Bad games aren’t rare, but it does seem like some franchises avoid them fairly well. Unfortunately, even the best franchises can end up with a less-than-stellar title in the family, especially the longer running ones. Sometimes it only damages the credibility of a series, but in some cases, it can kill it off altogether. These eight games are black marks on their respective franchises.
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Medal of Honor: Warfighter
First launched in 1999, the Medal of Honor series spanned 13 years and 13 games. Mostly set in World War 2, it moved to modern times in 2010, and stayed there for 2012’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The game was buggy mess, and to make matters worse, had some abysmal AI and a poor story. It didn’t help that seven members of Naval Special Warfare were disciplined for sharing classified info with the developers, or that the game was a critical bomb. Medal of Honor: Warfighter did more than damage the franchise, it killed it stone dead, with developer Danger Close being shuttered less than a year later.
Tony Hawk: Ride
Tony Hawk: Ride rolled out in 2009, and dealt a massive blow to the Tony Hawk franchise. Not only was the game nowhere near as fun to play as its predecessors, it introduced a motion sensing balance board to the series that was intended to replace the controller. Unfortunately, the board was awkward to use, and the controls were frustrating at best. Combined with the sub-par gameplay, it made for a hugely underperforming title. A sequel was already in production (titled Tony Hawk: Shred), but the fallout from Ride’s reception carried over, and that game sold poorly as well. The series was thought to be dead, but Activision showed off a new game at E3 2015.
Resident Evil 6
Over the years, the Resident Evil series has slowly moved away from survival horror and toward an action approach to gameplay, and nowhere is that shift more evident than in Resident Evil 6. Instead of the atmosphere and tension of the first four RE games, we got a middling cover-shooter action game with a lot of issues. The camera was wonky, the inventory system wasn’t intuitive at all, and even the cover part of the cover shooting was a pain to deal with. It ended up turning off RE fans with the move further towards action, and didn’t woo actions fans because of its gameplay issues.
Dino Crisis 3
It’s hard to believe that you could screw up a shooter where you take on dinosaurs, but Capcom managed it in Dino Crisis 3. The original game was created by Resident Evil director Shinji Mikami, and shared many of its survival horror elements. The second game removed many of these, but was still an enjoyable title where you got to shoot dinos with a grenade launcher. The third game fell far short of the first two, and included what many have called the worst camera ever put into a video game. It also featured only three non-boss enemy types, making fighting your way through the game very repetitive.
Red Faction: Armageddon
The Red Faction series had lain dormant for a while when Red Faction: Guerrilla brought it to widespread attention in 2009. Many gamers were excited to see where Volition and THQ would take the open-world series in 2011’s Red Faction: Armageddon, or they were until they realized it had been turned into a linear slog through small underground levels. The thing that made Guerrilla so glorious was that you could roam the world blowing up everything, and destroying thing always advanced the plot. Armageddon abandoned this in favor of a close-quarters, linear shooter that didn’t have a strong enough story to make it compelling. The game sold so poorly that it contributed to THQ’s $38.4 million loss that fiscal year, and the company went bankrupt soon after.
Master of Orion 3
If you ask any long time turn-based strategy fan what their favorite game in the genre is, a lot of them will mention Master of Orion or Master of Orion 2. You can imagine how disappointed they were when Infogrames rolled out Master of Orion 3, and it had lost much of what made the series great. The new UI was unwieldy and difficult to use, there were a number of bugs that never got fixed, as Infogrames passed on doing any post-launch support, and there was a distinct lack of features. Genocide and refitting of space ships were series staples that got removed, and promised new features like colonizing moons and a racial ethos system were similarly omitted. To top it all off, the enemy AI was terrible. The series has been dead for some time, but Wargaming announced this year that they are working on a “reimagining” of the classic title.
Duke Nukem: Forever
Hail to the *former* king of vaporware, baby. Duke Nukem: Forever was in development so long that there are people reading this that weren’t alive when it was announced. After the announcement in April of 1997, the game underwent multiple rewrites, engine changes, and even a lawsuit before Gearbox ended up working on it in 2010. It finally released in June of 2011 after 15 years of development. Unfortunately, it still embodied the design tenets of the 90s – it was a completely linear corridor shooter filled with stale jokes and gameplay bugs that made the whole experience disappointing. A sequel was teased in the credits of DNF, but the reception of this game may have put Gearbox and 2K off that idea.
Command & Conquer 4
When it comes to games that ruined a series, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better candidate than Command & Conquer 4. Instead of building on the myriad successes the series had, C&C 4 ditched the focus on single-player campaigns and forced you to play online with friends. The base building mechanic that was central to the game was tossed aside, and players were forced to pick a class within their faction: offense, defense, or support. You then teamed up with other players (who filled the remaining roles) to hold points and score points. It was also the first C&C title to have unit caps limiting the size of your army. Worst of all, there was no offline mode – you had to be online to play it. Since then there’s been a free-to-play browser game bearing the C&C name, but it bears about as much resemblance to the classic titles as C&C 4 does.