Most people remember the Xbox 360 as an essential console. Whether it was your first console, or only one in a long line, there was something special about the Xbox 360 -- and not just because of the red ring of death. If nothing else, it managed to outlast its competitors by putting an absolutely massive amount of titles out there, even opening up Xbox Live Arcade to get lesser-known, classic, and indie titles in a way few console gamers had ever known.
Xbox Live itself came to mean online console gaming in a significant way, expanding the market for multiplayer games and shaping much of the current culture around first-person shooters. Whether or not you think that’s a good thing, one thing that is definitely on the “not-good” side of things is just how much crap Microsoft managed to pump out. Given, it wasn’t all their fault, but it’s hard to deny that the platform helped shape the content.
To that point, I think it’s only fair that we give a countdown of the absolute worst Xbox 360 games ever to disgrace the console. Some will look terrible, others play terrible, and yet others still will have terrible ideas that should’ve never have been attempted. Whatever the case, rest assured: they’re all bad!
If you’re more into Sony than Microsoft, or if you just love bad games, you might be interested in our Top 25 Worst PS2 Games of All Time.
25 Tony Hawk: Ride
All of the games on our list are terrible, but how many almost got a major series cancelled? That’s exactly what happened with Tony Hawk: Ride, the ill-fated attempt at bringing a new skating peripheral to the Tony Hawk series, known itself for some great and horrendous inclusions. Ride is the culmination of a years-long process referred to by Activision as “re-engineering the franchise”—a common tactic of large publishers in order to minimize cost and maximize profit.
How this worked out with Ride is simple: rather than a continuation of the mechanically in-depth earlier titles, Activision instead went for a gimmick. Why exactly? It’s unclear, as Proving Ground, the game’s predecessor, was a commercial and critical success. Whatever the case, it’s very clear that the game’s main attraction is fatally flawed, making simple moves exhausting to attempt. Since they put all their eggs in the peripheral basket, the utter failure there rendered the game essentially unplayable.
24 Darkest Of Days
The conceit in Darkest of Days is actually fairly interesting. While the whole “going back in time to fix historical mistakes” schtick has been done before -- and is still relevant today in shows like Timeless -- its inclusion in video games was pretty rare in 2009. Considering the over-saturation of gritty, realistic first-person shooters prevalent even that early on, a weird sci-fi dystopian take could have actually been exactly what the genre needed. Could have been.
What we actually get is nothing short of a masterclass in shoddy development. The story is nonsensical, taking you straight from a 19th-century battlefield to various timelines with numerous advanced weaponry (that somehow doesn’t bother the protagonist). On top of that, the gameplay may very well put this ostensible shooter as a contender for progenitor of the “walking simulator” genre and it has graphical failures that border on complete malfunction. All in all, a completely wasted opportunity.
23 Fast & Furious: Showdown
By the time 2013 came around, racing developers the world over had shown that there are many, many ways to make a decent racing game. You can simply have a track, make it open world, or do a destruction derby, and with even the most basic degree of skill, you should essentially have multiple blueprints for your idea. So while the idea of a Fast and Furious game is questionable at first glance, given its licensed material, it couldn’t be that bad right?
Oh, yes. Oh yes it can.
Fast & Furious: Showdown fails on practically every level -- and that’s saying something, considering it has both racing and shooting mechanics. IGN rightfully called it a “soulless shell” without a “modicum of entertainment” because of its complete ineptitude; no game even related to such a well-worn formula should be given the green light to release with such cynically-crafted designs, buggy and all. At least Vin was able to avoid this wreck.
22 Iron Man 2
Once again, a licensed property shows up on our list, this time in the form of the billionaire genius playboy philanthropist himself. The original Iron Man game showed none of the bombastic talent that oozed from its source material, being something of a waste in its own right, but it is corollary in that the second volume is much worse. Unfortunately for the game series, that’s a pretty precipitous low.
