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The Heresy Thread

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The Heresy Thread

by Calin Kim » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:02 pm

Given that we revel in appreciating the unappreciated and playing a lot of the weird stuff that no one else did, it follows that some of us are probably going to dislike some of the games that everyone else can't shut up about. I created this thread so we could get together and talk about some of the beloved and classic games that just don't do it for us. It could be because we don't understand the appeal, or it could be that we understand the appeal and think the game is a failure in a way that others don't.

We do occasionally see this phenomenon in the larger games press. Remember when Bioshock Infinite came out and people were stepping over each other to fawn over it? Remember six months later when everyone had some time to reflect and think on things?

Let's slaughter some sacred cows. Here is my contribution:

I dislike Fallout 3 immensely. I think that it's a mediocre shooter with a leveling system and that I should have spent the 40 hours or so that I spent playing doing something more constructive like watching reruns of Gilmore Girls for the fifth or sixth time.

But why?

There's a few reasons why. Before I get too deep into those reasons I should reveal that Fallout and Fallout 2 are among my favorite games and fondest gaming memories. I'm sure there's at least a sliver of nostalgia affecting my reasons for disliking Fallout 3, but I played the original Fallout games obsessively when they came out. I was in my mid teens when the Fallout games were released, which put me in that sweet spot of having a ton of time on my hands that I could just wander the wastes, discovering fun, weird stuff. I've completed the original Fallout probably about five times, and I've played through differently each time. On one occasion, I completed the game without killing a single enemy. I either ran from encounters or talked my way out of them. (Yes, you can talk your way through that one part...) Fallout revealed to me a world that, like Wasteland before it, was just overflowing with personality and creativity. You could never raise all of your skills high enough to make the most of them, so each subsequent playthrough became an opportunity to experiment with a new type of character. I created melee and unarmed gods and goddesses of death. Sometimes I created characters who could science the hell out of the world. Sometimes I created characters with an intelligence score so low that communication became an issue. There was a multitude of ways to play these games, and they allowed you to get really creative.

Fast forward 11 years later. Calin has grown up and has a job teaching at a small college. Knowing that Fallout 3 would be releasing, he gives his students the day off from school and drives through a snow storm to pick up his special edition copy of Fallout 3. He knows it won't be exactly like the old ones, and he's a little scared because he's not the biggest fan of Bethesda games, but he has faith. Even if it's not as good, it will at least be funny. Even if it's not turn-based, at least you can engage in some type of strategy.

I boot it up around 10 in the morning, and I build my character. Just like the old days I go for charismatic and good at small guns. Sweet. Let's do this thing. Alright, we're in a vault, and there's a lot of voice acting. There's some cheesy bible shit going on. This will get better once we leave the vault, though...

It doesn't. It doesn't get any better. The real time combat precludes any type of strategy or thought going into the battles. It becomes about holding down the button until the thing I'm pointing the gun at dies. The VATS system allows you to be somewhat tactical, but it reloads so slowly that it's easier to just equip a machine gun and hold the trigger down, especially since money isn't an object after the first couple hours of the game. There's tons of combat and less talking your way through things. This feels like a game made for Call of Duty fans, not for people like me who obsessed over the originals.

I slogged my way through this because I paid $80 for it or whatever the super special edition cost, but I wasn't happy about it. Bethesda should stick to making generic fantasy games instead of generic post-apocalyptic shooters they decide to name Fallout.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by mrgilder » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:20 am

I probably catch the most flak for not liking Earthbound. Like, at all. Alot of people come at me hard about it. Do I not understand that it has a quaint setting that lampoons classic Americana from a Japanese perspective? Yes, yes I do. I also get that the story/adventure is touching. And I find the brightly colored minimalist pixel art charming. But I still kinda don't care.

My approach to gaming has always been to consider mechanics and play design about all else (in most cases). And I simply don't find Earthbound fun to play. Usually if a game has at least one gameplay hook that interests me, I can push on through an endure the rest. But I just can't find any actual play elements to redeem the game for me. I have nothing against slightly more mellow RPGs with low-action first person battles - I love me some oldschool Dragon Quest, but the pace of progress in Earthbound is just too plodding and the combat moves like molasses. The music, though charming and well composed on its own merits, often is so discordantly out of sync with what's happening on screen that I simply can't get into the groove of playing. Out of all the games that I'm supposed to like due to popular consensus, Earthbound actively pushes me away the most . . . and it hurts . . . because I want to like it.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Alex Connolly » Sat Oct 11, 2014 4:45 pm

Oooh, this thread will be fun. And unlike the rest of the Internet when it comes to sticking sacred cows, we'll see erudite explanations of why, rather than piping an easy litre of WebSnark and leaving it at that.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Teryn » Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:05 pm

Fallout 3, well, it feels like Bethesda tried to make it bigger than life. Kind of like your in-game father, who has such high hopes for you, but ultimately wishes to shelter you and keep you safe rather than let "anything" happen to you. ("Finding Nemo" fans, take note.)

