Coming hot off the heels of the PlayStation 2, Sony had a lot of momentum to keep delivering a high-end console gaming experience. When the PS3 launched in November 2006, despite the launch itself being a bit rocky, it did drop with a decent selection of launch titles that was rounded out by favorites like Resistance: Fall of Man, MotorStorm, and Call of Duty 3. The PS3 would only get stronger from its patchy start, and go on to become one of the most beloved consoles ever.
Like any console, though, not every release was going to be a hit, and just like its two predecessors, the PS3 eventually became home to some unforgivably bad or broken titles that worked about as well as the PlayStation Network when GTA Online first launched.
Let’s stroll down memory lane together and remember ten of the worst PlayStation 3 games that made us regret our purchase, throw our controller in frustration, or simply sit with our heads hung in defeat.
10. Turning Point: Fall of Liberty
Developer: Spark Unlimited Publisher: Codemasters
Alternate history scenarios are a fascinating way to tell a unique story. Inglorious Basterds and shows like The Man in the High Castle had fun creating new scenarios for very real conflicts, and while Spark Unlimited attempted the same with Turning Point, it fell hilariously short in many ways.
In Fall of Liberty, Winston Churchill passed away in 1931, resulting in a significantly different outcome for the upcoming Second World War. The game takes some significant liberties with the progression of World War II in ways that Churchill’s death would not have altered, such as the rise of anti-war sentiment in the U.S., but its story isn’t even near the top of the list of issues to have with Fall of Liberty.
In the wake of games like Call of Duty, it was clear Spark Unlimited wasn’t looking to bring innovation to its game. In fact, mechanically, the game takes several steps backward and delivers an experience that would have felt antiquated even on the PS2. Responding to the criticism, Spark Unlimited felt reviewers were being harsh and approaching the game as “hardcore critics.”
Unfortunately for the developer, this was one of about five occasions in history that critics and players universally agreed on a game.
9. Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust
Developer: Team17 Publisher: Codemasters
Leisure Suit Larry has never been a series known for its quality. In fact, if not for the debauchery and crass humor, it’s likely the series never would have lifted off beyond its 1987 graphic adventure. The PS3 adventure follows the titular Larry Lovage as he joins his uncle, the original Larry, to be an errand boy at his adult film studio. When it’s revealed that a mole is looking to sabotage the studio, Lovage’s role presence becomes even more important.
Box Office Bust has absolutely none of the charm of its predecessors. Despite a “star”-studded cast of Josh Keaton, Jay Mohr, Patrick Warburton, Carmen Electra, and Jeffrey Tambor, everything was so unforgivably flat. Players spend much of their time racing the clock in fetch quests and other shallow missions across several different stereotypical movie genre sets.
The game’s attempts at hilarity and zaniness fail at practically every point. Somehow, despite the very negative response, developer CrazyBunch went on to create two new adventures in 2019 and 2020. Surprisingly, Wet Dreams Don’t Dry and Wet Dreams Dry Twice were better received.
You can teach dirty dogs new tricks after all.
Developer: VectorCell Publisher: Lexis Numerique
Finding a kind word about 2012’s survival horror stealth title Amy won’t be easy. The game, which follows two girls as they try to escape a zombie-infested town, has many egregious issues, from very poor visuals for a PS3 title and a miserable control scheme that rendered it frustratingly unplayable.
Amy’s most problematic element, however, is the titular star. Young Amy, who’s being escorted by the player, is autistic. So, of course, she has some extrasensory power that makes her vital in the progression of the game. There are a few problems here, but maybe the worst is the suggestion that, without her power, Amy would be a helpless, useless character. The trope that autistic people need to be a savant or incredibly gifted was tired even before Amy was released in 2012.
Even overlooking that very wrong stereotype, the game offers nothing that makes a playthrough even remotely rewarding, or anything more than just a very, very poor cousin for The Last of Us. The kind of cousin who always asks for money.
7. Smash ‘N Survive
Developer: Version2Games Publisher: Version2Games
Vehicular games can be prone to failure if the developer can’t get a handle on how a car should drive. Smash ‘N Survive is the perfect example of this, as developer Version2Games clearly couldn’t replicate even a remotely accurate driving experience. Exaggerated arcade controls would have worked as players spend their time smashing cars up, but even that couldn’t be achieved in this less than smashing experience.
Smash ‘N Survive was a game lost in time, its visuals and gameplay making it play like a PS1 title. There was a complete lack of polish to elevate the title to a PS3 release, and even the prospect of a demolition derby couldn’t help fix its most glaring issues. In a world that had already enjoyed Burnout, Smash ‘N Survive had a long way to feel unique, and it feels more like the developer got tired halfway and released what had survived some time in the microwave.
Vehicular imbalances made progression quite difficult, and players who tried to overlook glaring issues didn’t have any incentive to want to keep playing. Smash or pass? You already know the answer.
Rogue Warrior sounds like a cool name for a game, and with Rebellion at the helm, it absolutely could have been. It’s always a surprise when a respected studio comes forward with something unforgivably bad, but it would be a lie to say Rebellion never missed before Rogue Warrior. It did release Miami Vice for the PSP, after all.
There’s nothing inspired about Rogue Warrior, to the point where you kind of question why it was even made. Some of the worst games imaginable have no entertainment value, like this weird mix of Call of Duty, Postal, and The Punisher. But you can see what the developer was trying to do, and you can almost give them an ounce of praise just for their efforts and for using expletives as a connective.
