Well, it’s been almost two months since I made my triumphant return to consoles and a month since I did my write-up on games I was eager to get my hands on. Naturally, those would be the ones I target initially. But what about the ones I wasn’t necessarily eager to rush out and play? I like to consider myself a fair guy. Willing to give almost anything a fair shot before dashing it aside as not worth my time. In truth, with some of the stuff (and people) I’ve spent time on in my life, my time is clearly not worth a great deal to me. But that’s another story.
This here is essentially a polar opposite to what came before. There are no Last Of Us’ in here, No Beyond: Two Souls’. No instant favourites. No. This is the games I should have left on the shelf summary.
Again, before I get stuck in, it is important to note that what I have to say here is not a review of any of the games mentioned but merely a commentary on what I, and I alone, thought of them which in no way should be taken as recommendation in favour or against. Let’s begin.
Ok, the truth is I did not dislike this game, per se. The gameplay is something I’m very fond of. The story played with, and as such incrementally expanded my interest in Bhuddism while still making it compelling to my modern sensibilities. Just like God Of War did with Greek Mythology. Just like Thor does for many people and Norse Mythology. The problem is, that’s close to all the good I can say about it. And one of those statements is only a half truth.
When I say the gameplay was something I was very fond of, I can only really truthfully say that about the combat. Anybody who’s played it can tell you that the actual combat is unbelievably scarce in here. Hands-on interactivity in this game is split into three sections; Combat, Railshooting and Quick Time Events. The rest is just pure cutscene.
The Rail shooting was, much like all rail shooting, fun for the first few times I did it but would have been a lot better if I were using a lightgun or some relevant peripheral. On top of that the quick time events were, though far from the worst I’ve ever encountered, really bad, too. Both non-consequential and poorly placed. There were times when I thought ‘There’s no way that should be one’ and others were I couldn’t believe one hadn’t been placed… but this is just semantics.
My ultimate problem with this game is that it just wasn’t a game at all. It was a TV show, if TV shows had a run time of five to fifteen minutes a piece. Each chapter is framed with a little comic strip style sequence, with some fantastic artwork by prominently credited artists, and a thirty second video that seems to think it’s bringing it’s viewer up to speed with the story but is actually telling them what they’re about to find out… and this happens every ten minutes.
Now, I’m not hating on the game because I enjoy doing so. That’s not who I am. I wanted to enjoy this game and on some level I did. The story, though pretty formulaic, provided an excuse for some awesome fights and incredibly far-fetched stuff, a sword, for example, that was longer than the earth is wide. What little combat there is is fun and in some places challenging. It just spent a disproportionate amount of time telling me how awesome Asura (and Yasha) are rather than letting me finding out for myself. For this reason, I should have left it for someone else to pick up.
Max Payne 3:
Alright, this one is cheating a bit. The truth is I played it at launch on PC but I’m going to vent anyway. Problem? Anyone? No-one? Good! Let’s do this!
Back in 2003, shortly after finishing the second, a friend and I, who were avid fans of the Max Payne series so far, were practically bleeding with hope that the next one wasn’t far off. Not because the end of Fall left any unsatisfactorily unanswered questions, not that we wanted to see this poor bastard subjected to more torture but because we loved the game and wanted new content… well, we got it. Nine years later. With multiplayer in place of a soul. Thanks, [Frankenstar/Rockstein]. The same violin we loved, the same lamentation with the same voice, but absolutely no reason for any it. If only I had had a heads up to let me know that Alan Wake was the game I had actually been waiting for all these years I would have savoured it a little longer.
The thing that really gets my goat is that it’s a parody of a game about a man named Max Payne. If that’s not already a parody, I don’t know what is. So, essentially, Max Payne 3 is a parody of a parody. Sure, the first and second instalments were dark and moody and sad and pretty pretentious in their execution, but undeniably good fun and most assuredly parody enough of themselves. It was artsy noir, with it’s gloomy lack of hope and optimism, instantly contradicted by ridiculously fun slow motion gunfights and in my eyes it checked every box. But those grim locales, mournful, narcissistic metaphors and colour devoid atmosphere’s that gave it the character that it held so gracefully was replaced with nightclubs, party boys and Max in a Hawaiian shirt, drearily musing on his surroundings in a way that feels very much like the joke being lost on the comedian himself.
Sure, so the gameplay is more or less the same with improvements where needed but the gameplay wasn’t the only reason I was a fan. If that were true I would have loved Dead To Rights and… that other thing, the Mexican one… Total Overdose! There’s a reason people generally don’t remember them but do remember this. This is Max Payne! Or at least it was Max Payne… now this is Max Payne. And I’m not into it.
What? …fine! I know the storyline clearly points to fans such as myself (the ones that kept harping on about a 3rd game) and basically says, This is what you wanted, are you happy now? But if there was no conceivable reason for their writing staff to bring the character back without having one of my favourite game characters tell me I’m a douchebag for wanting to see more of him, just come out and say it. I’m a big boy, I’ve been through worse. Besides, after nine years I had pretty much given up on the idea.
Ahhhhhhh! That feels so much better!
In closing, this has actually been pretty hard to write because I honestly tend not to hate stuff and when I do I aim to keep it to myself. The good news is that after going through the game collection I have accumulated in the past couple of months, which is pretty deep already, aside from a few niggles in certain games, I can’t say I own a truly atrocious game. Just a bunch of fantastic ones and some that are… not quite as good. Now that, I can live with!