In this month's column, Peter "The Rizk" Rizkalla loses it completely as he comes face to face with three of the worst video games in the history of the world.
I warned you, didn't I? Last month I told you that I could blow up at any minute, but did you believe me!? Well... maybe you did believe me, BUT I'M BLOWING UP ANYWAYS! This is the month that I finally reveal some of the horrible, embarrassing, disgraceful games that I have had the distinct displeasure of spending time with and, boy, do I have some pitiful contenders for you to check out. I mean, seriously, these are the kind of games that make Nazis look good!
Don't get me wrong, I still think that video games are awesome and I still believe that games are one of the greatest forms of animation in existence, but you know that nasty, greasy skin that forms on the top of old soup? Well that's what these games kind of remind me of, only much worse. In a way, you can't even consider these things video games; they're more like interactive B movies! Well, let's get this show on the road. Take a deep breath and try to hold back the gag reflex as we venture through a video game landfill in this month's edition of "Press Start"!
Obscure: The Aftermath for the Nintendo Wii; Publisher: Ignition Entertainment; Developer: Hydravision; Release Date: March 25, 2005; ESRB Rating: M for mature; Genre: action/horror; Players: 1-2; Support: N/A; Online: N/A
Oh, the Horror
Now this is one hell of a piece of trash! You have to be a real pro to make something this bad. This, my friends, is Obscure: The Aftermath. The reason why it's called "aftermath" is because this is a sequel to a mediocre game simply called Obscure. It's about... OK, if you've seen any scary movie that involves stupid teens getting ripped apart, then just imagine that, but in game form. You got these kids that killed their teachers and now they're in college! I know, I know; it's moronic, but just thank God that I had to play this thing and not you.
The beginning of the game shows some kid driving down a country road and talking about going to college, while casually mentioning the murders of his teachers, as this overly heartfelt music plays in the background. The freakin' music sounds almost like the theme song from Dawson's Creek; how the hell do you decide to play music like that while having someone talk about a murder? Obscure: The Aftermath is an action/horror game that has been released on three platforms: PC, the PS2 and the Wii. Why the hell they decided to release this game on the Wii is beyond me, but it makes for the worst iteration.
Shoot Me! No Wait, Shoot the Designers!
Hydravision decided to add a bunch of motion-sensitive controls for the Wii version just for the hell of it and, sure enough, they turned out to be more bad than good. The camera is controlled by pointing the Wii remote at the screen and moving it in the direction that you need the camera to turn. What makes this ridiculous is that the Wii remote must be pointed directly in the center of the screen at all times or else the camera will just constantly spin in one direction. You would think that the one good thing about Aftermath is the fact that it can be played co-operatively. NO! They screwed that feature up as well by having the camera only follow player 1, so that if you do happen to dupe a friend into playing this thing with you, then he's gonna be pissed at the fact that he won't be able to see his character as he plays.
The story makes no sense and tries to push the stereotypical "wild teenager" mannerisms way too hard. Apparently the kids are hooked on this new drug made from a black flower that has been growing around the college. Only, the black flower gives them horrible nightmares, leaves them with physically painful side effects and doesn't seem to get them high at all, so you think to yourself "why the hell are they taking these things if they aren't getting anything good from it?" The dialog is another aspect that suffers from the "wild teenager" formula; every so often you will hear kids talking about something sexual or gross and, because the voice acting is so bad, you can almost picture the voice actors in a studio recording these phrases to be plugged in the game just for the sake of being sexual or gross.
The Game Disc Is More Fun as a Frisbee
Apparently this game was made to be a horror-fest, but it's not. The sound effects are totally out of place; for example, players will come to a field where there are dead bodies hanging from fence posts and, whenever a player attempts to strike one of the bodies with a weapon like a bat, you'll hear the sound of someone screaming. It makes no sense -- why the heck would we hear a scream? Shouldn't we hear, like, a thud? To make matters even more ridiculous, when you hit the bodies that are stuck on a fencepost, they bounce around like a Bozo Bop Bag. I mean, c'mon! Is this what Hydravision thinks is scary?! Nothing about Obscure: The Aftermath comes together; bad dialog, bad story, out-of-place presentation, horrible control and no lasting appeal. On the other hand, if you think about it, everything actually does come together. But it stinks!
Condemned 2: Bloodshot for the PlayStation 3; Publisher: SEGA; Developer: Monolith Productions; Release Date: March 18, 2008; ESRB Rating: M for mature; Genre: first-person adventure; Players: 1; Support: system link 2-8 players; Online: 2-8 player competitive play
Bum Fights... The Newest Olympic Event
If you picked up an Xbox 360 the day it launched back in the fall of 2005, then you most likely remember a launch title by the name of Condemned: Criminal Origins. Now, Condemned was an "OK" first-person-shooter/adventure title and, considering that it was a launch title for the 360, it really wasn't that bad. You can't really expect any launch title to be fantastic -- unless you're Nintendo and you're so awesome that you release Zelda: Twilight Princess with the Wii -- because no game company ever does that. But now, when the 360 has been out for almost three years, there should really be no excuse for a game not to come out right.
