Some may or may not can tell after observing my page and/or comments that I'm not particularly fond of the opinions of mainstream review sites. Yes, sites...as in online. I find that the majority of the game scores that I disagree with come from the direction of the popular online review sites or online gaming communities.
Back when I started gaming in the 80s and the bulk of my experience in the 90s...critics and fans alike didn't seem as hard on games as they are today. I know the standards are much different today than they were then but I also feel that something was lost along the way: HAVING FUN!!! Back then, it didn't seem like every game was judged against the best in its genre. The similarities and the differences were respected. For example, people weren't quick to dismiss Sonic as a cheep Mario knockoff because he was a company mascot, his game was a platformer, he fought the same boss over and over at the end of each world, could go invinsible for a short time, etc. In fact, many games of this time built off the "Super Mario formula" and were still good games in their own right. If something worked, it just worked and everyone seemed to accept that.
Now in days, many gamers complain about the scarcity of new IPs...but I dare argue that many developers have attempted to meet this demand to no avail. As soon as new FPS comes out..."its no COD (Call of Duty) or Battlefield", TPS (Third Person Shooter)..."its boring" or "its a Gears of War ripoff", WRPG (Western Role Playing Game)..."Mass Effect is better/Its a Skyrim rip off", etc. My point is, nothing these days seems to ever be judged on its own merits. Sure, with some of these games the concepts are not original but how well were they executed? Poorly or did it just seem that way because you were too busy whinning about how some other game did it better? Perhaps instead of expecting every game to be like the second coming of these critically acclaimed titles/series, take time to enjoy the trends that have been set and replicated by subsequent IPs.
After playing a handful of what I like to call "misfit titles" (more commonly referred to as bargin bin titles), I discovered some overlooked gems. From then on, I've devoted myself as a gamer to try more of these games that look interesting to me but recieve low critic scores. I can honestly say that since making that commitment, I have only played a handful of these games that are flat out bad. Could some of them had been better...Absolutely, but that's not to say that they weren't good. Where some JUST as good as or better than many mainstream titles...YES and this is what troubles me the worst when I encounter it.
I want to acknowledge a few of these gems and briefly summarize why each are far better than commonly reviewed:
Like many games on this list, I watched the online review for this yet my eyes and ears were not in agreence. I hear the reviewer saying one thing but everything that I'm seeing is telling me that this is an awesome game. After taking a chance and BUYING this game...I wasn't surprised at all to find that it was amazing. It does play along the same lines as Mass Effect: TPS/WRPG hybrid, multiple ways to play the game based on decisions made, intel gathering, choosing a job class & background, romances, etc. However, it also does many things differently. In every decision you make or response you give in the game, you have a 10 second window to do so. Alpha Protocol forces you to either think on your feet or do your research ahead of time to know which direction you want to take. Also, you only control one character...meaning you have to be more strategic in the skills you learn with the primary character. The story and characters were great. Like ME, it was the little things done in the game that could totally effect which direction the game goes. Seriously, right down to the enemy types you decided to kill or spare during fire fights.
I played this before any game in the Mass Effect series. Now after playing both, its obvious that Mass Effect is the superior game BUT that doesn't mean that Alpha Protocol is a 6.0/10.0 game! When compared against a giant like ME, of course it doesn't stand a chance but my arguement is...every game within this genre isn't going to be a ME nor should it expected to be. That doesn't mean it can't be good when judge on its own merits. Due to its more linear nature, Alpha Protocol is better suited to those gamers that may want something faster paced than ME. Plus, being a total douche in the game was more satisfying on some parts than on Mass Effect. Sure, the game's visuals where a bit dated and did appear to fall apart on some parts but I've seen other games get away with much worst and get higher scores!
It's a shame this commonly scored the way it did because I feel that if given the chance, Alpha Protocol could have been a very strong IP and gotten even better over time. Perhaps even rivaling the Mass Effect series.
I separate TPS shooters into 2 categories when playing them: mindless shooters and story based shooters. Mindless shooters are pretty self explanitory...point your gun, shoot, dodge, and run. Story based shooters are TPS that take more time to actually explore the plot and fire fights tend to require more strategy than the former. Each has their place in the gaming universe. Personally, I'm a fan of both (I understand not everyone is) and Fracture definately fits into the "mindless shooter" category. For a minute, lets ignore the fact of prefence between the 2 categories and lets just focus on how Fracture is as far as mindless shooters go.
Despite the fact that I believe that the game's overall gimmick (terrain deformation) could have been used better, it was a solid and very challenging shooter. One of the most challenging that I've played this generation of gaming. When it comes to gunning and running, Fracture does it right! The story is flat and the characters are as about as shallow as a kiddie pool...but the same can be said about some of the greatest action movies of all time, lol. Seriously though, once you figure out what Fracture actually is, everything else it does poorly can be forgiven. Think on the lines of these NES games: Contra and Metal Gear. If you understand what makes both of these games different but good then you should be able to understand what I'm trying to say about this game...
