It could be argued that video games, more than anything, are pure representations of the time out of which they came.
Most of the time, the best video games of their respective era are pillars of innovation that usher in a new era of technology. Some games may not look like much now, but at the time, they were the best that graphics could possibly be. Even things like Resident Evil, back in 1996, those graphics were state of the art.
It’s hard to believe now, but at one time, it was the case. These are the sort of games that transcend graphics and technological limits, and remain as some of the best games of all time. Look at it this way, The Beatles, for example, sound very limited. When it comes to the technology of music, bands like The Beatles, CCR, The Beach Boys etc may sound very basic, but they still stand up today, because their merit goes beyond that.
However, some games do not stand the test of time. Some games may have been cutting edge at the time, but have withered in the face of Father Time’s inescapable sands.
So, with that, here are 10 games that have aged horribly, and no one wants to admit it.
10. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2007)
The first Uncharted game was developed by Naughty Dog (of Crash Bandicoot fame) and was released at the back end of 2007, just in time for Christmas, which was something that the newly launched PlayStation 3 considered a key selling point for the holidays.
It had a great story, and a great premise, as it centres around Nathan Drake, supposedly a descendent of the famous explorer Sir Francis Drake, as he goes on a quest to find the lost treasure of El Dorado, with the help of journalist Elena Fisher and his mentor Victor Sullivan.
Though it was praised at the time by critics, with many of whom citing its technical achievements, voice acting, characters, story, atmosphere, musical score, attention to detail and its high production values, similar to that of summer blockbuster films, it wasn’t universally beloved even then, as critics also pointed out graphical issues, length, vehicle sections and difficulty.
So as you can imagine, the game has only suffered more as time has gone on, and technology has advanced. The Uncharted games also have come a long way, and if one goes back to where it all began, the wrinkles in gameplay are even more noticeable.
With bad aiming mechanics, pedestrian puzzles, boxed-in enemies, the game pales in comparison to what came after.
It’s one of those rare cases where the sequel managed to completely outshine the original, principally because the generation of consoles to which the PlayStation 3 belonged were just finding their feet in a new world of video gaming limits. And as such, this feels like a prototype of sorts from a time when developers were still figuring out what worked and what didn’t work.
It’s a good game, and it can be enjoyed, and the re-master does a great job of giving the original the face-lift it needed, but it still feels a bit out-dated and aged when all things are considered.
9. Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
Dragon Age: Origins is a role-playing video game that was developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. Set in the fictional kingdom of Ferelden during a period of civil strife, and from a third-person perspective, the game puts the player in the role of a warrior, mage, or rogue coming from an elven, human, or dwarven background.
The player character is recruited into the Grey Wardens, an ancient order that stands against demonic forces known as “Darkspawn”, and is tasked with defeating the Archdemon that commands them and ending their invasion, known as the “Blight”.
At the time, Dragon Age: Origins was one of the best fantasy RPG games out there. It managed to blend a Dungeons and Dragons style of play, in a turn based form, with the fantasy world styles of Tolkien and George R.R Martin blended perfectly. It felt incredible to play, and it felt epic in the truest sense of the word.
However, by 2017, it has seen better days.
The obvious bone of contention is how outdated the graphics feel. That isn’t always the-be all-end-all, especially for avid gamers, (after all, games that RE2 and MGS are positively stoneageian when it comes to graphics, but they are still considered two of the best games of all time) but the game does suffer for it, purely because of the type of game it is trying to be.
Games like Dragon Age: Origins tend to live and die by how good their graphics are, and as such, this game does not hold up well to modern standards because it was never going to. The game is built around an atmosphere of the spectacular and the epic, but to modern eyes, the cut-scenes completely lose their impact and gravitas because the characters either over-emote or they have the emotional range of a glass of flat lemonade.
Combine that with some cases of iffy voice-acting, and the feel of the game has been lost over time.
Some elements of the game still work, such as the tactical group-based gameplay, but those mechanics have come such a long way, it sort of feels like a 1980s car being compared to a 2017 model – it’s the same thing, but vast improvements have been made.
