You can't have light without shade, sweet without sour, and some other lazy metaphor for describing the need to highlight the bad as much as the good. Fact is, I'm just a moody sod who dwells on the negative, and who probably shouldn't be on twitter as much. So here's the worst of 2014
with some omissions: Despite being a galaxy-class hypocrite, I don't feel like kicking someone with cancer, so no Backhand for TotalBiscuit. The Video Game Awards aren't on the list either because you shouldn't be surprised that something set up by the dead-eyed turd of mediocrity that is Jeff Keighly is exactly like the Spike VGAs (a glorified advertising block) so, if he still has any relevance in games media it's because you're giving him undue stature with your hate-views. Same goes for Godus, we all know Peter Molyneux can't keep his promises, and you're only encouraging him by buying his lack luster games. So on to the worst of 2014...can you guess what the first one is?
If you've been paying any attention to the gaming community- as a whole- for the last decade or so, you'll be all to familiar with the aggressive, egocentric bullying. Where video games is a delicate, binary, egocentric little bubble- that means more to you than religion- that will burst under the slightest scrutiny...by anyone who isn't "a real gamer". That shit has been going on for years: with the rise of the "fake gamer girl" stereotype, chan culture (a contradiction in terms surely?) and the upsurge in mobile gaming, and the change in demographics that play them, this isn't anything new. It was only 2 years ago when Anita Sarkeesian was introduced to the toxic element of gaming- before she even produced a second of video. See also Zoe Quinn, when she had the audacity to submit her game to Steam Greenlight. Quinn's name popped up again when rumours of her having cheated on her boyfriend with a games journalist began circulating. A rumour started by her ex, on his blog- where he accused her of sleeping with multiple men, behind his back, in exchange for favourable coverage. What started as a domestic problem- bordering on baseless industry gossip- quickly turned into a accusation of mass collusion. Why wasn't anyone reporting on a rumour, based on the angry bleatings of a game dev's, limp-dicked, ex-boyfriend? Why weren't the big gaming sites running weekly reports on who's fucking who? Then one of the single most stupid/depressing things to ever happen to video games occurred: D-list genre actor, Adam Baldwin -desperate to pander to like-minded bigots- named the non-conspiracy "GamerGate". Then all fucking hell broke lose, and gaming hasn't really been the same since. Under the ironic banner of "ethics in games journalism" seemingly every idiot, misogynist, racist, homophobe, transphobe and sex offender took it upon themselves to harass Zoe Quinn and anyone who defended her. In their demented minds, sites that didn't report on this was evidence of collusion between Quinn and the entire games press, who- according to GG- gave her game, Depression Quest, great scores. Yeah, I remember when Depression Quest won all those Spike TV awards, and how the editor of Edge magazine retired after reviewing it, because he said there would never be a better game, so it was pointless to review anything else. Except that didn't happen, and the most simple bit of research proves it. But the mob wasn't interested in facts, or even ethics in games journalism. They were too busy going mad, like a shark at a haemophiliac convention. As one, moronic, illogical voice GG went about demanding company's stop sponsoring sites that reported on their "cause" of constant harassment, doxxing and death threats that GG's ringleaders were orchestrating. It was like someone asked the entire world of video games, "Will every cunt please take one step forward" as every scum bag with an axe to grind against so-called "social justice warriors", that are trying to ruin their toys, leaped forward. But it was alright, because they guilt-donated to some charity and created a cartoon girl to show they weren't sexist. Which I guess is the new way of saying "I'm can't be racist, there's a Pakistani guy at my work and we get on fine". Oh, and lets not forget the line of right wing crackpots, hacks and outright neo nazis that all tried to glomb support from GG, and got welcomed with open arms. Even Jack, fucking, Thompson- the man who tried to have everyone at Rockstar sacked or sent to jail was now seen as a potential ally, because ethics, right? If you have a modicum of sense and empathy then you know GG as nothing more than a cancer in gaming culture, that has done more damage to gaming and the perception of people who play games. Gamergate contributes nothing but misery because they don't want anyone that's not like them getting into the tree house- a safe space where they can still use every racist/sexist/homophobic term, all in the (incorrect) name of freedom of speech. These tragic gamecocks-so lacking self-awareness- can't even see the irony of dogpiling people who disagree with them, while crying "censorship" when you call them out on their dickery. Hell, even their name is ironic. If Gamergate really is comparable to Watergate then Gators/Gamecocks/soulless cunts (delete as appropriate) are the Nixon administration- going out of their way to settle scores for the mildest infraction, spreading lies and digging up personal information for the purpose of destroying their enemies. GG are not the good guys, they never were and never will be, and they have done fuck all for ethics in games journalism or consumers. At best, they're egocentric cry babies who think gaming is their sole domain and nothing gets by without their say-so. At worst, it's a hub for loveless bigots, who should of been filtered out of the gene pool generations ago. GG is the final bitch-rattlings of a dying breed, and the sooner they fuck off the better.
