Video games are a gateway to a multitude of experiences we would never find in our normal lives. Whether it be for a lack of money, the risk of dying or our inability to be an elemental super-being capable of mass destruction, games provide so many opportunities we never would normally be able to dream of seeing in the comparatively boring real world.
However, while some games can provide you with a memorable and exciting time it doesn’t always mean that the game itself is a particularly good one. I can think of several times a game which has been achieving nothing but irritating or boring me, but has suddenly come to life with one sequence or the realisation I can move away from what the game is telling me to do and make my own fun with its world. Grand Theft Auto and modern Assassin’s Creed games are the best at this, though they are themselves great games, so today I am going to look at titles towards the mediocre end of the spectrum that still contain at least one moment good enough to write home about.
Drive coast to coast in North America – The Crew 2
I can’t get to grips with the racing in The Crew 2. I despise the fact that if you find yourself irreversibly in last place in a race that you cannot simply quit or restart as you are forced to commit and drive yourself over the finish line no matter what hopeless position you find yourself in. There’s nothing more boring and disheartening than being forced to commit to a lost cause (story of Will’s love life) and so I don’t see why a game should feel like it can do this.
The map for The Crew 2, a condensed version of the United States for those who don’t know, is absolutely massive and can be traversed in anything from cars, off-road vehicles, planes (though the draw distance in the game leaves much to be desired) and boats where applicable.
When The Crew 1 launched in 2014 I immediately set out in an Aston Martin to drive from the Empire State Building to the Golden Gate Bridge to see how long it could take and out of curiosity as to how fun it would be. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, though that was all I enjoyed about that game, and after picking up The Crew 2 for a low price I recreated the drive last week, as The Crew 2 has dramatically improved on the pitiful graphics from the first game.
Setting out in a Ford Mustang and driving from the Golden Gate Bridge to Central Park in New York, my stopwatch informed me it took 33 minutes and 37 seconds to complete the 80 mile drive. I was surprised at the end to discover it had taken so long as I was having such a fun time as the miles rolled by that it felt like almost no time at all. Upon completion I decided to have another go at one of the races, but after spinning off and ruining my chances of winning in the second lap I decided I’d seen all the game had to offer and uninstalled it.
Fight a Balrog – Middle Earth: Shadow of War
My hatred of Middle Earth: Shadow of War is well documented on the site so I won’t repeat all my points again here. I will concede that while the promoted battle with the Balrog from the games marketing wasn’t as thrilling or spectacular as I had hoped, it was still a fun fight and the clear highlight for me in an experience I despised. If there is ever a sequel to Shadow of War I hope it can be relied upon to bring more moments like that and a lot less of being jumped by twenty Uruks when you’ve only just cleared out twenty of their mates and now lack the energy to lift a spoon let alone fight for your life!
Play as BTEC Iron Man – Anthem
Iron Man VR has recently released, but everyone seems to have forgotten about another game that offered a similar experience last year, which was of course the infinitely disappointing Anthem. I didn’t pay for my copy of Anthem which is most likely why I don’t resent the time I spent on it, but the obvious glaring issue that your suit, called ‘Javelin’ in-game which is fitting for a lifeless and boring object that flies once then needs an immediate rest, cannot remain airborne indefinitely. Seasoned players will argue that you can fly as long as you like if you only commit to occasionally flying low over water to cool your Javelin down so it doesn’t need to land, but the obvious retort to this is that new players don’t want to have to do that!
I do wish to point out that the development team for Anthem at BioWare are reportedly hard at work at overhauling the whole game into an experience that players actually want, and I for one am very excited to give them a chance and see what they come out with. More on this story as it develops..
Get drunk with the Devil / Lucifer – Afterparty
No I’m not talking about getting drunk with Respawning’s own Luke, though Lucifer in Afterparty is referred to as ‘Luke’ by his friends in the game which is likely my favourite moment in the whole dull experience.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Afterparty is one of the most disappointing game experiences I have ever had (you can find out why in my review). The second game released by Night School Studio with their debut release being Oxenfree, a game I’ve heaped praise upon on this site for its genius story and endearing characters, Afterparty went in a different direction with a host of characters I hated and one of the laziest stories in existence. The sound design and environments were both great but the fact all the game dialogue ruined the moment at every opportunity, it is incredibly difficult to look past this games flaws and appreciate the few good moments it has.
When the game eventually stops sending you off to different locations in a desperate bid to pad its runtime, you eventually sit down to a drinking competition with the Devil Himself, Lucifer. While in actual practise this merely takes the form of playing the fiddly and annoying drinking mini games that Afterparty has thrust on you at random times across the ‘story’, the actual event of sitting across from the gigantic king of Hell while he makes sly comments at you while necking shots is quite cathartic following the experience you have had until this point.
I can confirm that getting drunk with Respawning’s Luke is much more fun than drinking with Lucifer in Afterparty.
Blow up the world – Megaton Rainfall
That sounds darker than it is and if it makes you feel any better, the ‘world’ I’m referring to isn’t Earth, but if you want to imagine it is then go right ahead you adorable little psycho. Megaton Rainfall is a VR game that received support to play out of VR, a decision that perplexes me as it plays so damn badly. I can envision how the controls in VR would make it more accessible and enjoyable to players with stomachs of steel, but moving the camera and player character with analog sticks on a PS4 controller is janky and unintuitive to say the least.
The game mechanics add insult to injury when it encourages you to fire your most powerful energy blast at enemies, but if you do so and accidentally make contact with the ground, the world explodes forcing you to restart the whole segment. This gets even more aggravating around the midpoint when facing flying serpentine opponents who can only take damage if you strike the weak point as either end of their bodies, coupled with the fact they are already destroying the city the battle takes place in when you arrive, forcing you to act quickly in order to save as many lives as possible in order to pass the level.
After a couple of failed attempts to pass this encounter, I resigned myself to only loading up Megaton Rainfall whenever I wanted to blow up the planet, though the limited style of graphics that was possible for VR in 2017 means even this gets boring very fast. VR is definitely not for me so I’ll likely never experience it in this medium, so I’ll just have to be sustained by the sweet screams of billions crying out as they and their home are atomised by a man-child having a bit of a tantrum.
Thank you for reading about great moments in bad video games. Leave your suggestions for what you would have included in this list in the comments or on Twitter @MaliceVER and I’ll be back next week with another feature, so I will speak to you then!