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You go onto a gaming website of your choice and look up the upcoming releases for silly season. You look at your bank balance. That feeling of crushing resignation hits and you realise you can’t afford all the pretty things. But there is a bright side! Not only do you save a few quid, but odds are a large number of upcoming releases will be buggy as hell, if not more broken than a plate at a Greek wedding. So, based on nothing more than track record, development history and my admittedly flimsy understanding of betting, what are the odds of that game you really want being broke?

  1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5
    I remember loving this franchise as a kid and it pains me to see the lack of love and attention this latest instalment seems to be getting. Virtually zero promotion and covering up the sub-par graphics with cel-shading reek of a developer not being at all confident in their product. It’s lazy, it’s uninspired and points to a game that will be a disaster.
    Broken likelihood: 1/4
  2. Minecraft Story Mode: Episode One
    Reaction to Telltale’s games have been decidedly mixed since it reinvigorated the episodic genre with the first season of The Walking Dead. In large part this is down the their continued use of Telltale Tool, a game engine developed in 2004 and saddled with more and more expectations as technology has progressed. This has led to bugs galore, with the strength of the writing saving a lot of blushes. I can’t see that changing with Minecraft.
    Broken likelihood: 3/1
  3. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
    There isn’t a chance this won’t be broken. Considering the utter mess that was Unity and their insistence on Assassin’s Creed being an annual franchise, there’s more chance of me beating up Dwayne Johnson. I’d bet my entire life savings on this game having, at the very least, horrendous frame rate issues and texture pop-in. More likely we’ll see more game breaking bugs a’la Unity. I simply don’t have the faith in Ubisoft to prove me wrong.
    Broken likelihood: Evens
  4. Halo 5: Guardians
    If you’d asked me a year ago I’d have said there’s no way this would be broken. With 343 Industries taking over the Halo franchise and releasing a remastered Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 4 to high praise and very few, if any, bugs. Then came the Master Chief Collection and things went tits up. Yet I can’t help but feel that Halo 5 will be largely issue free. Without the pressures of an annual release cycle and learning from the mistakes made with the MCC, I think it might actually be all right.
    Broken likelihood: 10/1
  5. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
    Treyarch have a pretty good handle on Call of Duty and if the beta for BLOPS III is anything to go by that run will continue. COD may have a few problems as a franchise (though those seem to be being addressed more this generation) but stability isn’t really one of them. Even Ghosts was fairly bug free.
    Broken likelihood: 20/1
  6. Fallout 4
    Like a dodgy takeaway at 2am, bugs are guaranteed with a Bethesda game. By the very nature of it’s scope it’s inevitable that problems will occur. The real question is will they be game breaking like they were on the Playstation 3 releases of Fallout 3, New Vegas (admittedly that was Obsidian, but still) and the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I hope not, but the track record isn’t great.
    Broken likelihood: 6/1
  7. Star Wars: Battlefront
    Battlefront’s an odd duck. It’s being developed by an experienced studio and with a massive licence behind it, tying it to arguably the biggest film of the year. Yet DICE’s development of Battlefield 4 was plagued by problems and their collaboration of Hardline with Visceral was a disaster. That being said, I think the power of the franchise will see it through. I can’t see Disney allowing EA to tarnish, no matter how slightly, their crowning jewel. Bob Iger would blow his nut.
    Broken likelihood: 10/1
  8. Rise of the Tomb Raider
    Another one to add to the pile where the chances of game breaking bugs are slim, but not impossible. As with any game that tries to increase the scope there’s always a risk of bringing in unexpected variables that mess with the engine. Yet short of an Arkham Knight style fiasco I can’t see anything game breaking. Bugs yes, but that’ll be the extent of it.
    Broken likelihood: 15/1
  9. Just Cause 3
    I get the feeling that if there’s significant problems with this that it might just add to the fun. It’s a silly sandbox designed for having fun in and so long as the game doesn’t crash silly bugs might just add to that. Sure there’ll be torrents of boiled piss for people not being able to have the fun they want, but I can already see the YouTube videos of people exploiting them.
    Broken likelihood: 12/1
  10. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
    The final entry on this list I can see going one of two ways. One way is that it’ll be fine. Perhaps with a disappointing single player but with a multiplayer to write home about. The other is that it’ll be plagued with matchmaking issues and server problems in the run up to Christmas. The pre-release buzz is positive so if Ubisoft can keep the server’s ticking over in theory it should be fine. But that’s relying on Ubisoft which is never a good place to be.
    Broken likelihood: 9/1

It’ll be interesting to see how wrong my wild conjecture is come Christmas time. With any luck I’ll be completely wrong and none of these games will be broken at all. Yet with the range of games on offer and with the developers involved I think there’s more chance of Christmas being cancelled.


