The mercenaries have blocked your path and are threatening to roast you alive in your chicken suit! Realizing their anger can be quickly diffused by a costume change, you hit Start to bring up your inventory menu – er, well-furnished portal named the Sanctuary?
When you first fire up Fable III the idea of not having an menu system is charming. Upon entering the Sanctuary you’re greeted by your John Cleese-voiced butler Jasper who will not only suggest weapons, but will chime in with witty or polite, but snide remarks on your attire. Charming soon turns into quaint as you realize that having the Sanctuary means that determining how much money you have requires going to the room where a literal pile of gold sits. However, all positive thoughts regarding your personal traveling portal soon fly out the window when you find that just utilizing the map requires entirely too many actions and that sometimes all you really want to do is find out how many carrots you’re carrying, not physically walk to the item room. While the game is very much an immersive and compelling experience, the exclusion of a tried-but-true menu system was an “improvement” that was far from it.
Mass Effect 2
You know what a soaring space opera needs? The gaming equivalent of scooping through a cat’s litter box. Mining unexplored worlds for ship resources isn’t a horrible idea, but when you have to do it for every… single… planet, well, we guess the galaxy can wait while you dick around looking for element zero.
WINNER: Kane & Lynch 2’s naked run through Shanghai
You know, we never really liked Kane and Lynch that much to begin with. We certainly weren’t ready to take our relationship to the level where we got to see them naked, but then Dog Days went and made the decision for us. Right in its opening moments, no less, and, later, during the course of an entire level.
Now, granted, seeing the two deliberately unlikable “heroes” stripped naked and sliced up with a box cutter is one of the game’s more memorable moments, and it fits in well with Dog Days’ overtly raw, unsettling tone. However, knowing that doesn’t really make it any more enjoyable to stare at the bare asses of two pudgy, blood-covered, middle-aged grumblefucks as they hoof it through the back alleys of Shanghai in search of clothing and guns.
For a dead person, Queen Cleopatra - the towering boss of the ring of lust - has rather lovely boobs. They're perfectly formed and move with a seductively hypnotic bounce. It's almost beautiful. But then her nipples - which are actually mouths - spit out demented babies with scythes for arms in a shower of what looks like breast milk and vomit. No.
WINNER: Hydrophobia devs call out negative reviews
Hydrophobia, not to put too fine a point on it, was fucking terrible. After nearly four years in development and a lengthy period of hype as a result of its “big game” approach to XBLA development and supposedly pioneering water physics, it turned out to be a load of crappy design held together with shaky game mechanics and layered over with cheap-looking visuals and hateful voice-acting. Hydrophobia was a very bad game. That is not up for debate.
Unless you work for Dark Energy, that is. The devs thought it was OK to accuse Edge Magazine of not playing Hydrophobia before writing its 3/10 review. They thought it was OK to call Destructoid after their reviewer (and occasional GR features writer) made a derogatory personal tweet about the game. They essentially thought it was fine to call into question the professionalism of established and respected games journalists as a shield for their own professional failings.
And worst of all? They then thought it was OK, after denying the legitimacy of all criticism, to pull a 180 and use said criticism as a publicity springboard for its reworked and improved build of the game, Hydrophobia Pure. You used the lame-ass “you’re doing it wrong” excuse and then fixed the game you said wasn’t broken? WTF?
Gran Turismo 5
Prior to the release of GT5, Yamauchi said: "With each new PlayStation, the vessel has become bigger, but it's still not enough. With GT5 we've made it as clean and beautiful as possible within the confines of the space we're given - but of course there's a lot more that we want to put in." You know what they say about a workman and his tools.
Letting a decent game die is a big mistake. Letting one of the best FPSes of the year die is foolhardy. Outright killing said FPS when it’s made by one of the most dependable devs in gaming and could do a great deal to benefit both their and your fortunes? That’s just unforgivable.
But that’s what Activision did to Singularity. A shameless grab-bag of ideas from the best shooters of the last ten years, it transcended its magpie roots by blending and reworking its influences into a new and exciting configuration of imaginative, inventive and satisfying good-times. Following the misfiring Wolfenstein, long-time id collaborator Raven Software worked its collective balls off to make Singularity awesome, and the love lavished upon it drips off the screen during every minute of its brilliantly-paced duration.
But the game has one major failing. It doesn’t have the words “Call” “of” or “Duty” in its title, and so it was sent out to die without a bit of publicity. Even we had no idea how good it was until we finally got to give it a proper play after it was released. We’ve been doing our best to retroactively promote it ever since then, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re playing catch-up.
The Sly Cooper Collection
A $40 collection with three of the PS2’s best and cleverest games? Remastered and presented in widescreen 720p? Sounds like a day-one purchase for us. For whatever reason though, Sony barely made a peep about it, focusing instead on launching Move. Bet we don’t see a Sports Champions remix in five years…
WINNER: Alan Wake’s incessant Verizon plugs
The Energizer brand batteries, Thermos brand thermoses and Verizon brand billboards were obnoxious, distracting, unnecessary… but made the bare minimum of sense within Alan Wake's world for us to (sort of) forgive their inclusion. We didn't understand why a massive phone corporation would waste so much money winning over a tiny town full of technologically backwards hicks, or why so many of those hicks would forget their coffee in the middle of the woods each night, but we were willing to suspend our disbelief.
The illusion-shattering TV commercial that doubled as an Achievement and was required viewing for a second Achievement, however? Or the DLC moment when Alan marvels at Verizon's GPS coverage, then receives a ghostly call asking "Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?" That is where we draw our line of disgust.
MGS: Peace Walker
To be fair, Peace Walker’s outrageous, era-inappropriate product placement – which consisted of things like Mountain Dew t-shirts and in-game Doritos – was almost entirely restricted to the Japanese version of the game. (The US lost most of the shirts, and replaced branded power-ups with generic versions.) But really? That doesn’t make it any less hilarious.
While there were a fair few boss battles in 2010 that whooped all kinds of keester, there have also been a boatload of shitty ones… a boat marooned in shark-infested waters that’s got every dictator on the world on board, has several holes in its hull and constantly blasts Abba songs 24/7. More than the sheer amount of them, though, is the plutonium-powered awfulness of a select few that warrant their own special category of hate. Really, some were so offensive to our digits, we still get nervous twitches whenever someone mentions MGS: Peace Walker.
Soul-destroying wars of attrition against giant nuclear robots aside, Dead Rising 2 also has some horrendous encounters. A stroke-baiting throwback to archaic game design, most of the psychopath battles in Capcom’s zombie ‘em up are approximately as fun as sticking Scotch Bonnet chili seeds in your eyes. Just Cause 2 also had a few cheap stinkers. But the hate-filled cake simply must go to the Darth Vader fight at the end of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. We say this with nary a hint of hyperbole: we’d genuinely rather have a rectal examine conducted with a lightsaber than endure the tortuously repetitive slog against Johnny Bin Head again.
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