You would imagine that being employed as a games tester is a pretty sweet existence. Sitting around, playing unreleased triple-A games all day long, only occasionally stopping to eat some Cheetos. And then, after your day is over, going home to play some more games. Now obviously I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this simply isn’t the case. In fact, the life of a games tester is actually pretty appalling. I mean, not like ‘Victorian child factory-labourer’ bad, but still kind of dismal.
What you’re essentially required to do, is break games. And not even amazing games in the first place, unless you’re very lucky indeed. Basically, what you’re going to be doing, 9 times out of 10, is sit in a dark room, spamming the ‘jump’ button on some miserable child-friendly platform game before collating a large, tedious report of any bugs that happened to occur. Hour after hour. Level after level.
In a way then, these brave people are martyrs, sacrificing their gaming enjoyment for the sake of ours. We owe them a lot, certainly, but sometimes they miss a few things. Or the developers didn’t have the time or the money to fix them, or perhaps even the inclination. Not everyone likes their job, even in the heady and exciting world of gaming. So here then, for whatever reason, are the seven crappiest, most broken games that somehow ever got released.
Click on to see the unfinished horrors that people like you actually paid to play…Next
8) Sonic the Hedgehog – 2006
Back at 2005, SEGA’s legendary programmer Yuji Naka made a big announcement at E3. There was to be a new, cross-platform Sonic game released as part of the franchise’s 15th anniversary. Everyone was delighted, and there was dancing in the streets. Then, a few months after this, Yuji Naka made a second announcement. He was resigning from the development team. Everyone was fearful, and there was riots on the streets.
Well, maybe not riots on the streets, but there was definitely soon to be some on the forums. Sonic ’06, as it was dubbed, became a programming race against time after various developmental disasters, and what we were left with was a game so chock full of bugs that it basically resembled an Amazonian tribesman’s dinner plate.
Glitching through scenery, disappearing characters, animation issues, a completely useless camera – Sonic ’06 was a library of sloppy design. It was reported at the time that due to time constraints when making the game, the developers began to flat out ignore the (increasingly large) bug reports of the various testers.
There’s a lesson to be learned here somewhere. Something about SEGA insisting on still making Sonic games, probably.Previous Next
7) Battlefield 4 – 2013
A pertinent one for me, being the world’s biggest fan of the series. The sheer scope and freedom of this next-gen titan just about makes it one of the finest shooters ever made – on paper. You can hijack a jet in mid-air, take enemies out with a sniper rifle from the other side of a two mile map, collapse entire Chinese skyscrapers, utilise seemingly endless amounts of military tech, and all with 63 other people from around the globe at once. That is to say, you could do those things, if only you could get into a match. Around about the time of Battlefield: Bad Company, I’d read the words “cannot connect to EA Online” so many times I ended up accidentally saying them at my wedding, instead of the more traditional “I do”.
The real shame, of course, is that Electronic Arts have had several years since that game’s release to get it right, and they consistently haven’t. A quick glace at the Battlefield 4 Facebook page will show up a near endless stream of red-hot bile, being spewed forth by people who spent $60 (or in Premium cases, $100+) on what is effectively a drab menu screen.
Even now, after several patches (and grovelling apologies), there’s still plenty of nonsense occurring on the field. Soldiers floating around with completely static legs, or getting killed by people who themselves appear to have 0% health, for example. Not to mention the various sound issues – especially upsetting as Battlefield 4 has the most glorious audio you’ll ever hear. But DICE have five platforms of this game to work on, so I do kind of feel sorry for them. And I do still love the game, especially as I equip my rocket-launcher whilst quad-biking towards an- YOU HAVE LOST CONNECTION TO THE SESSION.Previous Next
6) Superman 64 – 1999
Diabolical. Simply diabolical.
No, not Lex Luthor’s plans for world domination, but rather the careless and frankly putrid game that N64 owners like myself had to endure in the late 90s. It was completely and utterly awful, there’s no doubt about it, though it would have been exactly 0% better had it actually worked. If you bought this game as a young man desperate to live out your Superman fantasies, you were in for a rude surprise.
Unless, of course, you fantasised not about saving the world, but about flying through misty grey air, or into dull grey buildings, or picking up indistinct grey cars – but I’m sure you didn’t, because you’re a normal human being. The game also had the unnecessarily nasty habit of throwing you in at the deep end, giving you no time to learn the controls before hastily flashing your objectives up on the screen like they were subliminal advertising. It couldn’t have made you feel less super, in fact, and endlessly getting your tights snagged on bits of scenery is pretty much the last straw for any superhero wannabe.
Developer Titus, it seemed, actually hated us. The kind of strong, borderline irrational hate that you or I would feel if we looked at a photo of Paris Hilton for too long. Or played Superman 64. Which is surprising, because it wasn’t a few years earlier that they actually delivered some rad old Amiga 500 games such as Prehistorik and Fire and Forget.
OK, they weren’t that great either…Previous Next
5) Ashes Cricket 2013 – 2013
Cricket is one hell of a boring game. And that’s coming from a golf enthusiast. But there’s no denying it appeals to plenty, and the sport itself is a big business. It makes sense then, that fans would highly anticipate a game that promises to accurately and excitingly represent it. Can you guess what happened next? Of course you can. And it was such a big story that it even made the headlines.