21 Prison Break: The Conspiracy
Whether or not you were a fan of the questionably lauded Prison Break television series, everyone can agree on one thing: the video game adaption is pure dreck. Looking at the Metacritic scores, there are two misguided souls who disprove that, but considering both of the scores are 78, I’d say there’s more of a conspiracy there than in the actual game.
What is supposed to be a mix of puzzles, fighting, and even stealth comes out to be a jumbled mess of redundant combat maneuvers, broken AI and pathfinding, and fail screen upon fail screen. Even the particularly inane, boring parts of the game that could have been cut out entirely (to the game’s benefit, I’d add) often have fail screens associated with them; navigating pipes is treacherous because of this. And, of course, like all major licensed games, they couldn’t get all of the relevant actors to lend a voice, leaving little reason for anyone to play.
For the first -- but certainly not last! -- horrible vampire stealth game on the list, we give you DARK. You can tell a game is horrible when even the best parts of the game induce boredom and that’s exactly what this particular title thinks equates to stealth. When you should be nervous, you’re instead often frustrated by the glacial pace of the game.
That frustration boils over when the actually broken elements of the game -- the AI being the worst offender -- completely sucks whatever interest you had out of your body (mimicking its subject matter). Of course, you’ve likely already zoned out by that point, as the main character and story is about as engaging as a tooth extraction. If the best that can be said about a game is that it’s operational, there’s not much going for it.
19 Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust
I’ve berated and extolled the Leisure Suit Larry franchise before because it shows precisely that there is a fine line between controversy for the sake of something good, and controversy for its own sake. At a certain point of awfulness, the developers were even kind enough to give us a different Larry, starting with Magna Cum Laude. Its follow-up, Box Office Bust, is somehow even worse.
Where Magna Cum Laude at least seemed somewhat in on the joke -- though still not very funny -- Box Office Bust is a new degree of awful. It carries all the tastelessness of its predecessor, all the cursing and otherwise explicit language, and retracts two essential elements: sexuality and humor. Every line is painful to hear and the lack of actual sexuality in the game leaves the commentary feeling more like a 13-year-old boy giggling at the fact he said a bad word.
18 Power Gig: Rise Of The SixString
I could sum up the terrible nature of Power Gig in a single sentence, but I think I’ll let Griffin McElroy, the single most important human being on the planet, do it for me: the game uses “a peripheral which is a real guitar, yet it doesn't allow the player to use the real guitar as if it were a real guitar.” That really is the long and short of it.
Unlike some of the other entries on this list, which almost universally fail in multiple categories, Power Gig is hampered by the sheer fact that it doesn’t work as designed. It isn’t crafted for fun, the way Guitar Hero or Rock Band is, and it doesn’t teach you how to play guitar, as some other competitors attempt to. It’s an abominable half-breed that achieves nothing, sold cynically at a time where the market seemed ripe for tapping.
17 Destroy All Humans! Path Of The Furon
Like Leisure Suit Larry, the Destroy All Humans franchise eventually became an unintentional parody of the satire that it was once in on. The original title was a great mix of childish (but funny!) one-liners, topical roasting, and great gameplay. The humor wasn’t always deep or immediately understandable -- why were the aliens named after pathogens? -- but it didn’t matter, it was interesting enough to keep your attention when the rampaging gameplay wasn’t already doing it for you.
Path of the Furon is like that guy who keeps trying to tell the same joke over and over again, only he’s also developed cancer and can’t help but hack up a lung every few seconds. It’s not just the jokes that are recycled, it’s also the gameplay, as you’re doing essentially the same things you did a console generation ago only this time with massive bugs breaking the experience at any given moment—the definition of redundancy.
16 Bomberman: Act Zero
The mid-2000s was a magical time. Everyone, everywhere, seemed to collectively decide: this thing might be better if it were edgier. Video game companies took this to heart more than most, and once Shadow the Hedgehog came to be a commercial (if not critical) success, all bets were off. Somewhere in Konami’s headquarters, a middle-aged man decided it’s not that kids today don’t want Bomberman, it’s that they don’t want the old version.
