Inside Pulse 12

The 32 Worst Horror Games, Part Five

The Top Thirty-two Worst Horror Games, Ever, Part Five


Hola folks. Mark B here, bringin’ the sexy back with Part five of the Top Thirty-two Worst Horror Games, Ever.


And I’m Matt, and… wait, you’re what?


Bringin’ the sexy back.



Because, you know… all those other IP columnists, they don’t know how to act.


Why do you hate me so much?


Keep bitching. I’ll start quoting Right Said Fred next.


Oh god… can we just get started?


Fine, fine, kill my fun. It’s your turn to start, get to it.


#20: DOOM 3


Back to the present, we have a game that was given high ratings from several different magazines and sites. So, no way should it be on this list…right? I mean, it’s a sequel to a well known franchise that was fun to play, the graphics look fantastic, and the game has plenty of creepy atmosphere. So, how is it one of the worst horror games of all time?

For one, the title of the game is misleading. Doom sounds frightening; a correct title for this game would be Haunted House Simulator 2005. The game was like every haunted house I visited at Halloween; you walk through dark hallways and things jump out at you over and over again. All the strategic elements and great AI that other FPS games worked to improve over the years went right out of the window. You walked, something would jump at you, shoot, rinse, repeat. Even a haunted house or maze is more frightening, since, you know, you’re there and in person, and things jump out at you. With Doom 3 all you’re doing is sitting in the comfort of your living room in your Spiderman underwear and a bag of Cheetos.

Well, maybe just me.


Well, technically, you and Trent Reznor. Although I’m imagining he’s more of a Batman fan.


Well, the point is, public transportation is more frightening than this game.

Almost as painful as: Wearing a sandpaper thong.


My major issue with DOOM 3 was that it was largely presented in a way that made it inaccessible to those that didn’t get what it was trying to do. DOOM 3 was trying, basically, to be a horror experience while still trying to maintain the concepts that made old school FPS titles entertaining. I personally enjoyed it, but as an FPS, it wasn’t really all that accessible to those looking for an actual FPS instead of games-as-art, and it suffered for it. So no, I didn’t hate it, but I understand why others would, and I agree with those assessments, even if I don’t share them.


Translation: “Ooh, look at me, I don’t care if games play good so long as they’re pretty!”


Excuse me mister “Reviews? What are those?” if I don’t agree with you.


… that was uncalled for.


You’re right. It’s not your fault you’re lazy.


I am SO going to hurt you when this is over with.


#19: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: CHAOS BLEEDS:


I know what you’re thinking. “Ooh, look, a licensed game based on a TV show that pays lip service to the concept of “Ëœhorror’, at best. You’re so cool, dude.” Well, while it might be true that there’s not much actual “horror” to the license, there’s enough for it to qualify for the list, and for the record, I was a fan of both the TV show and the original title that popped up on the Xbox, so I think I’m fairly qualified to say that the sequel sucked.

The question is, why?


I’m going to guess that you’re qualified because you spend all your time playing video games because you’re sad and pathetic and have no life.


… I MEANT why does it suck, jerkass.


Ah. Carry on then.


Well, there are plenty of reasons, actually, but let’s establish some backstory first. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as an intellectual property, was riding pretty high for awhile, largely because it was a pretty decent show for a few seasons. Electronic Arts saw a profit to be made and, after securing the license, handed it to The Collective to develop. Surprisingly, The Collective managed to turn it into a fun little product that played well, was enjoyable, and maintained the feel of the series (I say surprisingly because their body of work indicates that they’ve developed mostly crap). Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as the game was titled (how imaginative) was released to the Xbox and, as near as I can tell, performed mildly well sales wise, enough that a sequel was justified, apparently.

And here’s where it gets complicated. Somewhere along the way, Electronic Arts decided they were no longer interested in maintaining the license, and Sierra took over as the publisher for the next Buffy title. The whys of EA’s abandoning the franchise are beyond me, but I can venture a few guesses. The original title, while likely a decent seller, probably didn’t make enough money to justify a sequel in their eyes, and EA is ultimately about little more than the bottom line (as are most companies). The show had been on a downward trend, ratings-wise, following a poorly received change of network and a fairly miserable sixth season, so EA probably also perceived that the game was less likely to turn a profit this time around.

It also didn’t help that by the time the game was finally published, the show had ended. Yup.

So, there were reasons for the transfer. Oddly, when Sierra took over the license, they chose to acquire the engine of the original title, but not the developers, as they handed the property to Eurocom, a company whose only notable achievement in this entire commentary is that they made MORE bad games then The Collective. This, for the record, is not a formula for success, and true to expectations, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds (henceforth known as Chaos Bleeds, because I’m not typing out that mess again) was a bomb.

