Ubisoft is one of the biggest names in gaming, and it all started with humble farmers. The Guillemot family sold farming equipment to the farmers of northwest France and the United Kingdom. After attending university, the family’s five sons – Christian, Claude, Gérard, Michel, and Yves – began diversifying the company’s business, and they began selling CDs, computer software, and video games along with the farming equipment. The sons eventually split from the family farming business and started their own mail-order company centered around computers and software. They called it Guillemot Informatique, and they became successful by undercutting rival retailers by up to 50%.
After recognizing the value of video games, the brothers decided to start developing their own games (rather than merely publish and distribute others’). Thus, Ubi Soft (as it was then called – standing for “ubiquitous software”) was officially founded in March of 1986.
Since that time, Ubisoft has developed an… interesting reputation. Many of their games have been praised for their overall quality and outstanding contribution to the medium of gaming. For example, games like Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell started their own franchises and revolutionized the stealth genre. Unfortunately, many of their games are of terrible quality, and the company’s reputation has taken a major hit in recent years. The Ubisoft brand is now synonymous with rushed games, recycled concepts, and greedy business practices.
But that’s a very black-and-white way of looking at things. Yes, Ubisoft has created and published some real duds, but they’ve also given us some of the biggest names in gaming. These are twenty of their very worst games, and ten of their very best.
30 Worst: Call Of Juarez: The Cartel (Metacritic: 47)
Call of Juarez: The Cartel took the Western-themed series to modern day Los Angeles and Mexico, but the interesting change of locale couldn’t distract from the bland game at the core. No, it wasn’t the worst or the cheapest video game of all time, but it stank of mediocrity and a general lack of care and polish. If that wasn’t all, the game was also criticized for being racist, with James Portnow of Extra Credits calling it “the most racist game [he’s] ever played.”
29 Best: Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30 (Metacritic: 88)
Road to Hill 30 was published by Ubisoft and developed by Borderlands’ Gearbox Software. And it is probably the best World War II video game ever made. At a time when the WWII genre was quickly growing stale, Brothers in Arms shook things up by having the player command their squad. The focus on tactics and team management helped it stand out from the overcrowded pack, and the story added some surprising, yet warmly welcomed, emotional depth. This was a WWII shooter for adults and thinkers.
28 Worst: Disney’s Dinosaur (Metacritic: 44)
Remember that Disney movie Dinosaur? No? No one else does, either. Well, Ubisoft published a tie-in video game, and it was just as lazy and uninspired as most movie tie-in video games. Maybe even more so. It was originally released for the Game Boy Color, but Ubisoft took the development reigns for the PC and PS2 releases, each of which were lambasted by critics. The game was just a cheap and unengaging mess that was clearly meant to capitalize on Disney’s success, game quality be darned.
27 Best: Silent Hunter III (Metacritic: 90)
Ubisoft Bucharest oversaw the development of Silent Hunter III, a submarine simulator (yes, that’s a thing) that saw players engaging in the Battle of the Atlantic. The game welcomed both newcomers and submarine experts with its fluid difficulty levels, and its level of immersion was next to none. If you ever wanted to feel like a helpless submarine captain in the middle of the most dangerous conflict in human history (why wouldn’t you?), then this is your game. It really gets the blood pumpin’.
26 Worst: The Legend Of Alon D’Ar (Metacritic: 43)
You know what doesn’t get the blood pumpin’? The Legend of Alon D’Ar. "What is that," you ask? If you must know, it was an RPG developed by Stormfront Studios and published by Ubisoft, and it was thoroughly mediocre, bordering on bad. It was clearly meant to capitalize on the success of Final Fantasy, even going so far as to “borrow” the Active Time Battle gameplay mechanic. However, like most Final Fantasy clones, it was an utter bore without a fraction of that series’ quality or effort.
25 Best: Trials Evolution: Gold Edition (Metacritic: 85)
Trials Evolution was originally released for the Xbox Arcade in 2012 before being ported to the PC where it was published by Ubisoft. This port was called Trials Evolution: Gold Edition, and it also included all the content from 2009’s Trials HD. It didn’t really do anything new, but those who never owned an Xbox found a lot to like with the Gold Edition. It was the same old Trials Evolution, only with a fresh coat of paint and some extra content. What’s not to like?
