Always look on the bright side of life. If there’s one lesson we took away from Monty Python’s Life of Brian it was to always have a glass half full outlook on existence. That’s why we’re going to give kudos to the best parts of games we’ve previously kicked the crap out of.
No matter how mediocre the mechanic, regardless of how shit the storyline is and in spite of how ghastly the graphics are; the following ten games all had brief moments of brilliance in them. Albeit very brief ones.
Will this make you go out and buy any of these unloved piles of programming? Probably not. But you might put in a kind word for them the next time someone mentions any of these titles.
As seen in: Enter the Matrix
The worst parts: Shit level design (slogs through a post office and gaming’s longest and dingiest sewer, anyone?); awful, monosyllabic leads; headache-inducing car bits; aneurism-inducing ship bits
The BEST part: This was the only part that actually reminded us we were playing a Matrix game and not some slow motion slog through gaming’s most dull and uninspiring levels. The chase scene in the climactic Skyscraper level tasks you with fleeing from an army of brassed off Agent Smiths as you frantically smash through doors, scamper along walls and scurry along painter’s platforms to escape the crabby clones.
Above: Niobe desperately leaps from the skyscraper to avoid the wrath of the agents. That, or years of being Mrs. Big Willy have finally driven Jada to suicide
Chuck in a couple of token ‘dudes’ and some confused Keanu expressions and you could be playing the brilliant corridor chase at the end of the first film. Pity the rest of this game is as misjudged as the sequels it’s based on.
Honourable mention: The fighting was OK… we suppose.
As seen in: Soldier of Fortune: Payback
The worst parts: Generic levels; generic guns; generic macho lead; generic evil Arabs; Barry Burton-esque toe-curlingly bad dialogue; the fact that everything it does is ten times shittier than COD 4.
The BEST part: Yeah, yeah. We know violence is neither big nor clever. But c’mon, shooting limbs off a clichéd terrorist until every stump on his body spurts blood like the world’s most unpleasant garden sprinkler is a hoot. And systematically shattering shin caps, bursting eye balls and blowing arms off every baddie you meet is a constant guilty pleasure.
Above: It's just like pulling apart a Christmas cracker. Except instead of a toy suprise you get bits of entrails. Makes you feel all festive, eh?
Granted, just like every other part of this Soldier of Fortune game, the gore is crass and offensively stupid. But that shouldn't stop you from enjoying some of the most shamelessly appealing violence since a mouse named Itchy met a cat named Scratchy.
Honourable mention: Erm, the weapons sort of sound like guns?
As seen in: King Kong
The worst parts: On-rails, rubbish Kong platform bits; almost as rubbish Kong combat sections; the incredibly rubbish and futile bit where you swipe at planes on top of the Empire State Building; using bits of wood more than guns to fend off dinosaurs.
The BEST part: Let’s be honest, everyone got a little bit too caught up in the hype of a Pete Jackson/Michel Ancel collaboration when reviewing this, didn’t they? OK, so the first person bits are alright. And we suppose luring raptors with giant insects on sticks was kinda clever. But the rest of the game was pretty poor.
Above: We'll put a 100 on the wooden one
Just like the film, though, the first time you encounter a T-rex is the absolute highlight. Ferocious, screen-shaking and with Jurassic Park-shaming animation, Kong’s Rex is one of the most impressive bosses we’ve ever come across in a licensed game. What made the section even more tense was that all that stood between you and becoming dino dinner was a pointy spear and some random fires to distract the Cretaceous critter. A good example of pacing, tension and suspense in an otherwise ‘meh’ game.
Honourable mention: Fighting off pterodactyls while floating down a river on a rickety raft didn’t totally blow.
As seen in: Clay Fighter 63 1/3
The worst parts:
Terrible fighting, combos and finishers; it’s as funny as a heart attack; a crappy parody of a Naked Gun film.
The BEST part:
So it’s not the real Santa – everyone knows that’s Tim Allen. But Clay Fighter’s Sumo Santa is as close as you’re going to get to realising those dreams of crippling Chris Cringle. The N64’s worst beat ‘em up depicts Father Christmas as a semi-nude, loin cloth-wearing, lethal master of Japanese combat. And any elderly gentleman who sneaks into children’s bedrooms in nothing but a flimsy piece of loin needs a serious smackdown in our opinion.
Above: When will children learn to stop putting out milk and cookies?
Thankfully, you can bring that beating in a variety of cringe-worthy clay-based deaths. Whether you use Boogerman’s mucus, turn into a sledgehammer with the Blob or use Mr. Frosty snowballs of death; there’s loads of ‘hilarious’ ways to make Santa meet his maker. And that’s exactly who you’ll want to meet if you play this shambolic mess for more than a minute.
Honourable mention: Earthworm Jim’s in it. Kids still like Earthworm Jim, right?
As seen in: Jaws Unleashed
The worst parts: Ludicrous mission objectives – why would a shark want to blow up an oil refinery?; a camera system more painful than getting guzzled by a great white; unreliable lock-on system; the shark still looks like a massive plastic turd.
The BEST part: Any game absurd enough to try and crack the sandbox genre by replacing the quintessential mafia hood/gang banger/ Eastern European sociopath with a big fish with pointy teeth deserves respect. Even if (whisper it) most of the game’s mechanics are horribly broken.
Above: Probably not the best poster for the Amity Island tourist board to go with
Thank God for Jaws’ circle of life, then. Tourists enter water. Tourists swim in water. Shark swims in water. Shark tears tourists limb from deformable limb. Isn’t nature beautiful? The waters in Unleashed are basically an all you can eat buffet for old Bruce (that’s the shark). And munching your way through marine life, biting holes in boats and wasting water ski enthusiasts is such a simple, if slightly unwholesome, pleasure.
Honourable mention: Duh-duh… Duh-duh… The music is still undeniably ace.