As to WHY it was a stinker, well, that’s a little more complex. Part of the reasons the game sucked were problems all its own, but a lot of the reason the game was disagreeable was because, frankly, the first BtVS was substantially better by comparison, which is made more frustrating with the realization that they were essentially the same game. So we’ll address those issues separate from one another, so that even if you’ve not played the first game, you can understand (hopefully) what made Chaos Bleeds a pile of dog droppings.

WHY CHAOS BLEEDS WAS AN INFERIOR SEQUEL:

– BtVS took place in the middle of the third season, which is regarded by most as the best overall season of the show, and the feel of that season translates well into the title. Chaos Bleeds takes place in the midst of the fifth season (IMDB claims somewhere between episodes 17 and 18, though neither Dawn nor Glory are mentioned, and considering they were kind of the crux of the season…), and it shows; the general tone of the game is a lot more serious and miserable, and compared to the light-hearted and campy feel of the first game, it’s a lot less fun.

– BtVS pretended to be a part of series continuity, and managed to do this acceptably by avoiding too many ret-con requiring events that were obviously never coming. Chaos Bleeds, on the other hand, shits all over the continuity without consideration; Spike can (and does) single-handedly kill Adam, Faith shows up here when her return in season seven was treated as the first time the cast had seen her since season four, we’re introduced to a weapon that can kill The First (Hope’s Dagger) which is obviously never referenced in the show, and this quote:

“The First cannot die. It is an integral part of the universe. But you have dispersed its evil across all realities and dimensions. It will be centuries before it can coalesce again.”

… seems somewhat stupid since said Big Bad showed up two seasons later. Unless two seasons equals multiple centuries (and if it does, I want the name of Buffy’s plastic surgeon), they pulled that out of their ass. A lot less attention was paid to continuity and more of an effort was taken to cram everyone that could possibly be shoehorned into the game in there so fans could go “Ooh, look!” every thirty seconds. Since the game sold poorly, I’d imagine it didn’t work.

– In BtVS, Sarah Michelle Gellar couldn’t do the voice acting for Buffy (unsurprising, considering everyone seems to think she’s a selfish bitch), so a substitute was hired (Giselle Loren), and she did a reasonable job. In Chaos Bleeds, we’re also missing the voices of Anya (please, what the hell did Emma Caulfield have to do that was so important?) and Willow (Hannigan was making American Wedding, so she gets a pass). Anya is picked up by Loren, which is a voice she doesn’t emulate quite so well, while Willow is performed by Kari Wahlgren, and while she has a perfectly fine voice, her Willow sounds like ass.

– The original game featured a somewhat unique combat idea: you had a chance, if you tried it, to stake vampires at pretty much any time, but you had to get lucky enough that it’d work. This was really cool, as it could potentially end battles quickly (much like in the TV show), so of course Chaos Bleeds excised this dynamic entirely.

WHY CHAOS BLEEDS SUCKS IN GENERAL:

– Certain floaty or messy control schematics that existed in BtVS existed in Chaos Bleeds, with no change. In the first title, this was acceptable; in Chaos Bleeds, not so much.

– Chaos Bleeds offers you six characters to play as, with most of your time spent playing as Buffy. Unfortunately, only two of characters play in a way that can be classified as “unique”; Buffy and Faith play identically to one another, and Spike and Xander play like crippled versions of the two Slayers. While I appreciate the “play as your favorite characters from the show” dynamic, what’s the point if everyone plays like everyone else? Why even bring Faith in to play as her for one chapter? Why bother bringing in Sid the Dummy at all? What’s the point?

– What, exactly, is a vampire going to do with a medical kit? Shouldn’t he use, in theory, BLOOD to heal himself? I mean, perhaps my time with Dracula and Vampire: The Masquerade have warped my perception a bit, but I can’t mentally rectify a vampire needing bandages and sutures and such since he’s, y’know, DEAD, and blood wouldn’t exactly flow through his non-functional cardio-pulmonary system.

– The writing is weak. Five champions are chosen by ultimate evil and some random chaotic evil douchebag to wage war, whether they actively want to or not, and they are transported to an alternate dimension to wage war. Oooookay. Add to this that each of the lieutenants of The First all just HAPPEN to be guarding the body parts you need to assemble to find the dagger to kill The First (don’t ask), and you get a product so utterly stereotypical that it’s hard to believe that Joss Whedon had anything to do with this, even by allowing his name to touch it. It’s also really difficult to believe that a ventriloquist puppet and a normal kid could kill demons and vampires as well as, oh, magically enhanced vampire slayers. And don’t give me that “that’s the way the show was progressing” shit; Xander was still the guy who eats insects and gets the funny syphilis at this point, so eat me.

