Bad games are inevitable in an imperfect world, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend hard-earned money on them. To prevent poor purchasing decisions, it’s useful to reflect on the stinkers of the video game world at the end of each year. Below, we take a look at the 14 absolute worst games of 2014.
For our methodology, we surveyed every game listed on Metacritic during the year and averaged the critic and user ratings to create a composite score. For example, a game with a 95 critic score and 9.3 user score would receive a composite score of 94. This should give us the clearest picture of how the games were received by critics and gamers alike.
14. BlackSoul (PC)
- Composite Metacritic score: 35
Horror game fans loved classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill when they came out, but we loved them in spite of their gameplay. Developers have come a long way since the era of “tank controls” and fixed camera angles that make it a challenge just to see the action. For some reason, that frustratingly awful gameplay is what BlackSoul seeks to emulate. It does a fine job of recreating it, but that doesn’t make it fun to play in this day and age.
Gaming Trend said: “The biggest change between modern survival horror and the old-school classics is the tightening of controls — older games had clumsy, fumbling control schemes. BlackSoul dutifully recreates this with a control scheme that is so slow, so completely unresponsive that even the menu screens fail to respond to your commands. Simply walking in a straight line is a challenge. Combat is an exercise in futility and frustration.”
13. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)
- Composite Metacritic score: 35
It’s always sad to see a franchise that was once at the top of the world fall into this kind of disrepair. But here we are with Sonic’s latest title, a game that tries many things but fails at all of them. The combat is repetitive and frustrating, the controls are unresponsive, and the camera struggles to keep your characters in view. If you want a great Sonic game, you’d be better off going back a decade or two.
GameSpot says: “Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a failure at some basic levels of gaming. While it’s understandable that a franchise may want to move beyond the simple elegance of its origins, a muddled web of poorly connected and even more poorly executed systems is not the answer. The Sonic name deserves better than this, and so do consumers.”
12. Line of Defense Tactics – Tactical Advantage (PC)
- Composite Metacritic score: 32
Line of Defense Tactics is a strategy game that began as a free-to-play title on iOS and Android. When it came to Steam, however, the developer decided to launch it for $25. The problem with that is that the game is just no good. You control four soldiers as they go on a variety of missions, but the game lacks any and all of the depth you’d expect to find in a PC strategy game. You’d be much better off sticking with a superb title like XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Hardcore Gamer says: “Line of Defense Tactics looks like a mobile game, controls like a mobile game, and has all the gameplay depth of the most mindless time wasting mobile games.”
11. The Letter (Wii U)
- Composite Metacritic score: 31.5
The Letter is a travesty of a “horror” game that fails on just about every level possible. For starters, it’s not scary. Then the graphics are awful and the environments are achingly bland. The whole thing can easily be completed in under 20 minutes, leaving you to wonder where your money went. As for the ending, let’s just say that it’s laughable — the opposite of what you want in a horror movie.
HardcoreGamer said: “For those of you unfamiliar with The Letter: good. Leave now. Do not dip your toe in this cesspool. Pretend it never existed, and the world will be a happier place for it.”
10. SoulCalibur: Lost Swords (PlayStation 3)
- Composite Metacritic score: 28.5
The biggest problem with this free-to-play remake of SoulCalibur 5 is that it’s way, way worse than its inspiration. First off, it has no multiplayer mode — the bread and butter of most fighting games — so you’re left to battle against computer-controlled opponents while also being urged to spend unreasonable amounts of money on loot chests that may or may not contain items your character can equip. Considering that the first SoulCalibur is perhaps the best fighting game of all time, that makes Lost Swords’ problems even more tragic.
EuroGamer said: “To call Lost Swords a failed experiment would be an insult to every ambitious game that fell flat on its face. It feels like Namco put barely any thought into making the not-so-micro-transactions justifiable or even making sure that the single-player focus felt consistently engaging.”
9. BlazBlue: Clone Phantasma (Nintendo 3DS)
- Composite Metacritic score: 28.5
The BlazBlue series of anime fighting games has been kicking around for a while, but it has finally arrived on the 3DS in a conveniently portable package. Which would be great, if only it were a good game. Once again, there’s no multiplayer mode here, so it’s just you, the computer, and the shamefully shallow fighting game mechanics. It only costs a few bucks on Nintendo’s eShop, but it isn’t even worth that.
Nintendo Life says: “BlazBlue: Clone Phantasma builds off of its DSiWare predecessor, but only manages to expand outward rather than upward. There’s more content here than in the pervious game, and slightly more variety to keep players occupied, but it remains a very shallow experience that does little to satisfy.”
8. Rekoil (PC)
- Composite Metacritic score: 28
When it comes to the first-person shooter genre, developers have plenty of ways to put their own mark on their games. Unfortunately, the makers of Rekoil have brought no new ideas to the genre, and instead have rehashed bad ideas that went out of favor long ago.
