This week saw the sad end of an era as THQ’s assets were finally sold off at auction. While many of the licenses, franchises and development teams found new homes, there were a few that are still holding out hope for a lifeline.
Amongst all the misery, there have been numerous reminders of some of the great times THQ games have provided over the years. So here’s my tribute to some of the best games I’ve played from THQ over the years on this generation of consoles.
The last Saints Row game was one of the most outrageously fun games to play on this generation of consoles. GTAIV was a miserably dull affair, leaving Volition free to sweep in with ridiculous missions, fantastic drift handling for the cars, an excellent create-a-character mode and a huge set of skills to level up along with tonnes of challenges and milestones to reach.
Making an open world game that you want players to keep coming back to? This is the benchmark right here. Let’s just hope new owners Koch/Deep Silver don’t mess it up like they did with their last marketing stunt.
The annual WWE releases haven’t performed as well this generation as they have in the past thanks to a combination of dull stars, aging game engines and even new engines that still felt stiff and unresponsive. Then came along WWE All-Stars, packing a fantastic roster blending the Superstars of yesteryear with modern ones.
A return to a more arcadey gameplay style was also most welcome. Over-exaggerated super moves and finishers, simple controls and an enthusiastic cartoony interpretation of each wrestler made this a fantastic steroid munching multiplayer blast. Sod the annual versions; this is what should be getting a sequel.
De Blob 2
Platfomers have died a horrible death this generation, particularly on consoles. Chances are the last few you played were movie tie-ins or LittleBigPlanet, the latter of which is downright terrible at basic jumping despite the impressive creative side. De Blob 2 splashed onto consoles in 2011 with a rainbow bright selection of colours, providing a great game for gamers of any age.
You were able to colour in the game world – considerably more fun than your average kid’s colouring book. Even adults with a compulsive desire to master each stage and leave every surface perfectly coated were catered for. Or it was great for just plodding through with a weekend hangover on the couch unable to deal with the loud noises your other games bark out.
If I’m honest, the Darksiders series makes it onto this list still riding the coat-tails of potential. Improvements were made to the second game, with Death being a far better character to play as thanks to a more kinetic and fluid fighting style than his brother, War. Collecting loot and feeding unwanted items to possessed weapons was an inspired touch also. Yet the two games have always felt slightly lacking, with one blatant omission stopping them from reaching greatness… co-op.
You can’t build a game around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and not have them riding out together. In recent days, members of Vigil have tweeted that this was possibly going to happen and speaking to them at MCM Manchester Comic Com last year they said that they were looking towards the next-generation of consoles to realise this dream.
While no buyers picked up Vigil at the recent auction, we’re excited by Platinum Games’ interest in the company and the Darksiders brand. Darksiders III, by Platinum ‘Bayonetta’ Games? You’re fucking damn right we’ll have some of that.
Like so many of THQ’s games this gen, Homefront promised much, came close even, but ultimately fell short of expectations. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a great time playing the game. Inspired by the film Red Dawn and penned by the same writer, the game portrayed an often harrowing picture of a near-future invasion by North Korean forces into a poorly prepared America.
With Jack Bauer retired, it’s up to you as Jim Nobody to take on the invaders. With solid weapon handling supported by drones and various vehicles, the campaign was a blast to play once it started gathering momentum. Although, it sadly ended just as you were gearing up for something epic.
The multiplayer was excellent though, making any disappointments about the single-player short-lived. Shunning the COD killstreak approach that stops players being able to enjoy any fancy extras if they couldn’t get multiple kills in a row, Homefront sported a points system that allowed everyone to build up points to unlock fun remote controlled drones, vehicles and strikes. Even MW3 borrowed heavily from this system it was so good.
At least the series has survived, with Crytek snapping up the rights seeing as they were already developing the sequel. They’ll make it look gorgeous, but fingers crossed it plays better than the decidedly average Crysis 2.
Red Faction (series)
Here’s a series you can’t accuse of releasing the same old game every time. Originally FPS games on the PS2, this generation saw the series transform into a third-person action game. One took place on the surface of Mars and the next went deep underground to take on hordes of bloodthirsty aliens.
One thing has always been key throughout the series though. Destruction! This series loves smashing things to bits. Early on it was walls and office cubicles, then this generation gave you a hammer and invited you to smash whole buildings down to the ground. And the magnet gun, holy shit, the goddamn magnet gun. Using the magnetic tether to smash buildings, barrels, crates, rocks and aliens together was a fantastic addition to the series for Red Faction: Armageddon.
THQ had admitted they were taking a break from the series long before their financial troubles began, but hopefully a new owner will see some potential in the Red Faction brand and take us back to Mars to see how the Masons and Martians are getting along. Poorly we’re hoping.
Dawn of War II? No thanks, we like our war up close and personal. Chainsaw attached to guns personal. Surrounded by third-person cover shooters, Space Marine charged onto consoles with a hard-on for messing up some Space Orc giblets.
Relic really nailed the weighty feel of a rampaging Space Marine and the weapons were suitably vicious against huge numbers of enemies. The game wasn’t helped by the online mode being broken on PS3 for the first few weeks, which was a huge shame as once I got to actually play it, I realised it was pretty damn good. Especially just smashing your way about with a huge hammer.
Relic are now with Sega. Hopefully they won’t be told to solely concentrate on the strategy titles as we wouldn’t mind getting our hands dirty again before getting back into our armchair general role.
So that’s my list. Looking back over some of my old reviews a lot of these games have ‘only’ scored 7/10, perhaps a sad sign of why THQ couldn’t quite get some of these games where they wanted. So many of their best games were merely good rather than great. Big companies today need a steady stream of metacritic-riding sales behemoths. I’m confident that some of the above brands will survive and maybe go on to great things. Sadly, they will not be under the THQ banner. For me though, I’ve had some great times with THQ games and am very sad to see them go.
And so ends an era. How about you, readers? What THQ games did you enjoy over the years?