Editorial: Why Won’t it Click?

Uhh… I can’t feel anything… can you?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Pull your minds out of the gutter and I’ll explain the, ah, parallel I’m attempting to make here. Have you ever picked up a universally worshiped game, in hopes of having the same awesome experience, only to… not? Perhaps you still enjoy the game a lot, but you just can’t bring yourself to gush over it the way that seemingly everyone else around you is. And then maybe you feel bad about this and keep playing and playing with hopes that somehow, someway you’ll find what it is that made everyone else love the game so much… but you just CAN’T.

Isn’t it a terrible feeling? For fear of being ridiculed, perhaps you put on a face and lie about your true thoughts on the game. When you’re at a party or casual gathering of friends who have played the game, you sing its praises along with the rest of them for fear of being cast out and spit upon. Hell, maybe you never even touched the game because you KNEW it wasn’t your thing, but you STILL sat and talked about it while shootin’ the shit. (Yes, I’ve done that before. Don’t judge.)

Why am I bringing this up? Because there have been two games in the last couple of months that simply haven’t reached out and touched me the way they did seemingly everyone else. These two games are: BioWare’s Sci-Fi RPG epic Mass Effect, and more recently, Sony’s exclusive open-world actioner, Infamous.

Both of these games were almost universally acclaimed by critics (the latter especially). I picked up and played both of them at the request of friends who talked ad nauseam about how AWESOME they were. And, to be fair, I enjoy both of them quite a bit. And yet, for a variety of reasons, I am unable to love them quite as much as others have.

There needs to be more of this dude. Much more.

There needs to be more of this dude. Much more.

Let’s touch briefly on Mass Effect. In short: the game’s pacing is awful. It does a great job of initially grabbing you and throwing you into the middle of an extremely vibrant and detailed universe. But as detailed as the world is, the plot just can’t keep up. After a tightly written and directed three hours, the game turns into an intergalactic scavenger hunt laden with subplots that failed to hold my interest. The main story, which is what I was so interested in advancing, came to a near-standstill. The game is really quite excellent, particularly the combat and dialogue systems. But it didn’t give me what I wanted, and because of that, it remains unfinished.

He zappied my PS3 >.>

He zappied my PS3 >.>

It’s a little more difficult to nail down just why Infamous isn’t grabbing me. Maybe I just can’t quite dig the game’s plot and setting, which attempts to be as cheesy and over-the-top as it possibly can be. I recognize that the game is almost laughing at itself in a sense, but still, I find it a bit off-putting. I also find the combat frustrating, but to be fair, it’s probably just because I suck. When faced with more than two reapers at a time, I’m forced to resort to wimpy hit-and-run tactics that involve me scaling buildings and zapping from afar. Who knows, maybe I haven’t spent enough time with the game.

Oh, and the fact that it BROKE MY PS3 doesn’t garner it any brownie points.

It’s taken a lot for me to admit to this. Don’t ridicule me… too much.


  1. Ethos
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 01:21 | Permalink

    The first step is admitting you have a problem.

    This definitely happens to me, but I usually say when I don’t like a game.
    World of Goo was heaven sent according to many people I talked to, but I really didn’t care for the game one bit. It had cool menu screens and music. Full stop for me.
    And while I really like ICO, I think it’s miles below Shadow of the Colossus, and I don’t praise it to nearly the same extent as most people.
    I know this site isn’t particularly known for its Wind Waker and Twilight Princess love (save Lusipurr loving WW), but I don’t really care for either to the extent that I loved the 64 iterations.

    But I think I have a bigger problem LIKING games that other people find to be mediocre, or weak points in the series.
    I love Majora’s Mask, I love Final Fantasy X-2, I love Mario Sunshine. I find that sort of thing harder to admit than what you propose.

    I was fully expecting to only like Mass Effect a little bit, much like your experience, so it was a lovely surprise to be personally blown away. I haven’t been that sucked into a game in years (excepting Flower).

  2. juan22
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 03:46 | Permalink

    i dont like fallout 3, oblivion and mass effect.well, i dont like wrpgs in general.they feel like gta with some rpgs elements .
    but really really love ff8 its my favorite rpg of all time.so,yes people hate me.

  3. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 05:24 | Permalink

    Pretending to like games when you really don’t is an act of intellectual cowardice. You should never hesitate to call out a game which dissapoints you.

    I actually agree with you about Mass Effect, it’s a fine game and I always enjoy the dialogue trees in Bioware games, yet I felt the game’s design fell short of the brillian Jade Empire and KOTOR. The combat felt….wrong, the graphics felt generic and repetive and the NPCs were’nt as quirky and memorable as in other Bioware games. And oh yeah, the game was far shorter than than any other Bioware game I’ve played.

    Also on my shit list is MGS4*, RE5, FFXII and Halo 3.

    *Though to be fair MGS4 was more of a slap in the face, than a dissapointment.

  4. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 06:29 | Permalink

    Just to clarify I’m glad that I own Mass Effect, I just don’t see in it what others seem to.

  5. DarthGibblet
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 07:54 | Permalink

    I agree with SN, if you don’t like a game, call it out! I’m one of those people who loved Mass Effect to no end, but I’ll also admit it had it’s share of technical and pacing issues (Dear lord, who tested that inventory system and thought “Yeah, this is usable”).

