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A Look At Some of the Worst-Rated Video Games of All Time (According to Metacritic)
Despite the fact that they’re clumsy, awkward, and sometimes even downright terrible, there’s still something fascinating about bad games. Maybe it’s the comedy that can be extracted from their poor execution, maybe it’s a childlike curiosity we harbor toward the fact that these works were even allowed to hit store shelves in the first place, or hell, maybe we just love taking a step away from the greats of the generation and dipping our toes into a cesspool of awfulness in order to know exactly how good we have it. No matter how you shake it, terribad video games have a train-wreck like appeal that keeps us entertained for all the wrong reasons.
Just for fun, I’ve taken a look at some of the lowest-rated games on review score aggregate site Metacritic, a service that compiles review scores from several different outlets and averages them out to assign an overall score to works such as games, movies, and music albums.
Read on if you dare. This list is made up of some of the worst and is definitely not for the weak of heart. You have been warned.
In an era where bland military shooters appear on store shelves and in virtual marketplaces practically every month, it feels somewhat anticlimactic to call Rogue Warrior bad. But believe me, no matter how low the bar is set for these types of games, developer Rebellion Developments managed to limbo so far underneath it that the game achieved an abysmal 29/100 score on Metacritic.
In Rogue Warrior, players take the role of Richard “Demo Dick” Marcinko, an infamous Navy S.E.A.L. known as the “Rogue Warrior.” Dick has been sent to North Korea to scout out classified information regarding the production of ballistic missiles unfamiliar to the rest of the world. Yes, there are other plot points, but they’re so boring and meaningless that it adds nothing to this piece to discuss them.
So what makes this game so bad? First, Ol’ “Demo Dick” himself is voiced by Mickey Rourke in a riveting voice over performance that sounds like the man has a fifth of whiskey in his right hand the entire time. This is only made even more painful considering the dialogue is a ridiculous mess riddled with cringeworthy patriotic one-liners and more F-bombs and genital jokes than the rowdiest of Jackass episodes.
On top of that, the AI is so bad that it can’t even be called stupid. Really, broken is a better description for it. It’s meant to be a stealth action game, but detection of Dick is so low that you can literally sprint up to enemies and hit a button prompt to stealth kill them on the spot. Add to that a ridiculously short campaign and a price tag that initially asked for a traditional $60, and this is definitely one of the darkest of dark spots on this generation’s history.
Battle: Los Angeles
Not surprisingly, this movie tie-in game was bad. Really, really bad. So bad, in fact, that it made the actual movie (which has an equally terrible Metacritic score) look like an American classic in comparison.
Boasting a score of 38 on PC, Battle: Los Angeles is nothing more than a bare-bones shooter with no redeeming elements that sees you mowing down the same enemy type in every level. Each of the levels are broken up by bland comic strip-style cutscenes that look more like a kid’s paint-by-numbers book than actual comic art, shooting controls are poorly executed and lack some of the more intuitive conventions of other modern shooters, and the game only sports a 45-minute long campaign to boot.
Yes, movie tie-in-games are typically bad, bad news. But Battle: Los Angeles managed to take things down to a notch so far down we didn’t even know it existed with Battle: Los Angeles. For that, I suppose it could win a medal of honor. Or shame.
Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Sadly, superhero games have long been seen as the unfortunate misstep in gaming’s history, a subgenre so riddled with terrible games that it often makes it difficult for some of the truly good titles to actually get their due credit. Which is ironic, considering how video game-friendly they really could (and should) be.
Still, with the likes of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Batman has managed to rise to the top, giving us a beacon of hope in the subgenre, showing us that things really, truly, can be great.
But despite Batman’s recent rise to critical greatness, there’s still one distinctly bad mark on his history, one misstep that fell to the depths alongside the likes of Superman 64 and Aquaman: Battle for Earth. Okay, maybe not that bad, but it was down there.
The game is called Batman: Dark Tomorrow, and it sports a Metacritic score of 25/100 on the original Xbox.
With awful controls, cheap deaths, terrible voice acting, stiff animations, bad AI, and rampant bugs, Dark Tomorrow proves to be more frustrating than fun, putting players through a challenge that is neither intuitive or interesting in the same way as its Arkham successors. Sure, it was handled by a different development staff, but the fact that Dark Tomorrow managed to fall to the depths of mediocrity alongside countless other titles featuring superheroes comes across even more disappointing today, seeing as we’ve had the chance to experience Batman’s potential as a great game protagonist. Hopefully the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins can manage to rise to the same levels of quality upon release later this year and avoid making the same mistakes as this blemish on the Dark Knight’s history.
Despite the fact that it looked to be mildly interesting, the downloadable title Amy ended up being a veritable critical failure, earning a score of 33 on the PlayStation 3 when it was released.
It’s fairly standard survival horror fare that puts you in the role of a woman protecting a special little girl named Amy as you try to navigate a world that has been taken over by horrifying creatures. And while that premise might seem a bit tired, it’s the game itself that managed to become a product more dead inside than its janky enemies.
The most common complaints of reviewers included a weak story delivered with poor voice acting, a bad control scheme lacking intuition and not supporting the gameplay mechanics themselves, a dated look that gave it the aesthetic of an early PS2 game, and terrible combat lacking any sort of rhythm or finesse.
And if you need any more reason to stay far away from it, the game is essentially a terrible escort mission the entire way through. If you’re dying to help get a little girl safely out of a dangerous area filled with the undead, I’d recommend playing The Last of Us instead.