Monolith Productions has finally released a sequel to the first Condemned game in the form of Condemned 2: Bloodshot and, now that they had time to work on this installment, my first question is "What did they improve?" The short answer is "NOTHING!" There is nothing better about this game then the first Condemned. In fact this one might be worse! Players take the role of the main character from the first Condemned, Ethan Thomas. The first thing you notice is that he doesn't even look the same as from the first game. The story goes that Ethan has been kicked out of his old unit and has now been reduced to a street drunk. Fortunately for Ethan, drinking is apparently a good thing, because now he looks even younger than he did in the previous Condemned and he's also gained a boatload of muscle mass!
Whose Arm Is This?
Graphically, Condemned 2 looks good and the animation can be described as subpar. The gameplay however is a freakin' nightmare! Monolith was evidently trying to make this game a frightening thriller by keeping everything first-person and barely giving you any weapons, but that's just not the way it came out. Most of the time you won't have a gun at your disposal; you have to make due with random items like pipes, two-by-fours and your fists. Now that's really not a bad thing, but when you begin to stumble upon stupid melee weapons like table legs and prosthetic arms, the game no longer seems like the "frightening thriller" that it is trying to be; instead it seems laughable. They added the ability to perform special moves when fighting hand-to-hand, but it still feels like a drunken brawl. You and your enemies are just randomly swinging, with no real way to anticipate oncoming attacks. You're bound to get hit whether you want to avoid the attacks or not! Besides, having too much melee in a first-person perspective is a bad thing anyways because it makes it harder to judge just how far your attacks are reaching.
Let's talk about the graphics a little bit more. The game starts off OK with a ghetto-looking city and creepy indoor environments that have small, random areas covered in black goo. But then it gets really confusing as you begin to walk through areas that are completely covered in black goo because every freakin' room looks exactly the same. All you see is black goo and you can't tell where the hell you are going! The dialog is also a laugher, especially when you meet up with your former unit members. One of them does nothing but insult you like you're some kind of nerd in high school.
When Does the Hurting Stop?
OK, let's run through this one more time. Bad graphical design, horrible gameplay elements, uninteresting animation, trite dialog, and a combat system that's about as deep as a teaspoon! What the heck is going on at SEGA? They've been releasing some awesome underground titles, but a mainstream title like Condemned 2 comes out like a lopsided birthday cake! That's it; I'm going back to playing Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.
Vampire Rain for the Xbox 360; Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios; Developer: Artoon; Release Date: July 3, 2007; ESRB Rating: M for mature; Genre: action/horror; Players: 1; Support: N/A; Online: 2-8 player competitive play
Forget the Gun, Gimme some Holy Water
If you were to ask me what I thought was the worst game in the history of games, I would have to say Street Combat for the Super NES. For crying out loud, man, not only was it supposed to be a serious fighter that ended up being the worst fighting game ever made, but the ending had a guy that looked like Casey Kasem giving you a trophy and calling you a "fine young man"! I want to see someone call Akuma from Street Fighter a "fine young man." Now if you want to know what is the second worst game in history, then here it is, Vampire Rain.
The concept of this game is actually a good idea, but it turned out to be an embarrassing pile of garbage. Players play as the silent protagonist John Lloyd, who is a special operative in a group whose sole mission is to rid the city of vampires. It never stops raining in the city, hence the title Vampire Rain. Not only does the game have to cover every cultural base by having each member of John Lloyd's team be a member of a different nationality, but the dialog that is spoken by any character in the game is an abomination. It's just embarrassing to hear such hackneyed, over-the-top voice acting.
Where's Blade When You Need Him?
All of the gameplay elements are totally unbalanced. The game feels broken as soon as you get into any kind of combat, but let me first talk about what happens before you encounter a fight. Vampire Rain will grade you on how well you complete levels, but what you do in some of the levels is stupid. For example, in one of the first levels, you have to follow your superior as he guides you through the city streets, but the level is only two minutes long. How can you possibly be graded on something as stupid as just walking around?
Now let's talk about the combat. When you find a vampire, it gets even more brainless! Controlling a weapon is a nightmare and what's worse is that your character's top speed is somewhere around two miles per hour. Unless you have a powerful-enough gun to take out a vampire in one hit, you're screwed. A pistol, when aimed at the head, will not take out a vampire in one hit and, once a vampire has been hurt, the damn thing will run at you doing 0 to 60 in less than a nanosecond and will kill you the second it gets to you. There is no way of avoiding this! You can't even try to trick the game by nailing the vampire from the top of a building; sure, the vampire can't get to you, but it will go nuts trying to get to you and it's impossible to hit it when it's going that fast, especially when the aiming function is useless.
Where's Simon Belmont When You Need Him!?
The graphics aren't bad, but they're not that good either. Everybody looks so damn generic, and the main character is the most uninteresting-looking character in the game. He looks like the default model from a create-a-character feature. Everything about Vampire Rain is bland, and if it's not bland, it's frustrating. There is absolutely no reason to even bother with this game. What surprises me is the fact that the guys who made Vampire Rain are the same guys who helped make Yoshi's Island DS, which is a fantastic game! How the hell do you go from making such a great game to making something this bad? I feel sorry for the testers who worked on Vampire Rain; the poor guys are probably reluctant to even admit that they worked on it.
Peter Rizkalla is a lifelong aficionado of videogames and the videogame industry. He has worked in videogame companies such as THQ, Namco and 2K Games, and has won several awards for his animated short films, including his videogame-themed Flash film Toadstool Funk. Peter can be reached at PRizkalla@gmail.com.