2013 was a great year for gaming. Two new systems launched, a series of first-rate titles premiered, and indie titles like Device 6 and Gone Home provided some of the most original experiences gamers have had in years. You could argue, however, that this year was NOT a good year for coop gaming. In fact, the best games this year all gave us cooperative experiences with computer controlled characters; Bioshock, The Last of Us, and Brothers gave us great cooperative experiences, but always with an artificial sidekick. Among the actual cooperative titles out there, this was a disappointing year. In terms of disappointments, these were the worst of the lot. These are the 5 worst co op games of 2013.
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Number 5: Dead Space 3
Expectations were high for Dead Space 3. Dead Space 1 was a great, creepy, first-person survival horror experience set in deep space. Dead Space 2 was even better. Dead Space 3, though, was a bit of a misfire. The biggest problem is not the overly complicated backstory of Markers and xenomorphs, the repeated take-cover-and-fire battles with soldiers, or casting Simon Templeton (hilarious on The Neighbors) as the villain. What made Dead Space so effective as a series was feeling isolated in a space station or planet while being surrounded by merciless (and horrific) homicidal aliens. Having a buddy nearby removes the scare factor from the adventure. The promising hallucination sequences (which teased the idea of your buddy shooting at monsters that weren’t there, like in Kane and Lynch) got reduced to your buddy describing something on the floor (like a doll or balloons) that you can’t see (not that you’re missing much). Don’t get me wrong, the spacewalk sequences are great (that’s why this is number 5), but the wasted potential was aggravating.
Number 4: Dead Island Riptide
Dead Island is always promising more than it can deliver. The first game was fun battle against zombies on a tropic island with upgradable, customizable weapons, but the game’s glitches, fetch quests, thin storyline and repetitive battles kept it from being top-tier. With the sequel, expectations were higher. Surely the locations would be prettier, the quests would be exciting and involving, and the numerous glitches would be cleaned up. NOPE. Bizarrely, the sequel is even glitchier than the first, and you soon learn to fear becoming stuck on a rock or wandering into negative space much more than the hordes by zombies. With just a little bit of effort, these games could be top tier. As it is, they take a great concept and turn it into a tough slog that will test a hardened gamer’s endurance.
I discovered Adventure Time this year and that show is an amazing series. It’s a story about a boy and his dog in a post-apocalyptic world similar to a Mushroom Kingdom built on top of Fallout 3 with a host of fun (and surprisingly complex) characters. However, the game, in which four-players dungeon-crawl through 100 randomly generated levels, was a bust. While there are several things worth criticizing in the game (NO MAP?), the biggest criticism of the game is that it simply isn’t worthy of the show. It’s unimaginative and glitchy, but worst of all, it is boring. Descend, battle, repeat. This might be fine for a cheap downloadable title, but this is a $40 game. As many of the voices in the game are taken from the show, a fan of the show might get some enjoyment out of the game for about ten minutes, but bland, repetitive gameplay can sink any game.
We’ll let both of these titles share a space since both are awful in many of the same ways. Both games are based on great titles that released in the 80’s, both games have glitchy, unresponsive controls making them virtually impossible to play, and both games were released to universal condemnation in 2013. It has to be asked: just how hard is it to create a left-to-right cooperative brawler that is fun and playable? TMNT is a particularly egregious offender, as it is a $40 title that would not be worth the price even if it was handed out as a promotional item at Dominos. In a year that saw remakes of The Wrath of Khan and Superman II which fell far short of the 80’s originals, it may be fitting to get these awful games that are also worse than the 80’s games they are based on. However, whereas the movies were just disappointing (especially Star Trek), these games are downright infuriating.
Number 1: Grand Theft Auto V
Yes, we’ll say it. The biggest disappointment for us this year was the Grand Theft Auto cooperative gameplay. For a game that has great heist missions and several interesting protagonist, the open world free-for-all that is GTA online is remarkably undeveloped. You and a buddy are deposited in Los Santos to bum around and do side missions, but you’ll spend most of your time avoiding adolescents with rocket launchers who have no interest in your gameplay experience. Even if you follow the quests, though, you’ll be running through repetitive fetch quests and shooting anonymous warriors while the background glitches in and out behind you. Rockstar gave us a great cooperative game years ago with The Warriors, why couldn’t they deliver anything as good with the game that made them millions of dollars?