The streak is dead
The only thing more memorable than a thoroughly memorable streak is being the person, place or thing to put an end to it. And yes that does include you 'bored stadium steward' - smash that streaker good. When it comes to creating video games, many developers pride themselves on only producing top quality content, because unlike most of their comrades in the film industry, one terrible title can often be enough to sink a dev wholesale. Yikes. Today's big list of stuff takes a look at 10 of these titles, memorable games that put the almighty kibosh on an otherwise winning run of form. The mighty Brock Lesnars of video games, basically. Enjoy.
But first - a quick word on criteria: In compiling this massively serious list, which definitely features no holes at all, I've tried only to include a company's mainline games. That is to say - no handheld or mobile titles (unless said company actually places a premium on those platforms). Oh, and nothing that the studio merely 'contributed' to either. Also, keep in mind that some of the scores won't relate to the platforms being shown in the page art, otherwise it'd all just be original Xbox & PS3 boxes, and that's just boring. Got that? Good.
The hot streak: Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
C-C-C-Combo breaker: Too Human (and later - X-Men: Destiny)
Ah 'Silicon Knights', the studio name that when read aloud sounds a bit like a porn flick, but unlike those smut-peddling pictures - which I'd just like to point out I have absolutely no knowledge of - said studio's messy end just couldn't come quickly enough. 'Double entendre' you say? Sorry, I dont follow gymnastics But enough bawdy humour for one entry. The filthiest thing about this developer is just how dirt poor its final two titles proved to be. X-Men: Destiny was an afterthought from start to finish, but Too Human? Now there was a game with franchise potential. Hell, the studio itself had already begun mapping out its saga.
Too bad then that the 'series' one and only outing was such a malformed and muddled mess. Then again, perhaps it was all just an elaborate attempt to bring Eternal Darkness 2 to life, complete with RL sanity meter. The more you play, the closer you come to a complete mental breakdown.
Free Radical Design
The hot streak: TimeSplitters, TimeSplitters 2, Second Sight, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
C-C-C-Combo breaker: Haze
Like a squalid dollop of faeces raining down from the sky, 2008's Haze might best be described as 'shit from an unexpected source'. Free Radical Design not only knew their shooters, they were practically the pre-Halo head honchos of the genre.
Before network play, there was TimeSplitters. Before COD-mania there was TimeSplitters. Before there were overly agitated tweens spouting their verbal diarrhoea via cheap plastic headsets, there was TimeSplitters. Oh, and Second Sight wasn't too shabby either. To truly comprehend what made Haze so sickeningly disappointing, just try to imagine Half-Life 3 being really really bad. And sinking Valve. The horror
The hot streak: Pong, Breakout, Star Raiders, Asteroids, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Battlezone, Centipede
C-C-C-Combo breaker: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
What do you mean, 'predates score-aggregate websites'? What do you mean, 'no such thing as the Internet? Well damn it all. It doesn't matter. I just cannot pen a list of cursed combo breakers that doesn't feature E.T. That raisin-skinned saboteur almost annihilated the entire industry.
This first incarnation of Atari was practically a classic-making factory. Sure, there were a few stinkers along the way but the Atari brand was so unusually prolific that it didn't really matter. Quibble the 'hot streak' status if you must, but there's simply no denying E.T.'s monstrous drop in quality. It wasn't just lacklustre; this Spielberg spin-off was downright diabolical.
The hot streak: Full Spectrum Warrior, Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, Destroy All Humans!, Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers, Destroy All Humans! 2, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
C-C-C-Combo breaker: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Perhaps the saddest example of a misstep on this list, the gargantuan mess that was LotR: Conquest may've even played a part in the eventual demise of its developer. Despite being one of the industry's better-liked studios, Pandemic would only go on to produce one more solitary outing, that being the promising WW2 title The Saboteur. Though far from being the company's first foray into licensed work, Conquest certainly seemed as such. You might even be forgiven for thinking it was Pandemic's first foray into gaming, full stop.
What remains most puzzling about Conquest's abject failure is just how simple - comparatively speaking - its developmental task appeared to be. The game was often compared to - and likely inspired by - the success of the studio's own Star Wars Battlefront. All that was needed was to re-skin said game, perhaps tweaking its melee combat before patching in the movie's ready-made soundtrack. And yet somehow, it still wound up failing even these lowliest of expectations.
The hot streak: Hitman: Codename 47, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Freedom Fighters, Hitman: Contracts, Hitman: Blood Money
C-C-C-Combo breaker: Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
There's a certain clunkiness at the heart of the Hitman series, Io Interactive's most readily recognisable franchise - a clunkiness that just so happens to play well with the game's core concept of slow-paced kill-sleuthing. Make things too fluid and players will simply deign to shoot their way out of every tricky situation. But what about when you're specifically trying to make a shooter? Surely said game would demand a complete mechanical overhaul. Or not, providing you're happy to put up with the deluge of backlash from angry fans.
