Choosing the "worst" game of the year always feels a little mean, like picking on that one sad kid on the playground and then inviting all your friends to do the same. That's why Tom's Guide elected to choose our most disappointing games of the year. Some of these games failed to live up to the hype. Others were resounding duds for the reviewer alone. All are awful, and should be launched into space and never discussed again.
Arkham Knight (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
There are a lot of great things about Batman: Arkham Knight — the ever-evolving Freeflow fighting mechanic, more Joker and Azrael, hell yeah! But as much as I enjoyed traipsing around Gotham turning bad guys' faces into mush, something was off with the Dark Knight.
The game gave me undeniable thrills with its stellar co-op combat, but there was far too little of it. Instead, the powers that be over at RockSteady decided to make the Batmobile Batman's best ally, shoehorning it into contrived puzzles and combat scenarios that fell flat time and time again.
But the Batmobile is only a minor quibble compared to a key plotline in the story that refrigerated not one, but two women. I thought Catwoman would meet an untimely demise as well, but I guess the game reached its quota. I mean, come on, folks, didn't Bats have enough motivation to save the day with the specter of failures past running around tearing up Gotham?
Lastly, there's the shallow DLC. I'm amazed that either Rocksteady or Warner Bros. were able to retain any goodwill after continually releasing annoying short missions for underutilized members of the Bat family or the rogue's gallery. Not only were the missions lacking in substance, but they were also highly repetitive, with lackluster dialogue. What was supposed to be Batman's triumphant return was ultimately hampered by hackneyed tropes, forced concepts and a poorly disguised attempt at squeezing more money out of the series' fans.
— Sherri L. Smith (@misssmith11)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360)
I've played almost every Tony Hawk game ever made. This franchise introduced me to skateboarding legends like Andrew Reynolds and Rodney Mullen, whom I attempted to emulate in virtual skate parks as I pulled darkslides and triple heelflips while riding through deserted airplane hangars, Alcatraz and even outer space. The magic of early Tony Hawk games was enough for me to ask my parents to buy me a board, so I could spend countless hours bruising my shins and ripping holes in my clothes while trying to learn how to ollie.
But after Tony Hawk's dismal Ride and Shred games, I thought I would never see a proper sequel. Then I heard the series was making a comeback. So when I met the Birdman himself at CES 2015, I told him all they had to do was nail the soundtrack for Tony Hawk 5, and everything would fall right into place.
But they didn't. Tony Hawk 5 can't even muster a decent track list, let alone enough emotion to make me want to plop down on the couch and pop a virtual 900. The game looks flat, feels even flatter, and stutters and shakes at almost every turn. Where there once was magic, now there's only sadness.
This game doesn't let me recapture the feeling I had years ago, and won't inspire a new generation of shredders. Tony Hawk 5 is like watching your hero grow old, not gracefully, but with a tube and a colostomy bag while clinging to life support. I just want to put on Goldfinger's "Superman," take a nap and pretend they pulled the plug after Project 8.
— Sam Rutherford (@samrutherford)
Star Wars Battlefront (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
There's plenty I love about Star Wars Battlefront, but I've never put the game down feeling fully satisfied. Once the thrill of experiencing its gorgeously authentic visuals and sounds wears off, you're left with an incredibly shallow shooter that can't hold a candle to the latest Halo, Call of Duty and Destiny games in terms of depth and content.
Like to play alone? This is not the video game you're looking for. Battlefront's single-player offerings are borderline laughable; even a Star Wars nerd like myself can only mow down the same waves of Stormtroopers for so long. It doesn't help that much of the game's upcoming DLC is locked behind a hefty $50 season pass. What's worse is that I'll buy it, just because I want to shoot my friends on the Death Star already.
— Mike Andronico (@MikeAndronico)
Fallout 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The first time you turn on Fallout 4, you're filled with excitement. Unlike its predecessors, the game is colorful and lush, and features a protagonist who actually talks. Then the bomb destroys the world, your character sleeps for 200-plus years, and when you wake up, it's Fallout as usual. That means a painful-to-navigate UI, bugs, an unfulfilling console experience, and combat so dull and unsatisfying it resembles a graying man married to a woman named Ethel.
But the real problem isn't how rote Fallout the game is. It's the failures of all the new features. You can build homes in Fallout 4, and they're ugly. If you try to build them using a console controller, you may be driven to drink.
Conversations got a revamp in Fallout 4. Now your protagonist talks, but you also have no idea what she'll actually say. Choosing the "sarcastic" option could lead to amusing snark, or could lead to you mocking a woman's grief over her dead child.
Speaking of children, let's talk about Fallout 4's story, which is urgent and features impossibly high stakes: Your spouse has been murdered before your eyes, and your child has been kidnapped! Quick, player! Rush out into the world to find your son and piece your life back together! Or … spend 20 hours building a hideous settlement full of people who face-skidded their way down the uncanny valley.
Fallout 4 is a never-ending series of great ideas executed by three 12-year-olds on Red Bull, or a staff of hundreds hopped up on cocaine. While a great game lurks in the mess, I have better things to do than look for it in the quagmire.
Also, the game's version of Boston sucks.
— Alex Cranz (@alexhcranz)
Rock Band 4 (PS4, Xbox One)
Rock Band is back, but unless you've followed an incredibly arcane set of instructions, it's hardly better than ever. The game's built-in set list is full of obscure B-sides and modern tracks that are much more fun to listen to than they are to play. This would be forgivable if you could transfer the songs from the first three games easily. You can't.
If you want excellent tracks from older Rock Bands, you need to have already transferred them years ago, into Rock Band 3. If you've held off until now, it's too late; the licenses have expired, and Harmonix can no longer sell Rock Band 3. Tough beans, too, if you wanted to transfer from a last-gen PlayStation to a current-gen Xbox or vice versa. Rock Band 4 can still be lots of fun with friends and family, but most of the music that made the series great has been lost to the cruel caprices of time and copyright lawyers.
— Marshall Honorof (@marshallhonorof)