Games I Was Wrong About: Part One

I’ve playing MGSV obsessively at the moment. You might have noticed. This is a statement which would make 2005 me punch 2015 me in the nose. A decade ago I was so much more forceful and intolerant in my opinions about videogames, and one of the recipients of that unyielding ire was Metal Gear Solid. I played some of 2, felt as though it was simply wasting my time, and that was it, the entire series was irredeemable. Everything I read now suggests I’d still feel that way about MGS2 particularly, but in the wake of Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, I do realise that in decrying the entire series, I did myself out of some particularly excellent stealth gaming, and a playful streak a mile wide. Which leaves me thinking – what else did I dismiss – or praise – out of hand and now regret?

1) Thief

I never actively disliked Thief, but I didn’t bother with the first two games because sci-fi obsessed teenage me decide bows and castles were basically boring. By the time Deadly Shadows wheeled around I was both a touch more open-minded and aware of the link between it and Deus Ex, which I adored. I bounced hard off the first level, which initially left me thinking Thief games were even more tedious than I’d imagined. Why? Because I misinterpreted its talk about loot-collecting, believing it was this high-speed exercise in 100-percenting, grabbing diamond after diamond after diamond like some poorly-illiuminated sonic game. I was probably drunk at the time, but even so. Fortunately, a return visit a few days later finally made me realise what I’d failed to pick up on for so many years: these games were about acute tension, this remarkable atmosphere of danger and anxiety, and of a complete dedication to a particular state of mind. Back then, I just wanted to shoot things. Now, I embrace stealth wherever possible, desperate not to shoot things. Well, unless it’s with a tranquiliser dart.

2) The Witcher

Ridiculously short deadlines meant I wasn’t able to get anywhere near finished the first game when I reviewed it for a magazine, which meant I saw little of what made people love the first Witcher and gave it middling, snark-laden review. In my defence, it is front-loaded with a steady stream of abysmal, clumsy and/or obnoxious elements, but all the same, I regret not managing to commune with its carefully amoral, lowish-fantasy world, the completeness of its setting and history, and its resolute avoidance of so many Tolkien tropes. Though 2 had its moments, I don’t think the series truly found its voice until this year’s Witcher 3. That game still retains at least some of what made me so severely dislike the first game, but good overwhelms bad by a large margin. I regret that the world and history mean so little to me because I never gave myself fully to the preceding games.

3) Civilization

This was an odd series to (at least only briefly) dislike, given I gave the first game (and especially its spin-off Colonization) so many hours in my pre-teens. But by the time Civ II rolled around, I was deep in the aforementioned sci-fi period and wouldn’t go anywhere near anything with even a whiff of the historical to it. Even by the time I was working a computing & games magazine, I openly mocked the colleague who delightedly volunteered to review Civ III. It was for beardy weirdos, right? It wasn’t cool. Inevitably I played it a few days later and was sucked in entirely. I’ve been an enormous fan of the series ever since. What a stupid, feckless teenager I was.

4) Final Fantasy VII

On the other side of the coin, back in the late 1990s I was convinced that FFVII was humanity’s greatest accomplishment. So accustomed was I to games with the most perfunctory tales, routine escalation and nothingy cast that something of that scope and scale, with all those secrets and all those weird and wonderful cast members enraptured me. I genuinely screwed up one exam because I spent two solid days on FFVII instead of revising, and wound up missing out on scoring a First in my English degree because of it. It’s a poor decision which still gives rise to regular (and oh so stereotypical) exam nightmares.

These days, I’ve switched completely to the other camp, and feel FFVII is an ambitious but arbitrary onslaught of ideas and styles, punctuated by tedious, grindy combat and a posturing plot which crudely hammers at broad emotional buttons. It’s impressively unpredictable, but also indulgent and appallingly-paced, and I worry it gets a free pass on a lot of stuff both because of cultural fetishism and that so many of us first encountered it at an age when we wore our hearts on our sleeves – and, of course, because precious few game-tales of the time had evolved far beyond ‘kill everything’. I don’t hate it, and hell, one day I’d like to play it again just to get my concept of it straight again, but I’m deeply troubled by those who hail it as some high watermark for the medium. It was of its time, and so much of it looks and feels ridiculous now – by which I don’t mean its technological age. I don’t disagree that we needed it, back then, but we sure don’t now.

Part 2 will follow at a later date. Meantime, what about you? What oversights or knee-jerks do you most regret?

