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Are You Playing the Game?

Written by on Jun 26, 2011
Are You Playing the Game?

It’s easy to ignorantly compare Halo with Resistance and Tomb Raider with Uncharted when the truth is the games may have only a fragment of a similarity. Should shooting aliens also make you jump 6 feet high? Does it require back flips to search for hidden treasure? I’d like to take these questions a bit further and ask: Do we ever put aside our genre expectations and try to enjoy a game for what it actually is, or do we expect the same thing from each genre?

Here’s a small example: Is a shotgun the best close-quarters gun you can pick up? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the game developer, style, and story. A shotgun could take a lengthy period of time to fire up, whereas a handgun could have a quicker reaction (Devil May Cry 4). Are stronger guns better against average enemies? Some guns may have more of a kick than others, making it harder to hit your target from a distance (Uncharted 2). Another example: Should we button mash melee attacks to enemies and civilians (inFamous) or master a difficult, timed set of commands when we could easily mash buttons instead (Batman: Arkham Asylum)? Is it worth the extra effort?

Let’s say you pick up MAG from the $20 bin, play it exactly the same way as you would Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and heaven forbid you get slaughtered! Someone has made a game in the same genre that’s completely different, and now you’ve got to get into the swing of things all over again or face repeated death. So do you take the time to get used to the new areas, weapons and teamwork? Or do you blame it on bad controls and let it collect dust until the next Call of Duty game arrives?

The point is, for each game of any genre, the developers have a set of diverse tools they have spent years preparing for you. Are you, as a gamer, capable of putting your genre expectations aside and really try games that play differently from each other? Are you just playing games, or are you making a conscious effort to fully play the game in front of you, and is it worth it to do so?

Responses to Are You Playing the Game?
  1. avatar
    Clark on Jun 27, 2011
    There's no need to make excuses for bad games, though, even if a team of talented programmers worked on it for several years. Bad design choices shouldn't be rewarded. Otherwise, everyone owes it to themselves to play Duke Nukem Forever and love it on the basis that it was in development longer than anything else.

    I get what you're saying. If the only first-person shooters you've ever played have been Halo games, you might not like making the transition to another franchise. There's always a learning curve when you pick up a new IP, but a really good developer will ease the player into this and not alienate FPS fans by being different for the sake of being different.

    Like it or not, hundreds of FPS games before have established some pretty solid ground rules. Future games can certainly change these, but the changes have to make sense. If clicking the analog stick in to duck has worked so well in the past, then why do some developers randomly assign this function to a button? If there was a good reason for the change, they'd better let us know, or else we'll just go back to what feels right.

    If you give a game enough of your time, you can eventually get used to its controls and find ways to work around the things that are initially off-putting. But how much of your time does a game deserve? At some point, you have to stop making apologies and recognize that the developers got it all wrong.
  2. avatar
    Joe on Jun 27, 2011
    We're all guilty of playing a game and putting it down because we didn't like it when we know multiple people say it's the best game ever.(Final Fantasy XIII, anyone?) So while I do like it when developers come up with new ways to play a game, I refuse to say new is ok and fun because it is new. I think that people who avoided the Wii have less of a problem with this.

    As a Nintendo fanboy I was determined to love the Wii no matter what. It wasn't until several years after it came out that I couldn't get excited about games because I didn't want to play them their way. I wish more than anything I could play Donkey Kong, New Super Mario Bros and Metroid Prime 3, and Other M and many other games with a PS3 dual shock. I even tried Epic Mickey and I just can't care to do it. It is too much of a chore. That more than anything made me more picky about the controls in other games.

    But I do love different combat systems. As you pointed out in Arkham Asylum and inFamous and even Assassin's Creed (2 and beyond). I loved all of them and they are some of my favorite all time games. All the same, but different.
  3. avatar
    Ned on Jun 27, 2011
    First of all, I'm as guilty of early judgement as anyone. But yeah, I totally agree with Clark on the Duke Nukem Forever thing, and Joe on the FFXIII thing. Time in the oven doesn't equal quality, and new doesn't equal fun. Overall, it seems like what I was trying to say came acrossed pretty well. I like Clark's closing statement about how much of your time a game deserves before you judge it. I think that it takes enough time to make a fair assessment, whatever that is, and no less. For example, the Super Stardust HD review I just read. (Good review by the way). Not that it should always come down to the 3rd or 4th try, but if Joe hadn't given the game a fair chance, he would have missed out on a lot of fun.
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