– The camera is hideous. I just have no idea how the camera got WORSE between games, but it did. I mean, wow.

All conflicts of logic, camera problems, and piss-poor writing aside, though, the biggest issue I can levy against the game is that it’s just nowhere near as fun as the first game, and not terribly interesting in general. It’s not so much that it’s bad so much as it is that it’s bland. It does nothing to make its subject matter interesting (and killing demons and the undead really SHOULD be interesting, no matter the context), it does nothing to invest you in the experience, and it does nothing to entertain you. It says, “Here’s some characters you know, and they’re going to fight”, and you’re left saying, “Why?” because there’s really no reason for it. It’s yet another lame action game in a sea of action games, that does nothing to take advantage of the fact that it’s based in a horrific world and could stand to offer some, I dunno, horrific elements. Even the show managed to get that right a few times; here, they can’t even do it once.

Almost as painful as: Being staked with a steel girder.


Chaos Bleeds is an archetypical example of developer laziness; find a franchise that will sell and then half-ass a game around it and hope the fans are so busy debating the nuances of the show that they’ll miss the fact that the game is like a vampire on a bleeding infant: it sucks.


Wow, profanity, good for you. Why an infant?


Because this game killed my inner child.


Ah.


A fairly decent combat system is overshadowed by some lame voice acting, repetitive goals, and poor level design. Not only that but the developers must assume you think exactly like they do, since the game has several objectives that are unclear, which means a lot of time just running around trying to figure out where the game wants you go next. Confusing, repetitive and feels somewhat pointless, much like the last couple seasons of the show it’s named after.


Amen. Especially season six.


#18: JUGGERNAUT:


Sometimes a game will come along and try something truly inventive and completely new, but utterly f*ck it up so bad that no one ever mentions the game’s name again. Such is the case with Juggernaut, an adventure/horror game that was inflicted on me by Alex Lucard… maybe because I owed him money and having me play the game was easier than breaking my legs, but would leave mental scars deep enough where I would always remember to pay him back on time. Or maybe I insulted Pikachu or something.


I’ve insulted Pikachu plenty of times and he hasn’t retaliated yet.


Didn’t he give you a list of a bunch of terrible games to play or something?


Yeah. When I told him I’d played them all, I think he cried.


Right. Anyway, like I said the scars are so deep that I’ve repressed the reason why he felt angry enough to have me play the game but it had to be something bad.

Juggernaught is a Playstation game that maybe six other people have ever played (thank jebus), which is much like other point and click adventure games. You use the joystick as the mouse, and that system works so well that I’m surprised there aren’t more adventure titles out there for the current generation of systems.


Yeah, well, I’m surprised there aren’t more 2D platformers and shmups available for the current generation, but that’s probably because I don’t give a shit about things like profit.


Touché. The twist here is that your girlfriend has become demonically possessed, and you’ve got to enter her mind to sort things out. I think. The pre-game cinematic wasn’t very clear. So much like Psychonauts (one of the best platformers that you should be ashamed you haven’t played) you go through a world that’s inside of the chick’s head… which is where a lot of the problems from the game stem from. You see, since everything is inside this woman’s head, the game’s puzzles have no real root in reality, which makes figuring some of the puzzles nearly impossible.


Wow. The developers made a game where the inside of a woman’s brain makes absolutely no sense. What a not at all lame and chauvinistic concept.


Not to say they’re hard, once you understand what the game wants you to do, it’s mostly memorizing certain phrases and repeating them back in a certain order. It’s when the game gives you no help, when you are supposed to figure out things, like putting a painting on a stand will open a completely new path in this area of the woods. You are left completely on your own to figure out what this painting is supposed to do, with no clues. The ENTIRE GAME IS LIKE THIS, which will have you throwing down the controller in frustration. It’s sad too, because with a little more work the game could’ve been one of the truly memorable Playstation games. I mean, it looked like crap, yeah, but the idea behind it all was good, just implemented extremely poorly.

Almost as painful as: Seeing how low the ratings for the latest hockey season (edit: Or as painful as another goddamn state without snow winning the cup). Greatest sport out there stuck on a TV station I don’t even get.


Didn’t play it, don’t know what to tell you. Yes, I know, I didn’t play a bad game, OOOHHHH HOW HORRIBLE, eat me. I like bad games, that doesn’t mean I’m some obsessed dork who does nothing but play video games at all times of my life. Sometimes I miss one. If someone (hint: Pika Pika) wants to mail it to me or something, I’ll be sure to play it and tell you what I think; otherwise, I defer to Matt, as he actually suffered through it.