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118 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    FWIW, Alec, I was right with you on FF VII – loved it as a kid, then as time went on came to view it was massively overrated, lackluster in all the ways you describe.

    Then in 2010 I replayed it for the purpose of a book I was writing, and fell in love with it all over again. No promises that you’d feel the same way, but I will say that the fact that most of its fans are either bad at articulating why they like it, or like it for “bad reasons,” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any less brilliant – it’s just that a lot of the very clever things it does are (in my view) formal rather than “great story!”

    • sfoumatou says:

      Entirely agree with you here. Replayed FFVII recently and had loads of fun, despite generally disliking it when I was much younger. It’s just wild, playful, innovative, creative. Like many other FF games, its strength isn’t really the plot but rather the assemblage of so many surprises. It’s a wild, engrossing ride from start to finish (as long as you can stomach that Square-brand melodrama).

      One more thing I have to say is that while the FF7 side products are generally seen as very… uh… Well, that whole bishounen-with-dark-secrets aesthetic, the original game dodged that by a mile. FF7 is absolutely goofy and Cloud is a lovable dork miles ahead of his other iterations. I think the splash from the other products tends to taint FF7 a little bit in some people’s eyes.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Same, honestly I still feel the game holds up well, drew me right back in last year when I bought the Steam version and found myself doing everything in the game barring the Weapons and the Gold Chocobo.

  2. draglikepull says:

    If you find yourself enjoying MGS5 and wondering what you might have missed earlier in the series, I strongly recommend finding a way to play MGS4.

    The bad things you’ve heard about it are true: there are half-hour long cut-scenes and the story can be nearly impossible to follow at times (even if you’ve played the previous ones). It’s indulgent to the extreme.

    It’s also, from a gameplay standpoint, probably the most consistently inventive and surprising game I’ve ever played. It essentially re-invents the Metal Gear Solid formula in each of its five chapters, and even within each of the chapters there’s an incredible variety of gameplay and challenges. Whatever flaws may exist with Kojima’s cinematic ambitions, as a game designer he’s astonishingly creative and unpredictable.

    And while yes, the story sometimes buckles under its own weight, it’s also a game of *ideas*, which is something very few other games (and probably no other game of this scale or budget) can say. It’s a game with something to say about war and private military contractors, and it has ideas about where these things might lead in the future that are worth considering.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      While agreeing with your assesment of MGS4, I don’t agree that it makes any sense to play it outside of its narrative context. It’s the only game I know of that it finale-all-the-way; everything that drives it is creating a grand conclusion to the story of Solid Snake and tying up every dangling plot thread.

      It is a brilliant and underrated game, but if you skip the cutscenes I imagine it would be nonsensically jarring and you’d lose much of the thematic sense; and if you *didn’t* skip the cutscenes but had no working knowledge of MGS 1-3, it would all be gobblygook (of course, there are people who think the whole series is gobblygook, but I guess I’m saying MGS4 is very much Not For Them).

    • FuriKuri says:

      Eh, sorta disagree. MGS4 was fun but MGS3 beats it in most areas and actually managed to surprise me in places. If anyone’s to make the effort to check out one of the older titles, that’d be the one to go with; it’s probably the pinacle of ‘old school’ MGS and probably easier to actually play (Playstation 2 emulation).

      It also has the added bonus of being the most relevant to play coming from MGS5 since its a direct prequel. The other titles are set much later and while their legacy comes from the events in MGS3 they nonetheless feel largely detached in a narrative sense…

      • Buggery says:

        Oh god yes, this. I’m playing through the MGS games with a friend at the moment and MGS3 is so delightfully refreshing (and fun!) after the slog that is MGS2, plus it controls v. nicely in the HD edition. Possibly one of the best games ever? Possibly.

        If, for some reason you felt compelled to play an emulated copy instead of buying a cheap second-hand PS3, make sure you get the Subsistence edition so that you can actually control the camera.

