Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Finishing a game

I came up with the best New Year's resolution 10 some odd months ago: finish as many video games I already owned in a year. Like many gamers I follow the proud tradition of picking up a video game, playing 2-5 hours of it, then shelving it for later. There's some stat floating around that only 20% of people actually sit down and finish a video game, so I felt good finally being in the minority, even if it was only for a few games. I did discover a few things about some of the games I played and video games in general I would now like to share.

1: Red Dead Redemption: Proof that psychotics existed in every time period.
Growing up with a grandfather who loved Clint Eastwood and John Wayne films, I was excited to try Rockstar's cowboy sandbox, Red Dead Redemption. I was especially excited when the DLC Undead Nightmare came out, meaning I could be a cowboy in a western zombie apocalypse. The sad thing was, I couldn't sit through the game long enough to get to the DLC. First I must say that the scenery is amazing, the combat system is absolute perfection, and I found myself developing a man-crush for the game's hero John Marsden, due to his well developed character and amazing dialogue. It was the other characters I had issues with. I get the concept of making a bad guy bad, but the things the bad guys, and even some of John's allies did in this game I can't even talk about on this blog! I was absolutely appalled. While it did make it more satisfying when I got to put hot iron to some of these freaks's heads, the fact that some of these people are supposed to be allies made me wonder if John knew how to make proper friends.  To where I got to the game had shown me 5 or 6 despicable people I wouldn't give the time of day to, with whom I was supposed to get buddy-buddy with. I get trying to make the sometimes silly and overdramatized western stories believable, but I highly doubt the wild west was really full of sex addicts and sociopaths. To make matters worse I could get through entire comic books in the time it took to ride that stupid horse from one quest to the next. I may pick this one back up later and just skip to the zombie fun, but for now I'm not in the mood for more human horrors.

2: Batman expects too much out of people
Probably my favorite game to beat this year was Batman: Arkham City. While the story took a dive into the nonsensical at times, it could be explained that most of the people we were working with were psychotic. I'll let Arkham City get away with this and not Red Dead because A: the Batman cannon already has Gotham's main export established as being psychotics, and B: for as gritty as Arkham is the villains would probably be offended by the stuff Red Dead's people keep doing. The problem for me came with the end game content, when the game wanted me to run around town collecting 100 some odd Riddler trophies and clues, which are almost impossible to get. I consider myself pretty good at video games, but when Batman jumps on to things not made of hardened criminal with the grace and dignity of a fat kid into a pool, doing timed precision jumping puzzles off walls is just a bit much. And while combat was entertaining when all I was required to do was beat convicts with other convicts, making us try and use finesse to complete some of the ridiculous challenge rooms is like asking the guy working the grill at McDonald's to bust out a Filet Minion at the last minute.
A side note: The DLC, Harley Quinn's Revenge, was incredibly entertaining for me, especially since I am a huge fanboy for Joker's favorite hench-girl.

3: Story writers really have trouble after the 5 hour mark
As I said in my "What is too much?" piece, video games have a portion control problem. With the average video game being about 20 hours, it's not surprising that the story starts to slouch near the middle. Some examples of this would be Saints Row the Third, when about halfway through reason is exchanged for balloons full of Agent Orange, and LA Noir, where after a very exciting story about a serial killer you get dumped off in Nobody Cares land for the rest of the game. Even with the critically acclaimed Assassin's Creed 2, which I'm currently about halfway through has this problem. I currently have no idea who I'm killing, just that somehow some cowled man called Mistro is organizing old men to do evil deeds to mimic Captain Planet villains, meaning just evil to be evil. Some picked back up in the end, Asylum's climax was thrilling and shocking, Skyrim ends with a lovely romp through Valhalla, and Lego Batman 2 even left room for a sequel that looks like it could be a lot of fun. But in all these games, there was a point in the middle I just wanted to skip to the end.

I know I've complained a lot in this post, but let me end with a few highlights from some of the games I've played thus far, and to say that overall it was a fun experience to focus on one game at a time, and that though the year isn't over, if I have to kill one more defenseless evil old man with wrist blades I'm going to scream so I'm switching to Dragon Age Origin for a bit.

*Batman vs Mr. Freeze
Arkham City had so many villains it was hard to find unique levels for all of them. Before Harley Quinn's Revenge, my favorite was the battle with Mr. Freeze. The level was challenging but not impossible, and had my heart rate up so high I was sure Freeze would pick it up.

*Burt Reynolds in Saints Row the Third
Saints Row games are like Grand Theft Auto as written by Bugs Bunny, goofy gory dirty little stories about modern cops and robbers. The third's story took a dive off a cliff, and a few of the glitches made the replay value jump right after the story, but the addition of the legendary Burt Reynolds playing himself in the plot was a fantastic treat.

*Hogwarts in Lego Harry Potter
Every Lego video game has added something new to the formula. This time around it was the massive interactive castle full of secrets and adventures. It made the running from one level to the next an absolute joy, as I learned new spells and unlocked more collectibles like a magpie with a hoarding problem.

*Shazam in Lego Batman 2
Shazam, or his proper name Captain Marvel, is another one of those characters that I go totally fanboy over. Not many people know much about him, and that's probably for another blog, but I'll just say that he's beaten up Superman a couple times and he can do stuff with lightning. He's part of a DLC with Lego Batman 2 and while I was disappointed that they did NOTHING with another favorite of mine Zatanna, I was ecstatic with using the Captain. Reason being he has this power where he shoots lightning out of his chest that blows up nearly anything it touches. It's highly entertaining and looks spectacular.

*The Assassins tombs form Assassin's Creed 2
So when you're not killing things or collecting Renascence art, occasionally you find these tombs of assassins that came before you. These are basically large obstacle courses through massive play areas where you have to jump, climb and swing your way to the assassins little goody room. It's an incredibly fun escape that makes full use of the free running engine, without being completely impossible to accomplish.

What games have you finished lately?