Sunday, February 26, 2012

Trying to understand certain games

What I mean by the title is that at times, it's very easy to look at certain games in the wrong light. I mean, there are obvious ones like treating Zelda as an RPG, The Elder Scrolls as a pure sandbox/adventure game (instead of an RPG) or any JRPG as an actual RPG (which is why I think anybody who hates Final Fantasy XIII for being too linear is mentally deficient and needs to actually play some JRPGs before shooting the shit). If you look at them as they are and not what they aren't, then it's very easy to get a decent review out of you, unless you don't have much of a vocabulary or standards.

Then you have some not-so obvious ones, like reviewing LA Noire... I mean, how the fuck do you review it? Do you review it as a movie or as a game? Well, trying to review it as a game will result in nothing but bitching about how half assed it all feels - a few shooter segments are alright, but everything else seems to be slapped on there because we need to attract the 13 year old GTA fans. Not to mention, IT HOLDS YOUR FUCKING HAND! It never, ever, ever penalizes you for fucking up. Get a question wrong? Oh well, story goes on. Die a few times? Choose to skip it and the story goes on. Looking for items? Well, you can turn off the chime and visual hints, but then it becomes a pixel hunter, and seriously, who the fuck actually wants this in 2011? So yeah, you can't exactly review it as a game, no matter how hard it tries to be one.

So you look at it as a movie, and why not - the story is what keeps you playing despite the mediocre gameplay. So let's think about it... the setting itself is neat. Imagine it, a late 40s LA full of crime. Our character is a war vet with quite the potentially interesting past and a personality that should be the foil to more casual officers. What do we actually get, though? The first half of the game (which is about 7 1/2 hours, longer than many games out on the market nowadays) focuses on setting up the second half while focusing on individual murder stories, only linking them up a bit later on and resolving it before the end of the first half. The second half really gets the story moving... about fucking time! Unfortunately, it makes the mistake of just throwing a twist right in your face with very, very little build up. It's extremely contrived and would've actually done the story a lot of good if there was more build up. Another twist kind of suffers from this, though at least you get some clarification... at the end of the game, plus I guess there's some implied build up... lazy writing, but whatever. As a story driven game, it at least keeps you interested, but mostly through dick moves like taking forever to get going and leaving out details that really, really ought to be there. No, I don't expect it to be blatant, but throw me a fucking bone! Don't give out the vaguest detail and then throw the entire kitchen at me!

At the risk of making everything in this post irrelevant, I look at games not only as a whole, but piece by piece. Are the sum of its parts any good? Do they help make the game good or fun? Is the game supposed to be fun as a whole, or is it supposed to be an experience? Is it a niche game or is it meant for the whole family? Does nostalgia force me to hold my criticisms back or does it make me want to be a lot harder on it? So many factors can go into a review and it starts to become more and more obvious as you review - when I first started reviewing, all I thought about was whether it was fun and good or not and couldn't give a fuck about much else, even replay value (of the review). Now? I keep audience, the sum of its parts and how they impact the game itself, and what kind of game it is, all while trying to keep it interesting, because people are so far up their own asses about reviews (derr i dont wanna read reviews because i should decide for myself) that it's not worth doing up a buyer's guide. No, I try to be more interesting with them, and I'll leave the buyer's guide to the paid reviewers because that's their job and most of them lost their passion for giving a fuck years ago (especially the suits over at IGN and Gametrailers).

In short, the basics of assessing a game (like playstyle, focus and genre) varies from game to game, but the intricacies (like what you look for in playstyle, focus and genre) depend on you. Also love how this practically turned into a short review of LA Noire. Speaking of cinematic games, I can't fucken wait until I get Asura's Wrath in the mail!

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