Lame of the Year 2013

Looking back over the last year, things weren’t all nice and shiny and brilliant in the gaming universe, there were some games released that were either monumentally bad, or just plain broken.  2013 delivered some very disappointing games and here are the ones that have let down the Codec Moments team the most.

 

Lame of the Year 2013

 

Andy – Aliens: Colonial Marines

Let’s ignore the graphics, which would have been sub-par at PS3 launch, let alone for an end of generation title; as a fan of the Alien franchise, particularly Aliens, this game promised so much and delivered so little. Alarm bells rang like Mother primed for self destruct when review copies were withheld. The game opens in a promising fashion and the first encounter with one of the titular aliens is genuinely tense as you hunt it through a section of the Sulaco. The fight or flight atmosphere that ensues as you move through the narrow corridors and rooms of the space marine vessel is good, leading you back to the open expanse of the drop ship hanger and culminating in what turns out to be the first of many last stands you’ll have during the course of the game.

It’s amongst these sections where the game is at its sorry best; had it stuck to its strengths, it might have been received more favourably. Unfortunately, shortly after the game begins large portions of it descend into a generic first person shooter as PMC soldiers, a highly paid and highly expendable video game trope, storm the Sulaco and seem to be one step ahead of you for the remainder of the game. The PMC are there for a narrative arc that is simply not necessary. A solid narrative is a vital part of the success of any game, true, however the Alien franchise features a lifeform evolved to be the most efficient killing machine; that’s your narrative. Gamers want to play as a frightened, outmatched and outpaced marine, forced to creep through tight spaces where enemies are lurking as the motion tracker pings randomly. They want the action to be infrequent and intense, not generic and grating. They want the tension to come from whether they will survive to the next stronghold they can secure and not from whether the evil machinations of Umbrella wannabes, Weyland Yutani, succeed in their evil machinations.

The AI actually ruined the one promising part of the PMC story-arc. As you tentatively exit a building, you see PMC soldiers being attacked by aliens; do the PMC troops hail your arrival as the pivotal turning point in their suicidal stand against the space monsters? No, they ignore the aliens and shoot at you. Weyland Yutani must provide an excellent pension plan.

Game over man, game over.

Aliens Colonial Marines

 

Graham – Sonic All Star Racing Transformed

Another Vita title for my Lame of the Year Award, the honour of this goes to Sonic All Star Racing Transformed. I seriously considered buying this game when it first game out, but like a lot of the PS Vita’s premium titles the price put me off a little, being north of £30 I thought I would wait. I am very glad I did!

When the game appeared for free as part of the PS Plus subscription I thought my luck was in and my waiting had paid off, how wrong I was. This game is awful – even for free. It is so bad that after 30 minutes of playing it was removed as I couldn’t waste precious memory card space on such a crap game. The tracks are rubbish, the characters are an odd mix and visually it looks OK, but on closer inspection they could have done better. If it was a budget or Indie game I could forgive it and state restrictions on resources as an excuse for the way it turned out. But I know this isn’t the case, and how they can sleep a night knowing people paid £32 for it I don’t know. Wreck it Ralph is one of the characters but I think they could have done with Fix it Felix Jnr!

Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed

 

Matt – Grid 2

A funny one this because it could have made it in to my top ten games of the year instead of Lame of the Year 2013, but sadly it had a two major problems in the way:

  1. It was broken.
  2. Codemasters didn’t fix it quickly enough.

I pre-ordered Grid 2 on a whim 3 days before launch, there was a racing game drought on and I wanted something to get into.  I should have known there were issues from the moment I booted it up and it hung on the title screen.  A reboot later and I got through to the main menu and set about playing.  It’s a really nice arcade racer, has some challenging races and some nice ideas for giving variety to a circuit racing game (I particularly liked the overtake game modes).  I’d put about 20 hours into the game when I hit the main problem, the whole thing froze up loading a drift event in career mode.  It was documented on the forums, I could repeat the freeze and lock up on two different PS3′s, I couldn’t progress any further in the game.  What do you do?

I spent time corresponding with Codemasters technical support who’s main advice was ” start a new game and get in touch if it freezes at the same point”.  Unbelievable that they expected people to start a from scratch and put another 15 – 20 hours in to have the same problem.  Despite the numerous complaints on the forum (which is no longer there, the whole system is out of contract and hasn’t been replaced yet), and the reproducible nature of the problem, the subsequently released patches did nothing to fix it, and you were stuck with a hard reset of the console each time (which I believe contributed to the red screen HDD failure on my PS3 slim).  I gave it 6 weeks for it to be resolved over two different patches, nothing worked so it got traded in, and this was after Codemasters stopped responding to my request for update information.

An indication of how poorly the game was doing is that it ended up on PS Plus within 6 months, something that’s never a good sign.  I’ve tried the game since it came to Sony’s service and there’s still freezing at the same point I was experiencing it before, though in fairness it resumes loading after about 5 seconds, something the disc version never did.  There have also been 2 patches since I got rid of the game so it could be the problem was fixed in those.  However, it’s too little, too late.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have a working game out of the box, or at least an acknowledgement if there’s a problem that’s slipped through QA testing.  Sadly, this hasn’t just stopped me wanting to play Grid 2, I’m now distrustful of all Codemasters products which is a massive shame considering they’ve been with me all my gaming life.  That is my Lame of the Year, the destruction of trust in one of the industry stalwarts.

Grid 2

 

Roger - “I’ve not played a Lame game at all this year”

Good for you Roger, let’s hope we all have the same experience in 2014!

 

It’s not all doom and gloom, we have had a lot of great games this year.  Follow the link to see our picks for Game of the Year 2013!

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Matt

Co-founder & Editor at Codec Moments

Gamer, F1 fanatic, amateur DJ (out of practice), MGS obsessed, tech geek.

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