SHAMELESS GRAB FOR CASH:
MX vs ATV Alive’s chiseling DLC
If you’re not familiar with the brand, MX vs ATV was a successful, well-made series of off-road racing games that filled an under-served niche. MX vs ATV Alive attempted to buck the standard business model, offering a stripped-down, reduced-price game that the player could augment with paid DLC tracks and vehicles.
The problem was that players were required to unlock new tracks and bikes via experience in the game, and unlocking the on-disc content required extremely high levels of experience. This meant that without buying any of the paid DLC, players were forced to repeat the same few initial tracks on the same few vehicles over and over again. It’s the same sort of business model we’ve seen in free-to-play games, but Alive was $39.99, and that’s too much to ask for a game that quickly strongarms you, through boredom, into buying its DLC. The poorly integrated business model hamstrung an otherwise fine game, and both the franchise and THQ Digital Studios Phoenix were shuttered shortly after.
Runner-up: The $100 Need For Speed World car
MOST SHAMEFUL BONER:
L.A. Noire’s corpses
Hang on, second. I’m still, uh…looking for clues. Yeah. That’s it.
Talk about “blunt force trauma.” There’s a moment in L.A. Noire that – disgraceful as it is to admit – smacked many of us like a lead pipe to the kisser. For some, it happened with that first victim in the Red Lipstick Murder case. For others, it was a later vic in a string of beaten, bloodied, and bruised bodies. But there we found ourselves, lingering a bit overmuch. There we were, slowly moving Det. Cole Phelps’ virtual hand from head to shoulder to arm to leg. And back again. And again. Struggling to turn the camera ever so slightly, and… freeze. Is that…? Is that really…?
Yes, gents, that is indeed a fully realized pair of mammary glands. And yes, dears, that’s also a realistically rendered mons pubis which our own in-game avatar – the ever-charming Det. Phelps – is straddling while sensibly muttering, “Hrm. Interesting.” And yes, YOU PERV, that is your own involuntary tumescence tugging at your inseam. Because you are an awful, shameful, no good, very bad person.
And, alas, we were right there with you. For shame.
Runner-up: Duke Nukem Forever
If you got a boner over any of this, you are a serial killer in the making. Turn yourself in now.
TRAILER THAT WAS BETTER THAN THE GAME IT PROMOTED:
Having watched the Dead Island trailer again before writing this, we can safely say it's still the most heart-wrenchingly sad thing we've seen since that bit in Pixar's Up when the sweet old lady that can't have children dies. And that's really sad. Like grown-men-crying sad.
When the Dead Island trailer – which was created by Glasgow-based company Axis Animation – was released back in February, anyone with a heart and emotions and a soul that watched it was left with a big lump of sadness in their throat. Not to mention a sudden rampaging interest in a game about zombies on holiday that nobody previously had paid much attention to or really given much of a shit about. Powerful stuff indeed.
We dared to dream that developer Techland, whose earlier work included the very decent but not exactly GOTY material titles Nail'd and Call of Juarez, could deliver on the promise of the trailer. Sadly, and rather predictably, it couldn't. But regardless of the game's various shortcomings, this Dead Island promotional remains a stunningly moving cinematic short in its own right.
REALLY NOT WORTH THE WAIT:
Duke Nukem Forever
Sometimes, we like to speculate as to what went on at 3D Realms’ office during the time between Duke Nukem Forever’s announcement in 1997 and its release in 2011. Ping-pong tournaments? Hot dog-eating contests? Naps? Whatever it was, we don’t think it was spent making a videogame, because Duke Nukem Forever sure didn’t feel like it had 15 years’ worth of work put into it.
After a while, Duke Nukem Forever sort of became our Bigfoot. We all kinda knew it wasn’t really out there, but every few years, we’d get a blurry image of a brown monster and we’d all be like, “Whoa! What if it exists? After 15 years it must be awesome!” And it did! It did exist! But it wasn’t awesome, and it certainly wasn’t worth a 15-year wait – it wouldn’t even have been worth a two-year wait.
Runner-up: Duke Nukem Forever’s load times
Honestly, it was hard to decide which was worse: 15 years spent waiting for an ugly, pedestrian shooter to finish crawling up its own ass and release, or 45-plus seconds spent sitting through a loading screen every time we reached a new level or died. In the end, we went with the former, but the latter still deserves recognition for every minute we wasted waiting to play. PC players got off easy, with loads that lasted 10-15 seconds at most, but on consoles, the loads made DNF feel more like the DMV.