4290622577_553eee3945_oAs a keen gamer and someone who tends to horde digital media and then not actually get around to using it, the idea to complete four games from my Pile of Shame was a highly tempting one. As is the way of such things, the games I ended up playing and finishing bore little resemblance to my planned four. Initially, it was my intention to complete Metal Gear Solid 3, Demon’s Souls, Assassin’s Creed and Mirror’s Edge. Whilst I did play all four of those, not one of them was completed.

Starting with Metal Gear Solid 3 I had high hopes. I’d loved MGS 1 and 2 and heard 3 was the best of the lot. However, I must confess to being disappointed. Admittedly it’s been a good while since I played an MGS game, but I didn’t remember the controls being so bad. Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising for a game that’s a decade old, but I’d been spoilt by the Halo Anniversary edition where the gameplay has aged incredibly well. Unfortunately for MGS3, despite a new lick of graphical paint, playing it is a torturous experience. It’s not helped at all by some frankly terrible dialogue and some OTT misogyny (I mean seriously, pressing R1 to stare at some woman’s tits. Really, Konami?)

I then moved onto Assassin’s Creed. I’d managed more progress on this game than I had MGS3 before getting distracted by something else. However, again I found poor gameplay let down what was otherwise a decent game. Whilst the free running is very enjoyable, as soon as you enter into a fight you stop being this agile and nimble assassin and instead lumber around as though you’re wearing concrete boots. Compare the combat to something such as the Arkham games and it really comes across as being half-arsed and frustrating to deal with.

So with two games put back on the pile of shame, I was at a loss for what to attempt next. Thankfully I remembered my Playstation Plus subscription and started playing Spec Ops: The Line again. Now that’s more like it. Whereas the gameplay in this was nothing new, that wasn’t a problem. A tried and true third-person mechanic allowed you to concentrate on what is a great story. An abandoned, sand covered Dubai makes a great setting and whilst I doubt the geography is remotely accurate, the sense you’re working your way through this devastated city was incredibly atmospheric and gave a real sense of purpose. It helped being a massive Apocalypse Now fan as the game takes a lot of inspiration from the novel Heart of Darkness. Plus, hearing Bruce Boxleitner’s voice is always welcome.

I then went from the sublime to the pretty shit and managed to complete Rage. Rage is a fairly odd game. From the makes of Doom and Quake, it’s certainly got pedigree. Unfortunately it also has a whole host of health problems like you’d expect from something with said pedigree. Whereas the tried and true method of gameplay benefitted a game such as Spec Ops, in Rage it just feels old and creaky. To give id Software some credit, they managed to make a very interesting world and lore but utterly failed when it comes to basics such as gameplay, characters and plotting. It’s almost as if they’d seen Fallout 3 and excised the bits that made it good. Despite that, I did actually manage to have some fun with the game. The weapons are good and driving around the wasteland firing rockets never gets old. However, it’s a game that suffers from obviously being rushed. The final mission that the game had been building to is a massive anti-climax. There’s no challenge, no culmination of the plot and no sense of accomplishment.

The final game I completed is a little bit of a cheat in that it’s Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition. Now technically I’d not completed this. However, I did complete the original Halo about a decade ago on the PC. But considering I’ve not got a Game Completed achievement I think this counts. One thing that’s remarkable about this HD update is how much the gameplay hasn’t aged. Compared to something like MGS3, which feels like it’s from the Stone Age, Halo Anniversary barely feels as though it’s aged a day. The gameplay itself feels largely untouched and the graphical overhaul is remarkable. This is made all the more apparent by the ability to swap between the original and updated graphics. In my memories, Halo still looked fairly pretty. Those memories were promptly blown out of the water by a couple of taps of the back button.

With one game left to complete my Four in February, I resolved to trying to complete one from my original list. As I’m not insane I decided against Demon’s Souls and plucked for Mirror’s Edge. My understanding was that it was a game you could blitz through in a couple of hours. Unfortunately it turns out to be a 6-8 hour game and as a consequence just feels too long. The running is good platforming fun and the first person perspective really brings you into the environment as you leap among the rooftops. However, combat is a complete pain in the tits. When you do manage to disarm a guard, the aiming is slow and unresponsive and you’ve no idea how many shots you have. Whilst I appreciate that the aim is to run and avoid combat, sometimes there’s no choice or it’s simply easier to take the guards out than try and dodge them. In spite of these flaws, Mirror’s Edge is a game I can see me returning to when not rushed for time. It’s got a fairly decent story and it’s nice to play as a strong female protagonist for a change. It would’ve been very easy to have made the character male and no-one would have batted an eyelid.

Overall, whilst I wasn’t able to complete my entire Four in February I’m pleased with the three I did manage to finish and just the sheer quantity of games I’ve managed to play. I’m over halfway through Halo: Reach, almost finished Halo 4 again, nearly done a full season on F1 2011, reached Level 38 on Simpson’s Tapped Out and on the last level of Bioshock Infinite on Hard difficulty (more like Impossible). Considering how much I’d put gaming on the backburner recently, it’s been really nice to settle down and get back into my PS3 and 360. Here’s hoping it’ll continue now I’m back at work…