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The 5 Best And 5 Worst PlayStation Launch Titles Ever

The launch of a gaming console is a period of uncertainty for all parties involved. Take gamers, for instance. They won't know what to expect from a console's hardware — what it can do, how it performs — until they can get their mitts on it. Developers, meanwhile, won't have a mastery console's unique quirks and shortcomings just yet, which can result in spotty early titles full of technical hiccups and undercooked mechanics. Even companies like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are left in the dark at launch, eagerly awaiting consumers' feedback.

Still, while the video game industry has seen its share of console launch horror stories, it's rare for the biggest names in the gaming industry to produce an utter flop. And while cutting-edge hardware plays a major role in console war supremacy, launch titles can make or break a gaming system's sales.

Save for a handful of bumps in the road, Sony has managed to remain pretty consistent when it comes to the quality of its consoles — and the games that launch alongside them. That said, every rose has its thorns — and some of Sony's thorns are pretty dang sharp. These are the five best and five worst PlayStation launch titles.

Best: Armored Core 2 (PS2)

Though the golden age of mecha-maiming mayhem may have come and gone, games like FromSoftware's Armored Core 2 will forever represent the best that the oft-neglected subgenre had to offer on past-gen consoles. A PlayStation 2 launch title in 2000, Armored Core 2 gave players a plethora of missions to undertake and enemy mechs to blow to smithereens. The game also built upon what made the series' previous entry work — both graphically and from a gameplay perspective. But, by far, Armored Core 2's greatest achievement is the sheer level of customization it afforded to players. 

According to a review by IGN's David Smith, the game's customization system boasted "arms, legs, bodies, boosters, generators, radar, fire-control systems, and weapons galore to mix and match into thousands of different configurations." In the same review, Smith also confessed that, despite feeling underwhelmed by the game's antiquated control scheme, "Armored Core 2 packs so many options and so many missions and so much ability to create that I can't ignore how much it does well."

Worst: Eternal Ring (PS2)

FromSoftware has been putting out a consistent string of games since 1994, starting with the slow, ugly Japan-only PlayStation exclusive King's Field. While some of the company's pre-"Soulsborne" titles have been successful — like the previously mentioned Armored Core 2 — others have not. Enter Eternal Ring, another FromSoftware PlayStation 2 launch title.

Armored Core 2 took the bones that made its predecessor fun and turned them into something superior. Eternal Ring, meanwhile, utilized the early '90s dungeon-crawler, action-RPG foundation upon which the King's Field games were built. Then it sped things up to 60 frames-per-second, chucked some magical rings and an uninteresting protagonist into the mix, and expected players to care.

Not only that, but its controls were as antiquated as its gameplay. Although the DualShock controller boasted analog sticks, the game didn't make use of them. According to Hot Games' review of Eternal Ring, without analog control, "there just aren't enough buttons left to control this game properly."

The same review puts the painful truth about Eternal Ring bluntly: "This feels like what it is – a rushed, early RPG that didn't receive the time or care needed to turn it into a fun game."

Ouch.

Best: Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3)

Take a hefty helping of Call of Duty's bleak, bullet-strewn vibes, toss in a generous dollop of TimeSplitters' fast-paced shoot-em-up gameplay, and sprinkle the whole shebang with a handful of War of the Worlds alien invasion terror. That's Resistance: Fall of Man in a nutshell, for ya. It's the PlayStation 3's definitive "greater than the sum of its parts" experience — and critics went cuckoo for it.

Developed by Insomniac — the studio responsible for beloved PlayStation exclusives like Ratchet and Clank and Marvel's Spider-Man — 2006's Resistance: Fall of Man is one of the few PS3 launch titles to garner near-universal critical acclaim. In fact, G4TV gave Resistance a perfect 5/5 score. Its conclusion? "Resistance is an exceptional example of what makes good games good, the synthesis of several well developed elements into one seamless whole that never distracts you from the action and excitement and doesn't use up it's bag of tricks early..."

Echoing these sentiments, GamePro went as far as to write, "It's easily the best PS3 game available on launch day, and a highly playable action game that will satisfy even the most demanding FPS junkies."

Worst: Total Eclipse Turbo (PS1)

There's nothing inherently wrong with porting last-gen games to current-gen consoles. Look at how many freaking times you bought Skyrim since it originally dropped in 2011. But Bethesda's sprawling open-world RPG had the benefit of releasing in the age of high-definition — meaning it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to slap some pretty new textures onto pre-existing models before passing go, collecting billions, and calling it a day.

Do you know what little title didn't have that luxury, though? Total Eclipse Turbo, a 1995 PlayStation launch title that started its life on the ill-fated 3DO as the slightly less turbo Total Eclipse

While the original incarnation of Total Eclipse was praised for its technical presentation, critics felt that it was a rather generic outing that was missing something that made similar titles, like Star Fox, more successful: namely, fun. To make matters worse, when it was ported to the PlayStation at the console's launch, it boasted little — if any — graphical and gameplay enhancements. As IGN wrote, "Sure the polygons are texture-mapped and all that, but the bland landscapes get old fast," concluding, "Add to that a poor control configuration and you've got a recipe for a pretty forgettable game."

Best: Rayman (PS1)

In an era where 3D was all the rage, a game like Rayman almost seemed like a step backwards. After all, both the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo had hosted their fair share of cutesy, cartoony, and all-around kid-friendly two-dimensional characters occupying the side-scroller genre. And yet, Ubisoft's unassuming little 2D platformer, Rayman, went on to spawn a bevy of sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and everything in between.

