A Matter of Perspective

Have you ever played a game that you just loathed? Why, exactly, did you dislike the game? Did you legitimately hate the experience, or did user feedback and reviews taint your opinion? I recently finished Kane And Lynch: Dead Men and I’m a bit confused about the whole thing.

Honestly speaking, nothing is broken in the game. I wouldn’t go out of my way to call it a good game, but I had a few decent hours of enjoyment with my friend Jim. We laughed at how stupid the dialog was and even how crappy the graphics were. We yelled at the inability to skip cutscenes, especially when they were linked to checkpoints.

More importantly, though, neither of us could figure out why there was so much hate for the game. This is really the game that got Jeff Gerstmann fired? Why did GameSpot even care? I understand a 6 out of 10 isn’t glowing, but nothing in the game is offensive in its design.

I really do believe that a lot of the hate comes from the controversy surrounding it. Not only that, but people have heard the game is bad so, suddenly, everything is bad about it. I’ve heard a sentiment like that echoed to me when seeing films with friends. If you go in expecting the movie to be garbage, you usually leave hating the film.

I’ve now been thinking about a lot of games I previously condemned. Maybe they weren’t all that bad? I have been an ardent speaker against the quality of Halo, but what if those games truly aren’t terrible? I even enjoyed Halo: Reach, so there obviously is something to the formula that I like.

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Maybe something like Duke Nukem Forever isn’t even that bad. I remember despising every second of that game, but what if I just tempered my resolve by soaking in the negative reviews? Everyone was giving the game a 3 out of 10, so it clearly had to be the worst thing ever. Do I really want to play it again to find out?

The one game I regret not finishing is Bioshock 2. While I know for a fact that I just do not enjoy anything about it, I really think I’m not giving it a fair judgment. I wasn’t even that big of a fan of the first Bioshock game, so why did I just end up hating its sequel? I mainly found revisiting Rapture to be a squandered opportunity.

I can cite the Dynasty Warriors games as things I really like. I don’t read any kind of reviews for them and typically spend close to 100 hours with each game. They are so simple in their design and tactile in their feedback that I find it impossible to put down. The reviews wouldn’t agree with me, though.

Lollipop Chainsaw was also another game that wasn’t so warmly received. A lot of people just hate that game, though I think that has more to do with Suda51’s reputation. I managed to finish that four times in the span of three days and had a good bit of fun with it.

The Yakuza series is also something that isn’t so welcomed in the West. I believe that to be one of the best series of the last decade and a true classic in every regard. There are definitely some awkward design choices as far as controls are concerned, but getting an old-school brawler adapted to a masterfully-written plot makes up for any faults in my eyes.

As the old saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” If you truly like something enough, express that love to others. If you are venomously against it, do not be afraid to speak your mind. Progress will never commence if you keep opinions to yourself. Obviously you don’t need to be harsh, but that does sometimes get the point across.

To sum this all up, I really don’t think Kane and Lynch is that bad. There are a few neat levels and the premise is really unique. I can’t speak too much about the sequel, but that’s mainly because I quit in a disgusted rage after the first hour.

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I had come to an epiphany about perspective on games and the sequel made me hate all over again. Oh, well.

Too Human

An old Blog I wrote on Gamespot that bashed Too Human. I’m not sure if I should be reposting this (it wasn’t a very timely editorial), but here goes.

My first actual article on here that won’t relate to my game playing. Anyway, this is all about Too Human and my opinions on it. I will also talk a bit about game reviewing and some personal things that have come to my attention. Do not take this as a review, because I’m not doing that here. You may enjoy Too Human, but I just want to point out things I see wrong with it.

First in order is some Too Human bashing. If anything, I think the current state of reviews are too forgiving. This game has been in development for over 10 years. The fact that this game isn’t a masterpiece means it shouldn’t be worth your time for that reason alone. You also get a ridiculous control scheme that went out when camera control became essential to game playing. The only time I’ve ever seen dual analog work in a game is with something like Geometry Wars or Ape Escape (Not to mention Ape Escape 3 and so forth suffered because of their lack of camera control).The whole dynamic cutscene thing is jarring, too. I know that it’s supposed to be a way of making you feel like you are controlling a movie, but why is it never explained. Playing the demo, I wasn’t even sure if I was supposed to move or just wait, but then my friend enlightened me to it’s existence.

The loot drops seem like a cool idea, until you realize that it happens on every single enemy. There will eventually have to be a point where you have armour so good that a small increase would make no difference. The game won’t stop giving you armour, though, so you’re going to have to deal with a loaded inventory. I’ve also seen videos where, further into the game, you are still battling the same creatures. That is just superb, what better way to bring down an RPG then to have you face the same creatures over and over. Wait, I know a better way, scale the battles. That’s right, Too Human has scaled battles. Are you too low of a level? Don’t worry, Too Human will make you win! While your level may be always on top, your health might not. None of the classes except Bio-Engineer can heal, so you eventually will have to die. This wouldn’t be that big of an issue in the game (since it automatically brings you back) if you could skip the death cutscene. It’s cool the first time you see it, but once you die around 500 times, I would assume the charm wears off.

I cannot say much for the story (since I have not played the game enough to care), but mixing Norse Gods with Cyberpunk technology is idiotic at best. Just think of a world where enemies can carry blasters but you are left with a sword. It’s like turn of the century crap that killed the Samurai. There is no plausible way to explain why someone would prefer to use a sword over a gun, either. It doesn’t help that the guns are so generic and have some auto-lock on ability. You just hold down the button and fire away. It takes any of the thinking out of battle. An RPG without a good battle system is already DOA. It could be salvaged if the melee weren’t mapped to the control stick! Why, oh why is the melee on the control stick?! You tilt it forward but you end up swinging to the left. Then, because of the auto-lock on from the guns, your character gets stuck on an enemy and just flies towards them when you swing the stick. It ends up playing like an idiotic version of Diablo.

Enough about Too Human, though. I can go on for awhile about how I hate it, but I want to address one final thing. I’ve been hanging around a kid who enjoys RPGs a little too much. He sits there and talks about how games like Legend of Dragoon were under rated. He also tried to explain to me how the combo system in that differentiated it from Final Fantasy. I can understand he enjoys RPGs, but to say the one change in a game like Legend of Dragoon makes it different is just stupid. Everything about that game is Final Fantasy, except not done to the same polish or even depth of the said titles. Just because he plays RPGs, though, he assumes his opinion is fact. This whole rant is about how gamers need to step down every now and then. I guess I am sitting here trying to explain how I am right, but my point is that, just because you play a certain genre doesn’t mean everything in that genre is amazing. You need to look at things critically for once and know when a game is actually bad. I don’t play every shooter and call it a masterpiece, such like people shouldn’t assume every RPG is a masterpiece.

Another thing, don’t take all critics seriously. While I haven’t seen a game in a long time get panned by critics without deserving it, not every single low rated game is bad. Also, not every high rated game is superb. We all need to be our own critics, but when game designers make ridiculous choices (such with Too Human), you have to realize that critics are just there pointing out blemishes.