The 8 Ball 07.08.14: Top 8 Games I Can't Get Into
Posted by Marc Morrison on 07.08.2014
From Skyrim and Dishonored to BioShock: Infinite, GTA 4, and more, 411's Marc Morrison ranks the top 8 good games that he just can't get into!
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. Last week's topic for this week was "Top 8 Overpraised Games", but I didn't think that was what I meant. The list for this week is games that are all almost universally well-liked and well-reviewed. But for whatever reason I just didn't like them, or I couldn't get into them. Some I just stopped playing within a few hours, some I gave 15+ hours or more, and some I actually beat, but didn't enjoy the process of playing it. So that is where I'm coming from with this list. I also include the Metacritic average of all the games, just to show that they are well-liked. This will likely inspire a lot of ire in the comments, since most of these are pretty popular games, but that's fine. Enjoy:
8. GTA 4 (MC rating: 98)
When GTA 4 came out, it was largely heralded as a true sign the next generation was here. The city looked great, characters were nicely detailed/had emotion, and it felt liked a lived in world. Unfortunetly for me, it was also boring, having to constantly get calls every five minutes to hang out was annoying, and I thought that Niko was kind of a standoffish prick. I actually got fairly far in GTA 4, at least from what I can remember, I had done the "pick which McReary brother you want to kill" mission, but the game had just lost me. For as graphically nice as the game looked, even now it's kind of impressive, I just didn't like anything about the story. Thankfully GTA 5 corrected a lot of those problems, and was generally a much better game.
7. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (MC rating: 90)
I wasn't a die-hard Deus Ex fan, I got the first game a few years after it came out, played/enjoyed it, but didn't quite see what the big deal was. A year or two later I went back to it, played it again, and that is when I got deep into it. Everyone with a brain skipped Invisible War, so excitement was high when HR came out. There are some really great things about HR, the world it builds, how you can upgrade your character, and the flavor dialog in the game. However, I grew really annoyed with how they handled the energy system (along with another game later down), and just kind of grew bored by the whole affair. You didn't need to have full energy for your cyborg abilities all the time, but only giving you one bar that would refill, was kind of lame. It severely limited my desire to punch through every wall, and that is a shame.
6. Assassin's Creed: Revelations (MC rating: 80)
I saw a recent article on a "big name" gaming website that essentially said that AC: Unity was going to have the experimentation that AC: Rev did and I let out a "What are they smoking?" response. AC: Rev is a good game, only because it is 98% built on the framework that AC: Brotherhood put down. There are about four things that AC: Rev introduces that are never seen again: 1. Hookblade, 2. Bomb-making, 3. A really bad Tower Defense mode, and 4. First person magical platforming. These are all kind of stupid additions. The story itself was also fairly inconsequential, Piri Rees was a dud, and while Yusef was kind of interesting, the bad guy (Ahmet) had zero personality about him. Still, the game got a moderately high review score proving once and again, that games built on popular foundations can still do well.
5. Dragon Age: Origins (MC rating: 91)
I got zero doubt that Dragon Age is a good game. Enough people like it to make me believe this, and that is perfectly fine. It is a game though that I tried to get into, and just couldn't. I spent 16 hours playing it and it just didn't click with me. I guess I had two overall problems with it, at least from the parts I played. I disliked traveling around the "Orzammar" town. I referred to it as "Ironforge Lite" because of how referenced everything felt. However, I truly *truly* hated traveling around the Deep Roads part. I spent at least 4 hours slogging through that area, and just said "Screw it" and stopped playing. The other aspect I disliked is how he game just felt like a busted single-player MMO to me. Maybe that was the intent, I don't know? But in every encounter I would pause the game, issue orders to my created character, then issue orders to the tank, the mage, the healer, and so on, then hitting resume to let them all (hopefully) do those actions. It felt rote in a sense, because I approached almost every encounter (save for boss battles) this way. I usually have enough problems taking care of one character when I play WoW, but having to deal with 3 or more would drive me mad.
4. Skyrim (MC rating: 94 (Average) )
I've played three Elder Scrolls games (and beaten them), Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. Skyrim is in the middle when it comes to quality, not as good as Morrowind but not nearly as bad as Oblivion. To Skyrim's credit, it is a largely great playing game. Combat generally works the way you want it to, it looked good (technically), and if you did get invested in the game, you could play it for a long while (thanks to the Radiant A.I.). I had one specific problem with Skyrim, and then one global one. The specific problem I had was when you dealt with Paarthurnax if you were doing the Blades quest. You either killed him (which made the Greybeards pissed at you), or you spared him (so you couldn't progress through the Blades faction). Having this type of choice bugs me, and while you can get around it on PC quite easily, if you were on the console, you were screwed. The more global issue was that I just didn't like the environments much. Some of the inner ones were cool, but I got bored about a half hour in of traipsing around a winter/Norse mythology pastiche, instead of a real world. There should have been a Seinfeld action where he goes, "What's the deal with snow?" Still, bring on the Skywind mod, since it takes the best bits of both games and combines them.
