Eight crap games running on great technology

Videogame technology is evolving. Where animation for the Apple II’s Prince of Persia was achieved by the developer sticking a sheet of tracing paper over videos of his little brother performing acrobatics, we now have motion capture, destructible environments and specular reflection (whatever that means). Nevertheless, all the technological innovation in the world can’t save those games lacking that special something – good game design. Want a few examples? Read on...

Quantum of Solace

Great technology: The ‘Call of Duty 4’ engine

60 frames-per-second and drop-dead gorgeous, Infinity Ward’s engine, previously used in Call of Duty 4, should’ve made Quantum of Solace the Goldeneye for the Mountain Dew generation. Instead of mind-blowing set-pieces and a multiplayer that kept you coming back for one last perk unlock (no Aston Martin Vanquish unlock, or poison pen sidearm?), what we got was a middling cover shooter with none of Bond’s swagger. Lacking imagination, variation, or even 007-type espionage (unless you count sidling along a ledge as a spotlight slowly pans around), the developers at Treyarch showed that even incredi-tech can’t replace pure old fashioned inspiration.

Above: It looked good on paper... no really, print this out and look at it. Not nearly as bad as the game, right?

Worst bit: The waxy character model used for Dame Judy Dench’s character, ‘M.’ Who would have thought ‘M’ actually stood for ‘mannequin’?


Great technology: Id Tech 4 engine

Has a game with a decade-long development ever turned not terrible? Work on the game spanned a decade and a year, with developers Human Head finally positioning Prey as 2006’s perennial ‘remember me?’ game – the answer always being ‘no.’ It wasn’t for lack of ideas: you could play with portals a full year before Valve’s 2007 masterpiece, run and jump around spheres with their own constant gravitational pulls well before Mario Galaxy and occasionally walk on ceilings like Dead Space, but Prey was nowhere near the sum of these parts. The impressive Id Tech 4 (of Doom 3 fame) was used for nothing more than greasy, flesh-walled corridors and the odd monster ambush through a pre-positioned portal.

Above: How Lionel Richie's 'Dancing on the Ceiling' video should've looked 

Worst bit: Sphincter doors 


Great technology: Factor 5’s in-house engine

With back-of-the-box headings screaming ‘SIXAXIS!’, ‘1080p!’ and ‘seamless air-to-ground combat!’, Lair looked promising. Sadly like using a paint mixer to combine lots of lovely nice colors, this big budget blockbuster was more big brown mess. Very brown. Factor 5’s tragic commercial and critical flop (53% on Metacritic) should’ve been an eye-wateringly delicious mix of Rogue Squadron on mount with a smattering of Lord of the Rings. Singe the heels of enemy dragon riders as you take chase, clawing and tussling in the sky as you glimpse an epic battle play out below in real time. Instead this looked like a poor man’s J.R.R Tolkien, played with an infuriatingly clumsy control scheme from the time when Sixaxis seemed like a good idea, and felt like being grounded by a disapproving parent whenever it sent you back to the start for missing a poorly explained objective.

Above: Do not be fooled by the awesomeness on display - this game is terrible 

Worst bit: Protecting a convoy of slow-moving idiots for 15 minutes, only for them to later be blown to smithereens and for your progress to be undone.

A variety of games made with Unreal Engine 3

Great technology: Unreal Engine 3

The Unreal Engine is synonymous with the development of videogames. So popular is Unreal 3 with current generation developers it’s bound to be responsible for a few gaming stinkers. To list all the crap games made with this great tech (which boasts HDRR, per-pixel lighting, and dynamic shadows) would take far too much space. So instead we’ll just list A through H: America’s Army 3.0, Army of Two, Blacksite: Area 51, Damnation, Dark Void, Destroy All Humans: Path of the Furon, Fatal Inertia, Hail to the Chimp and Hour of Victory. The embarrassment of such gaming failures are only made worse by this thought: Batman: Arkham Asylum and Gears of War one and two were made using exactly the same tools.

Worst bit: Unreal Engine 3’s only downside? The ‘this game appears to be smeared with Vaseline’ look.

Above: Damnation's 'Vaseline look' in all its glory 


  • Shuuvuia - July 8, 2011 8:07 p.m.

    Technically, spherical levels with their own gravity was done in Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando in 2003, way before Prey or Super Mario Galaxy.
  • ZigzMagoo - July 8, 2011 5:17 a.m.

    Cmon, am I the only one who had fun with Army of Two? It was pretty sweet
  • raptorak - July 8, 2011 1:28 a.m.

