This is my vengeance.
You knew it was coming. Those of you who read my previous blog back in April, you all knew, deep inside, that this fateful day would arrive. Gone are the simple times where you would smugly sit back and chuckle at my futile attempt to redeem that which has been declared unworthy. Now, the tables have turned, and my time has come. My time to strike upwards, towards the sacred, the powerful, the things that you may value the most! Are you nervous, dear reader? Afraid that you might walk away from here with a perspective that you do not desire? If so, then you can consider me most pleased...
(You were supposed to read all that in the voice of Tony Jay)
Now that you've been properly spooked, welcome to my sequel blog! I wasn't actually planning on doing this, but of course it was going to happen. It would be like Yin without Yang, dude, it's all about balance!
Anyway, to write a "real" introduction: We all have a certain popular games that we aren't very fond of, and I'm sure we all want others to understand why this is. Whether I think the game is actually bad or simply dislike it for other reasons (see, I can make the distinction!), it belongs on this list. That said, it is not for games I haven't even played due to lack of interest, because that list would be extremely long, not to mention boring.
Okay then, let's get going:
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
I'll start out by saying that I'm doing this list in reverse from last time, which means I'll start out with the strongest case first, then go more and more mild. And god damn if this isn't the strongest case by a long shot. I fucking hate Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Bought it entirely by popular demand and played through the entire thing constantly hoping that it would get better, but it didn't.
To elaborate on this, seeing as the game sells itself as a puzzle-platformer, you'd think I had a problem with the puzzles and and the platforming. You would be wrong. I actually enjoy both of those. The platforming is fun and creative, and the puzzles are pretty clever. No, my problem is that the majority of the game is combat, and the combat in this game is some of the worst I've ever experienced.
It is so bad! Stiff, awkward, repetitive and infuriating. There are way too many enemies, yet I only recall about 7 enemy types, and that's counting tiny non-threats such as bats, birds and scarabs. Your moves have long, clunky animations, and it's never clear when it's safe to do what. It's possible to be trapped on the floor between enemy attacks, with no room to get up. Blocking is done with the same button as wall running, despite the fact that you often fight in tiny rooms, so that leads to a lot of frustration too, once you're back up against a wall and the prince decides to make a vertical run for it without your consent. All of this adds up to a lot of anger and desparation, and it's the only non-stealth game I can remember in which I actively avoided combat as much as possible.
Even the good bits were ruined by the awful combat. Failing a puzzle in later areas pissed me off more than it should, because I just wanted the game misery to end at that point. I regret playing through this, and I honestly consider it a bad game. Sands of Time takes the Tomb Raider approach, but with no understanding of what made those games work. No one should ever get away with putting this much fluff into a game, and most of the enemies are clearly there to stretch an otherwise short game out, even though that short game would've been really good. Instead, we get this terrible mess.
Of all the games on the list, this is the only one that deserves all of my anger. It's aged like milk, and it wasn't even good by 2003 standards. Even people who like the game talk shit about the combat, yet somehow manage to forgive it for that, despite how big of a deal it is. Why this gets so much praise is completely beyond me.
Now then, it's time to replace the anger with sadness.
I wanted to love this game. Well, obviously, I want to at least like every game I play, but this one had me very excited! See, two of my most played games on Steam are BioShock and Mark of the Ninja, both of which I ended up having a great time with. Because of this, I was more than ready for something BioShock-like with stealth elements, and I was going into this game with a very positive mindset. Besides, pretty much every other game I've played for the first time this year has been a positive experience so far. Aside from the two I just mentioned, that includes Prototype 2, Darksiders 2, Serious Sam, Psychonauts, Payday, Shovel Knight and Shantae: Risky's Revenge. Those are very different, yet all of them delivered. Then this game comes and wipes the smile right off my face, despite me being ready to forgive it for just about anything. Presenting itself as being the type of game that can be played in two ways, stealthy and shooty-stabby-bang-bangy, simply making one of these fun would've been enough to satisfy me. Sadly, it manages neither.