Io may've gotten away with its lightweight shooting systems back when Freedom Fighters was busy revolutionising A.I. squad play, but by 2007, fans were left expecting more. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men took perhaps the weakest part of the Io formula and then ran with it, bolting on shoddy A.I. and pacing problems to boot. As the ancient Greeks would've put it, 'Know thyself, Io'. As Ice Cube would have it: 'You betta check yo'self before you wreck yo'self'.
The hot streak: MadWorld, Bayonetta, Vanquish, Anarchy Reigns, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2
C-C-C-Combo breaker: The Legend of Korra
If you deign to include Platinum's previous stint as Clover Games - the studio is something of a spiritual successor - then the house of Okami has been hitting nothing but net now for the past 12-and-a-bit years. Sure, Anarchy Reigns might've used some extra, work, and The Wonderful 101 didn't quite live up to its name, but that's a small price to pay for the likes of Vanquish, MadWorld and Bayonettas 1 and 2.
In that time, Platinum proved its worth within numerous genres, effectively becoming industry leader where fast-paced and fun-filled action is concerned. So, if there was ever one company to take charge of the Legend of Korra license, to ensure that the series' battling factions received a tie-in worthy of their names, you'd think it was Platinum. Not so, unfortunately, as the developer's finished article felt anything but. Let's hope this recent blot doesn't mark a drop in the studio's often-stellar standards. Though it's doubtful, given that Bayonetta 2 released around the same time. All eyes are on you, Scalebound.
The hot streak: *Deep Breath* Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage, Spyro: Year of the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, R&C: Going Commando, R&C: Up Your Arsenal, Ratchet: Deadlocked, Resistance: Fall of Man, R&C: Tools of Destruction, R&C: Quest for Booty, Resistance 2, R&C: A Crack in Time, Resistance 3, R&C: All 4 One
C-C-C-Combo breaker: Fuse
A studio that's practically synonymous with the Sony PlayStation going multi-platform? Insomniac certainly wasn't the first, though it may be among the most unfortunate. It's almost as if Insomniac chose to test the waters by putting its worst foot forward, dipping its mangiest toe in the ocean only to discover a great white taking a bite.
The almighty failure of Fuse - a woefully bland 4 person shooter - may even have prompted the team to abandon all future forays into multiplatform releases. Just consider its post-Fuse slate - two more Ratchet & Clank titles, Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One, and a PC-exclusive named Slow Down, Bull. I guess cross-platform releases just arent Insomniac's bag, baby. Lesson learned.
The hot streak: Shogun: Total War, Rugby, Medieval: Total War, Rome: Total War, Spartan: Total Warrior, Medieval II: Total War, Viking: Battle for Asgard, Empire: Total War
C-C-C-Combo breaker: Stormrise
Say what you will about The Creative Assembly, but when it comes to big burly men running right into each other they're the absolute bee's knees. They've made rugby titles, third-person scrappers and even reset the scale for the modern RTS. You might even say that melee combat is their bread and butter. Guns, however - not so much. Empire: Total War, with its ye olde rifles might've scored highly among critics but was less warmly received by fans - though thats nothing compared to the universal derision that awaited tactical shooter Stormrise.
Well, I say 'universal' - most reviewers did in fact praise the game's ambition, citing several enterprising concepts that were nevertheless undone by shoddy execution. It's telling that the company's next non-RTS - Alien: Isolation - would chose to keep such gunplay to a minimum.
The hot streak: Black & White, Fable, Black & White 2, The Movies, Fable 2, Fable 3
C-C-C-Combo breaker: Fable: The Journey (also - Fable Heroes)
Formerly home to the madgod Molyneux, Lionhead Studios has undergone a steady process of 'Rare-ification' in the last few years. That is to say, the bigwigs at Microsoft have seen fit to do to them what they also did to Rare. Lionhead - a team once chided for its massive, undeliverable sense of ambition - is now perhaps guilty of just the opposite.
Lately perceived as Microsoft's platform-pushing lackey, the studio has been largely associated with the ever-redundant Kinect, by way of Fable: The Journey, as well as lightweight, family-friendly beat-'em-up action in Fable: Heroes. It wouldnt all be so bad of course, but for the fact that both games were labelled with the once-mighty Xbox RPG's name, effectively pimping the series reputation for little-to-no return. Here's hoping that Fable Legends can re-stoke the hot streak.
The hot streak: Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, BiA: Earned in Blood, BiA: Hell's Highway, Borderlands, Borderlands 2
C-C-C-Combo breaker: Aliens: Colonial Marines
There's nothing like flubbing a slam-dunk to set the fans' teeth on edge. Sabotaging a sure thing, with the goal wide open and the stars practically aligned, requires an almost willful lack of finesse. Still, even the best players can occasionally err. Such is the case with Gearbox Software, a veteran studio boasting a quality portfolio and some damned strange decision-making.
Having already displayed its pedigree for FPS excellence, the studio set about applying all that it knows to the infinitely promising Aliens license. The resulting cataclysm wound up inflicting a chest-bursting gut punch to what was a formerly hot property. Praise be to The Creative Assembly then for setting Ripley and co. back on track.