24 Worst: The Smurfs 2 (Metacritic: 42)
Yes, it’s another movie tie-in. And yes, it’s even worse than Dinosaurs. The Smurfs 2 was a platformer that involved the typical running and jumping, only it was totally uninspired and boring. We can’t be too harsh on it, seeing as how it was made primarily for children, but there are NUMEROUS quality platformers out there for them to play. Heck, just pop in one of the million Mario games. Young video game players deserve, and want, more thoughtful games than this cheap cash grab.
23 Best: Far Cry 3 (Metacritic: 91)
The prior Far Cry games were certainly entertaining, but Far Cry 3 elevated the series into the stratosphere of gaming. Nearly every aspect of the game was praised in some degree (except maybe its multiplayer component), with its vast open world and freedom of gameplay earning particular attention. In fact, it was so successful that Ubisoft is still milking it and mirroring its general design over five years later. Even the most ardent Ubisoft critics can’t deny the impact of Far Cry 3. It’s a classic.
22 Worst: America’s Army: True Soldiers (Metacritic: 43)
This video game has quite an interesting story behind it. In fact, the story is far more interesting than the game itself. It’s a spin-off of America’s Army, an FPS-developing platform that was published by the United States Army. It served as the country’s first digital recruitment tool, as players could experience life in the army to determine if they were a good fit. Creator Casey Wardynski says it “provide[d] the public a virtual soldier experience that was engaging, informative, and entertaining.” More entertaining than True Soldiers, anyway. That was trash.
21 Best: Assassin’s Creed II (Metacritic: 91)
Assassin’s Creed II is just like Far Cry 3 (although it’s technically the other way around, seeing as how AC came first). The first Assassin’s Creed was certainly entertaining, but its sequel shattered all expectations and helped launch a decade-defining (and increasingly frustrating) franchise. Every facet of the game was exceptional, from its stealth-based gameplay to its interesting characters and narrative to its incredible recreation of Renaissance Italy. It’s one of the defining titles of the seventh generation, and arguably one of the greatest video games of all time.
20 Worst: Planet Of The Apes (Metacritic: 41)
You know who was excited for a Planet of the Apes video game? No one, that’s who. The game was developed by Visiware and co-published by Ubisoft and Fox Interactive. It was meant to tie into the 2001 remake, but internal issues delayed it by a whole month. Whoopsie. That may have been forgiven if the game was actually good, but it wasn’t. The gameplay was rudimentary, the environments repetitive and boring, and the screen movement actually made a few players feel sick. That’s never a good sign.
19 Best: Rayman Origins (Metacritic: 92)
Rayman has always been one of Ubisoft’s defining franchises, and Rayman Origins helped bring it into the 2010s. It was the first Rayman game in eight years (following 2003’s Rayman 3), and it reminded everyone that Rayman was, in fact, a thing. Like any good platformer, the levels were gorgeous, intricate, and a ton of fun to run through and experience. The game’s lighthearted tone and wacky sense of humor also gave it a unique personality that helped distinguish it from similar platformers.
18 Worst: MotionSports (Metacritic: 40)
Do you guys remember that Kinect thing? Yeah, it was an utter travesty, and so was MotionSports. MotionSports was Ubisoft’s attempt at capitalizing on the Kinect’s technology, and it played a lot like Wii Sports (which beat it by about five years). Well, it TRIED to play like Wii Sports, but it wasn’t nearly as fun. If we’re being kind, we’d say that the gameplay was boring, and the controls were… unresponsive. Add in some truly bizarre mini-games like horseback riding and you have a game that paled in comparison to its contemporaries.
17 Best: Rayman Legends (Metacritic: 92)
Just when you thought Rayman couldn’t get any better, Ubisoft went and gave us Rayman Legends. Rayman Legends was polished to perfection, each stage bettering the previous in terms of complexity, creativity, and overall design. It also continued the series’ unique charms and lighthearted personality, solidifying Rayman’s place in the future Museum of Platformers. It was one of the Wii U’s best games (not that that’s saying much), and it rivaled anything that Nintendo had put out. What a masterpiece.