      • malkav11 says:

        I never got on with MGS before Ground Zeroes thanks to controls I found obtuse and punishing even before you got to the relative inadequacies of gamepads for a game that rewards accurate shooting. The new gameplay model is still a bit weird but much more friendly, especially since it’s now on PC. But from spectating friends playing and watching Let’s Plays, MGS3 is clearly the best of the pre-Ground Zeroes MGS games if you can deal with any of their idiosyncrasies. Bosses with tons of strategies and neat little details, all sorts of interlocking systems with obsessively detailed edge cases, stealth that’s not purely about line of sight, a storyline that doesn’t take itself particularly seriously and is further undercut by (in Subsistence) included “blooper” videos, etc. By contrast MGS4 was such a turgid mess. It has a couple of neat bits early on but the bosses are dull and barely distinguished from one another and the cutscenes are painfully earnest-feeling yet stupid and verbose in their stupidity. Even the ridiculous action scenes never really felt exciting or worthwhile to me, which is usually the one redeeming point of an “action movie” approach to these things (e.g. Call of Duty campaigns).

    • Sin Vega says:

      I wrote ongoing impressions about MGS4 on a forum as I played it. The resulting text was later collated and compared to a Lovecraftian diary of someone reading a book of Things Man Ought Not To Know and being driven irrevocably insane.

      I really enjoyed 5 and Grounds Stupidnames, though. They kept the abysmal story out of the way, see.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    ” It’s indulgent and appallingly-paced, and I worry it gets a free pass on a lot of stuff because of cultural fetishism. ”

    I feel like this could apply to so many games, depending on your viewpoint. I still like FF7 though, although I could definitely do with less of the grindy combat (although I’d say that about quite a lot of games).

    I think The Witcher would have fared better without the middle section dragging on a bit, it certainly took the momentum out of the story. It’s the only Witcher game I’ve finished though, and I bounced off the second game really hard. I just couldn’t get comfortable with the controls or the UI and it soured the experience for me. I barely made it to the first village after the prologue.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      See, I feel like FFVII’s combat is one of its rare redeeming qualities- each fight is a quick and satisfying snack, and the power curve never feels punitive.

      It’s really the incessant stream of half-assed minigames and proto-QTE’s that turned me off of the game.

  4. liquidsoap89 says:

    I get this a lot with movies. I’ll see some trailers, or make some knee jerk decision based on who’s directing them and make some form of a decision. Then when I actually see the movie I sort of stick with it, whether I’m right or wrong. I’ve given plenty of movies a second chance and have changed my opinion of them after that, so it usually works out in the end.

    With games though I don’t know if I do that. I think with the amount of time you usually have to invest in a game (compared to that of a movie) is too much for me to just “try again”. There are lots of N64 games that I used to think were amazing, but going back to them now makes me want to forget they ever existed (I refuse to play Perfect Dark for that exact reason, I know I’ll be disappointed).

    Actually, Dragon Age Origins was one that I didn’t get along with initially. I knew there had to be something in there that would make me love it, it was a Bioware RPG with more tactical combat! But the first 2 times I played it I gave up both times shortly after the initial starting areas. I was only hooked after I started a new game a year later as a human warrior (I NEVER play warriors in RPGs) and all of a sudden I was way more interested. The politics were more front and center, and the tactics were less “run away while trying to shoot things” and more “taunt taunt taunt taunt taunt”.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      Oh, and as for FF7. I played that game for the first time about 5 or so years ago. I was fully aware of the praise it got, but I was expecting a game with all the faults and limitations in games from the 90’s. Turns out I still thought it was excellent. I’d say there are similarities between FF7 and the MGS series. Sure, there are faults that we SHOULD be remarking on, but the ideas in them are just so inventive! I still think the Materia system was fantastic, especially towards the end game when you can really change up your characters. And the amount of bonus stuff in that game was kind of frightening to my younger self.

      But to hell with whoever decided to give you that one personal save point for the last part of the game. I used it right at the start of the mountain to see what it did, thus meaning I would have to travel all the way back to the beginning of that section if I wanted to save, which was a HUGE BALL ACHE!

    • Dewal says:

      I think Perfect Dark can age pretty well. I played it at different times in my youth and with a different mindset everytime, and I could find new things at each playthrough. I went from doing missions in easy in a full unlocked occasion game with cheats/or lot of multiplayer with my brother, and then to try the missions in hard alone a few years later. And this game is very well crafted, with a lot of details that were unusual for the time. Maybe you’ll get bored because the gameplay isn’t as fast as the new fps, but I think that the mecanics of the game are better that a lot of actual games (different ways of finishing a mission, changing the way the next one start, possibility of disarming adversaries… as examples).

      In my case the real let down was Rayman 3 : Hoodlum havoc.
      First time I played this game in my teen, I fell in love with it and its atmosphere and even joined a fansite (it really says a lot).

