You know what they say: you just can’t win ’em all. Regardless of an otherwise clean track record of developing stellar video games — not every project can achieve platinum status. Most developers, whether they like to agree with it or not, are actually pretty guilty of creating a bad egg every once in a while. But that’s a small part of the creative process behind the industry — and most definitely a learning curve most, if not all studios tend to face in order to prosper.
As it goes, there truly are an excess number of works that scream mediocrity out there in the wild. Coming from the same giants that produce some of the global sensations of today, it’s almost a surprise to see such sloppiness fall from the same idolized hands. But it is what it is. Because like I said — you just can’t win ’em all. And in these five cases, neither the god-awful games nor the developers were able to hide their secondhand-embarrassment after releasing their visions into the cutthroat community.
5. Kane & Lynch
Before we sink into Kane & Lynch, it’s worth mentioning that IO Interactive, the very souls behind the god-awful series, are actually capable of producing fantastic video games. Of course, you’ll more than likely recognise them from the likes of Hitman as well as the overshadowed Freedom Fighters. Oh, and not to mention Mini Ninjas, which went on to hoard generally positive feedback following its 2009 launch. But rounding back to Kane & Lynch, unfortunately — now that’s something IO Interactive just couldn’t rescue.
Admittedly, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men did have its interesting themes, with its multiplayer mode being one of the driving forces of the game as a whole. And somehow, though we’re not entirely sure how or why — the series was given a second shot, which later channelled into Dog Days, the poorly-crafted sequel. However, despite its second chance, the game still lacked in the fluidity department. In fact, it was a clunky mess with no compelling counterparts whatsoever. Sure, the story could’ve been great, but the gameplay — sheesh.
Do you remember when people used to compare every single sci-fi release to the Halo series? It was around the mid-2000s, where anything that dared graze the kingpin would end up being showered in criticism and buried in the dirt. Haze, Free Radical’s attempt at scathing that very monopoly icon, was, unfortunately, one of those unlucky games that received its fair share of resentment. And what didn’t exactly help was the fact that pre-launch, the highly ambitious developer spent a great deal of time building hype for it. Only, it was perhaps a little too much hype.
Haze was on track to becoming Free Radical’s big break, with all the credits on the line to reveal a true game-changer in the sci-fi genre. And after the general hype for TimeSplitters, Free Radical’s firstborn project fell into the shadows, that’s exactly what the studio needed. Unfortunately for them, Haze was a total flop and a clean example of how too much hype was able to tarnish the finalized product. Come 2009, Free Radical shut their doors, only to be picked up by Crytek a year later, the studio that would later develop the critically-acclaimed Crysis franchise.
Way before Battlefield 2042 and all its other action-heavy masterpieces, DICE was actually known for linking up with some pretty peculiar teams. Like DreamWorks, for example. And if I told you the minds behind the acclaimed war series were in fact the same team that developed Shrek, then you’d probably laugh me out of the door. But that’s just it. DICE, believe it or not — was actually the driving force behind the Shrek video games, as well as its several counterparts on handheld platforms.
Nobody really understands what went wrong over at the DICE HQ, though there’s no jumping around the fact that Shrek, even with its redeeming graphics, was an absolute monstrosity. From its jerky camera movements to the slew of mundane objectives and dull voiceovers, Shrek pretty much just bombed all over the globe, and unsurprisingly went on to receive a swamp-load of hate post-launch. Even with its relatively high sales figures, the game in general just sucked big time. And to think — that’s the team who will soon unleash one of the most anticipated video games of 2021.
2. Bubsy 3D
Coined as “the worst video game of all time”, it sort of comes as no surprise to see Bubsy 3D up here on the podium. It’s been a running joke in the industry for decades now, and no matter how hard ashamed developer Bend Studio try to cover the fact that they made it — it still somehow manages to drag their name through the dirt. Even with recent games like Days Gone, as well as Uncharted: Golden Abyss under their belt, Bubsy 3D, unfortunately, still finds a way to scatter dirt on their legacy.
Slated for its appalling voiceover work and dire gameplay (and not to mention the drab level designs), Bubsy 3D went on to become one of the most hated games in the community, with the vast majority of critics branding it as the worst video game to ever touch the market. And that’s just something a studio will never be able to live down, no matter how hard they try to bury it. Of course, Days Gone was redemption on a silver platter, though it still didn’t stop that annoying little so-called hero from hogging the limelight.
1. Warcraft III: Reforged
You honestly wouldn’t think it would be remotely possible to take a game from 2002, promise to enhance it to unfathomable heights, and then somehow find a way to completely butcher it in time for 2020 — but there you go — Blizzard managed it. How they were able to destroy a quality PC game from 2002 and destroy its very soul is beyond me, as it is for most Warcraft fans all over the globe. And yet, somehow, Blizzard was able to take everything old school players loved about the game and squash it between their very fingers.
Making promises from day one that Warcraft III: Reforged would include a thread of features, Blizzard pretty much signed their own death warrant when they eventually didn’t come through with them. Following on from that, the MMO kingpin had to issue refunds to the bulk of its player base, mainly due to the game not being on par with their promises, and technically not being anywhere near as good as its original chapter from 2002.