We believe that pretty much all games are created with love. Sure, some come out the other side of the game making process maybe looking a little worse for wear, and often through no fault of their own, but still, the charm and depth of these games still manages to resonate all the same.
With that in mind, we’ve got ten games, across both PS3 (PlayStation Now is your friend) and PS4 that though undoubtedly afflicted with the jank, nonetheless stand the test of time as engrossing, engaging affairs. And really, if we’re talking about jank, there is only one game we can really kick all this off with (and it also begins with ‘A’ so, yeah).
Ten Janky Games That We Love (And You Should Too)
Alpha Protocol (PS3)
Yes! Alpha Protocol. Developed by Obsidian and released under the watchful eye of Sega for PS3 back in 2010, Alpha Protocol is a third-person action RPG where players take control of Michael Thornton, an Ethan Hunt style secret agent who must unravel a global conspiracy before it, well, unravels him.
From the very beginning Alpha Protocol allows players to pick an origin story for Thornton, such as Soldier, Tech Specialist and so on which are each manifested as classes, encompassing different styles of play, strengths, weaknesses. As Thornton travels around the world, he’s able to engage in conversation with persons of interest too, triggering a multi-dialogue tree that can lead onto all sorts of scenarios, or, he can elect for the more violent solution wherever possible (as seen below).
Brilliantly, Alpha Protocol makes ample use of Chris Avellone’s writing talents as the more players understand about a character, the more dialogue options open up to them, thus encouraging them to dig deep into the world surrounds them. Alpha Protocol was and is something of a cult classic to say the least.
Where Alpha Protocol’s jankiness comes in is in the rough visuals and the way that its numerous action mechanics are handled as players can engage in real-time third person combat, including stuff like cover shooting and stealth takedowns, while a range of mini-games all feel like they’ve escaped from 2002. Alpha Protocol basically feels like James Bond meets Mass Effect with a ton of jank, and we love it to bits. Now about that sequel…
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain (PS4)
There are perhaps few games on the list that are as synonymous with jank as Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain. A third-person shooter where, quite simply, massive screen-filling bugs have invaded earth and you must destroy them with an increasingly massive weaponry, though EDF: Iron Rain is arguably the most polished entry in the series, that really isn’t saying a whole lot as the game pretty much revels in its jankiness.
From low-detail character models and environments that look like they were pulled from a mid-gen PS3 title, to poor effects work, a fluctuating framerate and supremely awkward animations that seemingly don’t care how big a character model is, it’s fair to say that the EDF series has long defined the parameters of jankiness and Iron Rain is no exception.
Nonetheless, a great time is to be had here. From the wonderfully judged bite-sized missions (most don’t last longer than five minutes), to split-screen co-operative play and a screen that is never not filled with enemies, crumbling buildings and explosive ordnance, EDF: Iron Rain is a supremely janky title that is equally supremely easy to like.
Fallout: New Vegas (PS3)
Widely recognized as the best written of all the first-person Fallout games, Fallout: New Vegas is significant because it marks Obsidian’s return to the franchise after working on the early PC games in the series under the guise of Black Isle Studios.
Released for PS3 in 2010, Fallout: New Vegas is a series spin-off that whisks players off to the Mojave Wasteland. Placing them in the dusty shoes of a courier who after a double-cross is left for dead with a hole in the head and is then healed in the nearby town of Goodsprings, an epic tale of revenge soon unfolds that results in one of the best Fallout games to date.
Unfortunately, the PS3 version of Fallout: New Vegas suffered from all kinds of maladies. Ranging from super low detail textures to character models getting routinely stuck in the environment, long loading times and a raft of bugs (some of which were game breaking at the time), it’s an arguable point that the game released in not quite the state that either Obsidian or Bethesda would have liked.
All the same, it still holds its own even today as a superbly deep RPG with some of the best writing the series has ever seen.
