I’m perfectly aware that, as a gamer, I am entitled to like or dislike any game that I so choose. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that there are whole genres that can take a running jump, but there are always one or two titles that serve as the exceptions that prove the rule. Sports games, for example: just no. FIFA, NHL, NBA, NFL, PGA – they can all sod off as far as I’m concerned. But hand me a weathered copy of Mega Games I for the Sega MegaDrive and the very first title I’ll fire up will be World Cup Italia ’90. Slide tackle your way across the pitch, colliding with other players with a distinct “pow-wow” noise. Engineer penalty shootouts where the player controlling the goalie can dive before the ball has been kicked, leaving the poor chap impossibly motionless and contorted, lying down by one of the goalposts.
Another cadre of games that I care very little for are more of a cross between a genre and a platform; a sort of meta-genre. Motion-sensing games: so much hate. The Wii was a gimmick when it came out and it remains so to this day. The only reason I ever turn it on is to play a select few exclusives like Zelda or Xenoblade Chronicles. Kinect and Move are both terrible, but the latter slightly less so than the former. At least with this new Wonderbook thing that Sony have cooked up, you can pretend you’re holding a magic wand instead of a controller – with Kinect, you’d need to pretend you’re actually holding anything. When future generations look at videos of us lot dancing and gesticulating in front of televisions like idiots, perhaps Kinect will finally be seen for the horrible idea it was (and is).
But for all the generalisation above, there are also certain games that are released to almost universal acclaim. Occasionally, while everyone else is busy singing a game’s praise, I’ll be sitting at my PC or console and wondering what all the fuss is about. Here are a few examples of games that just about everyone agrees are “good” – or excellent – but which I think are… not.
I’m sorry, but isn’t this just the original Borderlands again? It certainly looks like it. I mean I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of the first game, but at least it had the air of mild originality about it. I think what’s happened here is that the developers have done what I like to call “pull a FIFA” – they’ve taken the previous game, slapped a new number on the end of the title and called it a sequel. The graphics are the same, the gameplay is the same, the humour and setting all seem the same. This is fine if you loved Borderlands and want, well… more of the same… but it just seems lazy to me.
This thing racked up “Game of the Year” awards like no-one’s business. What is it with zombies, post-apocalyptic scenarios and carting around blithely innocent children that has game developers in a frenzy these days? Telltale have, as far as I can tell, masterfully combined the art of clichéd storytelling and quick-time events. Nothing about the entire first episode managed to pull me in. I watch the AMA television series, but I’m gradually losing interest in that as well, since it seems to be turning into more of a soap opera. What happened to riding through deserted cities on horseback, taking refuge in tanks and finding out about a cure?
I was really looking forward to this game, as it happens. I grabbed the demo as soon as it became available on PSN and fired it up straight after downloading. It was the most disappointing RPG experience I’d ever had. Perhaps I went into it expecting too much, but aside from the character creation screen, I had no fun whatsoever. The combat was ridiculous – swing wildly at things and/or grab on to them, then proceed to defy gravity while you clamber all over their body. Make sure to listen to your companions’ words of encouragement, too; just in case you miss it the first time, they’ll be sure to repeat the same phrase over and over again until their words lose all meaning. What was meant to feel epic was instead a complete washout; a soggy Digestive instead of a crunchy Ginger Nut, to use a biscuit analogy.
There are several other examples of individually disliked titles that I’ve encountered over the years, but none of them seem to conform to any other noticeable pattern. They can be of any genre, on any platform, by any developer; the only feature they share is that everyone else seems to think that they’re wonderful. To each their own, of course, but I think that – in this case – the phrase would be more correctly applied to me.
Check in next week, where I’ll be covering the flip-side of this coin: defending those games that everyone seems to dislike, but which I think are excellent!
A twenty-something gamer from the North-East of Scotland. By day, I’m a Computer Technician at a local IT recycling charity, where I fix and build PCs. Outside of that, most of my time is spent either sleeping or gaming, which I try accomplish in equal amounts.