Time for some controversy!
Here is a short list of games which I have played that were sold as the greatest thing, like, EVER and which not only failed to ascend the Ziggurat of Excellence, but just barely managed to reach the top of the Staircase of Mundane and Pedestrian.
I don’t have much to add to what I’ve already said about the game. It’s a very modest, linear, by-the-numbers RPG with a lot of visual polish, but the hype on the box makes it sound like this is some sort of revolution in freeform roleplaying. Not even close.
For a long time I thought the problem with Oblivion was that it was just unfinished, and that if they had bothered to kill the bugs and make the graphics engine work as advertised the game would have been great. Looking back, I see that the game was broken at a more fundamental level. It’s just that the bugs and graphical problems masked the deep, underlying design flaws.
Auto-leveling loot and monsters neutered the level-building aspects of the game. The voice acting (instead of text-based interactions) limited the depth of dialog, and made sure you heard the same handful of voices no matter were you went or who you spoke to. The main plot was so bland someone actually introduced a mod to get rid of it. The one strong point of the game – a huge, sprawling sandbox world – was glossed over by letting the player teleport around the map via the auto-travel.
Bugs aside, this game was not awful, but it also wasn’t the ground-breaking Game of the Year everyone made it out to be. If it hadn’t been a descendant of the beloved Morrowwind and a benefactor of a good bit of hype, I think it would have gotten the treatment it deserved: A nice effort that failed to meet the standards set by earlier titles.
Mix some ingenious pet AI with a “Real-Time Strategy” game with no strategy and a glacial pace. The result? A terrible RTS game with an amusing minigame. Certainly not a revolution.
Take a game with “realistic” damage (meaning the player can be killed by a single well-placed shot) and unrealistic enemy numbers (the Lone Player vs. an entire camp of edgy mercenaries) and you have a recipe for some really punishing gameplay. As icing on the cake, give it a checkpoint-based save system instead of letting the player save when they want. Thanks Ubisoft, but couldn’t you have just shot me once, for real, rather than make me suffer through the eight or nine thousand virtual deaths required to get to the end of this ridiculous pageant of clichés and abominable voice acting?
It’s about as sophisticated as Serious Sam, with the key difference that Serious Sam is played for laughs, while Far Cry takes itself too… uh, seriously. It makes Resident Evil look like a Tom Clancy technothriller in comparison.
Yes, it was pretty. But those mountains aren’t going to be nearly as enthralling the tenth time you scale them and get sniped a few feet from the top. I’ll take “fun” over “pretty” any day.
“Maybe you just suck”, says the fanboi.
Yeah. Maybe this game is just too awesome for me to know how to enjoy it. That must be it.
The ultimate in overhyped mediocrity. Here we have a story-driven shooter with a threadbare story. (Actually, I’ve read that the lore of Halo is quite deep and fulfilling, but you have to read the novels if you want to see it.) The story as presented within the game was predictable and boring. The characters were two-dimensional. Their dialog was used as a crude expositional device that depended on the player’s inability to ask obvious questions to deliver its “dramatic” payload.
The ability to carry just two weapons limited the tactical choices the player could make in any given firefight. It also meant that players could only make sound choices on what weapons to carry once they had played through the game and knew what was ahead. Finally, the limited weapon selection negated the ability to stockpile the “good stuff” for big fights. The weapon balance was absurd and counter-intuitive, with the pistol being a better sniping weapon than the actual sniper rifle. And finally, the other type of resource management – the supply of health & armor – was removed from the game with the addition of the auto-recharging shield.
The gameworld was made up of uninteresting, generic scenery. The interior spaces said nothing about the culture that built them. The locations are just miles of corridors with no discernable details or purpose. What kind of aliens are these? Don’t they have to eat? Sleep? Use computers? Sit down? Don’t they have something to do when they aren’t standing in barren rooms guarding crates?
This is “combat evolved”? Who are they kidding? This is Wolfenstein, but with less variety.
Yes, the outdoor areas were very pretty, and I’ve heard online play was a blast, but this game didn’t deserve a fraction of the hype it received. This was a lackluster shooter with a huge advertising budget and delusions of adequacy.
(I’m sure I’ll get many people who disagree with the above list. That’s fine. Do be polite about it though. Whenever I slam Halo I always get a few subliterate ankle-biters who defend their chosen game with personal insults and verbal ineptitude. Those comments have a lifespan measured in minutes, so if you feel the white-hot surge of rage prompting you to call me a “totel fag” then you should probably not waste the copious time it will require to compose your rejoinder.)
So what did I miss? What other games scored high reviews and failed to live up to the hype once you brought them home?
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This is a horrible narrative that undermines the hobby through crass stereotypes. The hobby is vast, gamers come from all walks of life, and you shouldn't judge ANY group by its worst members.
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