Stealth in first person is a dodgy concept to begin with, but it can be done right. Probably the best way to work around it is to let you know when enemies can and can't see you. Dishonored doesn't do that. It also gives you no way of know where enemies are, so stealth in this game is some random, goofy shite that you might as well not bother with. Now, the issues with the combat are far more simple: it's clunky and glitchy. Some guy's sword motion somehow managed to do damage to me from about 2 meters away, and the main character's severe boneitis is clearly giving him trouble when it comes to swinging his tiny knife around. Really, the only efficient way of getting somewhere is running and exploiting the teleport power. Sometimes you even get a loading screen message suggesting this method, which has got to be the biggest declaration of defeat I've ever seen in a game. "Sorry guys, I know we kinda screwed up with the tactical stuff, so maybe just run through and see how that goes?"
Granted, I didn't play all the way through the game, but it did take me a while before the rough realization came to me. Mostly because being able to kill friendly NPCs is funny as balls, even if the long load times aren't always worth the automatic failure. Even the tutorial had felt rough until then, but dragging myself through the first proper mission eventually became too much. I wanted to love it so much, but I had to let it go. Playing through something that causes me nothing but frustration is not worth it, especially with all the alternatives out there. So I uninstalled it, and then I probably went for a snack. I do that a lot. It's weird that I'm not fat.
Anyway, this game was an unpleasant surprise, and I'm not giving it another go. Maybe I'll be down if they make a vastly superior sequel, but they've definitely got a lot of fixing to do. Dishonored isn't the most popular game around, but I've seen people recommend it as a legit alternative to BioShock, and that confuses me a lot.
What a twist!
No, but seriously, I'm probably too harsh on this game. It's not even that popular. Sure, it's kind of a mediocre Half-Life ripoff, but it's fairly innocent. Even for that, it did some cool stuff with lighting and shadows, and it still looks really good, even today. That said, I still have a hard time forgiving it.
What bugs me about it is not only how it fails to deliver an experience similar to Doom or Doom 2, but how nothing has any real power or weight to it, which in my opinion undermines the entire atmosphere. Guns are way too silent, to the point where it's almost comical, and the way you gently float up and down when you get punched makes the game feel slightly unfinished. It's not like guns are very powerful either, as even common enemies absorb several bullets before going down, unlike in the older games. I know this is probably because of the shift in tone and level design, but there are other, better ways to do that. Make enemies faster and/or have them do more damage. Doing that would increase the difficulty without slowing the game down, and would easily make every encounter far more intense. If things like that had been thought a bit more through, I may have enjoyed the game a ton more.
People who read my Doom 4 blog probably expected this one to be my most hated choice, but I don't actually hate it as a game, just as a concept. Sands of Time hurt me, it constantly assaulted me with its awfulness. Doom 3 is just a bit boring. Comparing the two has actually made me change my mind about a lof of the things I've said about Doom 3 in the past, even though I'm still not a fan, and this is very unlikely to change. But hey, at least we're at the point down the list where I'm starting to get why people enjoy a game, unlike the two above.
While I will never like this game, I think I've finally made peace with it. Especially since Doom 4 will be nothing like it, so I can no longer blame it on ruining the franchise.
Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty
Keep it together and bring it back to me!
Okay then, Ratchet & Clank. Awesome series. Easily one of the top Playstation franchises. That said, even this one has its ups and downs. You got the main series, which is where the best stuff is: 1, 2, 3, Tools, Crack and Nexus. Then you've got the handhelds, which I don't know anything about, and then you have the weird, experimental ones: Gladiator/Deadlocked, Booty, All 4 One and FFA. Each of these takes the R&C gameplay in a different direction, and the results are mixed. Gladiator is all arena combat (and the best one of them, imo), Quest for Booty (this one, you senile fucks) is like a classic adventure game, All 4 One is chaotic co-op with 4 players and Full Frontal Assualt is tower defense.
Most of these are looked somewhat down upon in comparison to the main games, but strangely enough, Quest for Booty is the exception, and I often see it being recommended along with the regular games, despite being way different. I certainly don't think this is deserved. In my opinion, slowing the pace down by making you stop do solve puzzles all the times really ruins the flow. Be R&C or be Monkey Island, I say. Don't mix them, it doesn't work.