    OMG this Ben Griffin guy is a definite troll - Sonic Adventure was a beautiful game and really good fun to play.
  • raptorak - July 8, 2011 1:23 a.m.

    What the hell is Prey doing on this list? That game was great, not to mention having the best opening sequence of any game ever.
  • d0x - March 16, 2011 11:32 p.m.

    The thing that pissed me off the most about Dragon Rising was enemies shooting you that werent being drawn by the engine. They were too far away so the engine decided they didnt need to be rendered visually yet their bullets still managed to kill you. You could shoot directly at them but never hit them cause they werent there yet! Walk forward a bit and POOF!! Magic i tell you.
  • MaelstromKING - September 11, 2010 4:33 a.m.

    I'll probably get lynched, but... Mass Effect The story in Mass Effect is good, but the gameplay is half assed to all get out. Seriously it felt like I was playing a game that had less oomph than the game that started it all for them (Baldur's Gate).
  • LKabongUno - May 30, 2010 6:53 a.m.

    On Sewer Shark, I think you meant to say "Panasonic" 3DO.
  • wrapdump - May 29, 2010 12:32 p.m.

    I have googled "Sega 3DO", it does not exist.
  • xXGhostXx - May 29, 2010 7:26 a.m.

    Prey rly? That game was amazing, even if the multiplayer was unplayable!!!
  • JADENkOTOR - May 28, 2010 9:12 p.m.

    @ LIKEUCARE Man i was totally with you all the way on your bold but true first comment. Then you went and stuck up for Prey... and seeing how its gameplay is even shittier than some that you mentioned, I didn't get it... It looks like shit too. Spot on with gears and halo being the two most overrated games ever... eventhough they are still good games.
  • Snapp3r - May 28, 2010 6:26 p.m.

    I'm jumping on the prey bandwagon here. I thought it was a pretty decent game, albeit with a bad ending, but it did play nicely.
  • EnlargedSeagullGenetaila - May 28, 2010 12:51 p.m.

    I don't know what you are talking about. I quite enjoyed Operation: Prey of Solace and you did give it a good score. Ben Griffin you ar stupid.
  • CombatWombat101 - May 28, 2010 6:52 a.m.

    @ GodofPS314: 1) Go check the name of the person who wrote the Operation Flashpoint review. 2) Check the name of the person who wrote this article. 3) Hang your head in shame.
  • Spybreak8 - May 28, 2010 5:13 a.m.

    I loved Prey but unfortunately i got stuck and put it down. I never went back. Still haven't played Quantum of Solace but it's in my backlog.
  • GodofPS314 - May 28, 2010 12:03 a.m.

    You guys gave Operation Flashpoint a 9 and yet it is on a bad list of games. Wow you guys can never stick to anything
  • JuliePeesgood - May 27, 2010 10:58 p.m.

    I got mentioned in an article! Yay!
  • Samael - May 27, 2010 8:34 p.m.

    Yeah, Prey wasn't that bad. Not great, but not "crap" either. Doesn't deserve to be here.
  • yayer - May 27, 2010 8:24 p.m.

    quantum of solace was good in my opinion. it is a fps except when ur in cover it is a tps which worked well. the multiplayer wasnt bad either. it is a good rent or even purchase
  • LIKEUCARE - May 27, 2010 8:17 p.m.

    By the way, I don't understand how Prey was listed there. Sure it may had a few faults here and there but overall, the game was quite great and under id tech 4. Oh well, opinions changes from person to person... Oh my, I forgot Killzone 2. Truly outstanding graphics and tech, but I was quite disappointed in the gameplay. The aiming felt weird also...
  • LIKEUCARE - May 27, 2010 8:02 p.m.

    Nexus Jupiter Incident or something... awesome graphics, yet truly mediocre gameplay. BioShock 2... Aliens vs Predator 2010... Turok... Haze... Command and Conquer 4... Far Cry 2... Star Trek Legacy (So much promising... yet it sucked so BAD!)... Unreal 2 The Awakening (Awesome engine back then, yet the gameplay sucked overall)... Perimeter (Great looking RTS but crappy gameplay)... Lost Planet 1 and 2 (Great graphics/tech but shitty gameplay)... Heck, even if I'm an id Software fan, I'd still put there Quake 4. Great tech, but the game kinda sucked... I hardly replayed it about 2 times top... And to finish this... many, MANY will disagree with me and I don't care... but Gears of War is one of the most overrated game in history after Halo AND, it deserves to be on that list. Awesome graphics, but shitty story, gameplay is very average at best.

Showing 1-20 of 66 comments

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