You won’t find a progression system here, or smart respawn points. Nor will you find modern graphics or snappy load times. In fact, since the game is online-only, you’re most likely to find yourself in an empty level with nothing to do, because no one is playing it. Unless you like bland shooting and deserted maps, steer clear of this one.
Game Informer says: “If you were to compile a list of the most overused elements of multiplayer FPS from the dawn of the genre to today, Rekoil would be a much crappier version of what you’re imagining.”
7. Basement Crawl (PlayStation 4)
- Composite Metacritic score: 26
Basement Crawl is a multiplayer action-puzzle game inspired by titles like Bomberman. The idea is to have a group of players, either online or in the same room, hop into a game and run around, blowing one another to kingdom come. The problems with this game start from the get-go, because there’s no tutorial to show you how to play. Once you figure it out, you’ll find yourself mired in technical glitches that further cripple the already unpleasant game. Try playing Super Smash Bros for Wii U instead.
Polygon says: “The very first time I tried to load a match in Basement Crawl, the game crashed. I should’ve taken that as an omen. Basement Crawl is a broken game.”
6. Air Conflicts: Vietnam Ultimate Edition (PlayStation 4)
- Composite Metacritic score: 25
One of the many “ultimate editions” to come out this console generation is Air Conflicts, a game originally released for the PS3. Turns out the developer should have let sleeping dogs lie, because this updated edition never gets off the ground. From snooze-inducing missions and bad graphics to low frame rates and barren multiplayer maps, this game is a dud. Steer clear.
Push Square says: “Air Conflicts: Vietnam Ultimate Edition crashes and burns due to its embarrassing visuals, subpar performance, and repetitive mission objectives.”
5. Dungeon Keeper (iOS)
- Composite Metacritic score: 23
Why is a remake of a classic game like Dungeon Keeper on this list? Because Electronic Arts turned it into a free-to-play game, limiting your abilities and shoving wads of in-app purchases into the game. To make any progress, you either have to spend a lot of time waiting or open your wallet to buy in-game currency. Fans of the original played this version hoping for a trip down memory lane. Instead, they got a money-grubbing cash-in.
USGamer says: “Ultimately, Dungeon Keeper is … the perfect example of why some games just need an old-fashioned thing called a single payment cost.”
4. Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle (Nintendo 3DS)
- Composite Metacritic score: 21.5
If you follow anime, perhaps you’re familiar with Tenkai Knights, a show about a group of kids who become robotic warriors on a faraway planet. In the game, however, you spend most of your time going on boring missions and engaging in unexciting combat. The whole thing feels kind of unfinished and forgettable, and generally not worth playing.
Gaming Trend says: “What little fun Tenkai Knights: Brave Battle brings during the mech-on-mech battles is almost entirely overshadowed by the game’s incredibly repetitive nature.”
3. Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance (PC)
- Composite Metacritic score: 21
Popcap’s Plants Vs. Zombies is a fantastic “lane strategy game” in which the undead shamble toward your house while you plant weaponized flora to fight them off. Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance is based on the same idea but is set in the world of the table-top game Warhammer 40,000. The problem is, it loses all of the original game’s charms in the process and becomes a waste of a time that’s as bereft of ideas as it is of fun.
The Escapist says: “A heartless reskin of an already dull game, Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance is a mediocre ‘me too’ clone with a brand name shoddily bolted to itself.”
2. Rambo The Video Game (PlayStation3)
- Composite Metacritic score: 20
Seeing as it’s been years since Stallone’s war-hardened soldier has landed on the big screen, it’s bizarre that anyone made a Rambo game in 2014. Yet here we are. This game covers the storylines of the first three movies, but in a very strange way for a home console game in this day and age: Rambo is an on-rails shooter. That means your character travels a pre-set path, while all you have to do is aim the gun, pull the trigger, and reload as necessary. That’s about it. In 2014, that’s nowhere near enough.
ShackNews says: “Rambo: The Video Game just disappoints, over and over. There are no new power-ups or twists to keep you interested, no memorable boss fights, and no touches that fans of the film will go ‘ooh’ over.”
1. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile (iOS)
- Composite Metacritic score: 19
The idea behind this game is sound: It’s your job to create an amusement park designed any way you want, provided it meets certain requirements. But once again, ugly free-to-play mechanics jam up the gears, making you either wait real-life time to proceed or spend money to speed up the process. It’s annoying enough to suck the fun out of the game and bad enough to land it at No. 1 on the list.
Eurogamer says: “About the only thing I can say in favor of RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile is that it accurately captures the experience of visiting a theme park: it costs too much to get in, the stalls are all overpriced, you have to wait ages for all the rides and the whole experience will leave you feeling decidedly nauseous.”
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