You can’t do that here. The script sounds like it was written by a kid who just learned they can curse and watched seven seasons of South Park back-to-back. It’s laden with awkward expletives, to the point where you have to question whether there are more F-bombs than glitches and bugs.
We’d say it’s a tie.
5. Rambo: The Video Game
Developer: Teyon Publisher: Reef Entertainment
A current-gen video game based on Sly Stalone’s John Rambo was actually a pretty good idea. The films do tend to be brutal and full of explosions, so he’s already been in the space occupied by a good third-person shooter. It’s a shock then that Teyon fumbled so poorly, especially when you realize it’s the same studio that released Terminator: Resistance and RoboCop: Rogue City, two surprisingly fun titles.
One of the biggest issues with Rambo was its gameplay. For some reason, Teyon went with a rail shooter format, where players control the direction their firearm is aiming and also where Rambo takes cover. It’s certainly a choice to turn Rambo into an arcade shooter as if it had released when First Blood actually came out to begin with. Not a good one, but a choice.
Across dull environments, Rambo takes on copy-and-paste enemies over and over again. The gameplay loop gets repetitive very early on, and not even slower-paced stealth segments break things up as you never feel like you’re in control. You’re just going through the motions, hitting QTE prompts for a bloody stealth kill, before the scripted moment you’re caught and the firefights start again.
But at least you get to make use of your PlayStation Move, we guess.
4. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
Developer: Terminal Reality Publisher: Activision
This list is full of games that were fine in concept, just very poorly executed. Case in point, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. There’s no reason a game set in the television universe of Robert Kirkman’s undead-laden drama couldn’t work. Throw in one of the series’ most beloved characters as the lead, and Survival Instinct should have been a hit.
Just like the more recent and arguably even worse Destinies, it wasn’t. Rather, it was sluggish, repetitive, uninteresting, glitchy, and way too slow for its own good. Bouncing between locations to scavenge supplies and fuel to help Daryl on his journey sounds interesting in theory, but the world was just downright boring and the zombies just weren’t fun to bash around with melee weapons. Though it plays a little like Dead Island, its melee doesn’t have even half the impact of the tropical zombie romp.
The only redeeming value was Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker reprising their roles from the show. They gave a much better performance than Survival Instinct deserved, though their presence does highlight the low-quality acting of the rest of the cast.
3. Vampire Rain
Developer: Artoon Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
What if Sam Fisher or Solid Snake fought vampires? We firmly believe that was the pitch for Vampire Rain, a stealth-focused survival horror shooter that is one of the most video game-est video games ever. It’s really not a bad premise, and the thought of evading patrolling vampires as a Solid Snake-esque character could have made for a fun twist. But that’s not what this was.
Vampire Rain was a little too heavy-handed and clunky with the stealth, but things like Blade made it impossible to not want to engage bloodsuckers in brutal, fun, faster-paced combat. It was just a bummer to think you’re going to pop off on a lone vampire only to be forced to navigate bland rooftops for the sake of evading a fight.
The whole experience is marred by downright boring gameplay where you navigate empty streets and ugly environments to the obnoxious, perpetual sound of rainfall. Even when vampires come rushing in for a fight, the AI is so terrible that you’re either dead before you know what’s happened or dead bored.
Developer: Black Tower Publisher: Aksys Games
Maybe the most forgettable game to release on the PS3 or any console of that generation, Magus follows the titular character as he sets out to rediscover who he is. Or something. It doesn’t matter. Magus is the type of game you forget about only moments after playing it. Bad writing, subpar voice acting, sloppy or stiff animations, PS2-era visuals, and bland level design all make this a tough pill to swallow.
Developer Black Tower Studios has only two other releases under its belt, the first before Magus being a mobile game. The game feels half-cooked, with an uninspired UI, and a skill tree and attacks that don’t add anything to the gameplay. You can spam one magical attack the entire game and emerge victorious at the game’s conclusion less than five hours later.
Magus is easily one of the PS3’s most forgettable titles unless you’re looking for some very daft nonsense, so don’t be surprised if no aspect of it sounds familiar. The English language also must have been pretty unfamiliar to the guys at Black Tower, as most of the dialogue here feels like it forms the basis for ChatGPT.
1. Tony Hawk: Ride
Developer: Robomodo Publisher: Activision
From Rock Band to the PlayStation Move, the seventh console generation was all about the peripherals and gimmicks. Enter Tony Hawk: Ride, a game that tries to literally put players in the shoes of the titular skateboarder without the crippling existential crisis. Ride uses the custom-made skateboard controller to add a level of immersion not yet seen in Tony Hawk’s popular series.
It was a cool idea, but the attempt at adding a sense of realism using a skateboard controller was ambitious, to say the least. Players could try their hand at turning, hopping, and leaping using infrared sensors built into the board. However, if you’ve ever used something like the Kinect or even the PS3’s own Move, you know they’re not always the most reliable. Then, place the sensors at your feet and try to do jumping motions. This all unsurprisingly meant Ride suffered from sensitivity and response time issues, like Activision did when it didn’t immediately remove Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 from sale.
Tony Hawk: Ride was ultimately way too complicated for the average gamer and came with too many hiccups, with it being a sad, sad departure from the kinds of games that helped the original PlayStation sell in its millions.
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