GameCentral readers name the critically acclaimed classics they couldn’t get on with, from Portal 2 to Final Fantasy VII.
The subject for this weekend’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Sparky the Yak, who asks which critically and commercially successful game do you think is overrated – and why? Do you appreciate why others enjoy and praise the game, or is its appeal totally lost on you?
There was barely a sacred cow left un-slaughtered by the answers, with everything from The Last Of Us and The Walking Dead to Journey and Super Mario 3D World being named. Most readers however were willing to admit the game just didn’t appeal to them, rather than everyone else getting it wrong.
I won a Grand National sweepstake at work one year, meaning I had some windfall cash to spend freely. This meant Portal 2 was bought in the happiest of circumstances.
Although screenshots of the game didn’t look particularly exciting, good reviews and player feedback convinced me I’d invested my race winnings wisely.
It’s a shame I found Portal 2 to be utterly dull. Playing this highly praised classic was like walking through rooms in an empty house, opening and closing doors.
What a thrill ride eh? Empty house. Doors open, doors close.
I played Portal 2 for about two hours before I gave up, I could see no logic in what I was doing and only seemed to progress by accident.
Fans of the title might argue I gave up too soon but since I only spend about two or three hours a week gaming it seemed a waste of that time to be playing something I found so uninspiring.
I also resent Portal 2 for dampening my Grand National win, a rare event as I never usually win anything. The horse was called Neptune Collonges.
In general, I’ve always been pleased with the games that I buy, those that got good reviews. However, one sticks in my mind, as a reminder that everyone has different tastes, and all the better for it.
Having loved the short and sweet Ico, I thought I couldn’t go wrong with its spiritual successor and equally well received Shadows Of The Colossus. Things started well… a large detailed (if memory serves me) world to explore and the first boss fight was a great taster of things to come… except that couldn’t be all the game offered, right? Hunt down the next boss with my glowing weapon, kill it and move on? I didn’t even get to the second boss, as the premise of the game structure put me off.
Can you imagine the uproar if the next mainline Legend Of Zelda from Nintendo consisted of an empty Hyrule and a series of boss fights, but nothing else to do…?
ttfp saylow (gamertag)
Now playing: Darksiders II, Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Same old story
I don’t quite get all the praise Telltale’s The Walking Dead gets. Despite enjoying plenty of previous Telltale adventure games I avoided it initially because I don’t care about zombies – whatever the genre or medium. But it got a lot of praise from all quarters, so I eventually succumbed and played the first two chapters.
And I still don’t get it.
It’s a dumbed down adventure game. Telltale’s earlier games like Sam & Max and Tales Of Monkey Island never quite managed to hit the heights of insult sword-fighting, but they had solid puzzles in them and told fun stories. The Walking Dead’s meanwhile has pretty light puzzles, seemingly hacked away to make room for quick time events and choice determined narrative. It’s as thought Telltale purposefully looked for the two most underwhelming gaming gimmicks of the previous decade to pad the games with. Does anyone really like QTEs?
The ‘moral’ choice sections seem to get a lot of praise, which really puzzles me. It’s apparent pretty early on that the choices you make don’t have much influence on anything. At best you’re having a superficial effect on inconsequential parts of the story, but you’re rarely making a difference to where the game wants to go. I’d love to think that’s a thematic choice, about the depressing futility of trying to survive a zombie apocalypse, but I suspect it’s just underwhelming game design.
What’s worst about this is that Telltale have had so much success with The Walking Dead that pretty much everything they make seems to be based on its template now. The Fables game, Tales From The Borderlands, Minecraft: Story Mode (the existence of which still baffles me). Game Of Thrones especially offers the same illusion of consequence, despite the fact that the mass of characters from the books/show means you’re only ever going to have a minor influence on things.
I’d rather just have an adventure game that tells an interesting story through good puzzles instead of a watered-down game bending over backwards to convince me that I matter.
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Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just here to tell you all a hard truth. The truth is that GoldenEye 007 on the N64 wasn’t the best shooter of its generation.
So many of the conversations I have with random people, at my kids friends birthday parties, etc., end up harking back to the PS one and N64 era when I mention I play a lot of games, because that’s when most parents I chat with last played proper games. In turn conversations inevitably end up revolving around GoldenEye and ultimately them telling me just how amazing it was.
I’m not going to argue that point, it was amazing and all of the great reviews and hype it received at the time was genuinely deserved. I still remember going from one level to the next and being genuinely amazed by it at every reveal and the multiplier claimed more hours of my life than I care to think about, however it wasn’t as good as nostalgic parents remember.
