01-27-12 - Some Game Reviews

Mass Effect 2 - it's pretty good looking (mmm space camel toe), but this is not a game; it's like semi-interactive fiction or something. I just feel like nothing that I do (in the game, though also in life) actually matters; all the "challenges" are absurdly easy, and your hand is held. Then it goes into a long cinematic talky blah blah. This type of game is after my era and I really don't understand it. It's not good gameplay, and it's also just not a good movie; it's sort of like a bad game combined with a bad movie, and people seem to just love that. I'd rather just watch a good movie where I don't have to hold a controller in my hand and press A once in a rare while.

Skyrim - my god, I am surprised that this game is so widely praised. I get that there's definitely a niche market that wants to collect thirty snails so you can make dye so you can tie-dye shirts to sell in the town fair. But I'm shocked that that market is so large. Also, the general game mechanics are so fucking janky, it feels like Everquest or something built by amateurs on a free 3d engine. There's weird pointy collision geometry that you get stuck on, the graphics are full of artifacts, wtf.

Gran Turismo 5 - whoah this game is super disappointing. First of all the graphics are surprisingly terrible. How hard is it to render a race track? The basic stuff, the pavement, trees, etc. just don't look good and you wind up seeing big zoomed-in pixels all the time. The menu flow of the game is atrocious, and the load times are totally unforgivable. Typical game session goes like this - click though some damn movies, click through several fucking popup boxes about how I need to set the date & time and connect to the network, okay, finally the main menu (which takes a while to load); click into a sub-menu (loading...), again and again, like 5 or more menus before I get to race (each menu taking quite some time to load), and then *loading* ... it loads each fucking opponent car one by one and they take several seconds each, WTF. Every time you go into a menu it loads, and then just to back out to the previous menu it has to reload it! WTF WTF. But by far the most disappointing thing is the physics; I thought that with a wheel it would actually behave like a real car, and it just doesn't. Which brings me to -

Logitech Driving Force GT Wheel - GT5 was sucking so bad I thought I would try it with a wheel, so I bought this piece of crap. The force feedback is completely terrible; it's a nice idea, it should give you some of the feedback you get from a real steering wheel, which should give you information about if your tires are sliding or in the air or whatever. Nope, none of that. Instead you just get the motor seemingly randomly turning on and moving around the wheel really hard, like you have to fight it with fierce muscle flexing. It's garbage. So I found this trick that you can unplug the power from it (after it does its self-calibrating thing) and that disables the horrible motor jamming you up, and then it's sort of okay, obviously no feel or response in the wheel, but that's better than horribly wrong random force feedback.

Of course all that shittiness pales in comparison to the basic shittiness of the entire modern console gaming experience. I only play games like once a year, so when I do decide "hey let's try this game out" the experience is - "sorry, you need to update your system software" ; urgh , wtf, okay ... then I do it and start the game - "this game needs to download an update" ; urgh, wtf, okay ... then "this game must be installed to the harddrive to run; it needs 18.4 GB" ; urgh wtf, okay... finally it's installed and starts up - "this game requires a newer version of the system software"... WTF !? I already did that and you didn't give me the latest version? (drop out to the main menu), yep, there's a newer version, get that. By this point I fucking hate the game and have no interest in playing it.


Ben Garney said...

Have you gone back and watched ST:TNG recently? IMHO, ME2 is the video game equivalent, but of course, it has much better production values than TNG did. Kick back on the couch, play an "episode" that takes about an hour, done. Not too challenging, but more to it than watching a TV show. And fewer commercials..

At least, I approached it in that light and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Maybe that's a fucked up basis to enjoy video games on, since it kind of denies the deeper possibilities of the genre.

James said...

Play bastion. It's short, and one of the rare instances of style over substance being really compelling.

trixter said...

For me the main complaint against GT5 is that they lowered the framerate to 30fps with motion blur. The PS2 and PSP variations are 60fps and look more visually pleasing as a result even though the resolution and texture/model quality is lower.

When I'm playing an action game, I want a fast display rate, not a pretty one. I need a high input sampling rate to play better. Any game that doesn't run at 60fps on a console is a poor excuse for a console game. It's a console -- it's supposed to run at the full framerate.

cbloom said...

@James - Yeah I hear Bastion is good (also Limbo), but no Xenon for me.

BTW I'm outraged at paying $50 for some of these games. I can't believe that normal/poor people spend their money on this stuff.

Aaron said...

Go play limbo: http://us.playstation.com/games-and-media/games/limbo-ps3.html

Sean Barrett said...

Bastion is on steam.

Myself, I got bored after an hour, though.

Sean Barrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ryg said...

Myself, I got bored after an hour, though.
Narrator: "Dude looks at the screen, thinks 'whatever', decides to quit to Dashboard."

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Worley said...

Two modern games I recommend:

Battlefield 3. It's a modern shooter, but with a ton of options and strategy. It's still fundamentally a lot of twitch shooting, but that's not too bad for keeping your reflexes sharp. It's also easy to take a 20 minute dose and then leave.

Minecraft. This stupid simplistic sandbox game is just Different. Most people play as a "I built a cool house, look, look!" but us geeks tend to have more fun with technical challenges and self-set goals like making machines. This game is deeply, deeply multi-layered because it changes so much based on how YOU play it.. a sign of a good sandbox design.

Nino Mojo said...

I tried the Bastion demo because it looks and sounds so awesome, but I was thoroughly disappointed. It's guilty of 2 major deal breakers for me:

1) it gives you way too many different weapons way too quickly. I hope this is only in the demo, but if not, it's truly bad design. I don't have time to really develop a relationship with my weapon because every 2 minutes "oh yeah now you can use this new one!". It just goes too fast.

2) the player's character is fucking sliding in yogurt! The run cycle is way too fast for the speed at which the character moves on screen, it feels horrible, like I'm being slowed down by some other force.

The demo turned me down and convinced me not to buy a game that I thought was a sure buy.

MH said...


I liked it, and Im finally glad someone made an FPS Diablo, which had to be done.

Daniel 'sirleto' Renkel said...


thanks, thank you so much.
now i feel WAY less lonely in this world.

your whole post is exactly my current pov on video games.

that sucks so much :-(

old rants