" />Top 10 Bulls*%t Games of 2018 - GameCloud

2018 was a pretty great year for games, but it wasn’t without its pitfalls. In a day and age when the industry is as large as it is, singling out the worst games for us all to point and laugh at isn’t enough. Lots of games are terrible, but sometimes there are games that go beyond just being badly made or boring to play. Maybe they exploit players with gambling mechanics, or promise one thing and deliver something else (and usually inferior) entirely. Maybe it was a classic console release phoned in so hard even Russel Crowe thinks you should calm down. Paddy and Harry offer you a selection of 2018’s finest bullshit. Let’s all laugh together.
 


 

Chosen by: Paddy Waring
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Fallout 76 would qualify for just about any “Worst of” list for many reasons, but being a terrible game in its own right isn’t quite why it’s here. Some elements go beyond just the technical faults, connection issues, and gameplay that’s dull as dishwater. There’s the bastardisation of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. character skills system with randomised perk cards so that they could coerce players into buying “booster packs.” (Which I guess sounded better to them than loot boxes.) DLC costumes and cosmetic house items that, individually, cost just as much as Fallout 4’s season pass. Base building and weapons crafting are watered down in scope compared to Fallout 4 while forcing players to do more work by upping the in-game crafting requirements. The ship for survival games sailed so long ago that you can’t even see it on the horizon, yet Bethesda took a running leap from the pier regardless. This lifeless husk of a video game is such a cloying example of corporate avarice that it almost comes back around to being one of the most Fallout things ever. It’s so awful that some outlets just refused to review it.

Indeed, the sins of Fallout 76 are graver and more far-reaching than just that, however, somehow reaching beyond its virtual confines to curse our very existence. It performed so poorly on launch that it dropped price twice in its opening weeks, angering anyone that had bought the game at full price just days earlier. There was the canvas-bag debacle, which Bethesda initially tried to “fix” by giving players $5 worth of in-game currency, before eventually capitulating and offering to deliver what was promised. This last bit led to players’ personal data being leaked. This on-fire, runaway bullshit train continues even now, with the ability to launch Nukes being disabled on NYE due to a server glitch. I’d say “never change, Bethesda,” but I don’t think you’re planning to anyway.
 


 

Chosen by: Harry Kalogirou
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Assassin’s Creed Origins released in 2017 to a large amount of praise from most critics. I hadn’t jumped onto the bandwagon until the start of 2018, and couldn’t help but find myself disappointed by wasted potential, and systems that seemed like they were a shadow of what they wanted to be. Skip forward to E3 that same year, and I found myself unimpressed by the route Ubisoft was taking with the franchise. Odyssey looked like a re-skinned version of Origins. Almost as if Ubisoft felt validated by the praise of the prior game, entitling them to be lazy with the next. My biggest issue with Origins was its level gating. I consistently found my main story progress barred by an onslaught of monotonous and mostly boring side-quests. This was somewhat mitigated if you played extremely defensively in combat, and meant you could get through the game while avoiding a significant chunk of grind.

Odyssey released to much of the same praise that Origins received and more, but most critics were overlooking its most vital flaw, which again, comes in the form of level-gating. This time, though, playing as a mercenary means no shields, which in turn, makes combat nigh-impossible to get through when you’re under-leveled. To make matters worse, the game is laden with levels of monetisation that only the likes of EA could hope to surpass. Weapons and armour with better stats, material packs, and worst of all, an experience booster. Odyssey is a long game, 60 hours long, and this time can almost be halved when you purchase one of these experience boosters, allowing you to get to the good stuff, and skip the bad. We’ll never know for sure whether or not it was Ubisoft’s goal to exhaust the player and goad them into spending money, but it’s disgusting that we should have to ask that question in the first place.
 