I wasn't even that interested in this, but decided to check it out after getting it for free with the superb Nexus, and while it isn't the worst game I've played, everything about it felt off. It tried to do something different and unique, but I don't think it worked out. Definitely get Gladiator over this if you ever wish to check out a less popular R&C game. Otherwise, sticking to the main installments is the safest bet.
Hitman: Blood Money
A shame, definitely, because I respect this one a lot. You can do some really cool stuff in this game once you've got it all figured out, but the process of doing so, to me, was weird and confusing. I don't fully understand the controls, I can't get behind how the AI works and I don't know how to pull off most of the stealthy stuf before having failed it several times. It's a sweet game and everything, but I wish it felt a bit tighter.
I got close with this one. For a little while, I was actually sort of getting into it. It was during the opera level that I somewhat started to get a feel for it, and I thought this would be the case going forward. Sadly, it didn't last during later levels. As I said, it's not bad or anything, it just takes me a long time to get the hang of each level, and while I like how huge and crowded the environments are, finding out what to do and where you can go can feel like a bit of a chore. Had the controls and AI been easier to understand, that probably wouldn't be a problem, but when I have trouble with simple stuff like using my garrot on people and flipping coins.
Who knows? I might give it a shot again at some point in the future. There's plenty to like here, and spending about more time "giddin' gud" might pay off in the end. At least that's one thing this blog has over the last one. You won't see me going "maybe one day I will learn to hate this game, just like everyone else".
On the other hand, I've heard IO is working on a new Hitman that should be similar to this one, but which will probably control more like 2012's Absolution. That sounds like a great combo, and I'm definitely excited for it, so even if Blood Money turns out to be a lost cause, I don't have to be done with this series.
Ni No Kuni
Now for the one that makes me the most sad, because my dislike of it represents something much bigger: The fact that JRPGs will never, ever be for me. You might argue that it shouldn't be here, then, but I was using this as a sort of final test for me. Being this pretty, this immersive and this charming, and moving slightly away from classic turn based combat, I thought this had a chance of being some kind of gateway drug for me. It was also worked on by the studio that did Spirited Away, and I like that movie, so maybe that would help me through?
All it took was a demo, and I realized it wasn't gonna happen. It was almost like I was allergic to it, my brain just rejected everything about the gameplay. It's only the gameplay, too. I was trying to get caught up in the beautiful art and atmosphere, but it didn't work out, and when the demo's timer ran out, I was not getting back in the ring to take another swing. This game wasn't gonna shake me all night long, that was for sure.
Character building is probably more compelling for those who play games as a form of escapism, but I don't really dig it that much, and when it's mostly done through menus, that's where I have to get off. That is not my idea of fun, at all. Even Ni No Kuni's attempt at making it exciting and fast paced only makes it more confusing, as you switch between running in circles and stopping to choose your move from a list. It has no flow to it at all, and would've been better off going with either fully turn-based fights or being all action, because the two don't get along.
Also what the fuck, why isn't the title translated? What's it supposed to mean? Is it a caveman named Ni declaring that he has no association with the Kuni tribe? Does it have anything to do with the kid's mom being dead? Google Translate will probably give me some funny answers to that.
JRPGs not appealing to me in the slightest is a shame due to how overwhelmingly popular they are on the internet, especially on this site.
See? That's what it feels like to me when you say bad things about Tekken 4 and Blacklist. :(
Still, as far as disliking popular games go, that list could definitely be worse. I feel sorry for anyone having trouble enjoying games like Half-Life or Ocarina of Time, as they would see no end to the nerd rage. The trouble I'll get into for thinking Sands of Time is a terrible game doesn't seem that bad by comparison.
Seriously, anyone who actually gets angry at me personally for this is free to talk shit about a thing I like, if that makes you feel better. The rest of you are encouraged to share your own list of popular games that you aren't fans of, since that stuff interests me a lot. It's happened to all of you, no doubt, and this comment section is the perfect place to spit it out. Or make another blog, if you don't think a single comment will do.
Toodles for now, I gotta go see a doctor to do something about all these pitchforks stuck in my ass.