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Published on September 26th, 2013 | by Tony Odett


Three for Thursday: Most Overrated Games of This Console Generation

Games are about gameplay. This would have been a self-evident point only a few short years ago. But in the last console generation, with better graphics, a better sense of writing and narrative, and stronger processors, developers discovered that they could push gaming in other ways. Stories and presentation predominated in many cases. Yet, as some of those pushed the envelope in favor of presentation, they, to the detriment of the games, de-emphasized gameplay. It is with this point in mind that I present the three most overrated games of the current console generation.

Uncharted 3

Uncharted 3 Jungle

Let me preface this by saying I enjoyed the first two Uncharted games very much. Uncharted 2, in particular, was clearly game of the year material. But something happened in between 2 and 3 that lead Naughty Dog down a particularly troublesome path. They fell in love with awesome set pieces, meaning that Uncharted 3 offered beautiful graphics and wonderfully produced cutscenes. But the gameplay was subpar at best, the shooting weak, the level design atrocious, and the narrative a meandering, senseless mess. The game includes a chase scene which can only be completed via trial and error, a completely shoehorned section in a wrecked naval yard inserted to make the game longer, and a wonderful moment where Nathan Drake is dying of dehydration in one moment and killing 30 people without a sip of water. How this game achieved its metacritic score of 92 is beyond me. The game takes a backseat to the beauty. Cutscenes should accentuate a gameplay experience. Here, they provided relief from it.

Metal Gear Solid 4

Metal Gear Solid 4

Unlike U3, I actually liked MGS4’s core gameplay. The sneaking is fun, the weapons feel good. The game is well designed. The problem I have with it is that in addition to that foundation, MGS4 shoehorns in about 10 hours of cutscenes. They’re not even well implemented. Occasionally, you’ll have one cutscene, then walk Snake down the hall to (get this) another cutscene. I understand that we had these great new PS3s capable of all sorts of graphical achievements, and that this sort of storytelling had just now entered the realm of possibility. But here it utterly distracts from the gameplay in an effort to tell a poorly conceived, meandering story that requires a feature length film at the end to wrap up.  So many wonderful moments happen in the game that could have been gameplay but instead are relegated to static cutscenes. I’m a gamer. Let me play.

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead
Storytelling isn’t a new phenomenon. The Walking Dead tells an engrossing tale, that wormed its way into the hearts of gamers the world over. And I understand the power that a narrative in which you feel you have invested your own choices can have on a person. Here’s the problem: in Walking Dead, the notion of choice was largely illusory. As you proceeded to the end of the game, you may have noticed that many situations proceeded to a certain end regardless of your decisions. You may have also noticed the weak gameplay. Numerous glitches and technical hiccups mar this experience, so much so that as it goes chapter to chapter, the portions of the game which are actually gameplay become more and more infrequent. Telltale couldn’t do them well, so they elected not to do them at all. I understand the power of narrative, and how that can broaden an experience. But, can’t we have both narrative and high quality gameplay? I want both.

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About the Author

A longtime blogger/games writer with a distinct love of strategy, he brings the smarts and the sarcasm to the Perfectly Sane Show and to Critically Sane. Always going on about games with vast strategic minutia, Tony also writes as the Critically Sane Strategist.

  • Chris Scott

    Hard to disagree with any of these.

  • Wolf

    Having not played U3, I can’t comment on it, but its kind of a shame, cause I remember really liking U 1 and 2.

    Heard critical acclaim for Walking Dead, but don’t know people who are fans, and haven’t played it either.

    MGS. MGS games are generally mechanically pretty solid, but man do the stories suck eggs. Totally agree with this being up there.

    Resident Evil games? I’ve had fun with it as a co-op (split screen) experience, but assumed I’d get board of them pretty quick if I ever played solo.

    Gears of War? I know people will wax poetic over the Gears games, and while I definitely enjoyed them, I wouldn’t call them particularly outstanding.

    Call of Duty: A solid FPS, but again, overrated? I was blown away by COD4 MW1, but since then… its been pretty same-ie. And if we are saying bad stories kill a game, COD MW2’s story was so bad i owned the game for years (like 4) before beating the campaign.

    Just my thoughts.

    • Chris Scott

      I’m not sure that the point here was that bad stories kill games. In fact The Walking Dead has a pretty solid story but there is no gameplay.

      I’d argue with you on Gears, as I find it to be a fantastic game from the gameplay perspective, and when nearly every third person game attempts to copy its mechanics, I’d say its hard to over-rate it.

      As for CoD, while I enjoy the single player roller coaster ride, that game lives and dies by its multiplayer (which while samey each year has become something of a sports game, like Madden).

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