Screenshot: Team Fortress 2 had events where the map would be littered with gifts. Sometimes they were good, mostly bad.
Written By: Elijah Moon Blackwell
Whether it was my birthday, a random spur of the moment, or Christmas, I always got video games as gifts. My parents got me games based purely on cover art and the subject matter, a common move when buying for kids. A Nintendo character on a go-kart? Definitely going to end up in my stocking.
As I got older, my folks paid attention to what I played or talked about (and sometimes even consulted the review pages of the magazines we were subscribed to) in order to determine what video games to buy me.
My girlfriend and close friends gifted me video games strategically, asking me to give them a top ten list to ensure what they got me was something I actually wanted.
No method is perfect. Because of human error and the deceptive marketing practices of video game companies, some horrible products made their way into my consoles.
In no particular order, I present to you the worst video games I was unfortunately gifted.
Vampire Rain: Altered Species – 2008 – PlayStation 3
2008 was a dark time. The Global Financial Crisis was in full swing. Due to the subprime mortgage, many Americans who owed payments on property suffered heavily. My family was not immune. I mention the crisis (mainly to add to the melodrama) because I think it explains why my parents got me Vampire Rain: Altered Species. The game got such poor reviews that a 2008 release saw an immediate price cut. I was still fairly young and at the time I was easily amused. So a cheap game that is new and me rarely disliking a video game? Seemed like a match made in heaven.
Spoiler alert…it was not.
Like I said, at the time I found enjoyment in some of the most horrendous games. Today, my taste is pretty picky in comparison to young me. However, Vampire Rain: Altered Species was a stealth game. I hated stealth. Being bad at stealth meant that Vampire Rain was already going to be a challenge. Unlike other stealth games, there wasn’t a way to correct your mistakes. If you made on misstep, you were dead. This game was all about true stealth. If you were spotted, game over.
The controls were also clunky. It is always hard to put in words what clunky controls feel like, so I’ll compare it to a rusty gate. When a gate is brand new and works like it should, opening and closing it is easy. When it is rusty, you have to fight the gate and sometimes it won’t close all the way, meaning you have to do some weird fooling around to get it fully shut. Understand? Well I tried…
Vampire games are really rare and it is unfortunate that this one did not turn out well. The idea of hunting vampires in a modern day environment is a concept that hasn’t been done enough.
I didn’t see (and never plan on seeing) the end of that game. Maybe one day I will revisit it…but probably not.
Rogue Warrior – 2009 – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
The worst part about Rogue Warrior is that I was gifted it twice.
Back when I played PlayStation 3 exclusively, my dad used to get games for me randomly. He felt that my judgement was close-minded and I dismissed games because they weren’t popular franchises. To him, if it didn’t have Call of Duty in the title, I was going to ignore it. This probably was true when it came to multiplayer based shooters but honestly, I played anything.
This didn’t stop him from buying me ultra obscure games due to the attractiveness of the cover. Because he went purely off the cover, my dad’s success rate for buying good games was about 50%.
I remember it being 2013, the Christmas of my senior year of high school, when I unwrapped this game. I didn’t know how to react. I had no idea what it was and because of that I expected it to suck.
My dad claimed that he had stumbled upon a gem.
It was a horrible game. Let’s pretend the main protagonist isn’t a Duke Nuke’em wannabe (which is maybe 50% of the issue); the gun play is abysmal. I never understood how big studios like Rebellion and Bethesda (yes, Bethesda had a hand in this) could generate such bad gun play. The guns have no unique feel to them and do not feel satisfying to use.
The game is also incredibly short with nothing new or innovative to add to the table.
Each Call of Duty campaign adds some form of gimmick or shock value to separate itself from the rest of the franchise. The elements of this game quickly went from being jaw dropping to boring. I yawned an hour into this game.
A positive to the game is that the beginning takes place in North Korea. It’s surprising, I know, since not many games take place in North Korea.
The sad part is that this game was supposed to be based on an autobiography that a Navy Seal wrote. What a horrible attempt at trying to honor an American soldier.
Also, thanks to my college friend who gifted me the physical PC version. I know you knew it was bad, you just wanted to watch the world burn.
300 March to Glory – 2007 – PlayStation Portable
I feel a sort of love/hate relationship with the PlayStation Portable. I had one and religiously played it. However, as I got older I realized just how bad these ports were. At the same time, the PlayStation Portable had some exclusives that I’d still play today. Coded Arms is a game that I adore to this day. There are others, but Coded Arms is unforgettable.
Not all exclusives were good though, which is the case with 300 March to Glory.
Movie licensed video games are pretty rare these days, but there was a time where every hit movie got the video game treatment.
300 seemed like an easy game to make. I imagined a hack and slash that was 300 themed. Well, that is exactly what we got, and man was it bad. It was basically two attacks that don’t change and a wave of enemies that stand no challenge.
The game doesn’t become more challenging, so it is the same combat the whole way through. It is so bland that I have nothing else to really bring to the table.
It just sucks.
Geist – 2005 – GameCube
This was more of a massive disappointment. The game started out so well. You were a ghost and you could possess soldiers to kill other soldiers. You could freak people out by possessing trash cans and other objects. Once their fear was high enough they were able to be possessed.
It sounds like a neat idea. The first hour or so of the game made it a contender for best game ever. As the game went on, it lost direction. I feel like the developers didn’t know what they wanted. Was it a puzzle game? Sometimes. Adventure game? In one level you had a lot to explore. Was it a shooter? Kinda…
Geist was messy and the gimmick wore off once you realized there wasn’t much to possess. You couldn’t replay levels and scare people in a different way. There was one way to do everything. This made the replay-ability extremely low.
A great idea done so poorly. It has become a cult classic in recent years. I may revisit and see if my adult mind can see through the flaws.
Starsky and Hutch – 2003 – PlayStation 2, Xbox, Microsoft Windows, GameCube
This game was so mediocre that I threw it away. Before I became a game collector, I got rid of games that were bad. No one would buy this one off of me so I threw it in the trash.
In a game that is mostly driving, one would think the developers paid attention to driving mechanics, right? Considering Driver and Grand Theft Auto III had released just a couple years earlier, the bar had been set high.
The developers of this game did the bare minimum and it showed. I actually don’t remember much about Starsky and Hutch, so I can’t add anymore details.
I’m not sure what’s worse, the movie with Ben Stiller or this game.
On behalf of everyone at CD-ROM Fossil, happy holidays! We will see you at New Year’s! It was a long month, so we are going to take a small break until then.
Next post will be New Year’s Day!