So what is wrong with it I hear you say? Well that’s easy: Perfect Dark. GoldenEye 007 may have defined the console first person shooter, but Perfect Dark refined it in every conceivable way. Well, except for changing the name of the Facility to Felicity (we still called it The Facility anyhow) and removing the doors in its toilets… but the addition of bots, the Farsight, fly by wire rocket launchers, the laptop gun, co-op, the story and how it unravels with twists and turns, dual wielding Cyclones and unloading hundreds of rounds in seconds and who could forget the hilarious tranq gun?Rare literally took everything and took it to the next level.
Sadly though, in the conversations mentioned above, If I mention Perfect Dark, the default answer I get back is, ‘What was that?’ which makes me really sad. It means they never got to see (with greatly improved draw distance, textures and polygon counts) what GoldenEye 007 went on to become. Sadly most peoples memory’s of it are tainted by popular opinion rather than being led by their personal opinion and the greatest first person shooter of its generation has been overshadowed by its older siblings first steps.
So yes, it deserved all of the praise it got on its launch, but GoldenEye lost its title when Perfect Dark arrived, only everyone appears to have forgotten.
The grind of us
Nick the Gent
Are we there yet?
Easy one for me: Journey. I can appreciate the beautiful art of the game, the point of the story with the whole rebirth angle but, my word, what a four hour interactive borefest that was. The lack of any kind of challenge at all (even for someone as inept as me) also meant that the replay value of the game was non-existent.
I would like to praise Journey for one thing though: It cured my fear of missing out on particular games that I might not otherwise play!
The one I just do not get is League Of Legends. I’m not even sure if it counts as mainstream gaming or not, since so few websites or console gamers ever seem to be talk about it, but I was curious about the fact that it seems so popular and, since it’s free, gave it a go. And… wow, what?
For those that don’t know it’s kind of like a real-time strategy game, except you control just one guy directly and have to look after this stream of computer-controlled units that stream across the map. I get that that learning all the characters is very complex and there’s a lot of deep stat-based stuff. But to me it was completely boring and visually totally unintersting.
It always amazes what people will play just because it’s free.
Okayish Mario 3D World
I was just discussing this in the comments section these last couple of weeks and this might not even be the most extreme example for me personally but I’m going to say Super Mario 3D World.
It probably didn’t help that, from the moment it was unveiled in the June 2013 Nintendo Direct, I was disappointed at its lack of ambition. I even thought it was a 3DS sequel to 3D Land, given the limited near-isometric camera angles and I felt that it really was the last thing the Wii U needed at that time. My disappointment faded over the months, though, on the back of such positive critical acclaim and word of mouth, so I was excited to finally get it for Christmas 2014.
After finally getting to the rock hard Champion’s Road, I agree that it’s a good game but I can’t see it as even in the same league as Super Mario 64 and the Galaxy games. It might have something to do with the fact that the main games I got stuck into over the previous year or were XCOM: Enemy Unknown, its sequel, and Dark Souls II and its DLC. Not objectively superior games by any means but considerably deeper experiences that may have influenced my values a bit.
It doesn’t just contrast with those unrelated games, though. 3D World felt more bare and insubstantial than all the mainline games since Super Mario World and possibly earlier. Fewer hidden secrets than Mario World, a more simplistic and limited moveset than Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy (where did the triple jump go, and why is the crouching backflip now so useless?), the exact same uncreative objectives in every level, and a minimised scope that prefers bite-sized burst obstacle courses over memorable and ambient environments.
And I know the game gets praised for the way it shows up other developers by introducing ideas that work extremely well then refusing to wear them out. But there’s also a danger of not allowing some of the great concepts and mechanics any breathing space at all before they’re disposed of in favour of the next neat trick and the player is left wondering at the potential before ultimately forgetting they were even part of the game. Fellow GCers have disagreed with me already on this but I’d say I don’t remember at least 60% of the levels because of that just-get-to-the-flag-and-quickly-move-on philosophy.
Granted, it might’ve helped if I’d regularly played it in multiplayer but I was assured by others before I bought it that it was an astoundingly great classic even in single player. Plus, I did give some initial levels a run-through with my fiancée and all that happened was that she became demoralised very quickly at the game’s insistence on focusing on each of our scores at the end of every level and finding out hers was a tenth as high as mine.
I accept that the game excels at what it tries to do but it’s what it tries to do that’s the problem for me. The execution is almost perfect but the ambition feels non-existent. How many other mainline Mario games are happy to excel within the basic limits of existing platform games?
I also accept that the problems I have with the game are absolutely deliberate design choices. And it might be unfair to place expectation on all top-tier Nintendo games but if the design choices in 3D World are indicative of the direction Nintendo wants to take its biggest tentpole franchises, I’m concerned that a publisher celebrated for smashing through boundaries and breaking new ground will become one of the many that just likes to give its fans something they think they might want rather than attempt to boldly set new precedents and beat new paths.
Panda (sorry for the essay)
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