      I tried it again last year or so and wow, it was bad. Every joke fell flat, with very childish humour.
      In comparison, Rayman 2 which I thought was too dark at the time has aged quite better.

      • Betamax says:

        I ran through Rayman 2 again last year, it’s somewhat timeless and always fun. I agree that 3 by comparison is jarring and just doesn’t retain the same magic.

    • Betamax says:

      Perfect Dark is a mixed bag. It was one of my great loves in my teens and I played it almost every chance I could get, I couldn’t help but go back to it over the years. Certain elements certainly feel dated now, especially the core mechanics which most modern shooters have taken and refined or expanded upon. However there is still so much in the game that is original and quite brilliant, with multiplayer customization on a scale you rarely if ever see in more recent games (especially the AI bots).

      I still drag people over kicking and screaming and introduce them to it on occasion, although usually with the remastered X360 version that softens some of it’s more archaic elements. I just wish it hadn’t seen fit to do away with tiny Human head Mayans in multiplayer!

  5. Vandelay says:

    I was expecting The Witcher to crop up on here. I didn’t realise that you hadn’t actually finished the game before reviewing! Shame on you!

    For me, Dark Souls has been my recent about turn on a game. I hated it the first time I played it, finding it to be aggravating and fiddly to control. A second attempt saw me getting frustrated at the seemingly huge gaps between checkpoints and the continual feeling that I was not understanding core concepts and mechanics. On my third attempt, I suddenly found everything fitting into place and it soon became one of my favourite games in a very long time.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I suspect the blame lies at the feet of monthly magazines, probably. Awkward release date leads to a tight deadline because the alternative is letting the competing magazines beat you by a full month, with the comparative impact on how useful and influentual you are as consumer advice.

    • Jollyrogers says:

      Almost the exact same thing happened to me. I played Dark Souls a few years ago and absolutely hated it. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to put all the time and effort into dying endlessly to one area repeatedly.

      Then Bloodborne came out and I decided, against better judgement from my Dark Souls experience, to play it. Suddenly, it all started to click. I picked up the core gameplay and dying became much more infrequent (well, as infrequent as you can get a From Software game to be :P)

      I went back to Dark Souls and blasted through it. Then I beat Demon Souls. Then Dark Souls II: SotFS. Then all the DS2 DLCs, the DS1 DLC, the Bloodborne DLC… I am just waiting for Dark Souls 3.

      The game literally went from a game I detested to my favorite franchise ever. How the heck does that even happen? Haha.

    • Horg says:

      It took me a few tries to really get into Dark Souls as well. I didn’t hate it, I really liked what I saw each time, but open ended games with a large amount of mechanics and systems to learn can be overwhelming at first. It’s as if you do some subconscious deduction while you are away from the game, and each time you come back the environment feels more comfortable and familiar. The further you get, the more confident you become until you are able to take new zones and mechanics in your stride.

    • Tim James says:

      FWIW, I still hate the checkpoints in Dark Souls, among other things, but I love the series, especially as they continue to improve that aspect.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Felt the same way with DS. [mild spoiling]
      First time: Heard something about action RPG and huge bosses and bought it. Now I was stuck in a bleak dungeon with not much info vaguely bad textures and terrible UI. I made it to firelink shrine to some depressed dude. Now something about ringing bells and I was just bored and stopped.
      Next time I read up on the lore before, bought a XBOX controller and went further. Down the stairs to the lake (look, a pretty ghost) –died. Around the temple to the graveyard (skeletons, don’t make me laugh) –died. Game’s so glorious. Descending down.. I had to concentrate, thinking how worse could it come? -> Invasions by players, a tower full of traps, completely lightless caves with snipers and holes. Everything on the map connected logically, descending somewhere felt like going ever deeper into danger and the horror of going all the way back again. There’s a pit with a dark pit at the bottom and then another one there.
      UI still sucks badly though, love it.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    XCOM Enemy Unknown showed me I was wrong to not care about turn-based games, and Witcher 3’s Gwent is making me think I might not dislike card games…

    I was also quite wrong in my first impression of Mass Effect and it took a second attempt at ME1 before I began to appreciate and ultimately love the series, but already posted about that in the last Have You Played thread.

    • Immobile Piper says:

      Gwent is quite similar to Condottiere, in case you want to own a physical copy.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        I actually have the physical Gwent cards that came with Hearts of Stone. They’re rather nice, though now I want the Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaardian deck as well.