 

Chosen by: Paddy Waring
Developer: RLR Training Inc
Platforms: PC

The video game industry is vast, there’s space for all kinds of ideas and, right now, there’s a lot of freedom to explore those ideas. That means we can get incredibly weird and unconventionally great games, like Jazz Punk, or The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories. It also means there’ll be greasy fuckbois with time and/or money on their hands to produce complete shite at varying degrees of quality. And I have to say, for twenty bucks, the Super Seducer games have some of the slickest presentation of complete bullshit I’ve ever seen. You can “flirt” with “women” and get a well presented, consequence-free trial and error session on how to pick up chicks, at the low cost of around $20 and any dignity you might be clinging to.

Your personal politics of whether pick-up artistry is right or wrong aside, this game goes well beyond the realms of treating flirting like a sport and goes straight to early 20th-century misogyny. Every scenario that’s posited seems ultra creepy from the get-go, and there’s a way to “succeed” with every woman if you get what I mean. I mean you’re going to plough them – just not on-screen, or in real life either, really, if you follow the advice of this “game.” Richard LaRuina himself is there to coach you between each scene, perpetually flanked by scantily clad women who look intensely interested in being there. The implication, of course, being that women are mindless automata that can be easily sexed, so long as you know how to subvert their programming.

Richard LaRuina could literally be read as “Dick Ruiner,” and I think he was going for something else with that name but this is what’s most appropriate. Listening to this man’s advice will ruin your dick, and you will never get to use it again. He is himself one of the skeeviest people I’ve ever laid eyes on. My flesh feels soiled two-inches deep whenever I look at him, and his voice is like clotted custard in my ears. This man does not fuck, I can almost guarantee it, and he literally used a cinematic in his second game to one-sidedly call out his YouTube critics in one of the creepiest fashions possible. And yes, yes there is going to be a third game.
 


 

Chosen by: Harry Kalogirou
Developer: Rockstar Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One

Before I get into this, I want to make it clear that I’ve enjoyed my time with Red Dead Redemption II despite its flaws. It’s a painfully rigid and uncompromising experience that Rockstar clearly had a strong vision for. The end result is a title with a fantastic narrative, characters, and premise with gameplay that suffers considerably due to Rockstar’s stagnating mission design and focus on realism. There’s an impressive number of mechanics and interconnected systems within Red Dead II that ultimately don’t do much. Survival elements and supporting Van Der Linde’s gang throughout their turmoil by providing additional funding and upgrades both feel half-baked in their implementations. Controlling Arthur honestly made me question whether he was human or a sack of bricks. Aiming is tedious, precise movements are nigh impossible to pull off, and needlessly long animations hold RDR2 back from being a fantastic game. There is a reason that parts of this game are as good as they are.

Rockstar’s culture of crunch (or at least, what we know about it) is one of the most taxing within an industry chock-full of it. All of this info comes from Kotaku’s ‘Inside Rockstar Games’ Culture of Crunch’, coming from mostly anonymous sources who have worked on Red Dead Redemption II at some point during its development cycle. While some people have said it was a satisfying and ambitious project, others noted that it was a stress-inducing period that caused turmoil within their relationships, and even affected their mental health. Many claimed that average work weeks during the crunch period would range from around 55-60 hours, and most of this overtime was asked for or expected by higher-ups. It’s an extremely prominent issue within the industry, and some developers are taking adequate steps to minimize it as best as they can, but the idea that people are being ridiculed, looked down upon, and not credited for their work at Rockstar Games because they don’t do overtime is an issue that needs discussing.
 


 

Chosen by: Paddy Waring
Developer: Konami
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

At the end of 2015, Hideo Kojima dramatically left Konami after a protracted episode of Konami being a giant sack of dicks toward Kojima, their audience, and just anyone, really. When developers leave a studio, the IP that they’re known for tends to stay behind, and such was the case with Metal Gear Solid. However, the Metal Gear series has always been synonymous with Kojima and in light of his departure, as well as the “interesting” creative decisions Konami had been making, fans were worried. Just over two years passed before audiences were hit with Metal Gear Survive, and I’d be willing to bet that not even half of that time was spent on development, and even less on the concept.

