Worst PC Game Launches of 2013

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Much of the IncGamers merchandise coming out this Christmas-New Year period rightly celebrates the outstanding PC gaming moments of the year. We have the results of our Readers’ Awards, where you guys out there told us which games were the best, and Tim and I wrote individual articles about our personal favorites of 2013.

But we know that excellence and proficiency isn’t always the norm in PC releases. Sometimes things go horribly, horribly wrong at launch. Whether it’s from publisher pressure, unfulfilled ambition, or, let’s face it, it’s probably publisher pressure, titles are often as busted as the mind of a game developer who just got word from upstairs that they have to get the game out in two days or otherwise.

As we highlight the best of the year, it’s only right that in our worst PC game launches of 2013 we also reflect on some of the last 12 months’ disasters. Here are five titles that ranked highest in release date order. Plus an attempt to assess if they still work properly.

On page two you have the opportunity to vote for your “favourite”.

This is as big as it gets folks.

SimCity (March 2013)SimCity had problems. Big problem. If you picture player happiness as a nice, quiet metropolis with low pollution and no crime, then EA and Maxis make the choice SimCity an “always online” game was the gigantic, gamera-like monster shattering this beautiful scene to bits.

First the servers exploded. Just like servers always explode with games that use this type of DRM. It took about a week before people could reliably get online to play around with it SimCity, by the time Amazon had already pulled it from digital sales and EA was hammering out an apology scheme for a free game. Even when the servers finally came back online, the game was missing standard features like Cheetah speed (since said servers still couldn’t handle it) and people everywhere found their saved games in the EA Cloud. never to be seen again.

That turned out to be the case SimCity didn’t even have to be an online game (apart from fringe mechanics like trading with a neighboring town) and people are starting to realize that more than just the servers were broken. Several patches, haughty corporate non-apologies, and dubious product placement DLC connections later, Maxis finally admitted that gamers’ biggest problem, small towns, would never be addressed. SimCity intended now and forever to be a city building title where city building is severely restricted. As far as video game design choices go, this is dead cert for one of the worst of the year.

So, is it working yet? Well, probably better than April. But with the DRM still online, major cities excluded, and the inherent problems with the GlassBox engine remaining, it’s doubtful you really want to comb through the debris.

Total War: Rome II (September 2013) – In advance Rome 2 Release, Creative Assembly were very popular. your last release, shogun 2had run as smoothly as one could expect for a game of this size, and (along with Napoleon) had just made amends for the hopeless cause Rich. interviews and buffoons Rome 2 made boastful claims on the day of release about how much money had been poured into the game, and Brian Blessed was busy YELLING FOR BALLISTES to anyone who would listen.

Then the game came out. And it was a bloody mess.

Technical and performance issues were the most immediate issues as all sorts of setups and systems struggled to get decent framerates on the campaign map. Certain AMD cards got very upset when it rained during battles. Co-op campaigns would take fifteen minutes to process rounds and desync regularly. There were crashes, stutters and lags everywhere you looked.

These problems did not affect everyone Rome 2 player however. Some people need to play the game and have completely different problems. They encountered the incredible AI that formed fearsome armies composed entirely of simple spearmen, often disembarking from boats during battle and then refusing to move. Or sit there while you pelted them with rocket troops. Or try besieging an important settlement with four units of archers. Or dash straight to the central battlefield victory point, right on the heads of the player’s pikes.

Worse, several of the game’s internal systems were either underdeveloped or so poorly documented that it was impossible to tell if they were even working as intended. The politics and agent mechanics were blunt as hell, while the character development of the previous ones Total war Games had been scrapped altogether, replaced instead by the bewildering triumvirate of zeal, authority, and cunning. Rome 2 was not only a hasty release, it also lacked soul.

So, is it working yet? You know, Creative Assembly deserves credit here. They (and publishers SEGA) should have shelved all paid DLC while the patching process continued, but otherwise their efforts were reasonable. Rome 2 will definitely be improved in the tech department, although weak AI is a series-long issue that may be beyond salvage. The politics are still underdeveloped to the point of redundancy and the new “culture” system in the provinces seems to have introduced whole new problems, but the base of the single player game is more stable than four months ago.

Some rare footage of Battlefield 4 in an uncrashed state.

Battlefield 4 (October 2013) – Tim was “lucky” enough to check it out battlefield 4, so my experience with it is second hand. But you know a game launch is on track when the publisher has to publicly state that the developer has been pulled from all other projects until the problems are fixed.

There was also an apology. Although this was more of a self-congratulation that DICE had managed to ship a game than a mea culpa and was completely deaf to the fact battlefield 4 crashed left, right and center on all launch platforms. The impressive response from EA and DICE? A weekend with double experience points awaits you here! Which you can’t really get into, because the game doesn’t work and one of the main bugs is wiping players’ experience points.

To no one’s surprise, a source claiming to have been a QA tester for the game has hinted that EA has rushed battlefield 4 to publish in order to release the title beforehand Call of Duty Ghosts.

battlefield 4 was so fundamentally broken at launch that an EA shareholder filed an attempted class action lawsuit against the publisher. It is alleged that EA executives misrepresented the state of affairs up until launch and fraudulently inflated the company’s stock price while dumping $13.2 million of their own stock. The last part is not asserted. Court records show that several EA executives did in fact sell a fair amount of stock between July and August 2013.

So, is it working yet? Well, according to the official battlefield 4 Top Issues Tracker (another sign of a spectacular launch) Fixes are “live” for about half of the reported issues. That doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is gone, but it does indicate that DICE has released a patch trying to fix it. Unlike many other games on this list, battlefield 4 Issues appear to be largely technical (rather than design-based) in nature. The start was inexcusable, but there’s reason enough to hope that a decent game will emerge from the technical hiccups.

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