        • Betamax says:

          Same. I will eat my hat if they aren’t released with Blood and Wine! My flat of 4 Gwent players are almost more excited for the new decks than the expansion.

  7. cpt_freakout says:

    I think my worst mistake was Mount and Blade. The first time I saw it, my brother was playing some battles, and while I thought it looked fun at first, the graphics completely put me off. I think it was 2008? Anyway, even though I grew up playing adventure games and whatnot, I was going through a very judge-the-book-by-the-cover phase and all I wanted was to play what I thought were great-looking games.
    Man, was I so, so wrong. Fast forward to 2011 and I get Warband discs on sale, I say ‘hmmm, why not’, boot it up, and now it’s probably the game I’ve played the most in my entire life. I mean, it’s still installed and I still check the Taleworlds forums a few times per week for updates on mods and stuff. I was never much for programming (mostly blew my computer lessons in high school) but Warband makes me want to mod! It’s crazy, the amount of enjoyment I get out of it. My brother saw me playing it once and he just laughed – I didn’t say anything, but we both understood how much of an ass I was back in the day!

    • Crowgasm says:

      Amen – Mount and Blade’s Napoleon mod was my first thought here. So many hours wasted swearing in a kilt and charging formations of square Frenchies.

    • Ako says:

      I also adore M&BW but unlike you I saw 2 minutes of gameplay on youtube, bought it 5 min later, and then went on to play something like 300h :)

  8. Wowbagger says:

    I’ll probably get flayed alive for admitting this; I originally played Deus Ex on the PS2 and I thought it was a shonky mess off crap graphics and weird doodads. I have since rectified this by playing a HD modified PC version of the game, I do think it loses some charm as it ages, but it is still systemically brilliant.

  9. Minglefingler says:

    Euro Truck Simulator 2. It sounded like a complete waste of time to me, a drab, boring snore of a game. The preview of the Scandinavian dlc on this site and the comments on said article started the long process of me thinking that I may have been wrong. Then a friend encouraged me to play it so I downloaded the demo and hated every minute, partly because I still didn’t want to give it a chance and admit my fallibility. I was able to recognise that I was being a twat though and went back to the game, after a few hours of play I bought it and the dlcs. Now my cousin sneers at me when he sees me playing it, I plan to one day have him succumb to the charms of stopping at traffic lights and, looking both ways and indicating.
    I’ve also been wrong about how good a game is, the most recent being Elite: Dangerous. I bought into the £50 beta, which I realise is a stupid thing to do but I have a weak spot when it comes to this series. And I loved it, loved the flight model, the combat, the graphics, the sound and the feeling of being terribly alone in a vast, indifferent galaxy. A lot of it felt like it needed more development, the devs were updating the game on a regular basis, some aspects of it felt shallow but I felt sure that this would be rectified bit by bit.
    It hasn’t been. Yes, they’ve added to the game but the galaxy still feels like a lifeless void with random NPCs spawned in instances because the player is there. This is how wars are fought in space, with instances full of endlessly spawning NPCs for you to blow up. The same applies to bounty hunting. I really hope that they add some NPC persistence and interaction to the game because it needs to feel like a place. In Elite if a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one around to hear it then you don’t need to enquire as to whether it makes a sound, in Elite if there’s no one around then the forest doesn’t exist. Maybe I’m being too harsh, my disappointment makes it impossible for me to even approach objectivity on this one.

    • Cederic says:

      I had the same ETS2 experience. I forced a friend into it, and he had the same.

      But you can get your revenge. Introduce your friend to Fishing Planet. Even in ‘early access’ it’s right up there.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    My co-worker (and Steam friend) recently gifted me with a full-price copy of The Witcher 3. So I figured I should finally play Witchers 1 and 2 — which I’ve owned for years now and never played due to bouncing off #1 — and, well … I’m bouncing off #1 again.

    I can’t really put my finger on what exactly bugs me about it, but I think it’s just a general lack of excitement. All the combat and the missions seem to go the same way, and it feels like a typical (if drab) fantasy environment — the only thing setting it apart from any other fantasy environment being that the main character seems to be some sort of sex addict.

