Video games are a growing part of our media consumed lives, and, although we can debate about their role in the world of art all day, you can’t deny their growing importance. Gaming’s trump card is, of course, the interactive nature of it. Due to that, games can be judged on a moment-to-moment basis more so than a movie or a painting. While people tend to think of movies as “good” or “bad”, and of course gaming is guilty of that to a degree, but we also tend to judge our games based on their individual mechanics. Maybe system A worked while mechanic B fell flat, but we often make that distinction amongst our most polarizing games.
The games on this list are not shining beacons of game development. For the most part, they were poor games, but they all have one thing in common. Despite being blights on the industry, they all managed to include at least one redeeming element, which automatically makes them better than Hulk Hogan’s Main Event.
Fracture-World Shaping: Good gameplay can cover a multitude of sins, and Fracture’s gameplay is passable. Not great, perhaps not even good, but passable. Nothing, however, can make up for the absurdity of main character… wait for it… Jet Brody. Yep, the guy who sounds like Mountain Dew’s target market is so bad that not even a gun that terraforms the Earth couldn’t save Fracture from being a flop. Despite Jet Brody (my God who picked that name?), that is a shame for at least one reason. Because it turns out shaping the landscape is pretty damn fun.
Not only was the mechanic well-implemented and just plain awesome, it had some great gameplay applications as well. A simple tap of the left or right bumper would raise or lower the ground level, providing instant cover or creating a grenade pit death trap. That last one was particularly fun. Unfortunately, you couldn’t just change the layout of the stupid story, and there is no weapon that redeem the tool that you are forced to play as.
Wanted- Bullet Bending: Wanted the movie was a midly entertaining romp that I’m pretty sure had Angelina Jolie in it, and followed not Elijah Wood as he put a lot of people into coffins. Wanted the game featured not Elijah Wood repeatedly killing the same four or five guys for four or five hours. It was not fun or engaging in any way, and any fun to be found was quickly drained away in the monotonous action. By quickly, I that after twenty minutes into it, you realize you’ve probably seen everything this game has to offer.
And then you unlock bullet curving. It doesn’t make the game good. Adding Optimus Prime and The Punisher couldn’t do that (or maybe it could), but it is a heck of a lot of fun. The “momentum” system is kind of a drag, because it stops you from shamelessly curving bullets at every fool shooting at you, but slinging bullets at foes is intuitive and visceral, and basically works exactly how you would want it to. And I’ve officialy run out of nice things to say about Wanted.
Alpha Protocol- Leveling: Is it a coincidence that all the games on this list are both general failures and feature terrible protagonists? I think not. Alpha Protocol had lofty expectations preceding its release, and failed to meet almost all of them. Leading man Michael Thorton was about as interesting as mud, and the gunplay was slightly less than mediocre. Stealth was completely impractical, and the story was absurd to the point of being insulting. So what did Alpha Protocol do right?
The RPG elements. The nuts-and-bolts of one of the most technically demanding genres around were captured magnificently somehow. It may have been little-to-no fun playing as Thorton, but upgrading him was a statistic dream. Every upgrade added a seemingly game-changing ability, with little “10% more damage” filler upgrades padding out the menu. It’s a shame the rest of the game couldn’t come together, but you know you have a problem when the best part of your game is found in the menus.
007 Nightfire- Grapple Hooking: I’ve never been a Bondophile, but I have had fun with a couple of the man’s video games. I’ve never hidden my love for the Nintendo 64, and obviously Goldeneye was a big part of that, especially the multiplayer. Later on, I was skimming through my college roommate’s game collection and came upon this little title I’d never heard of: 007 Nightfire. Interested, I popped it in, and started up the campaign. It was awful.
I mean, really awful. Bad. Just bad. My roommate, however, convinced me to check out the multiplayer with him. It was, and I say this with no sense of irony, a life-changing experience. Without realizing it, developer Eurocom had created the best Spider-Man game ever made. Thanks to the grappling hook that you can start with, multiplayer plays out like a Dragon Ball Z fight, with the combatants zooming all over the place trading pot shots at each other. Seriously, the best game mechanic you’ve probably never experienced.