Hard Pressed to be Impressed
As we're nearing the beginning of a new year, I begin to wonder if 2013 will bear the sweet fruit of a mind-blowing video game. I often find myself thinking back to this year and considering the rather unimpressive displays I've experienced, my hope is nearly running dry. During my recollection of this year in gaming, I remember only a small handful of games that were able to whet my appetite, hold my attention, and actually impress me. Such games include (in no special order) Max Payne 3, The Walking Dead, Mass Effect 3, Dishonoured, and the yet to be released Hitman Absolution.
Four games in a single year, despite the many that were released...and I find that incredibly depressing. While there were many anticipated titles such as Resident Evil 6, Assassin's Creed 3, Halo 4, and Black Ops 2, I yearn for something that I can play and in the first 10 minutes, pause the game and say (completely positively), "Wow." If memory serves me, the last game to have an impressive impact on me was Heavy Rain, and while I understand that it's a poor example to some--considering how it didn't really live up to its expectations--it's still one of my favourite games to date.
"Well why are you so hard to impress," some might ask, while others might inquire, "What is it that you look for in video games?"
Well, to be honest and fair, I'm not a respected professional gamer or journalist, so my [unpopular] opinion might not be valid to some, but I look for a lot in video games. However, what I look for might vary depending on the genre or if the game is part of a franchise, or if it's simply a standalone title. For instance, in standalone role-playing games, I look for the basics of the genre and general staples: quality of character customisation (if offered), sensible and well written story, completion length and variety of things to do, and of course, gameplay. In role-playing franchises, I look to see how it compares to its predecessor in terms of what was improved that needed to be, what was added, what was changed, etc.
In general franchises such as say, Tomb Raider, in which I am an avid fan, I look for what I believe should be present. For instance, is the character being portrayed appropriately, or is justice being done? What about the fans asked for; are the white ledges gone? Does Lara move more realistically, and less like a squirrel on cocaine like in Underworld? One thing that's caught my eye since the Crossroads trailer, that four months until release, still hasn't been rectified is how Lara's attacker during the infamous controversial scene does not have a gun holster. Instead, his handgun taken from Dr. Whitman is magnetised to his thigh. I told myself that if when the game is released and the gun is still magnetised, I would write to Square Enix complaining about such laziness and failure to the attention of detail.
In short, I suppose my expectations can be a little nitpicky from time to time, but as an individual gamer, I feel everyone is entitled to their own desires and standards as to what will impress them. In my personal opinion, if gamers are to spend the full price of $60 on a new video game (ignoring the ability to buy preowned), then it is the responsibility of the game company to ensure that every plot hole is filled, every glitch is addressed, every mistake is non-existent, and ensure what is being shown makes sense...like having gun holsters. Such attention and consideration shows that the companies want to provide gamers with the best experience possible, and that the company had indeed worked to their extent.
So what is it that I'm looking for this time, you ask? Well, I often find myself yearning for something I can pick up and get right into. A game that offers a gripping, or at least an interesting story, superb gameplay, likeable characters, a good length, and a decent replay value. Either that's a hard find this year, or I'm not looking hard enough.
Feel free to send me recommendations via private message or by leaving a comment below.