Thus, Bomberman: Act Zero was born. The game takes the Konami classic and turns it into a grim-dark hellscape terrifying more for its broken AI and repetitive design than the dystopian setting. It goes about as well as you’d expect, with standard features such as a save system missing, while the actual gameplay hasn’t changed much at all since 1983. The one mode that does change something, “First-Person Battle,” makes it even more generic and unlikable, resulting in a total failure.
15 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
When The Walking Dead TV series became a hit, everyone wanted a piece of the action. Seven novels, several excellent Telltale spin-off games, and even a pinball machine later, and there’s still enough hype for new material to come out every year. The downside to this is, of course, not all of it can be good, and some media relies entirely on The Walking Dead brand to sell itself.
Enter The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. The game is akin to other, better road-based games in that you have to manage your gas and supplies on the way to a pre-selected destination. As supplies run out, you have to choose between riskier, faster locales or their counterparts, where you’ll undoubtedly bash a zombie’s brains in while traversing the same maps over and over again before you get gas and do it all again. And that’s it. That’s everything. In the words of Polygon: it’s a “lazy, cheap cash-grab.”
14 Fighters Uncaged
Out of all of the unplayable garbage that the Kinect put out in its lifetime, Fighters Uncaged might very well be the worst of the bunch. To put it simply, the game is uniformly dismissed as simply broken, as the motion capture just does not work. That’s pretty unbelievable considering that there’s only one mode in the entire game and that mode focuses exclusively on the titular conceit.
Even if the game was functional as intended, the game would still bear all the signs of shovelware. The tutorial is exceptionally long, and incredibly boring, but also mandatory, the out-there design choices only distract from the game’s ugliness momentarily, and the simplistic punch/block system veers from complete lack of registering to over-compensation. All in all, a train-wreck.
13 Escape Dead Island
Escape Dead Island is a cousin to Dead Island in name only, as it’s in a different perspective, has a radically altered style and tone, and emphasizes a completely different play-style. Where Dead Island was unabashedly combat-focused, Escape builds itself up like a stealth game. Comparatively, Escape’s protagonist is much less equipped for combat than any of the four leads in Dead Island. And yet it fails miserably in doing so.
Thanks to the game’s horrendous visual cues, closed-room combat sections, mobs of zombies, and the overall terrible feeling of and preparedness for combat, the player is forced into mostly hack-and-slash gameplay that Escape clearly (hopefully?) was not designed around. So if the mechanics are bunk, the plot should be great, right? Well, of course, not.
12 Hour Of Victory
If you imagined at least one straightforward historical shooter would make this list, Hour of Victory proves your cynicism. Like the generic nature of its subject matter, Hour of Victory does nothing spectacularly unique to get on this list; you won’t find any scandals or “so-bad-it’s-good” material here. No, GameSpot summed it up perfectly in giving it the “Flat-Out Worst Game of 2007” award. It just fails at everything it does, in anticlimactic fashion.
Hour of Victory is mostly a gross mix of gray and brown -- as expected -- with visuals better suited for the previous generation. Rather than compensating, the game doubles down on its awfulness by essentially corralling you down a predetermined, narrow path. As a propaganda piece for Allied supremacy, it might succeed slightly more, since the Axis enemies are all but entirely brain-dead. For anything else, it becomes an irritating experience quickly and never subsides.
11 Aliens: Colonial Marines
Very few games have ever aroused as much persistent anger and disappointment as Aliens: Colonial Marines. Some even argue that this is the game that sealed Gearbox’s downfall and, if that’s true, they certainly had it coming; the game was clearly going to be a disaster after it was discovered Gearbox pulled resources from it -- despite still being under contract -- to emphasize Borderlands and the fantastic failure Duke Nukem Forever. After getting caught, the game was put in development hell, where it was allegedly worked on in pieces by various Gearbox staff and outsourced to other dev studios.