In theory, there's nothing inherently wrong with a publisher releasing multiple editions of a game franchise within a year. It's worked out alright for Koei Tecmo and their Dynasty Warriors games. But when you want to do the same with big budget, triple-A, titles, it's gonna be like trying to fill a goldfish bowl with sperm whales, with the plan of getting a big enough tank later on because everyone is sold on your awesome whale idea. Ubi released two Assassin's Creed for consoles and PC (and another for iOS) So two big releases within 12 months- among Ubi's other releases- spreading the dev teams thin, which resulted in two AC games that was- to use official industry vacab- "buggy as fuck". You know, Ubisoft, when console owners said they wanted PC standards from the next generation of consoles, they were talking about graphics, not having to download massive fucking updates and patches to make the bastard game run in the first place. Then there was Watch Dogs: a game who's hype was only matched by it's mediocrity.Right from the initial E3 video- that turned out to be total bullshit, and lead to obvious complaints about the drop off in graphical quality from the initial teaser footage- as seen here. More so when it was found the PC version had hidden graphics files that were capable of improving some of the games visuals. So not only did Ubisoft hoodwink people pre-ordering the console version- probably thinking Watch Dogs would be their first kiss with the new generation of consoles- by using a PC demo, but the final PC release didn't even resemble that E3 video either! And not forgetting the seemingly endless variations of special editions, you could pre-order, Because it wasn't enough the lying bastard of a teaser video made it the most pre-ordered game ever, or something, there had to be so many variations of bonus, day-1, DLC and statues of the dull as ditch water "Chad Protagonist" white guy in a coat. I wonder how many design sessions it took to wank out a character even more boring than the AC guys? Although- to be fair- they didn't even have enough resources to make a female option for the multi-player in AC Unity because ladys require so many more polygons to model- on account of their 17 legs and flaming lava that pours out of their skin. Plus- like many a gamecock will scream at you- it's not realistic. Because we all know there were no female assassins or women's rights moment during the French Revolution.
I debated including this: I'm well aware that, as a 35 year old, DW simply isn't aimed at me. Plus, I got on board during the Sylvester McCoy run, so my tolerance for shit episodes (seriously, when is the candy man coming back?) is way higher than most. But during this years series was the first time watching DW felt like a chore. Don't get me wrong, I think Peter Capaldi is a good Doctor- and has the makings of a great one-and casting Michelle Gomez as the Master was a genius move. However, that good does little to outweigh the bad. Steven Moffat's habit of trying to make the show too clever by half, with his usual story arc of "what's this mysterious thing?...Oh it's nothing". And that arc became so fucking apparent, because the mystery was based around the ubiquitous Clara Oswald, companion/ part time carer of the Doctor. Her intro in the show was she was "the impossible girl", turning up throughout time in different incarnations. Fan theories grew apace ( I suspected the multiple Clara's was related the Darlek's android technology) and it turned out she was some girl the Doctor met, who followed him into a time vortex, scattering multiple Clara's through the Doctor;s history. Now the mystery about Clara has been revealed, what is there to Miss Oswald? Well, she's a human woman, who works in a school, says "shut up" like it's one word ("sh'tup"), sometimes hangs about with the Doctor (is she the first ever part-time assistant?) and is in love with the most boring man in the universe. Oh and she suffers from some kind of split- personality disorder, where she switches from telling the Doctor to fuck off, then acting like he's the best thing since sliced Jesus. So when the series pretty much became became the Clara show where we, the viewer, learned chuff all still about her. Worse still, when a episode wasn't a complete, fucking shambles (magic bushes, I ask you) then we saw a line of potential assistants, way better than Clara. It was almost as if Moffat knew Clara was shit and decided to tease us with way better characters, that'll never be seen again, before going back to little Miss bland. Oh what's she done this week? Threatened to leave the Doctor then go right back to him? Now she's told him to "sh'tup"? How does Moffat come up with it eh? I wouldn't mind were it not for the fact we lost one of the best assistants ever- in Amy Pond- to make way for a talking pair of eyebrows, with all the charm and personality of a coffee table. Only made worse by her "romance"- for lack of a better term- with the equally bland Danny Pink. Who, at least, had something resembling a back story , got made into a Cyberman, hugged his girlfriend, did a rip off of the "cancelling the apocalypse" speech, from Pacific Rim, then blew up. When a army of zombie cybermen isn't anywhere near as cool as it sounds, something is wrong. And seriously, fuck that forest in London episode. A woman's runaway daughter returned by a MAGIC, FUCKING BUSH!
