Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Year End Roundup: The Hated

A truly
insane year.

I left behind the Marine Corps for several months of desperate living. Parlayed my contacts (one generous friend) into a job working QA. An absolute dream job for a great company -- even though I joined during the dreaded crunch time. Still beat pulling night watch in Yuma, Arizona. Or Iraq.

Here are five games I learned to loathe. Keep in mind they were not necessarily released this year.

Yes, they are all on the PS2. There are very good reasons for this.

I no longer own an XBox. And due to lack of funds I avoided all but the choicest PC titles.* But thanks to the magic of trade-ins I was able to get my hands on a fair number of PS2 games.

Not the worst. But the worst of those I played. In no particular order.

1. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

An RPG that starts with an intriguing premise and quickly spirals into absurdity. I reached the first boss and could not make a dent. After realizing I was meant to get into thousands of random, repetitive monster fights in order to level up enough to beat this first boss (out of several hundred) I turned it off. The good bit -- this game helped me reach the conclusion that I no longer cared for random, repetitive leveling, unless the game was called World of Warcraft. Sorry, Final Fantasy Whatever; It's not you, it's me.

2. I-Ninja

Fun. For a few minutes. Terrible fixed camera. Stupid boss fights consisting of first-person Rockem Sockem Robots -- only lacking the visceral feel of the real thing. Used a system of unlocking levels where each level ended up being recycled several times over, only with moronic new "goals" tacked on, usually a frustrating timed race. Bad levels, no cohesion in them or between them, surprisingly straightforward bop-fest despite the main character being a Ninja.

3. Malice

I like platformers. Sometimes underrated platformers will still yield fun gaming experiences. Not this one. I'm ignoring its place in the overhyped, very late pantheon (Gwen Stefani! Not Really! Dreamcast! Whoops!). It is just a horrible platformer by any standards. The levels are unbelievably short, sloppily-designed and ugly. There is little discernible connection between levels. The enemies -- stupid. The weapons -- stupid. Yes, you get magic, but it's so useless you'll forget you even have it - well, assuming you're playing this game, which would be a mistake in the first place. I admit that I beat this game, but only because it can be done in about three hours (which I spread out over the course of several months).

4. Run Like Hell

Started out . . . interesting . . . to me at least. Ended up being a boring corridor crawl with several swarm-the-player moments that led to replaying certain unnecessary segments. What really clinched it, though, was the constant advertising of Bawls. And an overly difficult boss fight.

5. The Getaway: Black Monday

The most annoying aiming system I've ever encountered. And just generally shitty controls. I can't comment on the story because I couldn't maintain interest long enough.

*Okay, I did play Boiling Point, but that game is contentious. It's the best worst game I played this year. So it stays out of the running owing to its contradictory nature.

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