: 1886
Back to my argument that glitches and how long a game is are just scapegoats blamed for larger problems, we have The Order: 1886. In the days before the game's launch, everyone seemed to be obsessed with how quickly you could finish the game. I played through it with a collectibles guide in about a day for the Platinum trophy and wrote up a pre-Trevor Trove review of it. More disappointing and wasted potential than downright bad, I found the game to be a somewhat bland third-person shooter that seemed to have prioritized a cinematic experience and setting up a franchise over making this initial installment a particularly good one. I think the characters, gunplay, story, and overall pacing, left a lot to be desired but it's a lot easier to say "I could beat the game in 6 hours."
#2. Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff
Is it easy to pick on mobile games? Absolutely. And Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff basically tackles everything that bothers me about the trends in mobile gaming.
- Almost a note for note clone of The Simpsons: Tapped Out.
- The freemium model that gives you enough of the premium currency (in this case, golden clams) to get an item or two but if you want to collect all the premium characters and items, you'll be spending thousands of dollars. Or you can collect the clams at a rate of one every couple of days.
- Prioritizing luck and random number generators over any kind of skill (having to perform a 24-hour task for a 25% chance of getting the item you need is crap. So let's make it so you need ten of that item to unlock your favorite character).
- Frequent crashes that finally led to me uninstalling the piece of garbage that I knew I was pouring way too much time into as I was doing it.
As I mentioned yesterday with Lara Croft Go, not all mobile games are trash, but this one was one of the worst.
#1. Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae
For the second year in a row, Final Fantasy makes my "worst of" list. I considered not including the Final Fantasy XV demo but if SquareEnix is going to spend time and money patching it, then I'll take a few minutes to type curmudgeonly about why that's a waste of resources.
Final Fantasy XV was announced almost 10-years ago as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. I am of the belief that it's been in development so long because SquareEnix has long prioritized beautiful CG cinematics over mechanics and gameplay and the technology has been advancing faster than SquareEnix can develop the game so they scrap the work they've done and spend time chasing the new graphics.
The high-stakes planet-threatening stories I loved in games like Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII, and IX have been replaced in this instance with a broken down car and the need to track down a Ramuh summon to kill a Behemoth. I'm sure the full game will be somewhat more grandiose but this demo felt like it confirmed what I have suspected, that more time was put into the beauty of the Ramuh summon than the rest of the combat. And considering that combat was one of the things patched, I don't think I'm alone in having found it wanting.
The real test of will, should Final Fantasy XV actually come out in 2016, will be whether I buy it and play through an experience that - based on this demo - is no longer the Final Fantasy experience I'm looking for or will I skip my first non-MMO entry it what was once my absolute favorite gaming franchise?
Only time will tell.