For the Worst of the Worst of Gaming in 2009… The Crashies

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Worst Tie-in to a Movie or TV show

Watchmen: The End Is Nigh

Despite surprisingly good graphics, The End Is Nigh was a brain-dead beat-‘em-up that took blasphemous liberties with characters from one of the best graphic novels of all time.  Rorschach and Nite Owl deserved better than a one-dimensional fighting engine, irritating backtracking and lame puzzle-solving. Or, as Ernie Kovacs would say, “Hrm. Appears own game sucks like a three-dollar strumpet. Must find men responsible. Make them pay.”

James Cameron’s Avatar: the Game

If movie-goers can excuse the blockbuster 3D juggernaut’s lame plot because of its breathtaking design and vision, then its game counterpart had no chance in hell. Pandora looked lush and awe-inspiring in the theatre, but it felt incongruously confined as a game. No amount of mystical Na’Vi eco-powers could stop the game from feeling as enjoyable as watching Hometree burn.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

It’s a tie-in game for a sequel for a movie based on a cartoon based on toys. One thing that the movie adaptation of the Robots in Disguise had going for it was a ham-fisted urgency. Nothing in the ROTF game felt excting to begin with and the terrible driving and boring combat didn’t help either.  The nail in the coffin was the clunky Transforming itself. Even Michael Bay would be embarrassed by this scrap heap.

And the Crashie Goes to:

James Cameron’s Avatar: the Game

Mr. King of the World should’ve had someone who knew from quality vet this train wreck before he slapped his name on it. Its suckitude was especially egregious after Cameron came to the 2009 E3 and told the assembled that he got “it” and the game wouldn’t be as bad as every other tie-in title. You never be gamer, Jimcam Err-Ahn! Never!

Worst Sequel

King of Fighters XII

The SNK fighting franchise finally answered the pleas of its faithful and took its crazy, complex brawling online. Once there, it promptly proved to be broken. Like, badly.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

The only thing better than superhero team-up is superheroes fighting each other. The Fusion mechanics that linked separate heroes’ powers (like Storm and Wolverine’s) together was a fun element, but poor presentation and monotonous missions drained any fun out of the adaptation of the Civil War storyline. Whose side am I on? The one that doesn’t suck.

Way of the Samurai 3

The branching story paths of this ronin simulator series once captivated players in the last generation of consoles. You’re supposed to play it over and over and explore the narrative options. And while its core choose-your-own-adventure story mechanic hasn’t aged too badly, everything did. The graphics, gameplay and voicework would barely have been passable five years ago but they’re totally laughable now.

And the Crashie Goes to:

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

MUA2’s supposed to be an action/RPG hybrid but delivered stale gameplay for each genre. At its best, the Marvel Universe is a vibrant, dangerous place but the game’s missions mostly felt like chores. If there’s a sequel to this game, it’s gonna have to radically shake things up.

Biggest Disappointment:

Afro Samurai

Samuel Jackson reprising his Spike TV role as a foul-mouthed chain-smoking swordsman in a stylized future dystopia. An art style that looks just like the cartoon. Soundtrack by the RZA. Real-time slicing animations of those foolish enough to step to you. This recipe for awesome was spoiled by soul-numbing repetition, lazy level design and awful camera control. Not even topless tattooed stripper-assassins could save this one.

Aion

NCSoft’s  ambitious MMO was supposed to be the one. The game to unseat World of Warcraft with its deep world-building, sizzling visuals and soaring flight-based travel. But what users encountered was an empty, boring world and a torturous leveling-up system. Never were so many wings were clipped so quickly.

Tony Hawk Ride

The 900º legend and the Robomodo dev studio poured thousands of hours of development to create a skateboard controller that would deliver a realistic virtual ollie experience. What they wound up with was an overpriced hunk of plastic that excels at getting you to stumble awkwardly in your living room. At least booze is fun.

And the Crashie Goes to:

Aion

This was a tough call, but, with the game’s great visual sense and NCSoft’s previous success in the massively multiplayer space, Aion really did seem poised to mount a legitimate challenge to WOW. The winged avatars of the game haven’t been grounded yet but their virtual world doesn’t seem to have enough fuel to keep them in the air for much longer.

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