    Does anyone have tips to make it more exciting? Does it get good later? Do I just have to slog through it to get to 2 and 3? Or should I skip it entirely and start straight into 2, or even 3? (I just worry that once I play the later games, I’ll never want to come back to the earlier ones and they’ll just be wasted.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      Alchemy, preparing for combat with oils and potions, and doing your research adds a layer of interest, though I never found the combat itself very interesting in the first game. If I were to replay the series now I would probably start with 2 to be honest, as just about everything that’s great about the series is done far better in the sequels and it’s not like Mass Effect where importing a save is essential to the full experience.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Every Witcher game is best played on its hardest non-permadeath difficulty setting, IMO.

      The whole point of being a Witcher is having a deep toolset- Alchemy, Traps, Signs, Swords, preparation etc. At the higher difficulties, you’re forced to learn about your enemies and figure out which of your resources will get the job done instead of just hacking through everything you come across.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        I quite like hacking everything I come across and never played The Witcher 1 on anything but Easy. I like it much more than The Witcher 2, but The Witcher 2 became much better the second time a around.

        I like to give games a second chance, but sometimes that doesn’t end well. I stubbornly fought my way through Dragon Age: Origins twice and though it got better the second time, my impression was still “this has too much goddamn boring combat!”. I there did the mistake of not playing on Easy, but Normal, both times. If I had just played on Easy which disables Friendly fire, I could have nuked all enemies anytime I got into a clusterfucky combat situation (of which there were many). Just hacking (or burning) through everything would have made me enjoy the game infinitely more.

    • misho8723 says:

      I still don’t understand how someone can’t like W1.. hell, I played first the demo of the game and from the start I was hooked to it – great menu music and in the actual game, original game world – because it’s based of slavic culture and not the stereotypical American view of England in Middle Ages.. dialogs are great written, characters are interesting, the combat system is intuitive, the game world even though is dark, still has the unique slavic feel to it and some locations are still fantastic looking even in this times – yeah, the same can’t be said for NPCs, but who cares.. the missions in the main story I think are really great, interesting and with many twists and cool moments rarely seen in a RPG game.. the witcher contracts are the typical – go kill this many monsters, bring me back their heads, etc.. and the swamps can really be tedious, but in the end I think all this is worth it..

    • Cederic says:

      I bounced off The Witcher. I’m a child of the 8 bit era, where command systems consisted of a digital joystick with one button. Maybe an autofire switch if it was expensive.

      So games designed for the console generation, with an analogue stick, a d-pad, six buttons and triggers.. I just can’t be arsed. The Witcher isn’t necessarily like that but its combat feels geared around that experience.

      I got through the first 2-3 fights and just gave up. It was not fun.

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        What are you talking about? The original Witcher is all mouse and keyboard.

    • jerf says:

      Just go into Witcher 1 expecting a good story and refreshing Slavic culture-based setting. Combat is definitely not one of the strong points, although it can be made entertaining by playing on the highest difficulty and using alchemy and signs heavily.

    • amateurviking says:

      I recently had another go at making it past chapter 1 of the Witcher (bounced off it hard a couple of times). Turns out bumping the combat difficulty down to easy and using the isometric camera have made it click with me (bit consternated that, having now really got into the game, I can’t turn up the difficulty though!).

    • E_FD says:

      I’ve tried to play Witcher 1 multiple times, both before and after playing and loving its sequel, and I’ve never made it further then midway through Chapter 2 or so before giving up.

      And I always feel bad about it, because there’s so much in the whole Eastern European aesthetic and presentation that I do like, but it just feels like a tedious slog after a while trudging through the inventory management and clunky combat. And I remember full well that I happily played RPGs with all the same flaws and more as a teenager (hello, early Ultimas!), but… I’m not a teenager anymore. I don’t have the time or inclination anymore to endure awkward gameplay elements to find the good writing buried beneath them.

      • Zaraf says:

        I agree for the clunky combat, but I’m surprised to read that inventory management is a hassle considering it was far worse in its sequel.

    • Betamax says:

      Witcher 1 was my entry point to the series and I went into it skeptical that it could be as good as some internet tribesmen suggested. True enough my first hours spent with the game were mostly me scowling and not getting what makes it worthy of the praise.

      It’s been repeated ad nauseum but really perseverance through the first portion of the game is key. Eventually the combat becomes more varied, easier, and ultimately more fun; meanwhile the world building is mostly excellent and its twists on expected tropes and traditions make things interesting.

      My friend recently went through the all three Witcher games and had a similar experience, she actually holds up TW1 as being better than the more acclaimed TW2. Ultimately it’s a tricky game to love immediately, but make the most of things like alchemy and take an interest in the tapestry of Slavic, Celtic and Germanic fantasy it creates and you might see why it works.