8. Assassin’s Creed (2007)
The Assassin’s Creed franchise has become one of the most lucrative of its kind in pop culture, to the point that when the movie was green lit, they managed to get Michael Fassbender to play the central role.
However, because of the advances in the franchise, the first game has suffered a lot over the years. While it’s clear to see, even now, that the first game does what it does well, Ubisoft has refined it to such a point that the original game is almost obsolete by comparison.
The combat is slow and clunky by modern comparisons, and often takes far too long. The parkour, which is a staple of the game, is okay but often also clunky and unresponsive. Before Ubisoft smoothed over the issue of the character auto-grabbing the wrong thing, this was perhaps the worst offender.
Moreover, the stealth mechanics are quite rudimentary, given that your only real options are blending in with the crowd or hiding behind a stationary object and hoping for the best. It wasn’t until later on that Ubisoft would use and perfect the sneaky approach.
The game’s core gameplay is the biggest issue. It is centred mostly on fairly dull following, listening or pick-pocketing missions. And when you do get the chance to assassinate someone, it just feels a little underwhelming.
This was an outing that pioneered the series. It was a total game changer; however, it was completely outdone not by another rival franchise, but by itself. And while it’s not a terrible game, returning to it after playing a more recent sequel really highlights how badly it has aged in the decade since its release.
7. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
The general consensus seems to be that GTA IV was nowhere near as good as we all thought it was back when it was first released. Even at the time of its release, people were praising it and criticising it for all the same reasons, and while it was massively successful in 2008 and in the next couple of years, time has done Niko and his story no favours.
The Grand Theft Auto series has always been known for its wackiness, its satire, and its chaos. Most of the games in the franchise (GTA V, Vice City and San Andreas in particular) managed to find a perfect balance between serious and goofy, but in GTA IV, it seems that Rockstar’s effort to make GTA more gritty, more real and more adult didn’t quite work out.
It’s not a bad game; it’s just not a very good one either. Putting aside the fact that GTA V completely outdid its predecessor, (and also the fact that Red Dead Redemption is a better game than both of them) the game itself is fairly weak in places. And the fact that in 2009, Guinness World Records Game Edition ranked GTA IV as the third best game of all time (behind only Super Mario Kart and Tetris), it’s all the more amazing to see how far public opinion has fallen.
The controls are pretty clunky, the walking and turning mechanics are woeful, the response time is pretty bad and the game is full of glitches. Some fun, granted, but mostly annoying. The fighting controls are cumbersome (if not sometimes unintentionally hilarious) and the game generally seems to work against you, when it comes to navigating the central character.
The story is mind-numbingly basic too. For the majority of it, you follow a simple drive, shoot, drive, shoot pattern. The map is small, the city is samey and after you’ve completed the mission, the game offers very little in the way of goofing-around fun, which is something that GTA usually makes its own.
The cheats are also lacking, which is something that can come to define a lot of GTA games. But generally, besides the seemingly endless list of negatives, the game itself is just a bit pedestrian. There’s not much to it, and as such, time has not been kind. And it is a game that will continue to look more and more outdated as the days go by, and the graphics and engine, on which it rests so greatly, that were flawed at the time, look positively prehistoric by today’s standards.
6. Crash Bandicoot (1996)
One of the granddaddies of them all, Crash Bandicoot is one of the best platformers to grace the medium. It has attained legendary status, and is rightly regarded as one of the most important franchises of all time. That doesn’t make the first game any less terrible, by modern standards, however.
The problem with this game, like many games on this list, is that the controls are incredibly outdated. The fixed camera often makes it difficult to judge distances on jumps, and the game’s predilection for front-facing perspectives makes it hard to judge how far you have to leap. Okay, this is a pretty standard tool with which platformers tended to operate, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.
And like many platformers, Crash lives and dies by that mechanic. But it is a mechanic so cripplingly outdated that it often makes the game unintentionally difficult, to the point where you’re just not enjoying it anymore. The rest of the game is solid, but that flaw is so massive, it effects the entire experience, and really makes the first Crash game feel like piece of ancient history.