Having a spin-off game that explores a different direction compared to the series it spawned is one thing, and Metal Gear Survive is not that thing. Survive’s design abandons almost everything from Metal Gear besides the name, and “explores” heavily covered grounds of broken AI and the survival genre. Conspiracy theories, interesting characters, tactical espionage action – all gone, removed to make way for poking zombies with sticks. Thrown together from a bunch of re-used MGSV assets, the most original thing in the game is the zombies with crystal shards jutting from their heads. I couldn’t tell you what the point of them is supposed to be, I couldn’t bring myself to care, or play long enough to find out. Just sit and process that for a moment: This game’s narrative and gameplay are too boring to sit through, and it’s got “Metal Gear” in its name.

Of course, it wouldn’t have been enough for Konami to just make a bad game, they had to nickel-and-dime players by turning things like save slots and in-game storage space into DLC purchases, too. Lord only knows what happens to the series from here, but in Konami’s hands, it’s almost certainly going to be more of this bullshit.
 


 

Chosen by: Harry Kalogirou
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: PC

It’s widely understood that Activision is a greedy company. There are occasions where they fly under the radar thanks to EA’s stunts, but not when it affects the livelihood of professional players. Activision’s initiative to cut costs at Blizzard has resulted in the shuffling of human resources to and from projects. Most notably, Heroes of the Storm lost a significant chunk of manpower behind its development team which has led to two things. The first being a slower distribution of new content, updates, and events for the game. The second, being that numerous top-tier tournaments like Heroes of the Dorm and the Heroes Global Championship.

The players that have worked so hard to secure their spots in these tournaments are now in shock and have to find other ways to support their livelihoods. What makes matters worse, is the amount of support and hype Blizzard was putting behind these two events for 2019, only to be shut down before they could even start. It’s no doubt a result of Activision’s greed as a publisher, and a part of their attempt to “cut costs” at Blizzard, as they seek to release more titles in a smaller period of time. It’s unfortunate for all these players and casters to say the least, and no doubt a saddening time for the developers behind HotS as they watch it deteriorate into a shell of its former self.
 


 

Chosen by: Paddy Waring
Developer: d3t
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

I understand the nostalgic yearning one feels for the games of yesteryear, my wallowing bank account and ever-growing collection of dust collectors would be a testament to that. So when Shenmue III was announced and people lost their god damned minds, I sort of understood. I’d never played the games myself but was given to understand that they were cornerstone titles in the industry, so a sequel made sense. I was even excited when Shenmue I & II were announced for HD re-release, I’d finally get to play these iconic games and discover what was so great about them. As it turns out, their biggest drawcard was that people in the late 90s were easy to impress.

Shenmue I & II are classic examples of what happens when everyone remembers a game being great but few people actually go back to play it. To call them dated would be an understatement, and every mechanic that would’ve been mind-blowing at the time is so agonisingly underdone for modern standards. Dialogue is incredibly repetitive, the audio is so awful, the story is meandering and also kind of racist, and there is so much waiting – holy crap, this game wastes so much of your time. Even for the standards of its day, I have to wonder if people were just struck by the novelty of it all to not see how painfully dull this game is.

The only way this bullshit could possibly be enjoyed nowadays is if you had played them at release, and you’re replaying them now with rose-tinted glasses. The kind so heavy that it starts to cut off circulation to your brain and critical thinking becomes impossible. I’m not saying the third game will be a flaming garbage pile, just that I hope Yu Suzuki has some new ideas. I mean, I’m sure he’s worked on heaps of big projects since then, righ– Oh. Ohhhhhhh, noooooo.
 


 

Chosen by: Harry Kalogirou
Developer: Treyarch
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII is not a game I expected to put on a list like this. I had a blast playing this game throughout its launch, and review scores would suggest the same. It was much deserved praise heading Treyarch’s way, but it’s always a matter of time until Activision seeks to take hold. On top of Black Ops IIII being a full-priced game, it still utilises the old map pack system for additional content, separating the player base into two dwindling portions of players. A Battle-Pass system has also been introduced, where playing the game nets you cosmetic rewards of all varieties. On paper, it’s a good idea, but it can always be twisted in a way that suits a publisher’s desires. Hours upon hours must be poured into the game to unlock everything that the Battle-Pass has to offer, and all of it can be purchased with real money if you don’t want to grind out the sufficient number of matches to obtain said items.