BBC News reported that “The official video game for the Ashes cricket tour has been pulled from sale after gamers branded it shameful, embarrassing and farcical.” And those gamers were not wrong. The AI was basically a joke, with players jarringly shifting about the field like they were learning the rules of cricket as they played. There wasn’t even a catching animation, and with catching being one of the three main things to do in a cricket game, you knew from the start this was never going to fly.
So bad was it that Steam pulled it from online sale after just four days, the Facebook page was deleted, the future console versions were abandoned, and developer 505 Games apologised and issued refunds to those unfortunate enough to have purchased it. A colossal disaster that should never have even happened, and a lesson to publishers everywhere. Except they still keep doing it…Previous Next
4) Fallout: New Vegas – 2010
Ever since its 3D iteration, the Fallout games (and iron-age cousin The Elder Scrolls) have sadly become synonymous with bugs. Not a virtual day goes by in the wastelands when you don’t come across some weird problem with character appendages, broken dialogue, or generally insane goings on. It’s been argued on more than one occasion that glitches like this are actually part of what makes the games so fun, and that removing them would remove part of the charm. The problem with that of course, is it’s kind of right.
Have you ever typed the words Fallout into a YouTube search engine without the suffix ‘funny glitches’? I’d wager not. It’s a complex dichotomy though, if you’re delighted to be paying for something that you hope isn’t quite built properly. I’d certainly question that logic if was boarding a plane, for example.
It all came to a head when New Vegas was released and literally the very first thing you saw in the game was defective – a man’s opening dialogue being spoiled somewhat by his peculiar rotating head (check it out below). Again, hilarious, but when you’ve just shelled out $60 on a post-nuclear survival thriller, “hilarious” is probably not what you were hoping for.
3) Ultima IX – 1999
We’ve just about come full circle now, because Ultima, much-beloved and heavily lauded role-playing game, is Ultima-tely (ha!) responsible for the problems with EA Online (see: item 7). Fans were outraged when the series took such a critical misstep, and developer Origin soon met their demise after, with EA shutting them down and acquiring the name for their now infamous online services.
So just what was so bad about this installment, after a successful previous eight? Well firstly, it must be noted that, for the time at least, it did require a comparatively high-end PC, as it was the first game to feature 3D polygon rendering. But even with that, there was no disguising the infestation of bugs that would halt players progress. Save game corruptions, routine crashes and broken quests all requiring that you start over, and all meaning that a game you should spend hours immersing yourself in rarely let you have 10 minutes alone with it. I even spoke to one player who genuinely maintains that it took him nine years to eventually make it through to the end.
A group of dedicated fans even set up a community entitled Ultima: The Reconstruction that sought to fix not only the broken game, but even the aspects of the story that they felt didn’t fit in with the original instalments. It’s good to have a hobby.Previous Next
2) Ride to Hell: Retribution – 2013
Check this out for a storyline: a biker gang member’s brother gets murdered by members of a rival biker gang, who then seeks vengeance upon them. And if you think that’s good, wait till you hear the dialogue. I’m talking choice snippets of raw, emotional power, such as “He sowed seeds of distrust, and made fun of the dead!” and “Let me show you what a mechanic can really do, this girl can do more than just start an engine…”.
But Ride to Hell is not on this list because it’s a scripting abomination, it’s here because it’s utterly wrecked. Playing through it, it almost feels like it’s being held together simply by the disc that it’s on. As if the developers somehow poured a bunch of melted data onto a plate and let it cool into a vague disc shape. Even something as simple as motorbiking from point A to point B is like some kind of hideous torture as the road literally disappears from beneath you, leaving you to fall into oblivion. Occasionally random bits of the game’s internal code will pop up onto the screen telling you “GateOpen”, whatever that means, or that “all enemies in the area are dead”, even though you’re currently engaged in combat.
So what’s going on? In truth, no one knows. What people do seem to be in agreement on, however, is that Ride to Hell: Retribution certainly lives up to the initial part of its title. As for the retribution? Well, there’s some pretty hilarious sex scenes later on in the game, assuming you hate yourself enough to play that far into it. Even the makers of the game, Eutechnyx, do not list or reference it in any way on their own website.Previous Next
1) Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing – 2003
Historically one of the most boring games ever created, Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing somehow managed the double accolade of also being the most broken. In fact, it’s debatable as to whether or not Russian developer Stellar Stone even finished making it. The concept is definitely something I can get on board with, though. It’s pretty much Ice Road Truckers, if there was no ice. And the Ice Road Truckers had to have some badass race, for some reason. Who wouldn’t want to play that?
As it turns out, everyone. Because wow. If you were to make a list of every conceivable balls-up a racing game could have, then purposely put those things into a game, you’d pretty much have Over The Road Racing. You’d imagine, for example, that a pretty standard feature for a racing game (or indeed any game) would be some sound. Well go elsewhere for that, you decadent capitalist! Don’t expect to collide with objects either, you’ll just be drifting straight through them.
But what about some other basic physics, like slowing down when you drive uphill? No, sir. But surely slowing down when you drive up a completely vertical mountain? Forget it. How about if the other truck you’re lined up with at the start actually, you know, races you in this racing game? No, that’ll just remain stationary forever. It’s staggering. And to cap it all off? It seems Stellar Stone forgot to put a top speed cap on the reverse gear, so not only was your truck faster driving backwards, it could also shatter the laws of the universe by reaching 190 billion MPH.
Still sold 20,000 copies though.
What’s the most shambolic pile of code you’ve ever paid for? Should developers be held accountable? Let us know below!Previous