The result is an unmitigated disaster. The game’s premise does not align with Alien lore, the AI was considered by Eurogamer to be “so dim that it’s barely necessary,” textures are downright hideous and yet are still outclassed in terribleness by the constant bugs, screen tearing, and especially the character models. Colonial Marines is overall an aggressively horrible game, taking every opportunity to show contempt for its players.
10 Jumper: Griffin’s Story
Jumper was an awful movie and, as we’ve seen so far, even decent movies often get horrendous video game adaptations. So while it didn’t surprise anyone when Jumper: Griffin’s Story was a jumbled mess, it was somewhat surprising just how bad it actually was. Griffin’s Story manages to look terrible, play terrible, and somehow make the threadbare plot of the film even more terrible.
At least in the movie there’s some semblance of setting up the world. Not so here—you’re thrown into the thick of it without understanding so much as the protagonist’s motivation. The main mechanics of the game -- the thing you’d think the developers would polish, if nothing else -- is a mangled afterimage of the “jumping” in the film. You can only jump to specified points and the game can’t even make good on that most of the time. Everything else is, predictably, even worse.
9 Sonic The Hedgehog
This infamous iteration of the Sonic franchise, dubbed Sonic ‘06 by those unfortunate enough to experience it, has so many reasons for derision that it’s practically synonymous with “bad game design.”
Where to start? Maybe with the animations, which clearly had no effort put into them and are prone to glitches or the kiss that GamesRadar called “the most bizarrely cringe-worthy kiss in video game history” before awarding it “Anti-GOTY.” How about the camera and controls which often bug out as though they a mind of their own…
No matter how you look at it, the game is seriously flawed in any respect, but even more so for a series this old. It’s so bad, in fact, that Play Magazine UK couldn’t in good conscience agree with the outlier positive review from their US distribution -- and that’s saying something.
8 Rambo: The Video Game
Believe it or not, there’s a surprisingly large amount of people who enjoy on-rails shooters. Not just the kind you find in movie theaters or arcades, they’re really into the genre as a whole. If you’re skeptical of that prospect -- as many are -- you probably wouldn’t want to play Rambo: The Video Game to help you better understand. Rambo is quite possibly the worst on-rails shooter ever, coming from someone who really doesn’t get the appeal of the genre at all.
Nothing in the game is reminiscent about what makes on-rails shooters still viable, as the enemies are pre-scripted and unchanging, the ammo system is obnoxious despite being nearly omni-present, QTEs are abound, and even the core mechanics -- aiming and shooting -- doesn’t work as intended. But Rambo also betrays the cardinal sin of such games—it takes itself way too seriously.
Yaris is the Jack and Jill of games. I mean this wholeheartedly and have never felt better about making such a statement. Both are cynical advertisements dressed up in the respective media outfits to trick you into thinking you’re doing anything other than watching an advertisement. It’s the video game equivalent of sponsored content that doesn’t disclaim that it is sponsored content and yet the lack of quality makes it painfully apparent.
The game is ostensibly a racing game. I say “ostensibly” because the game also has enemies comprised of what a 50-year-old executive thinks teenagers like -- an mp3 player and wacky bike racers, oh my! -- that the player must shoot with a laser gun from a Toyota car (I’m dead serious). As though to personally annoy me, Toyota couldn’t even be bothered to add more than three car models into what is supposed to be an advertisement. Just sad, really.
6 NBA Unrivaled
One of the biggest selling points for NBA games at the beginning of the seventh console generation was the next-gen graphics. "Look, you can see Shaq sweat!," they said. And that was very true, as you could indeed see Shaq sweat, even if the rest of the game didn’t add much to the formula. Suffice it to say that even if you’re not a graphics maniac, it’s important to know going in what these types of games value.
