The FPS genre is already saturated with more ways on how to destroy the Third Reich than the Allies had probably come up with during the actual war, but I can’t get enough of the stuff. MSNBC ran a list of their top five choices for WW2 gaming with titles such as Call of Duty and Company of Heroes and it’s a pretty solid collection, but Medal of Honor: Frontlines over MOH: Allied Assault? Really?
One bad thing about being a fan of WW2 titles is that I’ll usually go against the popular grain and try even the dogs out to see what was so bad about them. Unfortunately, in most cases, the critics were absolutely right and no matter how much time I spent with them, they never got any better. So on that note, here are five WW2 based titles that I thought were absolute crap.
5) Ubersoldier (PC)
With a badly optimized engine that can force a box built around its recommended specs to run as if it were constipated, Germans that speak with a country boy accent from the Deep South, and a hokey story straight out from the reject bin at the Sci-Fi channel, this is one title that could have been a lot of fun if all of the above were fixed in some way. The repetitive action and psychic shooters that could hit you with pinpoint accuracy a mile away didn’t help, either. Unfortunately, instead of getting into an exciting twist on Nazi occultism mixed in with X-Files flavored mystery and the action of Medal of Honor, you get something like this. And if you don’t want to play the game to find out just how bad this title is, you can always try to rent SS Doomtrooper from the Sci Fi channel which almost does the same thing, but in less than two hours.
4) Medal of Honor: European Assault (Xbox)
In European Assault, the Nazis have managed to find a way to use American ammunition with their disappearing MP40s that they drop on the battlefield. In case they die, the Ministry of Dumbing Down have also provided giant floating icons to show you where the Wehrmacht’s soldiers have dropped ammo for your BAR along with giant red crosses for the health packs that they’ll leave around. Thanks to the wonders of Nazi science, they’ll also be able to utilize pop-in spawns to feed the battlefield with soldiers, automagically appearing before their foes. Hitler’s greatest intelligence operatives have also debunked the whole story of an OSS officer heading into the heart of the Third Reich, confirming that he’s been replaced with WW2’s version of the Terminator. To protect the assets of the Fuhrer, they’ve also employed a number of bosses:
Hopped up on National Socialism, their ability to absorb bullets and dish out damage make them supersoldiers that will stand in your way. At least until you kill them with uber adrenaline. Seriously, EA, what the hell?
3) Mortyr II (PC)
I was as surprised as anyone that Mortyr actually got a sequel, but it’s apparently a hit in Poland where it had first come out. I felt tempted to rank this one above the original because of the fact that it is a sequel to something that most everyone who had played it in North America remember through the pain of trying to forget it. But it’s only “almost as worse” as the first game thanks to the fact that the gameplay was a little more tolerable and that it completely forgets that the first one had ever happened. That’s not saying much since it still manages to come up with a litany of replacement crap to help continue the tradition much like how Hollywood continues to try and market vehicles for Paris Hilton to star in.
At least the soldiers speak in German which is nice but don’t get too attached to it. For every good idea, there are several that go tragically wrong whether it is the soldiers that run in silent, slow motion or the artillery shells that instantly kill you because you are given no warning or forgiveness for simply not knowing any better. At one point, you get to fly a gyrocopter to drop bombs on top of machine gun nests. It’s too bad that it’s made of explosive paper mache that goes off as soon as it gets too close to anything. Even if you pretend to come close to a tree, nature will emit a high powered death field that will detonate the explosive skin of your gyrocopter. I left it behind and took out the nests myself. I should have left this game behind and bought a chicken sandwich instead.
2) Mortyr (PC)
Yes, that’s a walking mech you see onscreen because by this point in the game, you’re in 2093 after traveling from 1944. Forged out of angry German metal and powered by Teutonic technologies with all of the excitement of a toaster, it’s par for the course with Mortyr.
For its time, Mortyr wasn’t that bad of a game if you could forgive the pseudo-disco lighting and the brain dead AI. Or the incessant key hunts, the nonsensical level design that often felt as if the Third Reich had been staring too long at maze puzzles, or the lame feel to most every one of the weapons. Unlike Doom which made stomping through each level fun with exciting levels and monsters, Mortyr manages to make it feel like a chore of epic proportions. But the ending is one of the worst that I’ve ever seen in a game, rivaling 1941’s “Congraturations”, since I had no fracking clue as to what had happened thanks to the hokey sci-fi story that it was tied to. What was up with the giant Icon of Power at the end? WTF?!
At least Mortyr II gave you an ending that kind of made sense. Mortyr’s box cover was also a lot more exciting than the trip to get kicked in the nuts at the end. Way to go!
1) Hour of Victory (Xbox 360)
Epic’s fancy new Unreal Engine 3 has powered some winners…Bioshock, Stranglehold, MOH: Airborne just to name a few. And it has also powered a few titles that should have spent more time in development…like this one. I was excited about the premise which is ripped from the idea that the Third Reich was much closer to building a nuke than history actually tells us. I read the reviews which already said that this was the stuff next-gen nightmares were made from, but I was bored and I wanted to see it for myself. I was wrong. Midway pushed this one out way too early and seemed to ignore every other WW2 shooter ever made.
Pick from any three die-hard soldiers with different abilities in order to execute the mission ahead to stop the Third Reich’s atomic dreams, and you have the potential for some exciting stuff. Unfortunately, European Assault did the whole nuclear thing much better than this one which drops you into an ugly world backed by body physics that turn every enemy you shoot into a stuffed bag of styrofoam chips as soon as they die. Brain numbingly one-track action, weak sounding weapons, broken scripting, awful special effects, and cinemas where you’ll be staring at mannequins await you when you sign on for this tour of duty. If you don’t believe me, download the demo on XBLA and see for yourself. You’ll get more action out of that than the multiplayer in the full game which might as well not exist because no one is out there playing this.
So there you have it. My five picks for the worst WW2 titles that you might ever play today. If there’s one thing players can probably count on, it’s that the WW2 genre will still be on the frontlines on either consoles or PCs, offering up as much excitement as disappointment.