Week in video-game news: Worst games of 2007; Jerry Bruckheimer’s game studio
December 27, 2007
WORST OF 2007: I got to play a lot of great games in 2007. But you can’t eat filet mignon every night; sometimes all you’re offered is broccoli. At least it’s good for you, though ” while the games on this list have no nutritional value whatsoever.
1. “Manhunt 2″: Rockstar Games’ strategy ” offend the watchdogs, reap the publicity, then sell a substandard product ” reached its nadir with this ugly, unplayable mess. It begins with a lunatic flinging human waste at you; after about an hour, you’ll want to fling “Manhunt 2.”
2. “Vampire Rain”: You’re part of an elite commando squad hunting vampires, but your high-tech weapons don’t actually do any damage. Try to escape, and you’re likely to run into an invisible wall. Why not just avoid the whole fiasco in the first place?
3. “Deal or No Deal”: It couldn’t be simpler. You pick one of 26 briefcases and gamble on whether it contains a lot of money. But the DS “Deal or No Deal” doesn’t even get the gameplay right, and is even more sluggishly paced than the TV show. For $30, no deal.
4. “Lair”: Sony lavished a lot of attention on this PlayStation 3 title, and it sure looks great. And who wouldn’t want to fly a dragon? But with awkward, imprecise controls and lackluster, repetitive missions, “Lair” crashed and burned.
5. “Escape from Bug Island!”: Kill giant insects (cool!) … by poking them with sticks (wha?). “Bug Island” could have been campy fun, but its annoying characters, inane plot and wretched graphics destroy any desire to keep playing.
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TURKEY SHOOT: Most buyers wisely stayed away for the games in our bottom five. But some of 2007’s best sellers managed to annoy us, too:
Most disappointing: “Halo 3” (single-player), “Assassin’s Creed,” “Blue Dragon,” “Heavenly Sword.”
Enough already: The Tony Hawk series, World Wrestling Entertainment games, “Final Fantasy” remakes.
Worst feud: “Guitar Hero” vs. “Rock Band.” Turns out “GH” controllers aren’t compatible with the PlayStation 3 version of “RB” ” and “GH” publisher Activision reportedly won’t let “RB” designer Harmonix fix the problem.
Worst flaw in a great game: The aggravating inventory management system in “Mass Effect.”
Worst voice acting: The desultory performances of Elijah Wood, Gary Oldman and Billy West in “The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night.”
Worst cross-promotion: Playboy and Eidos’ “cyber search” for the (mostly naked) woman who best embodied the “dangerous vibe” of “Kane & Lynch: Dead Men,” a game about a vicious mercenary and his psychotic partner.
Most baffling: The Nintendo Wii, still hard to find more than a year after its debut.
JERRY’S KIDS: Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer is best known for movies in which lots of stuff explodes ” movies like “Armageddon,” “Con Air” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy. So when he announced that he was opening a video-game studio, most industry watchers wondered: What took you so long?
“Video games represent a new and innovative medium for what we’ve always tried to do, which is to tell great stories,” Bruckheimer said. The studio is being created with MTV Games, which has finally made its presence felt in the industry this year with “Rock Band.”
Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks’ Music & Logo Group, said, “There’s a huge intersection between the fans of Bruckheimer films, our audience and gamers, making the potential for this partnership to be as explosive as one of his blockbuster films.” Let’s hope he’s not talking about “Kangaroo Jack.”
WE COULD BE HEROES: A few weeks ago we mentioned The Romantics’ complaint that the cover version of the band’s “What I Like About You” in “Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ’80s” sounded too much like the original. The band sued “GH” publisher Activision, claiming the game infringed on the group’s rights to its own likeness.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds in Detroit didn’t see the problem and denied the group’s injunction against Activision. According to the publisher, “Judge Edmunds indicated that to the extent there were any copyright issues, Activision did exactly what the company was supposed to do in developing the product.”
But Romantics attorney Michael Novak said the fight isn’t over. “This is just the first inning,” he told The Detroit Free Press. “There’s still a big game left.”