      Oh and Geralt is a much more fun character than he initially appears.

  11. DevilishEggs says:

    I sort of despised Fallout 3 until I learned to stick closer to the main quest and not get bogged down in all the samey side dungeons. Now I mostly enjoy it.

    As an adventure fan, I expected to lose my johnnies over Syberia but then I hated it! So weird! A couple goofy puzzles turned me off. I only got about halfway through, so perhaps I’m due for a reckoning on that score.

    • Guvornator says:

      I had New Vegas for 3 years and didn’t have any time for it after the initial quest had me killing Gheckos with a pea shooter. This year, in readiness for FO4, I finally had another crack at it and it’s pretty damn awesome.

    • Buggery says:

      I love the hell out of the first Syberia because it has such a lovely, fleshed out world with some fantastic characters. Some of the puzzles are a pain in a early-2000s-find-the-tiny-item-and-combine-it-with-something-you-wouldn’t-expect sort of way, but some of them I remember as being oddly intuitive despite the weirdness of their sum parts.

      The second game is absolute garbage though. Interesting story but the actual gameplay somehow gets worse.

      • Canadave says:

        The problem I had with the second game is how much it got away from the amazing and charming settings of the first game. The clockwork automatons, alternate Eastern European settlements, and vaguely steampunk air are a big part of what I liked about the first game. The second game was mostly just ice. And caves, made of ice. It was all a bit dull in comparison.

  12. X_kot says:

    My biggest negative-to-positive turn was DOTA2. It was my first lane-pushing game, and the learning curve and toxic community made me shy away from trying it. 300+ hours later, I learned to love the complexity and tactical nuance, even though the toxicity made me leave.

    My most memorable positive-to-negative turn was Skyrim. I was so infatuated with the world and the ambiance the first time. Then I returned to it and saw only an unending stream of dragons, kill quests, and skill-leveling shenanigans. Coincidentally, it gave me a greater appreciation for walking simulators.

  13. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    FFVII (PC version, actually) and Warcraft 2 were the games that got me into the hobby, and FFVII was a huge hit that has a lot going for it, so I’m not going to say that FFVII is overrated.

    But it has a lot of flaws, and I really can’t go back to it. The writing is weak. The materia system is actually pretty interesting and I appreciate how system driven the game is, but I dislike how it makes each character largely interchangeable. The character models are frankly ugly.

    But it holds an important place in gaming and my own personal history, so I don’t hold too much against it. But FFIX is still the best in the main series as far as I’m concerned (followed by XII and the under-appreciated X-2, while Tactics remains the true best Final Fantasy).

    • thekelvingreen says:

      XII‘s story was a bit naff — so much so that it sort of encouraged sidequesting — but the game itself was excellent; I think it’s my favourite of the series in terms of gameplay, although I’m only about an hour into IX so that may change.

      • apocraphyn says:

        It’s an odd one, isn’t it? Brilliant world and setting, some fantastic (and some terrible) characters, combat is entertaining in an MMO-lite sort of way. But the story is fairly weak – there’s a heavy focus on politics rather than character development, and the main cast often feel like bit parts rather than anyone deeply important. In this sense, it’s quite different from other Final Fantasy games in general. Still, I did enjoy it greatly, after I got past a bit of a boring slump in the middle.

        As for IX – I never cared much for it. I started with IV on the SNES and deemed IX as a crass callback to the earlier games at the time. I’d likely see it in a much more positive light now, in the Age of Lightning and the Action RPGs. (Tactics is a good game, but it has nothing on Tactics Ogre.)

  14. thekelvingreen says:

    I hated UFO: Enemy Unknown — I know! — but in hindsight it was because I was playing it on an Amiga 1200 and that probably wasn’t the best option.

    I adored FFVII back when it came out. I found a copy in a charity shop last year so I bought it, but I’m wary of playing it — or the upcoming remake — just in case I was wrong. I don’t want to have been wrong.

    I loved it so much I went out and bought VIII on release day, despite not having a lot of money, and I did not like it at all. I do wonder if I should give it another go now, if what I disliked wasn’t the mechanics, but my improper understanding of them.

    I also didn’t get on with the first Metal Gear Solid, but I have been having great fun with the new one; I don’t know if that’s because I was too young and stupid to understand it back in 1998 or if the new game is just better.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      You lucky bugger, I had to struggle with it on an A600 – I heard the flames actually animated on the AGA machines! I definitely liked it on the Amiga but it wasn’t until I had a PC that I realised what a truly remarkable game it was.