I enjoy Fallout 3 some, but the Havoc engine is broken. ... I didn't ask to shoot people's heads off consistently once I got to level X (how do you shoot off heads without cauterizing them with a laser gun??), I wanted a good story with somewhat challenging battles. It's even more uneven than Oblivion, that had the same engine, but the unbalancing is much worse in F3 by late game. By that point, enemies are mostly too easy, with a small amount of them that are very difficult to beat (even fully powered up and armoured) without pumping yourself full of items.

Earthbound, I like and hate it. I also think the music had that quality of being out of place, too. Battles seem a bit boring, at least it lets you avoid grinding on much lower level enemies by giving you an insta-win, something I would like to have seen with more RPGs with that battle style.

My contribution to the Heresy pile: Halo. Gearbox's Halo on PC, I've been told it's probably the worst form of it visually. What was so interesting about that game anyways? I got story barely doled out to me per 2-3 hours of wandering around empty spaces and sometimes killing stuff (then it was crazy around the end). The natural worlds were beautifully rendered, but empty and devoid of any real personality. This smelled and acted like a game that was *supposed* to rest on its graphical laurels on the then-brand-new Xbox, so the poorer-looking PC port didn't prop up the game's lack of substance, either.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Alex Connolly » Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:16 pm

I really dig the original Halo, and played both the Xbox and PC port versions. For me, it's things like the sound design and the then-robust combat encounters - Library discounted. It felt far more vast and epic than it had any right to be. Plus, things like grenade physics.

It was the sound design for me, though. The hums, the buzzes, the iconic beep-beep-beep-bwooooap of recharging Mjolnir armour. Nothing felt stock or off-the-shelf. Coupled with great modulated acoustics, where a battle elsewhere - most prominent in places like Sidewinder and Blood Gulch - had a depth and sense of distance.

But I can see where it'd be comparatively tame fare on PC, given the competition on the beige box.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Angry Jedi » Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:59 pm

I've found myself disliking most of the big shooter franchises over the last few years, for fairly specific reasons in each case:

Halo - The repetitiveness and copy-paste nature of the first game really put me off, with later installments having more interesting environments but maintaining my biggest bugbear of the series: enemies that are a pain to kill while simultaneously having the ability to instakill you. I understand the lore of the wider Halo universe is supposed to be fascinating, but if you can't put that across in the game itself without burying it in secret places no-one in their right mind will ever stumble across, you fail at worldbuilding. It's not that the world of Halo is boring on a superficial level, it's that it never -- to me -- even hints at there being something worth investigating beneath the surface.

Gears of War - When I think about it, this game is the point where triple-A and I parted ways. I played it for a bit out of that feeling of "obligation" I used to have to play the latest big releases, and after the initially positive impressions -- those graphics looked amazing, even on the standard definition CRT TV I was running my 360 off at the time -- I realised that I simply wasn't having any fun, and I didn't care about the story or the characters. Those two things have always been of paramount importance in keeping my interest in a game -- I know not everyone feels the same way, but it's how I, personally, work -- and thus I took it out of my console, traded it in and never touched the series since.

Call of Duty - I believe I once described Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 as one of the most insulting games I had ever played. Not for the subject matter -- its "controversial" scene was ham-fisted nonsense -- but rather the way it treated the player, with a "FOLLOW" icon constantly over someone perpetually running in front of you, and the fact you never got to do anything cool yourself. The game might as well have had you wielding a camera for the whole game rather than a gun -- and might, indeed, have been more interesting as a result.

Titanfall - I gave this a chance during the beta, but I hated it. Again, a potentially interesting sci-fi setting is utterly squandered on a multiplayer-only shooter. The mech combat was unsatisfying and had no weight to it whatsoever, and the on-foot combat was Call of Duty, until you decided to parkour somewhere, at which point it became a clumsy, broken mess.

Everything by Bethesda - I soured myself on Bethesda by getting all the achievements in Oblivion on 360, but every time I've tried one since it's been the same: a beautiful but utterly lifeless world filled with uninteresting, unmemorable characters telling a tedious story that I don't care about. I may be missing the point of the experience, but I don't really find the "let's see how many different ways we can exploit this stupid levelling system" of Skyrim thing fun, and I don't like the games enough to want to delve into the millions of mods out there. For me, RPGs are about interesting stories, characters and lively, intriguing, deep, rich, well-realised worlds, and Bethesda's stuff doesn't deliver on any of those things -- to me, anyway -- consistently.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Teryn » Sat Oct 11, 2014 7:54 pm

It does seem in vogue to insult Bethesda now, but I also hate them for smashing down what was left of the original devs of Fallout to NOT make an MMORPG based on the Fallout series. I'm not buying another Bethesda game, no matter what people say about Skyrim or any of their other games in the future.

I think since Oblivion, Bethesda haven't had the same dedication in making their worlds really come alive. It's more making games to feed the crowd just to feed yourself, so why be unique when being "ok" is enough for people to buy it?

