It’s been just on 5 months since I took it upon myself to start reviewing some of the more well known gaming titles and for the most part its been pretty enjoyable. Up until about a month ago I was able to play my way through an A list title every week or two and usually got the review out the following Monday morning. They’re great blog fodder as it’s something that I’ve been passionate about for many years and they’re probably some of the easiest writing I’ve ever done. Casting an eye back over them though I see that for the most part my reviews are overwhelmingly positive with no game scoring below an 8 out of 10 and most criticisms are forgiven rather quickly. After a while I began to hope for a really bad game to cross my path so I could slam it on my blog, just for something different.
After actually seeking a bad game out it all became clear why I’d rarely ever review one, I just can’t finish the bastards.
Take for instance Bayonetta. If you’re in the business of knowing about games you would’ve likely heard of it a long time ago as the new IP title from the famous Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya which managed to achieve the coveted 40/40 score from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu. I’d heard about it a long time before the first review came out and was intrigued by the buzz that was surrounding this little known game and ended up buying myself a copy about a week after it came out. After coming off a high of finishing Assassin’s Creed II I was ready, willing and able to sink my teeth into another blockbuster title. What followed however was a cheezy, hyper-sexualized game with an impossibly proportioned librarian nymph who’s battle suit is made from her own hair which she uses to smite angels. I’ve never been much of a fan of hack and slash games but I was willing to give the game a go considering its extremely glowing reviews but after about 4 hours of game play I just couldn’t really force myself to continue playing. Sure I wanted to get my monies worth (I just paid for the equivalent of 5 movie tickets for 4 hours of entertainment, geeze) but in the end Bayonetta sits next to my PS3 gathering dust, begging me to put it out of its misery.
That’s not the only example either. In fact the majority of games that I’ve come across recently have been rather sub par when compared to the first quarters releases. Here’s a list of the games I’ve tried to play and had to put down for one reason or another:
- White Knight Chronicles: A game that haunted me for so long that nothing could stop me from buying the damn thing the second it was available. What I was greeted with when putting the disc into my PS3 was however a far cry from the image built up in my head. As it turns out WKC is a single player MMO with massive amounts of cut scenes (you don’t get to actually play the game for a good 30 mins) and all the fun of grinding and levelling. I should’ve cottoned on when they only released it for Japan initially but really when a game fails to grab me in the first couple of hours and the average playtime is about 25~30 hours I just lose all hope. This is probably why I’ve never really got into the Final Fantasy game series (apart from its horrible turn based combat system) and really if I’m going to grind any game I’m going to do it where I can chat to all my friends.
- Tomb Raider: Underworld: I got this as part of the Eidos pack I purchased mainly to get Arkham Asylum. Since I played many of the older versions of this game I thought it would be nice to revisit the jump puzzle 3rd person shooter for a little bit of nostalgia and a refreshing change to my usual diet of A list titles. What I was met with however was a buggy game that crashed no less than 6 times in an hour and would randomly fail to render the screen, leaving me with a black nothingness to stare at until I could CTRL + ALT + DEL my way out of it. I couldn’t actually play this game for more than an hour because of this although I will admit their auto-save feature is top notch, rarely losing than a few minutes of progress. That’s not enough to gloss over the fact that crashing every 10 minutes or so makes the game completely unplayable.
- Red Faction: Guerrilla: Yet another game I picked up in a pack that came with hearty recommendations from a few friends. The games core mechanic, pretty much everything is destructible, plays quite well and there’s infinite amounts of fun in smashing the crap out of a large building with just a sledge hammer. The real problem comes however when your FPS drops below 60 and the game’s engine freaks out and starts shovelling on a ton of input lag. Now I’m not a game developer, I don’t even play one on TV, but I know bad programming when I see it. The input lag became so bad that there was a definite 1 second delay between key presses and something happening on the screen. When you’re doing say a vehicle mission that is quite fast paced this makes the game annoyingly difficult for no reason whatsoever. Sure the problem went away when I lowered all my settings to nothing but realistically every other game I’ve played thus far as been done at max settings without having these problems. Couple that with the mediocre story and lack of eye candy I can only play this game in 1~2 hour bursts, and I’ve only done that about 3 times so far.
The end result of all this? I caved and restarted my World of Warcraft subscription. I was instantly hooked as things that used to take hours to get organised and completed now take less than 20 minutes and it seems my dreams of good loot raining from the sky have come true. Its so easy to get gratification that I instantly dropped any idea of powering through any of the 4 titles I mentioned in favour of spending some quality time with my little hunter avatar. I feel infinitely dirty for doing so, but it’s the good kind of dirty.
It really goes to show just how good the first couple months of this year was for us gamers and looking back over all my reviews I stand by all the scores I gave out. It’s disappointing to not be able to write a review of a good game every other week but when I just can’t bring myself to finish one it tells me that it’s probably not deserving of a review, even a bad one. I’ve got high hopes of writing another good review soon (Just Cause 2 is looking like a prime candidate) but until then I’m going to go wallow in my addiction to World of Warcraft once again.n