Top 5 Best Looking Bad Games
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It’s been a while since we’ve run a top 5 article eh? Since our work tries to separate itself from the typical listicles, we strive to put a bit more meat on the bones of such a formulaic article archetype.
SO! Here we are, counting down some games that despite how pretty all the visuals are… never seem to deliver with worthwhile gameplay. This list is in no particular order, but in the grand scheme of pretty but vapid gameplay experiences… these are my top 5.
Final Fantasy XIII
I distinctly remember how long I waited for this game. From early trailers I was so obsessed with the world and the characters. Lightning was my bae and I was ready to give my heart and soul to this new Final Fantasy installment. Fast-forward to when the game launches… I specifically requested not just time off but VACATION DAYS to play this game… I went to a midnight launch at my local Gamestop and what I got was about a week of disappointment.
A convoluted narrative, painfully linear gameplay, and zero exploration made for a paint by numbers RPG that felt so on the rails I wished it would let me break away. The worst part was when the game finally opened up… it was at the end. To its credit, I did enjoy the combat and the game’s visuals are clearly gorgeous. If Square Enix does something consistently well, it’s delivering eye-popping visuals. I’ve replayed many Final Fantasy titles multiple times, but with Final Fantasy XIII and the subsequent sequels (how did this game ever get sequels?) once was more than enough.
The Order 1886
Hoo boy, I remember how jazzed I was for this game when initial trailers first hit the interwebs. The premise was the stuff of NEW IP gold. An alternate history where the Knights of the Round Table mythos is passed down to become the formula of a new breed of knights… knights tasked with tracking down and killing supernatural beings.
In this alternate timeline, hybrid beasts like Lycans and Vampries leave a trail death and destruction. Seemingly facing a losing battle, the tide finally turns for mankind when the Industrial Revolution arms these knights with weapons of considerable “omph.” Sounds great right? All this would have been so awesome if it wasn’t for slow/clunky gameplay and shooting mechanics that feel archaic and honestly quite frustrating. My biggest gripe was how damn slow your character moved. It was like they didn’t want to let you run through the levels, instead forcing you to walk from place to place. Couple this with a painfully linear level design and a story you can honestly complete in a day, there wasn’t much going for The Order 1886 outside of all the pretty graphics. While I do tend to temper myself with new IPs, it’s still such a let down that such a promising IP will leave behind such a sad and lackluster legacy.
Resident Evil 6
Before RE7 flipped the series on its head, the series hit an all-time low with the sixth installment. RE4 was a masterpiece, while RE5 was flawed… it still managed to be a fun (yet full of WTFery) romp. The sixth installment single handedly did worse for the franchise than any of the Milla Jovovich films could have done. Granted, visually the game looked impressive. Spine-tingling imagery and great character models… all the trappings of a AAA title, at least visually.
I wish I could say the same about the rest of the game. Straying almost too far from their roots, they turned this once great survival horror title into a vapid action game with a few zombies thrown in. I wanted to care about RE6 and while I did attempt to give it the good old college try, every time I booted the game up I was sorely reminded of how far the franchise had fallen to get to this point.
No Man’s Sky
Oh the promises this title had and the collective sadness felt by those who jumped in on launch day. No Man’s Sky promised beautiful worlds, countless places to see and a near infinite wealth of activities. While the game did deliver in the visuals department, no amount of pretty scenery could make up for that crippling moment when you realize you paid full price for a title that essentially turned out to be a ride through pretty but empty worlds.
Gameplay… if you could call it that… lacked anything to make it engaging. I found myself having more fun navigating the menus of free-to-play mobile games than my time in No Man’s Sky. It’s impressive how big the sandbox is, but when your sandbox is pretty much just that… sand… how much fun can ya have with nothing to do? Personally, I really wanted to love this game… I was so psyched to start my expansive space odyssey, but sad to say that this falls into my box of shame.
Ryse: Son of Rome
Look, I get it… when a new console launches not every game can be Breath of the Wild or Super Mario World… sometimes a launch game is simply a title quickly churned out to pad the library with games. But with Ryse it held such strong promise I’m sad to put it on this list. Both Crysis and its sequel were two of my favorite games, I hoped that the ever stellar CryEngine could churn out a great game.
While Ryse was lauded for its visuals, the repetitive hack-and-slash gameplay got boring very quick and like The Order 1886, a short campaign means zero replay value. While Ryse did add in a multiplayer mode, it felt so paper thin that any hopes for it to lengthen the game’s longevity felt no more than a pipe dream.
Look, I get it that looks aren’t everything. These titles should be shining examples that a pretty looking game is worthless without the back bone of gameplay held to the same standards. Just like in any media… there will always be bad video games, it’s such a shame when something so pretty has to be plagued by being so vapid.