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.
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.
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.