Imagine if Harley Davidson released a new bike tomorrow: it has seven wheels, all attached sideways onto the body of the bike. Instead of handle bars, it had a length of skipping rope, the seat is made from bread, and the engine runs on stale piss. It would be quite the shock, wouldn't it? But if you're a Sonic fan, that's been the last decade or so. A slow and painful decline of the one-time gaming icon, the face of Sega, once a equal to Nintendo's Mario. Do you realise the period of poor to fuck-awful Sonic games now vastly outrun that brief period when Sonic helped bring the Megadrive to mainstream popularity? By all rights, Sonic should be left to history- along with Bubsy the bobcat and Sega's own Alex Kidd- but Sega seem stuck in this catch 22 situation where they have to keep making Sonic games because they can't just abandon their company mascot, but they don't know how to make good Sonic games any more. Bar a couple of hopeful attempts at quality, it's been all downhill since Sonic Adventure. Sega's attempts to keep Sonic relevant has now come to it's logical conclusion/nadir, Sonic Boom. A exercise in failing to get the kids back on board. Because I assume the design changes to the Sonic cast was a cynical ploy to appeal to younger players (seeing as Sonic fans go tits-out mental over the slightest design change). Brown neckerchief aside, the wraps (to me) look like the designer at Big Red Button took one look at the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show and thought it would be a good idea to rip that off. Because that's why the show is a big hit with kids, martial arts warps, you've cracked it lads! Sonic is back in the big time! Never mind that the game was shittier than a day trip down the sewers on "national diarrhoea day", the wraps don't even work visually- you've got one white thing (the wraps) around another white thing (Sonic's gloves), so you barely see them! Seriously Sega, are the Sonic games purely being made as some kind of tax scam?
Honourable fuck yous
The Escapist- The website, not it's writers, which- in an attempt to take a "neutral" stance on Gamergate- asked 7 female game devs (who all asked to be quote anonymously) then 17 male devs (who were fine to have their real names published) on what they thought of GG. Very neutral... apart from the fact that the Escapist's general manager sourced all the male devs (who all were pro-GG) from 4-Chan. One of whom was Slade Villena, who's more known for harassing people online (including Zoe Quinn) than for making games. To quote Judge Dredd, "You're not neutral, you're choosing sides" by allowing someone who's been actively harassing someone so much they kill themselves, then blame the them for it, without being challenged is about as far from neutral as it gets. It's anti-journalism. Hell, Villena had previously tried to set his followers on Escapist regular, Jim Sterling- who soon left the site. So well done on appeasing your ignorant, hornets nest of ignorant twats. Or "Yahtzee fans" as most people call them.
Dungeon Keeper (mobile)- Ever wondered why some people hate mobile, free-to-play games, and most people hate EA? Try to play this fucker and see.
BBC Question Time- As if British politics wasn't enough of a punch and judy show already. It seems the makers of QT want to appeal to people who get their news from the front page of Youtube and the Digital Spy forum. That's the only explanation I can think of why the BBC's main current affairs show has turned into a less sweary version of Celebrity Juice- sponsored by fucking UKIP.
Comedy Central- For thinking KSI is anything close to comedy, by exposing their audience to such a unfuckable corporate cocksucker with their comedy roast. Which was nothing like "just desserts" because whatever shit was thrown at him- in the name of jobbing comedians getting some TV coverage- was something he chose to do. Something the people, he harasses in his videos, didn't have the benefit of. See, Dapper Laughs: If you want to make a career from rape culture, get corporate sponsorship first, then the street harassment, ok?
The Fappening- So paying for hacked photos of celebrities- then blaming said victims for having the audacity of taking pictures of their own naked bodies and storing said pics on their own mobile phones- is a thing now? Wow! are you so repulsive that even internet porn has taken out a restraining order on you?
Hideo Kojima- Not for releasing a tutorial stage, for £20. But for still being the worst writer this side of David Cage- which was fine, when the Metal Gear games were clearly set in a bullshit, hyper-thyroid, GI Joe-esque universe. But when you try to include serious, real-life issues in warfare- like sexual assault- in a game that has a antagonist that would be too OTT for a Bond film and includes THIS piece of dialogue? ...Nah