These days, if players want punishment, they turn to Dark Souls. But in the mid-90s, Rayman was notorious for its merciless gameplay. In fact, if it weren't for the game's wacky characters, rich palette, and earworm of a soundtrack, the title's frustrating mechanics might have turned early PlayStation gamers off for good. In a retro review, PushSquare's Jamie O'Neill wrote, "The entire game is intentionally designed around deadly falls, distant checkpoints, instant kill spikes, and pixel perfect jumps or swings on to tiny disappearing platforms."

Rayman wasn't the kind of side-scrolling platformer to hold gamers' hands. O'Neill described its difficulty as "a persistent impeding wall rather than a gradual difficulty curve." However, the title is fondly remembered for rewarding those willing to learn its quirks and adapt to its challenges.

Worst: Knack (PS4)

There are some things that even the most jaded gamer couldn't have predicted. One of those things is the fact that a PS4 launch title developed by PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny just so happened to bomb harder than that nuke at the opening of Fallout 4.

Knack, released in 2013, had a lot of things going for it. For one, it showed off the then-new PS4's graphical abilities by bringing particle effects into the new generation as Knack lost and gained the Relics that made up his ever-transforming body. According to GameSpot, the alchemically birthed Knack is likened at times to Frankenstein's monster, with the ability to ruminate on his own existence, making an unexpectedly sympathetic protagonist. And, again: It was directed by Mark freaking Cerny, the PlayStation veteran responsible for orchestrating the system architectures of the PS Vita, PS4, and PS5.

And yet, coupled with a refreshingly family-friendly plot and gorgeous environments, Knack's pros just couldn't outweigh its cons — specifically, a surprisingly intense difficulty level, lackluster combat mechanics, and repetitive gameplay. Even its 2017 sequel, which garnered moderately higher reviews, sadly couldn't save the Knack name from becoming synonymous with "Meh."

Best: Tekken Tag Tournament (PS2)

File this one under, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

One of gaming's most popular fighting game franchises, the Tekken series combines a superbly deep combat system with famously balanced characters and some of the wackiest cutscenes this side of the land of the rising sun. The Namco-developed fighting franchise has long been celebrated as one of the most accessible yet complex button-mashers out there. The fourth entry in the series, 2000's Tekken Tag Tournament, stands out as one of the franchise's most memorable titles — though not because it really changed much. On the contrary, it took what made the Tekken games work and improved on those aspects.

As GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann explained, "Tekken Tag is a very warm homecoming, delivering the same solid gameplay that Tekken fans crave in large doses."

Tekken Tag Tournament didn't do much to revolutionize the type of gameplay its precursors introduced, but it was noteworthy for a couple of reasons. As its name implies, the arcade-turned-PS2 launch title introduced tag battles, which switched up gameplay just enough to appeal to long-time players. It also bumped its arcade counterpart's graphics way, way up. Kicking butt in Mishima Zaibatsu's King of Iron Fist Tournament never looked — or felt — so good.

Worst: Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire (PS3)

Video game adaptations of TV shows are a finicky bunch. And while the long-running Gundam series is frequently the exception to this rule, having spawned a number of successful titles in its long-running stint on video game consoles, it's dropped a few stinkers along the way. Although, given the fact that the Gundam series is a massive mecha anime franchise stretching all the way back to the late '70s, a few missteps are par for the course.

One of the worst offenders of the bunch has got to be the PS3 launch title, Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire. Despite having a pretty rad name — and, like most Gundam games, letting players leap into the cockpits of giant, all-powerful robots — the game itself suffered from boring gameplay, outdated graphics, and an overall sense of blandness. IGN's Juan Castro particularly took fault with how archaic the title felt, despite being a launch title — and thereby being tasked with showcasing the PS3's potential. He wrote, "Crossfire looks like a work-in-progress. It does next to nothing to demonstrate the power of the PS3," adding, "it simply fails as an action game for the next-generation, or any other for that matter."

Best: SSX (PS2)

Save for denim-based fashion travesties and those totally awesome iMac G3s, there's nothing more "early 2000s" than extreme sports. And no PS2 launch title better exemplified the West's obsession with all things fast and furious than EA Canada's 2000 snowboarding game SSX. GameSpot even called SSX a, "terrific snowboarding game that has all the right stuff," adding that, "every element comes together and makes for a game that is extremely fun and rewarding to play."

And, guess what? It really is as simple as that. SSX was great to look at — with awesome levels and lively character models that took advantage of the PS2's then-revolutionary technology — and fun to play. IGN's review applauded the way that the game balanced speed and showmanship, writing, "SSX is a brilliant blend of fast-paced racing with high-flying trick performing, blended together so beautifully that it has produced a game that feels completely original and in a class all of its own."

All in all, SSX reinforced what Sony console fans were hoping for: That the next generation was all about juggling frenetic fun and gorgeous graphics to produce an experience worthy of the PlayStation name.

Worst: Street Fighter: The Movie (PS1)

Every generation has its golden turd, a video game so reviled that it transcends its crappiness to become something of a cult classic amongst the masochistic masses. The Atari 2600 had E.T., a title relegated to literal landfills; the SNES had Ballz, though the less said about that one, the better; and the PlayStation had — drum roll, please! — Street Fighter: The Movie.

Yes, someone thought it'd be a good idea to adapt a video game into a movie (something that always works out), and then proceed to adapt said movie back into a video game. The result? A bare bones roster of fighters to choose from and graphics and animations unnerving at their best and straight-up ugly at their worst. To make matters worse, according to YouTuber and bad video game historian Matt McMuscles, actors like Jean-Claude Van Damme even made a habit of mispronouncing the names of iconic moves like "hadouken." 

The arcade version of the game bombed — hard. And while the Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions of the game were prettied up with improved graphics and re-recorded audio, they were ultimately met with similar disapproval from critics and fans.