#17: Run Like Hell:


HAY IT’S THE ROCK!

Okay, maybe not. But our just and wondrous main character certainly LOOKS like he’s trying to be the digital Duane Johnson.

Run Like Hell is the story of two different problems at the exact same time. The first problem is that RLH was announced as a visually groundbreaking well-hyped game from the debut of the PS2, way way back in 2000. Now, when you’re seeing stills for a game, you usually tend to expect that you’ll be seeing the game in a year, generally speaking, but RLH was fraught with problems that kept it from hitting store shelves until September of ’02. This wasn’t even SO bad, except that by the time the game came out, it was, to put it mildly, a disappointment in all possible respects.

Now, it might surprise you to know this, but I wrote a review of this pile of crap for 411 way way way back when it first came out, and while I’m far more bitter (and far better of a writer, I think) these days, a lot of the opinions I held against the game still hold true, so allow me to pad a little bit by reminiscing on days of yore. Or something.


Yeah, I even forgot you used to write for them.


And I prefer that. My reviews really sucked.


And how is that any different from now?


I hate you so much. Anyway, let’s move on.

The first impression you get when you start playing RLH is the feeling that the developers were trying to make the gaming experience into a more cinematic experience than anything else. The story is mainly told through cut-scenes, and these scenes are extremely prevalent throughout the six to ten hours of playtime contained herein. The game also starts off slow, story-line wise, and picks up more and more as it progresses to the finish. This is hardly a first, as Metal Gear Solid 2 attempted much the same thing… sadly, while RLH tries to accomplish this, it never quite makes it, leaving you feeling as if the game is second rate from the first chapter all the way to end game.

God, that was boring, wasn’t it? Anyway, yes, the story was told through cut-scenes. Yes, it tried to be like MGS2. No, it didn’t succeed. The MAIN reason it didn’t succeed is because the story was boring as hell. Or, perhaps, boring… like hell? No, that doesn’t work, never mind. Anyway, the story is basically “AAH, EVIL ALIENS COME AND KILL EVERYONE WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE AAAHHHH!” only less interesting. I mean, come on, you had freaking LANCE HENRIKSEN on board and still couldn’t get something useful out of him. Not even a single “OH MY GOD… WE GOTTA GET OFF OF THIS SHIIIP”. Pathetic.

Let’s see what else we have…

The gameplay is perhaps the most distressing thing the game provides. Gameplay is broken up between combat, puzzle solving, and a strange running/button pressing oddity similar to the Active Time events in Shenmue, with each being thrown about seemingly at random. The combat here works, to a certain degree, but is never really interesting or fun. Basically, there are only three weapons you find that prove to be of any use, and every other weapon you find/create is either there only for story-line progression, or is practically useless. Secondary fire is also included on many of the weapons, but these options are almost always less useful than they sound, and are altogether useless in boss battles. Combat is done primarily through auto-targeting, which is something of a blessing, because manual targeting is all but impossible, which becomes painful when facing cloaked enemies. Sadly, the auto targeting is stupid, and all too often you find your focus on the least threatening thing in sight, as opposed to the thing you’d prefer to shoot at. Puzzle solving seems to be quite skewed at times; the solutions are either incredibly simple, or so mind-numbingly asinine that you feel like a moron when you realize what you were missing. Backtracking is also a major part of the game; you spend most of your time running back and forth through the same places over and over, whether it’s to get a keycard, password, blowtorch, or some other sort of device that is plot specific. And many times, the puzzles revolve around how to remove Brutes, an exceptionally large, highly lethal enemy you can’t kill until almost the end of the game. This seems rather ridiculous after the tenth puzzle you see that involves them, and makes many of the puzzles seem tacked on for no good reason. The Active-Time events here mostly involve running from something, be it a Brute, an explosion, or something equally as lethal. Basically, the stick controls you, and you press a button at the right time to do something, usually jump or slide. These, thankfully, are few and far between, and while they are the source of a good bit of frustration, they are often mercifully short. Had they been taken out altogether, that would have been something of an improvement.

Wow. That was a lot of words to say “this sucks”. Man, it really hurts going back to read through this and realizing I used to write so… bland. Well, the above basically sums up the gameplay problems in a nutshell: poor combat, lame weaponry, crappy auto-targeting, and running away from Brutes for half the game. It should be noted that running from things was supposed to be “high-tension” and “scary” but never really got beyond being “lame” or “frustrating”.