    That being said, Valkyria Chronicles didn’t grab me nearly as much as it did others on this site. I think it’s the same feeling you’re talking about, where there wasn’t anything wrong with it, and I enjoyed it enough to finish it, but there wasn’t that “This is amazing!” moment that everybody else seems to have. I also really disliked GTAIV. To be fair, I’m only about 30 hours in, but I doubt I’ll ever go back and finish it just because the mission structure was so irritating and there’s nothing compelling me to return.

    I think for me, a lot of this stems from the expectations going into a game. If I have low expectations, I’m much more likely to overlook the low points in favor of the high points. If I’m expecting the world, of course I’ll notice everything wrong with the game. That’s why I’m repeatedly telling myself FFXIII will suck. I’m not sure if I’ve convinced me yet.

  6. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 09:21 | Permalink

    You and I are on the same page with FFXIII, I think that the only person that can spoil that game for me is myself(and my expectations). I also had the same experience with GTA4, I probably spent around 20-30 hours on it, yet it wasn’t able to hold my attention. Despite the enjoyment I received from playing it, I found that once I had finished playing it for the day then I didn’t feel like resuming my game on subsequent days.

    Also I have to wonder how much of the support for Halo comes from peer pressure. The series has one excellent game (Halo), one acceptable game (Halo 2) and one mediocre game (Halo 3). I don’t see where the universal Halo love comes from.

  7. Bup
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 10:32 | Permalink

    As much as it pains me to agree with Ethan, I have to when it comes to Ico. I’ve tried many, many times to get into the game, but to no avail. But I absolutely loved Shadow of the Colossus.

  8. DarthGibblet
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 10:34 | Permalink

    Yeah, SotC had that all important feature of “when I wasn’t playing it, I wanted to be playing it.” Ico never had that for me. Again, it was a fine game and I’m glad I finished it, but just didn’t have that “umph” I expected after hearing it build up for years (again with the over-inflated expectations)

  9. Ethos
    Posted 2009.07.02 at 12:22 | Permalink

    The over-inflated expectations is sometimes a problem for me. But usually only within the first few months. I had HUGE expectations for Majora’s Mask and FFXII and so of course I was disappointed at first because literally NOTHING could meet my expectations. But after some time, I realized that I truly did love those games.
    Adversely, I have massive expectations for SotC and it’s probably the only game I’ve ever hyped that instantly met my expectations.

  10. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2009.07.03 at 01:59 | Permalink

    I have the feeling that if I were to play FFXII again I would have a more favourable impression of it. The first time around I just couldn’t help but see it in terms of what it was not, and was like….. is this really it? I’ll still never be a fan of its automated fighting system though.

  11. Ethos
    Posted 2009.07.03 at 14:43 | Permalink

    Automated isn’t entirely accurate. More like pre-planned! But I see what you mean, and that’s exactly what happened to me with Majora’s Mask. I saw it for all the Ocarina it wasn’t until I played it again.

  12. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2009.07.03 at 22:30 | Permalink

    Pre-planned? That’s just a euphemism for automated.

  13. Ethos
    Posted 2009.07.04 at 05:39 | Permalink

    Not in the least, SN! Automated means you wouldn’t have to do anything. The battles pan out exactly the way you plan them too. If proper time is spent with the Gambits, then it equals out to spending time pressing “X” to attack all the time. In fact, that’s really the only part it takes out!
    You could also be like me, barely set gambits, and use the menus a lot anyway but just be thankful that it takes care of the “press ‘X’ to attack” redundancy for you.

  14. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2009.07.04 at 08:50 | Permalink

    Ok, so you set Gambits, after which your battles are automated. After I got access to gambits in the game there was probably 15-25 battles where I actually had to go into the menu, other that that it was automated.

  15. DarthGibblet
    Posted 2009.07.04 at 11:55 | Permalink

    Personally, I liked the gambit because of the help they gave with grinding. I still found myself using the menus more often than not for the boss battles, but for the everyday enemies I ran into while I was doing the hunts, I just had to run by them and collect experience.

    It’s really the same type of thing for previous FF games, you have the computer doing the mindless tasks for you instead of having to do them yourself (press ‘X’ to attack, as Ethos put it). Like, for example, yesterday I had to give my younger brother something to do while I went and got us lunch, so I gave him my PSP with FFVII running. He’d never played any FF games before (he’s only 10 or so), but my characters were high enough level that he could just press X and the enemies died. I kind of saw the gambit system as the equivalent of that, where I set up a basic set of gambits to auto-grind as I ran through areas, but I’d always end up taking manual control for the boss battles. It was definitely nice, but it only works because of the real-time combat in XII, so I really doubt they’d put it in XIII with it’s more traditional battle system.

  16. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2009.07.04 at 14:06 | Permalink

    It’s not the same thing at all. Pushing the X button is active, whereas setting gambits is passive. I didn’t feel like I was in control, which is the last thing you want gamers to experience when playing your game.

    Perhaps repeatedly pushing the X button and setting gambits doesn’t differ greatly accademically, but pushing buttons is the one thing that connects me to whatever is occuring on screen, if you take that away then I don’t feel so much a part of the battles.

  17. Ethos
    Posted 2009.07.05 at 12:25 | Permalink

    I don’t know, when the characters automatically did things that I TOLD them to do, I felt even more in control. I felt like they knew my thoughts and remembered to perform in battle the way I had commanded.
    I understand your take on it, but I suppose our different views completely sums up why people were so split on the issue.

  18. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2009.07.05 at 15:44 | Permalink

    Yeah true. But for me, if I’m not pushing buttons then I’m not doing anything.