3. Tekken/Dead Alive (MC rating: Tekken 6: 79, Dead or Alive 5: 76)
I chose to just do the MC ratings for the most recent disk-based games. Both fighting game series have had better days, believe me. They are both relatively popular (more so in Japan, than in the States), but I cannot fathom either of them in any case. I'm sure they have some appeal, Tekken (presumably) for it's insane story/characters, and Dead or Alive for (presumably) it's insane boob physics/graphics, but that isn't enough for me. I find both games to be woefully boring to play, needing to memorize combos or reversal systems to really get anywhere. Here is a good anecdote to this: Back at my old college there were a collection of arcade machines. One of them was a Tekken 3 machine set to Free Play (due to an oversight, I'd guess). Even though it was free to play, I still would not play it. Why? Because I thought my time was worth more than standing at the machine wasting away my life.
2. Dishonored (MC rating: 91)
Dishonored, to me, felt like an extremely broken version of Deus Ex: HR. Now, don't get me wrong, there is actually a lot to like in Dishonored; the voice cast is amazing, the world is very interesting, and I thought the game looked great. However, it sucked to actually play. I never got good at actually figuring the stealth mechanics in the game, if I was too close for a silent takedown, or if I would just hit the guy accidentally with my blade. Plus, like with Deus Ex: HR, the magic (for simplification's sake) system was way too limited. It would refill, but only enough to let you use base powers like Blink or Dark Vision. "Yes", mana potions are in the game (same as with DE: HR), but it still impacted the game in highly restrictive ways. I still see people online proclaiming this one of the best stealth games ever, but all I found it to be was a pretty, if sloppy game.
1. BioShock: Infinite (MC rating: 94)
I actually had another game here (it'll be below), but I remembered this game, and it shot to the top with a bullet. As opposed to most of these games, I don't honestly think Infinite is that good of a game, regardless of me "getting it" or not. The things it has going for it are the art style and the world building. That is honestly it to me. When I say world building I mean both how the game looks, but also things like the music in the game, the audiologs/videos, etc. If you strip that way, you find a game with a combat system that is barely better than BioShock 1 (and in some cases worse) – not even approaching the complexity of BioShock 2's gunplay, and a story that is essentially a retread of a 1998 Outer Limits episode called "In Another Life", where a man is pulled into an alternate dimension, via a quantum mirror, by his duplicate, to hunt down another duplicate that escaped. Elizabeth had a few decent character beats, but Booker was kind of unlikable throughout most of the game. Now, going back to Rapture at the end was a very cool moment, but the sequence preceding it "Defend the airship core" is one of the worst sequences ever in a game. If you can divorce yourself from the visuals/audio in the game, then you'll come to the conclusion that BioShock Infinite is a fairly mediocre shooter that only gets by on the aesthetics that it carries, and not the substance of the game.
The game from above would have been Burnout Paradise. I really want to like that game, but I just can't get into it. I don't like how the city is laid out like a compass wheel, and the racing just feels off to me. No other games for this section (though I have some more), feel free to comment on which games you can't get into yourself down below.
The General Roundup
There were a ton of comments from last week, so many that I'll try to just address one or two of them specifically, and then some of them on a global sense. A few people mentioned Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. It's been a while, but I am actually not sure if proper "Mario" appears in that game or not. Obviously Baby Mario does, but those are two different characters. SMB2 is a Mario game, even if it is a palette swap of Doki Doki Panic. It has some interesting ideas, but Mario himself sucks in it, and is the worst character. The ranking goes: Peach, Luigi, Toad, then finally Mario. Toad can get bumped up one rank, if the level requires a lot of digging, but that is it. Peach is the champ of that game. It is somewhat weird to me that SMB3 tends to get all the retro game love, while Mario World does not. If you strip away all the extra mechanics in both games, I think Mario World is just an overall better playing game. Lastly, while I'm not going to wade into the 24+ comment post regarding Liana, I'll offer two points: 1. A lot of "AG Awesome's" points are fairly accurate, especially about having a vendetta against certain franchises and about having a female perspective for the column. And 2. her picture was actually my idea, if you were curious. Anyways, that is the last I'll speak on it.