I talked about the graphics, but I’m thinking I was far too kind, so to sum them up as simply as possible: when your shirt is STICKING to your neck, you either need to fix your rendering or wash your neck. There are ways to cover up this sort of thing (“this sort of thing” defined as rendering MSPaint images over polygons), but no such attention to detail was taken into consideration here.

The action tunes are done by the band Breaking Benjamin, and while they give credence to the cinematic atmosphere, and they certainly fit the violent nature of the game, they overshadow the remainder of the in-game music by comparison. The voice acting is also top notch, with talent like Lance Henriksen and Kate Mulgrew, and really breathes some life into the game interactions and plot development.

Regarding the former: in retrospect (and after having listened to the songs OUTSIDE of blowing things up), a song that is more or less directly written about the WIZARD OF FREAKING OZ is probably not the best song in the world to kick alien ass to. Yes, really. Regarding the latter: hearing former Captain Janeway voicing an ugly blotchy alien is probably one of the most perversely amusing things I’ve experienced in years. That said, the voice acting is one of the ONLY good things here. That it’s wasted on this game is kind of a shame.

…many of the plot points seemed somewhat ridiculous and unnecessary, and never really did anything for the game as a whole. Replay value was also practically nonexistent, as completing the game reveals nothing except the blatant reference that, yes, there WILL be a sequel. I think that’s the only time I cringed at the possibility of a sequel to a game. Anyway, nothing new is unlocked, there is only one ending, and honestly, there’s no reason to go back and play it again.

Well, thankfully, that prediction was proven wrong. I think I could live the rest of my life without seeing another sequel to this bag of shit.

It’s truly sad to see such an ambitious project go to waste. The game was in development for what seemed like forever, had quite a bit of press surrounding it, and had many a reviewer looking to it as Game of the Year, bar none.


What the hell was that?


Okay, that was hyperbole.


You’re not kidding. Jeebus.


Regardless, it was a pretty well-hyped title, and a lot of people were predicting big things for it. Sadly, it never even remotely fulfilled any of the promises the developers laid before it, thus dooming it to a place on my shelf of crap.

Instead we received a game that spends all of it’s time trying to be more like a movie than anything else, with mixed results throughout. With inaccurate control, spotty AI, repetitive scenes, backtracking galore, and so many oddball puzzles, the game barely climbs to above average. And when you realize that, sadly, there other games that have tried to accomplish what RLH was going for, with far better results, one has to wonder if the development time was worth it.

And yet I gave this game a six. God help me.


Could be worse.


Yeah, I could’ve given Pokemon Channel GOTY in the same year Wind Waker came out.


… what’s that sound?


It’s the sound of Lucard getting ready to fire my ass.

So, basically, we see a title that TRIED to be Aliens meets Resident Evil, and ended up being bull meets shit. The storyline was acceptable in concept, but failed in execution. The gameplay might have worked, but never managed to rise above “occasionally functional”. The presentation was pure “action movie”, but the game TRIED to provide cheap scares, and failed.

Oh yeah, and the camera sucked. Especially in the Active Time sequences. You got to watch where you’d BEEN, not where you were GOING. This was, without question, one of the most contrived ideas I’ve seen in a video game to DATE, and whoever was responsible for that deserves to be locked in a room with this game for eternity.

Ultimately, despite a solid amount of hype, some well known (if not uber famous) voice actors on board, and something like three years of development in total, RLH ended up sucking the meat missile. It is by no means the worst game on this list in terms of being a bad GAME, but the unfulfilled potential and indecisive design elements bring it far beyond simply being an “oops” game. It’s lame, it’s sad, it sucks, and there’s frankly no reason for it to exist, especially in the condition it does. About the only thing that’s appropriate is the name, and even then, that’s only if someone tries to force you to play it.

Almost as painful as: Playing naked Slip ‘n Slide with sandpaper.


I just wanted to add RUN LIKE HELL… FROM THIS GAME! Yeah that was retarded, but I’ve been dying to say it.


So. Another highly productive edition of the Top Thirty-Two Worst Horror Games, Ever has come to a close. Join us next week when MGPH!


What the…



































You’ll have to excuse us, folks. Mark appears to have been bound, gagged, and carried off by a small army of Pikachu’s.

Um…

Format, format… ah, here it is. Come back next week when we’ll have milk, eggs, cheese, wait that’s my grocery list… here we go… a Resident Evil spin-off, two Resident Evil knock-offs, and a game from Acclaim. So, you know, quality. Anyway… I’m Matt Yeager, and on behalf of myself and my comrade who is apparently about to be raped by some Pokemon, good night.


PART SIX.