Cheats and Walkthroughs
Somewhere in a secret underground bunker in Washington, D.C., key members of the Department of Justice (Poultry Division) have convened to decide which of our nation's millions of turkeys is to receive the annual White House pardon. In that same spirit of forgiveness, we're going to do the same with one of this year's biggest digital turkeys. This absolutely does not mean that we're forgiving the "winner's" myriad flaws or that we're doing an about-face and recommending it for purchase, just that we can kind of see where they were coming from with it...even if the end result was the equivalent to dropping a frozen turkey in a deep fryer. That is to say: a lesson to be learned by everybody.
This year's candidates are...
You aren't truly terrible, WET. You've got stylish flair, tolerable controls, and Malcom MacDowell, Eliza Dushku, and Alan Cumming. But still selling for $59.99 after mediocre reviews and the promise of superior hack-and-slash games on the horizon? It's like paying more than 50 cents per pound for an off-brand bird. That kind of arrogance can cost you your life...and it just did.
We'll admit it: We were the ones clamoring for a reboot of the Tony Hawk franchise for the past few years. But an overpriced peripheral that can be activated by random passers-by and a game that appears to be completely dumbed-down isn't exactly what we had in mind. We'd send you to the kids table, but you'd still have trouble following the conversation.
To quote Matt Keil's review: "This is largely due to the fact that the base gameplay is essentially Contra post-debilitating brain injury. For the most part, stages can be cleared by simply holding down the right trigger and waiting for everything to die." Sorry, Joe: you're too dumb to live.
This is where it gets interesting. A fight nearly broke out over the internal e-mail thread discussing these final three candidates, and which one was the worst in the best way.
It's always a shame when a developer wastes a golden concept by building truly awful game around it. Such is the case with Darkest of Days, which featured a time-traveling soldier who must restore the proper time line by fighting in the world's most famous wars. Unfortunately, it also featured a litany of debilitating problems that nearly rendered it unplayable. We never liked dark meat, anyway.
Similar to WET, Wanted: Weapons of Fate has got some style...but not enough to compensate for its 4-hour running time and full price tag. It probably would have been better served as a download-only game, but even then, the near lack of challenge still wouldn't justify the investment.
Darkest of Days shares the award for "best concept, worst execution" with this spoof of the video game industry's most treasured cliches. They got the humor part down -- having Arrested Development/30 Rock's Will Arnett helps -- but whiffed on pretty much everything else. The joke is stretched too thinly over repetitive, bland gameplay and mechanics that were poorly executed.
HOWEVER! The idea is still a really good one, as there are too few games that are genuinely funny and self-aware. That there's a sequel coming in the form of Blood Bath and Beyond hopefully means the developer has learned some lessons about actual game design...you know, the real reasons we play these things in the first place.
So congratulations, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard...you are this year's best terrible game! You are hereby pardoned for crimes against interactive entertainment, and may continue your existence in equal measure of hope and shame.