I am officially old. I have being gaming since the days of the Atari 2600. I got into game in 1987, which is actually in the last century. I had a 8-bit system, skipped the 16-bits for a bit, got a PC, than start gaming in 16-bit, got a PSone, PS2, PSP, PS3, a PS Vita and finally a game capable PC (Pentium i5 3.2 GHZ, 8MB RAM, GTS450 video board). Thanks to community member and friend TH3MORROW, I received as a gift Half-Life 2
, a game I haven't played before. And I must say, I am very mixed about this.
I do not evaluate the quality of a game based in its graphics. Graphics are the least important thing of all the important things in gaming. Gameplay design, story, sound are all more important to me. And something shocks me every time I play an old-time game. I just can't get the same enjoyment I got from new games. Again, I don't care about fancy graphics (and Half-Life 2
is far from being ugly, specially in maximum settings). It is the actual gameplay I discovered I can't enjoy anymore.
Despite enjoying them in the past, mind you.
clearly show the evolution of gaming. He is a link between old shooters like Doom and new ones like Call of Duty. It have elements both old and new and I can clearly see why people love it. But I am, failing to get into it. Maybe it is because I am in the very beginning of it. But Half-Life 2
is not an isolated case.
Too much time doing nothing...
The PS3, through its Playstation Plus program, gave me several old-time games, specially beat-em-ups from Sega, like Streets of Rage II
and Golden Axe
. And I failed to enjoy them the same as I enjoyed them when they were new. Golden Axe
was one of my favorite games of its time, but I just can't stand to it anymore. Even classics like Sonic make me cringe every time I die because of an unexpected enemy.
I may be weird. Because in theory, I am the guy that should enjoy old-time games more than new ones, yet I am one that defends that new games improved in so many things that going back to the old ways is in fact really hard. And that is not because of graphics. It is because of gameplay frustrations.
Dying in the level and returning to the very beginning of it. Dying because I can't find a healing item to help me or because I missed an enemy for pixels. Not finding my way around because of lack of auto-map. Not hearing the characters speak but having to read texts. All of those make me have less enjoyment now than I had in the past. Playing a game without many voice acting now feels weird. Getting lost is not as funny anymore. Having to memorize every enemy pattern and level tires me.
Shooting things with rocket launchers? Fun.
Maybe it is me, that I am old to admire those old designs. I don't feel like I have time to keep replaying the same levels again and again until I get it right. It is not that I don't want to spend time in game. I just feel that games now need to do more to keep me in them, to entice me in keep playing. I always preferred games with a deep story than games with none. New things happening all the time always made me go forward than long walks killing the same enemies over and over again.
Other things is because of old designs decisions. Many games have controls that would be classified as weird for today's standards. Levels and the way you transverse them would be considered bothersome and nonsensical by many.
Maybe that is why I couldn't felt so compelled into Half-Life 2
. I have passed a time too long going too point a to point b without anything interesting happening. To the point of getting happy when enemies appear shooting at me. Again, I am in the very beginning of the game, so it may get better with time. Other games don't have the same chance. Playing them beginning to end was a chore full of frustrations that killed a bit of the nostalgic feeling I had for them.
I know a lot of gamers around my age become very happy when a game with the old school flavor appears. I don't condemn them or envy them. It is just that I can't go back. I know it. Every time I get a game with old school mechanics and designs I know that those old games were good at their time. Some are in fact good today. But all the changes that happened in gaming through my near three decades of gaming made games better for me. While a few games are still fun to play as they were when I was a little kid, many don't hold that fantasy, that pleasure anymore.
If you read my blog with certain regularity, you know that sometimes I talk about games from the past that seemingly are forgotten by the game community. Those are games that even today would hold themselves. There is games, true classics, that were not only the base for modern games, but they are so well done that they simple don't age. Other games, on the other hand, simple belong to their time and should be left for there, as a nice memory of great times.
Not all games can be timeless classics as this one.
In the end, this is a very personal thing. I know plenty of games that wish that the 'classic age' of gaming, an age that exist only to themselves, could make a return. But me? I am very happy with my brand new games right now. A return to old school would just drive me away from games.
So, I will try to finish Half-Life 2
. I will always keep in my mind that it is a product of its time and be grateful that it paved the way for many modern games. But it is the modern games I will look for and left many old games were they belong. In my memories.
Except this one. I still want to play it again.