I’m kind of ashamed to say that I’ve probably had more experience with this game than anyone reading this list. My younger brothers picked it up at the store for whatever reasons little kids do things, so it was something of a craze on the family Wii for the space of about a week. Although it should be noted that it took about five minutes before I realized this was nothing more than a piece of hot garbage on a disc.
With barely enough content to justify it being a flash game, Chicken Shoot is a messy and repetitive attempt at a Duck Hunt-style game that resulted in the title taking top honors with many outlets as the worst Wii game of all time. Which is an impressive feat, considering some of the licensed drivel the system had going for it during its lifetime.
GoDai: Elemental Force
Boasting ninjas, weapons, and 3D combat, GoDai: Elemental Force is a PlayStation 2-era game that had a lot going for it. After all, who doesn’t love using some old-school martial arts and a collection of myriad weapons to deliver a beatdown on unsuspecting enemies?
Alas, even the most interesting of ideas managed to fall into obscurity here, as GoDai currently has a Metacritic rating of 27 on Sony’s beloved platform of the last generation.
Despite the fact that it had a moderately intriguing premise and actually contained some solid ideas, GoDai: Elemental Force is a textbook example of a technically broken game. Stiff animations, embarrassing frame rate, bad textures and character designs, and poor sound presentation all dashed any potential the PlayStation 2 game might have once had.
Crazy Frog Racer 2
Once upon a time, a cell phone ringtone service called Jamster assaulted the ears of millions with one of the most irritating and obnoxious songs ever heard. The song? A remix of Axel F. The artist? The infamous Crazy Frog.
Don’t remember it? Listen below, and make sure you have tissues on hand to mop up the blood that will dribble out of your ears.
This monstrosity somehow made waves on the internet and even enjoyed a fair amount of success, particularly with young kids who love to listen to odd, filtered gibberish on top of painful club remixes sounding like they were ripped straight out of Jock Jams. And not only was it on radio stations, cell phones, and internet ads everywhere, it also found its way into video games. And The Crazy Frog (or The Annoying Thing, as it was first known) was in not just one video game, but two.
Crazy Frog Racer 2 on the PlayStation 2 is pretty much nothing more than a bastardized kart racer featuring terrible track design, wonky mechanics, a dated look, and music that might be deemed torturous under any other circumstance. Truly, it’s one of the worst lisenced games ever made, created out of one of the worst licensed internet phenoms that has ever existed. Thankfully, we can now bury this and move on with our lives.
Duke Nukem: Critical Mass
While Duke Nukem Forever might be one of the biggest flops of our generation, there’s actually a Duke Nukem game that counters Forever’s Metacritic score of 49 with a whopping 29. The game? Duke Nukem: Critical Mass on the Nintendo DS.
The game was essentially a 2.5D shooter that saw Duke running right to left and shooting enemies in a repetitive wash, rinse, repeat format that dragged on for far too long. Add to that and ugly and boring aesthetic, boring enemies, clumsy touchscreen integration, and a plethora of gimmicks and mini-games that rob the series of anything it’s come to be known for, and it’s easy to see why this bite-sized Duke game is nothing short of abysmal. What’s hard to see is why this game isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Forever.
Say what you will about them, but the Charlie’s Angels movies aren’t bad. They aren’t great by any means, but they don’t necessarily fall to worst-of-all-time status.
What does, however, is the movie’s tie-in game of the same name.
Now, on the surface, this game looks like it might have some promise to it. After all, they managed to wrangle up the original actresses to deliver the voices, and an action movie seems like a fitting place for a game setting.
But it’s not. Oh boy, is it not. Charlie’s Angels on Game Cube earned itself a score of 23 on Metacritic and is a prime example of how not to make a movie tie-in.
In the story line of the century, someone’s stolen the Statue of Liberty and it’s up to the Angels to recover it and bring the evildoers to justice.
Despite having an all-star cast, the voice acting is flat and emotionless, sounding like it was all done in one take on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The game features awkward and goofy animations, wonky controls, repetitive and clumsy brawler-style gameplay, a presentation that is all kinds of bad, and characters that don’t even look like their real-life counterparts.
But probably the strangest part of Charlie’s Angels is the game’s ability to sprout invisible walls seemingly six inches behind the character as she moves through the environment, forcing you to move ahead in one of the most blatant ways possible. Bad news, Angels…this is one that shouldn’t be played. Ever.
Nickelodeon Party Blast
A party-style game featuring Nickelodeon characters? At first glance, this seems like a gold mine of an idea. After all, games such as Mario Party have an all-ages appeal that should ideally lend itself well to kids and adults. And seeing as Nickelodeon’s cartoons have a past of being able to capitalize on such an audience, this makes the creation of this game a no-brainer.
Alas, a minigame collection featuring the likes of Chuckie and Spongebob didn’t launch to overwhelming critical reception. In fact, it was so poorly received that the game has the lowest score on this list of a 19/100 on Metacritic.
Sure, many will have fond childhood memories of the game and might look at this score with a suspicious side-eye, but common critical complaints have cited bad mechanics, boring games, bad animations and effects, terrible level design, and an uninspired aesthetic that doesn’t do justice to the otherwise unique look of most Nickelodeon cartoons as being the culprits of the waves of bad scores doled out to the game. Which is really too bad. Like I sad before, this mix of beloved cartoons and a Mario Party-like idea for a game should’ve made the game a total shoe-in as a great party title. But not all that glitters is gold, and Nickelodeon Party Blast is definitely nothing more than a tarnished mess of a game.