We all have our preferences.
I like chocolate ice cream over vanilla, I prefer my eggs sunny side up, and I like level grinding in my video games.
As gamers, these preferences control what we buy and how we interact with our purchases. Perhaps I like Call of Duty’s single player campaigns (I do), but I’m not as thrilled with the multiplayer (I’m not). I’ll buy or rent the next Call of Duty for the campaign and just be done with it after that. That’s my money spent the way I want it spent.
There are a lot of great games out there. Now, more than ever. But these games aren’t always played to their potential. Our preferences, which dictate how we have come to enjoy games, get in the way of the full experience. People say that Call of Duty lives through its multiplayer. I dabble in that a bit but my preference of a single player shooter prevents me from really knowing how great (or not so great) that series may be.
If you play a game all the way through, giving it a chance, you may surprise yourself with how good (or at least not awful) it is.
I think Final Fantasy XIII is a good game to mention here. It took a long time for it to get good, but it eventually perked up and realized its potential. I’m not saying that every game should be given ten to fifteen hours of leeway, though. I honestly don’t think XIII was worth that much of my time, but I was pleased with it overall once those ending credits started rolling.
Come to think of it, maybe I was just happy the game was finally over?
Though, the argument can be made that a game’s job is to enthrall. It’s not up to the gamer to pay attention, it’s up to the game to grab your attention and put you in the proper frame of mind to enjoy it. If you follow this line of thought too closely though, you’ll run into the reasoning behind the big blockbuster titles. The ones that prominently display their ads on TV. These games usually make the best trailers because they have the biggest explosions or the biggest enemies.
There is a happy medium between Final Fantasy XIII’s forced drudgery and the constant action movie that is every modern FPS game in existence.
Recently, I reviewed Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention. I had never played a Disgaea game before that point. Other than a short stint with Final Fantasy Tactics, in which I ended up permanently killing my party (thus making it impossible to progress), I wasn’t too familiar with turn-based strategy RPGs.
Once I started playing the game, I realized how hardcore it would end up being. There’s a gargantuan amount of min-maxing available to the player:
You could enter your items (each one is also a dungeon) to level them up, level up your different classes in order to unlock beefier classes, resurrect your characters in order to start at level one with higher stats, wholly consume other characters, level up your skills, level up your traits, and move stats between your different pieces of equipment. You get the idea.
Because of its complexity, Disgaea 3 required an attention commitment. At the same time, the game’s ridiculous story had me from the start. My experience with the game was a two-way street, where I wasn’t simply led along by stimuli and I didn’t have to force myself to play through it.
Still, I had to make Disgaea work for me. If I had simply quit within the first few hours because of how slow the game was to the draw, I wouldn’t realize how enjoyable the game could be. Getting past the first couple hours in a decently long game is essential.
There’s one game in particular that I know I didn’t put enough time in.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning came out earlier this year with a good bit of praise. At first glance, I saw a Fable/Skyrim hybrid. Instantly, I was curious but apprehensive.
I borrowed it from a friend for a short hour and was unimpressed. Reckoning wasn’t as visceral as I had hoped. The combat bored me and the story was uninteresting. I finished about a demo’s worth of time before I cut it off and returned it.
I immediately went online to see what other critics and gamers thought. The game got somewhat good reviews with a few mixed thoughts here and there. I saw a particular review that I wholeheartedly disagreed with. As I was about to flame the game based on my hour experience, I realized something:
I only played for one hour. What the hell. I had no real right to say anything about the game, especially as a game critic. I didn’t give it a chance to shine or falter, I simply shut it down.
Sure I found the game on the weak side, with loose controls in particular. Sure, it only served to make me lust for Skyrim once again. I still only had a toe in the pool.
I realized that unless I played something for a decent amount of time, my opinion isn’t really valid. A game is a small commitment, and it’s only as good as you make it.
No, I’m not going to play Reckoning again. I hate that game.