We’ve celebrated the best videogame box art of 2013, so it seems only fair that we lay into the worst.
When it comes to naming and shaming bad game covers, it would be easy for me to target those niche PC games, such as the simulator series or ludicrous celebrity vehicles. I can forgive a shoddy cover for a game with a limited budget and a small audience, as no amount of flashy graphic design is going to make me pick up ‘Street Cleaning Simulator‘ and yes, that is an actual game.
My targets for worst cover art are the companies that should know better and have the money to put more effort in. Cut and paste cover art will not be tolerated.
Read on for my worst offenders of 2013.
Bioshock Infinite has a floating city, airships, a rooftop roller coaster, steampunk robots and mechs, oh and a female lead in a striking blue dress. So they went with this – designer stubble guy with gun over shoulder. Boring doesn’t cover it. Every piece of fan art I’ve seen for this game is better than that cover. And that’s before we even consider the fact that Elizabeth was consigned to the back of the box for being a woman.
Thanks to the fans, we got the alternative covers and they voted for the least literal of them all – a lesson to be learnt.
Apparently Fuse developer, Insomniac wanted to avoid a cover with silly Charlie’s Angels-style poses, so instead they cut the characters’ heads off. There is no logic. Instead it looks like the art department got sloppy on the job. It wouldn’t be so bad, but you can almost see their faces, which is just frustrating.
This is what happens kids, when you decide to fly in the face of evolution, which has programmed almost all creatures on Earth to react to faces. Instead you get orange and feet – you’ve been warned.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Dark is a mugger-sim or a gritty drama about an orphan who lives on the rooftops. It’s not. It’s actually a vampire stealth, action RPG – who’d a guessed?
It’s not the fact that Dark is a bad game that’s under the microscope, here, it’s the cover. It doesn’t say vampire or action and might only hint at stealth because of the moon or something. I mean, how easy is it to say vampire? Everyone’s doing it these days.
Devil May Cry
DMC was a much-maligned reboot of the Devil May Cry series, as fans complained about the emo-style Dante, when the first look was released. I like the new Dante, who is a welcome change from the frilly-cuff Dante of yore. But let’s get to the cover.
DMC’s Dante is a nephilim, which is cool – so where are the shadowy wings or any hint of the supernatural at all? Instead we get the stock heroic walk with gun pose (see Fuse and Bioshock Infinite for similar) and the seemingly ubiquitous orange, glowy, explosion thing (see Fuse).
As usual, fan or concept art saves the day with Renaissance style drapey angels – look on Capcom, you could have done this…
If anyone does know who did the angel art above, please comment and I’ll add an acknowledgement.
Batman Arkham City (Game of the Year Edition)
What were they thinking? This is one car crash of a game cover. Where do I begin? The washed out background, the multitude of headlines shouting for your attention and the fact that the title of the game is totally lost. Methinks this cover doth arrest our senses too much. Less is more people.
Sports games are soft targets, when it comes to really bad cover art, but that doesn’t mean they get off without a mention. EA has the budget, but it just churns out the same awful covers year after year. However, 2013’s FIFA release deserves a special mention.
The main cover star is Lionel Messi (thanks professor Google), who looks like he’s begin kicked between the legs. I think it’s supposed to show the passion and the fury of football. As a still image, it just looks like he’s in pain.
For the different regions, an additional footballer joins Messi on the cover. My particular favourite is Italy, where Stephan El Shaarawy grins, as if he’s the one doing the kicking.
It’s an amusing cover, but I don’t think that’s what EA was going for.
Ashes Cricket 2013
Ashes Cricket 2013 was released on Steam and then its console and PC launch was cancelled, due to an onslaught of bad reviews. I don’t want to flog a dead horse, but this cover can’t pass without mention.
Cricket is a game Americans don’t understand, it’s often thought of as slow and boring and this cover does nothing to dispel any of these things. Note the distinct lack of FIFA-style primal screaming and I applaud them for that.
I don’t follow cricket, but I know some big players and have no idea who these guys are. Second, the Ashes is a hard-fought grudge match, but this makes it look like a church fete picnic. I know I’m not the target market for this game, but this cover isn’t targeting anyone with a pulse.
That’s my worst of 2013 – have I missed any? Keep a look out for your best and worst of 2014 in the comments and I’ll see you here next year.