Hello. My name is Sebastian and I don’t finish my video games. There. It’s out.
When I was a kid, I owned an N64 and for several years I had two — TWO — games: Goldeneye 007 and Mario Kart 64. These games I played over and over until I knew every square inch of their respective worlds. I was basically un-beatable in Mario Kart since I knew every single track like the back of my hand, every turn, every short-cut, every trap. The same went for Goldeneye multiplayer, where even the briefest of glances at my opponent’s screen allowed me to swiftly manoeuvre to a place behind them to gun them down without them ever knowing I was there.
These days it is a very different story. I no longer play the same game long enough to become so intimately familiar with it’s levels. In fact, it’s a rare day indeed when I play a game through to anything resembling completion. Partly to blame is the fact that so many games today require an insanely high time commitment to attain 100% completion, with ridiculous things like, “find all 500 bird droppings littered around the island”. And that’s even before tackling some games’ main story lines, which can stretch into the 10’s or even 100’s of hours.
Mostly however, it’s simply that I don’t have as much time as I used to for playing games and that my gaming library is now substantially larger. Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that there are many great games that I have played, thoroughly enjoyed, but whose storyline has gone unfinished. Here are what I consider to be the five best games I have ever played and never finished.
In fifth place – Any Total War game ever.
I’ve played every Total War game since the original Shogun Total War and loved all of them. The mix of top down grand strategy and real-time 3D battles is intoxicating. I’ve had games where I’ve led a tiny one province nation to be the supreme rulers of half the world. I’ve defeated the Romans; destroyed Napoleon; vanquished the Japanese Shogun.
But I have never, not once, carried a single game through to completion. I’ve had several games that stretched to over 100 hours, but I’ve never had the sweet taste of a campaign victory screen. Why? Usually it’s because the end game of a Total War game becomes exceedingly uninteresting and borderline boring. It’s in the early stages of a game where you’re flying by the seat of your pants that the excitement is at it greatest; where every risk you take carries the chance of catastrophic collapse.
By the time you’ve made yourself the master of the known world, trying to find the motivation to take those last few far flung provinces for “victory” is a monumental task when you consider that simply restarting a brand new game will deliver all the excitement you crave.
In fourth place – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
I’ve loved the Metal Gear franchise since Playstation 1’s Metal Gear Solid. When I played that game I remember thinking, this is the future. I played it through to completion more than once, the same goes for 2 and 3. Were those games perfect? No, but they were special enough that you looked beyond their shortcomings. Enter MGS4: GOTP. I loved this game, completely LOVED it, for about 2 hours. After that I began to wonder at what point I would get to actually play it, instead of just watching cutscenes. I persevered for a day or two but eventually gave up. I’ve viewed Metal Gear announcements with suspicion since then, but I have high hopes for the Phantom Pain. Fingers crossed.
In third place – X-COM: Enemy Unknown
I never played the original, in fact I’d never even heard of it until Firaxis’s remake, X-COM Enemy Unknown. This is a game with such polish and shine that it’s hard to play it without going temporarily blind. It’s probably the finest turn-based strategy game I’ve ever played and I put a good 50-60 hours into it. Why so much? I just couldn’t get enough of building up my team into a bunch of super badasses. Even though the option to use the Gallop Chamber was there for a long time, I put off using it, trying to build a better and better team. By the time I got round to using it and making the assault on the Temple Ship, I was suffering from war weariness and decided to take some R&R to recharge the X-COM batteries. That was 2 years ago.
In second place – Red Dead Redemption
I played Red Dead with no prior knowledge of what it was, on the recommendation of a mate. I found myself playing a GTA game on a horse and I absolutely loved it. The world created by Rockstar was truly magnificent and I spent many hours simply wondering the world, doing this and that. In fact I spent so long doing this and that, that I never got around to following the main storyline to completion. By that time, real life took over for a while and I had to put the game down for a bit. Since then, I haven’t had the willpower to load it back up and get sucked in once more. I enjoyed my time with Red Dead, but it just wasn’t to be.
In first place – Fallout 3
Fallout 3 was the first game I ever played on PS3. It was big. It was beautiful (in a dead, barren, apocalyptic way). It was deep. It was open world done right. From the moment I stepped out of Vault 101, I was hooked. I spent over 150 hours as the Lone Wonderer, exploring all over the Capital Wasteland. The sheer variety of places to go and things to do kept me entertained for longer than I thought possible, to the point that 150 hours in, I’d barely touched on the the main quest.
That’s when the dark day happened.
I got myself the nice shiny DLC “Mothership Zeta”, and headed off for some inter-stellar action. The DLC was pretty good, providing several more hours of enjoyment. I played through to completing the Zeta story to find myself back in the Capital Wastes, minus all my gear. It turns out I missed the container right at the start of Zeta with all my stuff. And, as Madame Luck would have it, I had just (literally JUST) over-written the last save I’d made before going up to the mothership. All the clothes and weapons I’d accumulated over 150 hours was gone. Poof. There was no way to get it back. I was… Displeased. I calmly removed the disk from the PS3 and put it back in the case (read I screamed things to make my mother ashamed and threw the disk out of the window) and it’s never been put back in the PS3 since.
Madam Luck. You’re a real bitch, you know that?
Sebastian has been playing games since the age of 8, cutting his teeth with Nintendo and Sega, and now can usually be found dying repeatedly in online FPS’s. Really, he should just quit. Open world RPG’s and grand strategy games also see him lose his sense of reality for several months of the year. You won’t find him on twitter though since he lives in a cave