If that’s the litmus test for NBA Unrivaled, you’re going to likely wonder what they did focus on...or what console generation you’re in. Unrivaled is true to its namesake, at least in awfulness, having some of the most atrocious player models and after-effects known to mankind. Unfortunately, this isn’t some tactical reversal of importance by the developers —everything is as bad as or worse than the graphics, from the idiotic AI to the consistently frustrating controls.
Mindjack actually has a startlingly good concept driving it: you can hack just about anything in the game. If that sounds familiar, this is several years before Watch Dogs and much more ambitious. As is evident from the name, people are hack-able as well. That idea was so good that it likely led to the downfall of the game itself and a few misguided reviewers who couldn’t let go of that idea.
Gaming Nexus sums up the entirety of the game in a succinct 6-step list that you will repeat over and over again, all throughout the game, sucking any possible enjoyment or distinction out of the experience. That these actions are mostly performed through mind-numbingly dull, often completely broken gameplay only makes it all the worse. The cover system, in particular, is simultaneously intended as necessary and completely useless, much like the rest of the game.
4 Rogue Warrior
I’m not going to put up any pretenses here, Rogue Warrior is just pointless. Even in a list of mostly worthless games, Rogue Warrior is what comes to my mind most when I think of “what is a good example of a completely worthless game?” Ride to Hell may be grosser, Vampire Rain more broken, and Two Worlds more infuriating, but Rogue Warrior is by far the most unnecessary, pointless inclusion into the gaming consciousness.
You play as Armyman McSEAL in a mission to murder as many random adversaries of the US as possible in a plot that doesn’t deserve you wasting a single second considering it (or me typing it out). It’s not hard to imagine where things go from there: you stab stuff, you shoot stuff, you explode stuff, all in a very linear, controlled fashion. The game makes up for this with gratuitous cursing, which only makes it more obnoxious. The fact that Bethesda green-lit this speaks volumes about their publisher acumen.
3 Ride To Hell: Retribution
I, and pretty much every single reviewer ever, have lambasted Ride To Hell: Retribution because it’s just really fun to pick on. There’s so much to work with! You want to talk about terrible game mechanics? It’s got it! Graphics that would look bad on the PS1? Got it! How about the really disgusting sex scenes that are somehow still tame? It’s got that too. It’s such a perfect disaster, akin to Birdemic, except without any of the charm.
The game is such a mess that it’s almost a unifying force. In these troubled times, particularly in games media, tempers often run hot over opinions: is sexism rampant in games or not, does frame rate really matter, are voice actors paid enough? No matter who you are and what you think, we can all agree: Ride To Hell: Retribution is absolute trash.
2 Vampire Rain
What do you do if your game is universally panned, but you have a port coming? This was the question Ignition Entertainment and AQ Interactive were faced with after releasing Vampire Rain. Should they spend put the game back into development? The game is absolutely punishing in its take on pure stealth, giving essentially no recourse when spotted. Perhaps the addition of a defensive mechanic earlier on, or maybe even going big and reworking entire levels to be less linear could alleviate the game’s main problem...although there would still be the poor AI and controls to contend with.
As the game took over a year getting ported, it seemed at least possible that this was the route they would go down. Instead, they chose a much simpler solution: change the name. Altered Species, unsurprisingly, also got terrible reviews, but the fact that the publishers thought they could pull a fast one tells a lot about what they think of their fans.
1 Two Worlds
Two Worlds personally offends me. Compared to the rest of these games, that might be surprising. It’s not overt shovelware, nor is it outwardly offensive, and it certainly doesn’t look as bad as some of the really graphically-impaired—it even has a somewhat successful sequel, so it can’t be all bad!
I disagree. Everything about Two Worlds is infuriating. The fact that half of the game is spent severely underpowered, only to become obscenely overpowered in the latter half, is infuriating. The obnoxious, over-the-top faux-Old English is infuriating. That this game pretends to have diverse means of attack only to inevitably devolve into a button-masher IS INFURIATING. I might even be inclined to say that the developers leaving in an exploit that allows you to beat the game in 2 minutes is infuriating, but honestly that’s more of a blessing.