Mount & Blade: Warband (PS4)
Look, there’s no getting around the fact that when Mount & Blade: Warband finally arrived on PS4 in 2016 (the PC version released a whole six earlier), it had enough jank to shunt the Earth off of its axis. Whether it was the poor ratio menus, the PS2 level detail applied to the environments and character models, or the sporadic and limp sound effects work, it was clear that this was one game that you really couldn’t judge on looks alone.
Just as well then really, as Mount & Blade: Warband is a mammoth, absolute time-murdering, sandbox strategy RPG the likes of which PS4 owners have never seen. As a newcomer to the fantasy realm of Calradia, Warband provides players with a near limitless tapestry with which to write their own story. Whether you marry yourself into nobility, sheriff a village, pledge to a king, build your own army or become a villain who raids villages and fights in the arena, the potential for doing-whatever-you-want is pleasingly grand to say the least.
And all of this happens while a persistent, dynamic conflict goes on in the background; annexing new territories, tearing up alliances, starting new ones and resulting in the downfall of kings and queens and much more besides. There is so much going on in Mount and Blade: Warband it is unreal, and so when a game like this is blessed with such dizzying depth and compelling longevity, all that jank sort of fades into the background. Well, a bit anyway.
A massive open-world RPG with interwoven survival elements, Outward sends players off to find their destiny and leaves it entirely up to them how they go about doing that.
Where things become especially interesting however is in the various layered systems force the player to worry about everything from temperature (you have to wrap up in warmer climates and wear lighter threads into cooler ones), to hunger, thirst, stamina and just about everything else that might conceivably affect or afflict you in real life.
Sat on top of these systems is an utter unwillingness of the game to hold the hand of the player, instead eschewing everything but the most basic of tutorials and forcing the player to discover everything on their own terms – simultaneously making Outward feel as punishing as it is deeply satisfying.
However, despite the wealth of its hugely involving systems Outward has a battleship full of jank, which manifests itself in poor framerates, low detail environments fairly clumsy no-frills combat and a fairly bespoke lack of spectacle. Nonetheless, if you can look past such a lack of polish, you’ll discover an all-consuming open-world RPG that is absolutely deserving of your time/
At it’s core an almost perfect dilution of the traditional FPS formula, RICO boasts that most simplest of premises – you are a cop, there are bad guys, you must shoot those bad guys and hoover up any drugs, money or evidence that you find.
Coming across as a modern mixture of Ubisoft’s XIII, Virtua Cop and with a dash of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, RICO is a bite-sized shooter whereupon players must shoot up a bunch of lower level gang members within 24 (in-game) hours in order to gain enough evidence to reach the kingpin, kill him, and thus close the case.
Throw in some co-op, a bunch of roguelike mechanics whereupon each failure actually ends up making you stronger as you unlock new abilities and weapons, and it soon becomes clear that RICO is an engrossing little shooter that simply refuses to get boring.
Where the jankiness comes in however is in the visuals department. Don’t get me wrong; RICO’s superlative cel-shaded visuals bleed style and do such a great job of evoking its influences – particularly where Ubisoft’s XIII is concerned. The problem however is in the sub-optimal framerate (though stylish from an art direction point of view, the game is technically unspectacular), low detail textures and character models occasionally clipping through walls and other such objects in the environment.
That said though, if you can stomach such imperfections then RICO soon grows on you and with its neat, reduced sized portions that manage to sneak in-between more mammoth gaming sessions on more ambitious fare.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments (PS3/PS4)
Coming from Frogwares, the Ukrainian developer has long developed games set against the exploits of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth and in Crimes & Punishments, the team has arguably fashioned its most ambitious take on the fiction seen to date.
With half a dozen cases to solve, Crimes & Punishments has wannabe detectives inspecting clues, talking to witnesses and suspects, solving puzzles and even indulging in a bit of visual forensics as players are able to pick out quirks about a person’s appearance, such as a scar or thread out of place on some clothing, to provide additional avenues of investigation.
The game is pretty well visually accomplished too, with Frogwares approximating a decently detailed and equally romantic depiction of Victorian London that in turn boasts a good level of detail and visual effects. Unfortunately a fair whack of screen tearing ends up being rather distracting from the whole endeavor, while repeated NPC lines and the occasional crash all add up to the impression that Crimes & Punishments needed more time int he oven than it actually got.
