Published on September 26th, 2013 | by Tony Odett4
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.
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
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
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.