16 Worst: CSI: Fatal Conspiracy (Metacritic: 39)
Just read that title – CSI: Fatal Conspiracy. Does that sound like a good game to you? To the surprise of absolutely no one, it wasn’t. Interestingly, the game could have been a hit – it was developed by Telltale Games, it starred Laurence Fishburne, and a handful of the show’s writers penned the script. Unfortunately, the game failed to capitalize on its individual parts. It was just like every other second-rate crime-solving adventure game, complete with surprisingly bad graphics and writing. It’s a shame, because the CSI franchise has a ton of potential.
15 Best: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Metacritic: 92)
Is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time the best platforming game ever? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s easily one of the most innovative. The key gameplay mechanic is the Prince’s Dagger of Time, which allows him to rewind time in order to correct mistakes. If you fall in Mario, you game over. If you fall here, you can literally rewind the game so you don’t. It was mind boggling stuff. It was also exceptionally produced, featuring gorgeous music, stunning visuals, and some of the best physics of the time.
14 Worst: Pure Futbol (Metacritic: 38)
Pure Futbol was Ubisoft’s attempt at making a football game. They should never make another football game. They tried to deviate from the established FIFA pack by making it arcade-y, similar to the classic NBA Street series, but no one told them that they also had to make it functional. The AI was horrible (like unintentionally kicking the ball out of bounds), and the shooting/passing mechanic was laborious and unintuitive. Sorry guys, but there’s more to arcade games than just being goofy.
13 Best: Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Metacritic: 93)
Ubisoft Milan and Ubisoft Shanghai took the reigns for Pandora Tomorrow, and the results were extraordinary. The campaign was basically an expansion of the first Splinter Cell, only with a nice visual upgrade, a tighter story, and some welcomed quality-of-life changes, but it was the groundbreaking multiplayer component that really shined. It was unlike anything we had seen or experienced at the time, and it made us all appreciate the magnificence of Xbox Live. With Pandora Tomorrow, we saw the future. And it was glorious.
12 Worst: The Sum Of All Fears (Metacritic: 36)
The Sum of All Fears was based on that 2002 movie that no one remembers, and it was Ubisoft’s attempt at publishing a Rainbow Six clone. Players controlled a 3-man squad and could switch between them at any time. Unlike the vastly superior Rainbow Six, players carried out pre-planned missions and could only choose from established equipment packages. It was lame. Add in poor production values like the terrible AI and ugly graphics, and you have yet another cheap movie tie-in that excited absolutely no one.
11 Best: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (Metacritic: 94)
While Ubisoft Milan and Shanghai were working on Pandora Tomorrow, Ubisoft Montreal was creating the masterpiece that is Chaos Theory. Chaos Theory is arguably the peak of both Ubisoft and the Splinter Cell series. The gameplay finally opened up and accounted for player freedom, which of course made it far more accessible than the other games in the series. That said, it also retained the series’ signature DNA, and the formula had been polished to perfection. With Chaos Theory, Ubisoft created an all-time classic.
10 Worst: Grey’s Anatomy: The Video Game (Metacritic: 36)
Believe it or not, they actually made a Grey’s Anatomy video game. You played as the characters from the TV show, and, like a Telltale game, you had to make various choices in both the professional and personal lives of the characters. This being Grey’s Anatomy, you also completed various mini-games centered around “intense” surgical procedures. However, the choices didn’t matter, and the mini-games were total garbage that provided zero amounts of fun and required few brain cells to complete. Grey’s Anatomy was DOA.
9 Worst: NCIS (Metacritic: 35)
Ubisoft has a thing for adapting network dramas. They also have a thing for putting zero effort into them. This game’s voice actors are stiff (and working on a third-rate script), and the gameplay requires little more thought than pointing and clicking. Point-and-click adventure games can be fun, provided they’re well written and intelligently designed. NCIS is neither. It’s a game meant to be purchased for $5 at a thrift store and given to your grandmother to help her pass the time.