Still, more importantly than all of that however (the crashes have since been sorted out by a post release patch), it made you actually feel like you were the Pride of Baker Street, and in the grand scheme of things, that actually counts for quite a lot.
The Council (PS4)
Though episodic story driven adventures are hardly a new thing, The Council puts a rather more ambitious spin on the genre than most of its contemporaries. The Council thrusts players into an historical occult conspiracy that draws together the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington, as players take control of Louis De Richet, a member of a secret society who has been whisked off to a clandestine meeting of world leaders amidst the disappearance of his mother.
Building in the sorts of skill trees that one might first readily associate with a sprawling RPG such as Dragon Age, The Council is offers players a great many avenues with which to take story down, as choosing some skills over others will allow to access areas and speak to people in ways that you couldn’t do and vice-versa.
Equally, The Council compliments such innovations by placing a premium on social interactions and wordplay. Certain characters will have certain weaknesses that can be used against then, whilst others have strengths that make getting information from them more than a little tricky. More than anything, The Council succeeds because it treats you like an intelligent adult, and not least because its myriad of deep conversations run the gamut of everything from religion and art through to history and geopolitics.
Just don’t expect much in the way of action because The Council really isn’t that type of game. Likewise, The Council is hardly the most polished game ever too, with repetitive (though stunning) environments accompanied by poor lip-syncing and even worse voice acting. Still though, if you like your episodic narrative adventures deep, mature and involving, you can’t really go wrong with The Council.
The Long Dark (PS4)
A first-person hardcore survival adventure, The Long Dark puts players in that most perilous of settings. After you crash land on a snow-blotted mountain, it is up to you to not only survive but also track down your missing colleague amidst the hostile, howling winds of the frigid Alaskan tundra.
Literally everything matters in The Long Dark. From keeping warm, hydrated and well-fed, to bandaging cuts, splintering broken bones and preventing infection, The Long Dark is ostensibly one of the most hardcore survival experiences out there. Then there’s the wildlife too – from wolves to massive, hulking bears, literally everything is trying to murder you at some point in this game.
And you know what? It’s great. It is quite frankly the closest you’ll ever get to a game on PS4 in which you properly feel like part of a pitched battle between man and the seemingly all-consuming forces of Mother Nature.
And, of course, The Long Dark has its own fair of jank too. Though massively reduced thanks to robust support and a highly aggressive patching schedule, The Long Dark still suffers from awkward controls, irregular framerates and visuals that wouldn’t look out of place on a PS4. Don’t worry though, once The Long Dark has its claws in you (which doesn’t take very long), you’ll soon forget about such things and become hopelessly engrossed in its punishingly brilliant survival offering.
World War Z (PS4)
Before the release of World War Z, it’s reasonable to posit that folks really didn’t give it much of a chance. For a start it was a movie license (strike one), seemed like it was a soulless attempt at aping a genre classic in Left 4 Dead (strike two) and going by the early trailers, it had enough jank to sink a battleship (strike three).
Happily then, I can report that World War Z actually turned out to be pretty decent in the end. Sure, it is a movie license, but it’s one that uses the best part of that licence (namely, the crazy massive swarms of zombies) to grand effect, giving the game a sense of spectacle that other games just don’t have – and, to be honest, you never quite forget your first tower of zombies clambering on top of each other.
And yes, World War Z does mimic Left 4 Dead to an extent but the pacing is entirely different. There is almost no fat on World War Z as levels are condensed zombie killing playgrounds which lead from one set piece to the next, providing little chance for you or your friends to catch your breath.
And then we come to the jank. World War Z doesn’t have a massive AAA budget behind it and you can tell – the zombies themselves are fairly low detail, while elements of the environment and voice acting performances could use some work, but as a super solid, action-packed take on the genre that Left 4 Dead founded, you could certainly do worse.
What are you favorite janky games? Let us know in the comments!