Venetica...my one and only Platinum trophy. All bias aside, this game is worth more than 5.0/10.0. Sure the world isn't as immersive and the characters aren't as deep as the more popular action RPGs this gen but the gameplay is solid. If anything, Venetica is a very good game for someone to play if this is their first go at the RPG genre in general. How basic it is and its lack of complexity would keep noobies from feeling overwhelmed with a bunch of concepts they don't understand yet. You have your moral choices, main quests, side quests, different weapon types, enemies that are only weak to specific weapons, skill tree, magic tree, NPCs, towns, etc.
All of it is there, just on a smaller scale. If you go in knowing that you are going to get all of these common elements in a condensed fashion, then Venetica should be a very enjoyable experience. Its not a game that I would recommend if one wants to play a "great" RPG but rather something to play if in between the others. At minimum, it will manage to scratch that RPG itch of yours.
Oh man, the epitomy of my entire arguement. MINDJACK IS A GOOD...NO...GREAT GAME!!! To this day, I do not understand why so many people hate this. I cannot even begin to express the satifaction of defeating a boss who was aided by one to four other players who hacked into my campain playthrough! Or the even greater satisfaction from when I hacked into someone elses game and consistantly rewarded them with "Game Overs" for their efforts :twisted: ! Is it an original concept? No, Demons Souls is famous for this mechanic BUT imo Mindjack does it so much better! The fact that you can possess enemies and turn many others into friendly A.I is awesome enough but there's just something fiendishly gratifying about when you show up in the middle of some else's playthrough and do the same against them!
Not just that but the way this combines the single player campaign and the online competitive multiplayer is amazing to me. Up to 7 other players can hack into someone's playthrough (which I have experienced) and with enough enemies alive on the screen, it will essentially turn into a team deathmatch in the middle of someone's campaign! In the same respect, it becomes an online co-op if you have nothing but human allies hacked into your game. These features can be turned on and off at will.
Again, Mindjack falls into the mindless shooter category...its mostly about gameplay. It's disappointing how the story falls apart at the end but the entire experience of the gameplay makes up for it. Mindjack is definately one of my favorite games on the PS3 and it literally pisses me off every time I hear or see someone bashing it.
Lost Planet 2
This is another, if not bigger head scratcher for me. The reasons this game is commonly bashed are just flat out silly to me. Most people claim that it has a bad story (which if it did, I'd have no problem pointing out) but I beg to differ. Capcom simply changed the format and the storytelling approach that it chose in the first game. It was disappointing for me as well not to know the fates of the original protagonists but that doesn't just automatically make this game's story bad. I actually liked how Capcom chroniclized the different agendas and missions of the many groups that occupy E.D.E.N. III. The lines of heores and villians become blurred especially seeing how the end of the game plays out. Lost Planet 2 definately felt more like a story based shooter than mindless.
The single player campaign is VERY challenging even on moderate difficulty! The game is based around and the difficulty seems to encourage online co-op. I had a ton of fun blasting away hoards of enemies and taking down life sized bosses with 3 other players by my side. Personally, I think most people simply do not like this game because of the different approach to the storytelling, the difficulty, and the nearly impossible platinum trophy to achieve. All are pretty petty reasons imo...
A classic example of a game that CONSTANTLY get compared to Gears of War! Does the primary protagonist of Quantum Theory look like something out of that game? Yes...but does that and the fact that they are in the same genre mean that this is a shameless rip off...No! They aren't even about the same thing nor play exactly alike. For starters, Gears is more squad based where Quantum Theory focuses on a buddy system.
Besides the unfounded and idiotic comparison, there isn't anything wrong with this game. If anything, it just doesn't do much new within the genre and it does fit into the mindless shooter classification, so the storytelling isn't extravagant. The visuals are impressive, there's great weapon variety, the controls are decent and the game isn't long enough to get bored with it. It uses a formula that works when it comes to delivering something entertaining, so why all the hate? 4.0/10.0? C'mon!
3D Dot Game Heroes
This is more like an honorable mention than anything else because it isn't bashed to the degree as the other games are. People, repeat slowly after me: PAR...O...DY! Apparantly, there aren't a lot of gamers who understand the meaning or concept of the word. The fact that I've seen some people call this a "Zelda Rip-Off" worries me a lot about the state of gaming itself. IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE JUST LIKE ZELDA!!! The game pays homage to it and several other RPGs of the past!
Besides that, I'm just kinda disappointed by how this gem flew under so many people's radar and how the scores for this could have been much higher.
At the end of the day, my beef is that people these days don't seem to have the patience to let the standards that these popular franchises set to be emulated or modified by any other subsequent release. Too many great games are crapped on or slip through the cracks because they weren't judged on their own merits. Too much time is spent on gripping about similarities than appreciating differences. Sure, we should always demand fresh and new gaming content but not to the extent where quality experiences are being neglected and we possibly miss out on the very thing that will get us closer to what we're asking for. What I won't encourage is for anyone to go out and spend $60 on any game that they have doubts about...then again, I wouldn't encourage anyone to go spend $60 on a game in general. I'm just saying, some times taking the risk in spending some money on a title that you're interested in despite mainstream feedback is worth it! I am truely grateful for the time I spent giving these games the time of day. It reenforced the concept that there is more to gaming than the big AAA titles that we are constantly beat over the head with to purchase.
Rome wasn't built in a day and excellent IPs weren't developed in a single release. They all strated from some level of imperfection and unoriginality.