8 Worst: Gold And Glory: The Road to El Dorado (Metacritic: 34)
The Road to El Dorado is a criminally underrated movie. The game tie-in is an utter travesty that does nothing to help the movie’s reputation. Nearly every facet of this game was laughable, and it resulted in a nearly unplayable disaster. The animations were choppy and the game ran like garbage, often dropping to startlingly low frame rates. The “puzzles” were painfully stupid and simplistic. And the controls were confusing, resulting in unimaginable frustration. This game deserves to be lost and forgotten, much like El Dorado itself.
7 Worst: The Expendables 2 (Metacritic: 32)
How could Ubisoft so royally mess up an Expendables video game? The game served as a prequel to The Expendables 2, although the story added nothing of interest to the series’ overall mythology (and now we’re talking about the mythology of The Expendables…) It also somehow managed to bungle basic first-person shooting mechanics, which is the ONE THING we ask for in a video game based on The Expendables. We weren’t expecting Halo or anything, but this was just embarrassing.
6 Worst: Fighters Uncaged (32)
Fighters Uncaged was another game meant to launch the Kinect. It may have sunk it. Players control a fighter named Simon as he brawls his way through an illegal underground fighting tournament. Only, “brawls” isn’t the right word. More like “stands there awkwardly while his human controller desperately flails around in the hopes of inputting a command.” Seriously, the controls were completely broken, and we’d be surprised if anyone made it past the tutorial. It wasn’t a great first impression for the Kinect, that’s for sure.
5 Worst: Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker (Metacritic: 24)
This game was a tragedy. It’s based on the classic Batman Beyond TV series and movie, both of which have been praised as some of the best Batman material to ever grace our imaginative brains. The video game was a big heaping of disappointment. It was ripped straight from 1986 – the gameplay consisted of nothing but simplistic side-scrolling fighting, and both the graphics and audio design were primitive and ugly. Batman Beyond brought us back to the 80s, but not in a cool, nostalgic Stranger Things kind of way.
4 Worst: Fighter Within (Metacritic: 23)
We’re starting to see a pattern between Ubisoft, fighting games, the Kinect, and launches. Fighters Uncaged was a travesty that was meant to launch the Kinect. And Fighter Within was a travesty that was meant to launch the Xbox One. Surely you all remember Fighter Within? It was universally panned for its terrible Kinect functionality and shallow gameplay (sounds familiar), and it was a complete and utter embarrassment of a launch title. The Xbox One was already on thin ice. This caused the ice to crack and break.
3 Worst: Charlie’s Angels (Metacritic: 23)
Tie-ins are generally bad, but Charlie’s Angels is on another level of badness. It makes Grey’s Anatomy look like a masterpiece. Charlie’s Angels was poorly designed from every conceivable angle, almost as if the developers took a vacation and had the unexperienced interns take their place. The gameplay was headache-inducing, as it combined sloppy controls with an unreliable camera. The “levels” were bland and uninspired. The animations and graphics were ripped straight from 1995. And the voice acting was just…gah. No. Just no.
2 Worst: Hooters Road Trip (Metacritic: 22)
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, in comes Hooters Road Trip. The game plays a lot like Cruisin’ USA in that you race through various distinct locales scattered across the United States. And each locale features a Hooters and smiling Hooters waitresses. Why? We don’t know. Marketing or something? The game played, looked, and sounded like absolute doo-doo, but you knew that already. You’d have a much better time going down to your local Hooters. They have chicken wings.
1 Worst: Self-Defense Training Camp (Metacritic: 21)
It makes sense that we conclude this list with yet another terrible Kinect fighting game. Amazingly, Ubisoft actually claimed that this game would “help players develop the self-confidence they need to react more efficiently when facing troublesome situations.” By flailing your arms and legs against an invisible opponent in front of the TV. That nonsense might be overlooked if the game was fun. It wasn’t. Everything about it stunk. Spend the money on real self-defense training and use your skills to kick this game into the next township.