While this sounds somewhat harmless, Activision has taken this concept to all new extremes with Black Ops IIII, going as far as charging for a custom red dot sight for your weapons. A RED. DOT. SIGHT. If this isn’t the absolute epitome of greed outside of what can be called pay to win, I don’t know what is. What’s even shadier is that it’s entirely possible that Activision waited out the review cycle to avoid initial negative reception, and add them into the game when people have already purchased the game on day one after hearing critics sing universal praises. It’s a disgustingly shady move on Activision’s part that will forever leave a mark on one of the best games Treyarch has made.
 


 

Chosen by: Paddy Waring
Developer: d3t
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Agony is a game about traversing through hell, which is also how I’d describe the experience of what it’s like to play. Never has a game been so accurately named for the feelings it inspires within its players. There is no fun to be had in how it plays, though whatever story it’s attempting to convey, or in its appearance. The developer could have made an entire game but only used the edge, with gross or lurid visuals with little to no context. It even lacks the idea that, in hell, there might not be any context. It wants there to be a point without having one, instead only having a vague concept of what it wants to be. It’s the video game equivalent of a horror-binging teenager shouting “and then this happens!” And that’s just the “narrative.”

Advertised as being a Survival Horror, it takes the worst aspects of that genre and grinds them into a fine, bland powder, which is further processed into liquid failure. When the lighting is good enough to actually see anything at all, the only thing that makes this a “horror” is a perpetual red filter over the screen and some sort-of-spooky-if-you’re-twelve monsters. Agony drops you into things with naval gazing exposition and no idea of immediate motivation, which is the perfect setup for cryptic puzzle design (if you’re a complete nugget.) “Cryptic” is probably too complimentary, because it’s not cleverly designed. Gameplay consists entirely of aimlessly bouncing around the place to do weird bullshit, like setting crucified fetuses on fire and wondering both what that does in-game, and what you’re doing with your life. It controls just as poorly, and every area feels like a winding maze in the worst kind of way.

There are plenty of games that aim high for concepts and miss their mark, but few take themselves as seriously as Agony while doing so (and charge $21.50AUD for the effort.)
 


 

Chosen by: Harry Kalogirou
Manufacturer: Sony
Product: PlayStation Classic

The classic console fad popularised by Nintendo’s release of the NES Classic has spread far and wide since its initial release. ATARI consoles, SEGA consoles, Neo Geo’s and the like are being produced to jump on the trend, but none has been as successful as Nintendo. Sony also boarded this train with the PlayStation Classic and upon surface level research, it’s easy to see that Sony saw this as a cash-grab, not an opportunity to make a lovingly faithful nostalgia trip for longtime fans. Nothing has been done to accommodate these games for today’s standard of televisions as opposed to the ordinary CRTs that would’ve been used back in the day. Instead of Sony going out of there way to attain the best versions of the 20 games on the PlayStation Classic, they just went with what was readily available, meaning some of the titles are in their PAL formats, which perform comparatively worse to their counterparts. Instead of creating their own emulator for a piece of hardware they’re building, they’ve decided to use an open software one instead, which runs worse than whatever they used to play PS1 games on the Vita.

All this is before you even start talking about the selection of games on this console. There are some genuinely fantastic games like Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII, but also the inclusion of titles like Cool Boarders 2 and Puzzle Fighter II. There’s a distinct lack of generation-defining titles like Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 2 and/or 3, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, the list goes on. I know it’s tricky with rights belonging to different companies and remasters coming out every other month these days, but the absence is noticeable. All of these issues make for one of the most forgettable retro console releases in recent memory, despite it being one with almost limitless potential.