Bad games. We’ve seen plenty since this site started in 2001, but in this day and age of big budgets and high expectations they’ve started to become few and far between. Godzilla on PS4 was the most recent, and it’s fair to say that many were surprised by how awful it was. We’ve come to expect competency.
Every few years though we see the release of something that sets tongues waggling, and not for the best of reasons. Games so dated and unfinished that it’s almost a miracle they managed to end up in consumer’s hands.
Inspired by the negativity surrounding Devil’s Third – which is finally released this week after a seven year development cycle – we’ve rounded up five games that managed to escape development limbo.
Duke Nukem Forever
Credit goes to Gearbox and Piranha Bytes – they managed to take something that was stuck in gaming purgatory since 1997 and turn it into an experience that was merely mediocre. Not terrible, but certainly dated. But it wasn’t just the action that felt like something from the past – many found the Duke himself a man out of time. His corny one-liners and uber-macho visage may have seemed cool in the ‘90s, but today’s gaming icons are rarely as shallow.
Boss battles, gun turret sequences, first-person platform jumping elements and a multi-player mode entitled ‘Capture the Babe’ – there’s no debating that Duke Nukem Forever was a relic from days gone by. Yet, it was playable – using the True Achievements website as a source, roughly half the people who purchased a copy finished the single-player mode.
Haven’t played it for yourself? It can usually be found for around £2-£3 these days, and it’s well worth a purchase just for the extras – there’s a timeline video showing the game in various states of development, plus trailers from iterations that were cancelled. The credit roll raises a grin too. After scrolling for what seems an eternity, Gearbox basically put their hands up and say “It’s impossible to name everybody who worked on DNF – big shout out to all the people who did”.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Here we have Gearbox’s very own Duke Nukem Forever. After several delays and five years in development, the world was presented with something that looked incredibly different to the glitzy pre-release screenshots and even E3 gameplay footage from a year prior. Blurry textures, shoddy animation, lifeless explosions and poor lighting effects – Aliens: Colonial Marines was released in 2013 but was firmly stuck in 2008. This lead to a lawsuit against SEGA on the grounds of false advertising.
There are a few conspiracies regarding development, most of which entail Colonial Marines being placed on the backburner while Gearbox focused on Borderlands – their own IP. The rumour that holds the most water is that Gearbox simply took SEGA’s money and then paid TimeGate Studios (developers of the F.E.A.R expansion packs and first-person flop Section 8) to create the single-player mode without SEGA knowing. TimeGate then went bust, forcing Gearbox to pick up the pieces and carry on their work. This is why the “finished” version was more than a slight mess – the sight of AI teammates magically teleporting to the player’s location if they fell too far behind frankly ruined all chances of creating a tense atmosphere.
We’ve seen numerous sealed copies of Aliens: Colonial Marines in charity shops and at car boot sales over the past couple of years. It has become so notoriously rubbish that people can’t even muster up the enthusiasm to remove it from the cellophane.