Morrowind definitely didn't seem as flat to me, though some think the malaise started with The Elder Scrolls games' move to 3D. Morrowind gives a bad first impression when the initial story *and* character speed are as slow as molasses in January. A few hours in, things really pick up.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Grant Heaslip » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:36 am

Since Bethesda is a running theme here, I'll say that I also don't remember enjoying Oblivion, and I'm really skeptical about Fallout 3 and (particularly, given the breathless praise) Skyrim. Oblivion was beautiful at the time, but it also had a bland world, boring combat, janky mechanics, and a general lack of – to use a cop-out pharse – soul. There was a lot of "content" there, but if I'm not enjoying playing it, what's the point?

I recently tried Dragon Age: Origins, and just couldn't get into it. I'm sure that it was partially a result of my playing the PS3 version – which has some terrible performance, awkward menus, and limited tactical controls compared to the PC version – but I also just wasn't into the characters, lore, or visual design. I also found myself having a bunch of trouble with some of the early encounters while others were cakewalks. It's something I could have probably worked out if there had been any kind of carrot pulling me forward, but there wasn't. I really liked the Mass Effect games (even 3), so my problem isn't strictly with BioWare. I can respect DA:O more than Oblivion, but it's clearly not for me.

I don't know if this is that controversial of an opinion, but I think Quantic Dream's games (Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, and Beyond: Two Souls) are overrated, terribly-written, unendearing B-movie schlock. Each game is chock full of gaping plot holes, dangling plot threads, completely unnecessary scenes, unconvincing voice performances, and bad QTE-driven controls. Heavy Rain has an 87% on Metacritic, and that's hard to forget when I'm looking at breathless "it's just like a movie!" reviews of other gaming "blockbusters".

Lastly, I've jumped into the Final Fantasy series over the last couple of years – I didn't own a PS1 or PS2 and I'm too young to have played the SNES games at the time. I've played XIII, XIII-2, Lightning Returns, VI, and VII, and thus far XIII is my favourite. I also liked VII quite a bit more than VI. I know my preference of XIII > VII > VI is probably the opposite of a lot of series veterans, so I figured I'd throw it out there.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Raven2785 » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:44 am

How about I post a truly unpopular opinion.

What is the deal with Half Life?

I simply do not get how this franchise is so revered by so many people, I do see how some people like Alyx, and I can see how the Gravity gun was creative, but the rest of the game is just another shooter with zombies caused by crabs and every now and then getting sucked into the roof by some... thing's tongue.

I tried the very first Half Life and barely made it past the lab accident level before I put it down because it wasn't that entertaining or engaging, I tried Half Life 2, got to the part where you meet with Alyx and her father at the lab before it bored me as well, bought the Orange Box and decided to give it another shot, got as far as the drain system when you're being chased by a chopper before I called it quits, I now learned my lesson and haven't touched the episodes despite owning them.

So, can someone explain to me what is so good about Half Life that has so many people pinning for half Life 3 like a 40's girl waiting for her boyfriend to come back from the war?
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Grant Heaslip » Sun Oct 12, 2014 3:07 am

Raven2785 wrote:How about I post a truly unpopular opinion.

What is the deal with Half Life?

I simply do not get how this franchise is so revered by so many people, I do see how some people like Alyx, and I can see how the Gravity gun was creative, but the rest of the game is just another shooter with zombies caused by crabs and every now and then getting sucked into the roof by some... thing's tongue.

I tried the very first Half Life and barely made it past the lab accident level before I put it down because it wasn't that entertaining or engaging, I tried Half Life 2, got to the part where you meet with Alyx and her father at the lab before it bored me as well, bought the Orange Box and decided to give it another shot, got as far as the drain system when you're being chased by a chopper before I called it quits, I now learned my lesson and haven't touched the episodes despite owning them.

So, can someone explain to me what is so good about Half Life that has so many people pinning for half Life 3 like a 40's girl waiting for her boyfriend to come back from the war?


I do remember enjoying the HL2 games, but it's been a long time and I know my tastes have changed. I've been meaning to circle back around and see where I stand on it today, and it should say something about my goodwill for HL2 that I'm now considering popping The Orange Box in sometime soon. FWIW, I'm with in you in not enjoying the first game, but I played it well after HL2 came out and my sense is that a lot of that game's appeal and novelty is lost in a modern context.

I thought HL2's aesthetic, atmosphere, and general world-building was great and unlike almost anything else. Something about it's dystopian, run-down-yet-mechanized Eastern Europe felt cohesive and believable in a way a lot of video game worlds don't to me. While parts of the game go on for too long, the different sections of the game had really varied (at least by shooter standards) gameplay. I'm not really a shooter person, but I do remember thinking it was a pretty good shooter in the sense that it was satisfying to kill guys and you were given a fair bit of leeway as to how you went about doing it. Keep in mind these are all vague recollections of a game I last played as a teenager, so take them with a grain of salt.

I've stopped following the HL2:E3/HL3 rumours, but I'll be there on day one if/when they make it. Given where Valve is as a company right now, I'm not holding my breath.
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