Licensed games are rarely good. That’s a fact. Some take this too far though. These 5 games will make you wonder why they ever saw the light of day – even worse, some people actually bought these titles. The only reason I can think of is people were smoking a whole lot of crack. It’s FRIDAY FEELING…
007 Legends, 2012 – Activision
Since taking over the Bond license, Activision have been giving gamers and Bond fans the rough end of a shitty stick. OK, no-one’s expecting them to beat the seminal Goldeneye. However, there’s no reason for the logical mind to expect Activision, with their sturdy (or creaking, depending on your point of view) CoD engine and vast, Scrooge McDuck-like vaults of money, to top the solid to middling EA Bond era. No. It’s been nothing but shite. 007 Legends, released to “celebrate” 50 years of Bond, is less a celebration and more like people standing around, burning Bond paraphernalia and pissing all over it and failing to extinguish the rampant flames of disappointment and hatred. Rumoured to have been in development for just 11 months, 007 Legends is an insult. Nothing works. Even the developers grasp of the Bond character and lore is lacking. At one point, Bond is asked who he is. We all know what comes next, right? Not developers Eurocom. “James Bond” replies Bond, James Bond.
Bizarrely, 007 Legends was nominated for a Bafta award for videogame writing. Never has there been a more damning sentence for the standard of writing in video games than that. Sadly, 007 Legends was the last game Eurocom, who had shown some form in the past, ever developed after Activision closed them down (sign with Activision, you’ll get shut down. Bungie beware). Thankfully, it’s also the last Activision entry, after their time with the license expired. Thank fuck for that.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, 2013 – Activision
What’s this? Another lazy, cash-grabbing, insulting attempt by Activision on a popular and well-loved license? Yes. To be honest, this whole feature could just be all Activision games, such is their apparent contempt for gamers everywhere. Remember when I told you 007 Legends was developed in 11 months? Activision obviously thought that was too long as The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, rushed out to meet the TV premier of season 3 of the hugely successful series, was given just ten (TEN!!) months in development.
Receiving the first (and so far only) “Fuck You Out Of 10” award on this very website (review here, take a look), it’s hard to find any redeeming qualities in this game. There are the slight sparkles of good ideas in there, hidden and underdeveloped. I feel sorry for the developers – they weren’t given nearly enough time and had Telltale’s excellent take on the property to contend with. I mostly feel sorry for them for having Activision pulling the strings. Frustratingly, the game sold well, so we collectively gave Activision license to pull this sort of shit on us again. Cheers everyone!
Enter The Matrix, 2003 – Atari
A perplexing one, this. Utterly ambitious, completely flawed, baffling premise. Set at the same time as The Matrix Reloaded (but not Revolutions which was filmed at the same time), Enter The Matrix sees you play as two of the characters (Ghost and Niobe) that no-one knew or cared about from the films canon. Pleasingly, you got to spend most of your time interacting with the rest of The Matrix “Z-list” of actors from Home and Away and Neighbours (later seen extensively in The Matrix Revolutions).
The best way to describe this game would be as to call it a vampire, sucking the lifeblood and resources from the Matrix films. You see, actual plot-points and scenes that should have been in the movies are actually dealt with here – The Wachowskis actually filmed these scenes just for the videogame! That shows the ambition, sure, but this caused its own problems in the films and the actual game (the games story just ends in the most hilariously unfinished final level of all-time). The game itself is a broken, hideous, unfinished mess. Developers Shiny, always ones for grand ideas, had the best of intentions but neither the skill nor time to implement them. The game went on to sell 5 million copies though and its sequel, The Path of Neo, fixed some of the problems (actually being able to play as Neo, for one). So there is that.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982 – Atari
This list really couldn’t exist without E.T The Extra-Terrestrial, with its strange spelling of extra terrestrial and it triumphantly causing the crash and almost-death of the video-game industry back in 1983 (thanks Nintendo for saving us!). You thought 10 and 11 months was a short-time to develop a video-game? Try 5 and a half weeks! You’d think publishers would realise short development times lead to frankly horrific games, but no. Anyway, Atari were banking on record sales from ET, due to the fact everyone loved the film. So, they decided to ship 5 million units of the game (after spending over $30m on the rights for the film alone and around $50m marketing the thing).
Unsurprisingly, the game was terrible. What was surprising to Atari was that consumers had had enough of overpriced shit and only 1.5m idiots bought the game (Atari’s port of Pacman, released a year earlier, to the 2600 is notorious for being one of the worst games of all-time, yet it sold an insane amount of units – this was probably fresh in consumers minds). Around 3.5m units were returned to Atari for refunds by unhappy retailers who couldn’t shift the game, causing Atari to go bankrupt and the bottom to fall out of the videogame market. Rumour is, there is a landfill in Mexico with over 3 million copies of the game in it. When human-kind is no more and the apocalypse has come and gone, all that’ll be left is dust, cockroaches and copies of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial on Atari 2600 for our alien conquerors to ponder just what we did in our spare time.
– Dave Green @Davidpgreen83
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What are your favourite and worst videogames based on properties you enjoy? Have you played any of the ones mentioned in this article? Let us know in the comments below!