    • Immobile Piper says:

      Metal Gear Solid has some fun callbacks to the original Metal Gear games …Which you probably couldn’t play back in the 90’s. Nowadays they’re bundled with some re-release of MGS3. I was particularly giddy when I was able to identify cyborg ninja before the reveal.

      MGS5 does look like a rather different game, could be that you just prefer its style over MGS1.

      • thekelvingreen says:

        Numberless James, alas the animated flames were not worth the hassle back then. Now that I have a hard drive for my A1200 — only twenty-three years later — I may try again. Or I may just get it for the PC.

        Piper, for some reason, the NES and its games seemed to be little more than a rumour when I grew up — I only encountered one person who had one — so I didn’t get the references in MGS; that said I did appreciate some of the fun little touches, like Psycho mantis reading the memory card, even if I didn’t get on with the rest of the game.

  15. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Bioshock is my turnaround game (series). I was one of the bitter System Shock fans who wouldn’t give this casual streamlined trash the time of day.

    A few years later, a good friend convinced me I was coming at it the wrong way. If I liked gorgeously designed singleplayer FPS’s with strong narrative, a la HL2, I was missing out by ignoring Bioshock.

    Sure enough, I loved it. It wasn’t the Immersive Sim I wanted, but it was an extremely satisfying game in its own right. Same with the sequel.

    • linea says:

      Bioshock for me too. I played through the first quarter of the game as if it were a Doom – style FPS – rushing through swiftly killing everything in my path, sitting in my living room in broad daylight with the curtains open. Couldn’t see what the fuss was. Gave up.

      Then a friend came over eager to have a look at the game and I restarted to show him the beginning. Lights off, sound up, and it totally transformed the experience. Suddenly I was (if you’ll excuse the pun) enraptured,soaking in every tiny detail. Magical.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I actually went the other way on BioShock. I really liked it when it came out (even as a massive SS2 fan) but having tried to replay it relatively recently, I just couldn’t deal with the Pipedream mini-game after the third or fourth time of having to do it.

    • Ako says:

      Me too, it took me three tries to finish it. I just finished the entire series and I’m quite happy to have persevered. It was worth it.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Did not like Deus Ex at all. Really. Please, hit me.

    Of course after three or four levels, when the game flourishes, I was amazed.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I played the demo, thought Liberty Island was terrible, and then ignored it for about a year until I was at Babbages a few months later looking for “a game that’s like System Shock 2” and the guy at the counter recommended DX.

    • guygodbois00 says:

      Heh, same over here. And I thought it was overhyped. After finishing it, I thought it was not enough hyped. And, ofc, Kieron Gillen review of it at PCG.

  17. silentdan says:

    Champions Online. Something about it made me think “pass”, even though one of my co-workers was praising it daily. A couple of years later, I tried it out on a lark (after it went F2P) and stuck with it solidly for a year.

  18. kud13 says:

    I bounced off Thief 2 or 3 times. Each time I loved the first level, but the undead in the second level made me want to punch kittens.
    When I eventually grit my teeth together and pushed past The Bonehoard, the game developed a story, AND became brilliant.

    Same thing happened with Planescape: I adored the Mortuary, but I’d quit after finding myself on the streets of Sigil, being swamped by the umpteeth mob of thugs when I ran into a dead-end ally, trying to combine exploring and avoiding pointless combat. I then, for the longest time couldn’t get past the Catacombs. Once I finally forced my way past all that, and got out of the slums, the game… became brilliant.

    I have a real hard time with Bioware RPGs. I stopped playing KotOR after my game crashed just as I went down to the surface of the first planet, and I just wasn’t interested in trying again. I killed the first of the 4 beasties in Neverwinter Nights and was bored out of my mind. It took me 3 tries to get properly involved in Dragon Age: Origins, and even then I basically started gaming it, completing 90% of a questline, avoiding the final fight and running off to do something else, coming back later all OP and winning. Only Bioware game I was able to jump in virtually right away was Jade Empire-an even that was a second try, first time I did about 50 of the tutorial “zone”, had to put it on hiatus due to exams, and forgot about it for about a year or so, playing other stuff.

    I don’t recall having the opposite experiences, really. Possibly Spellforce. When I first played it, it felt like the best RTS/RPG ever. When I tried replaying it about 5 years later, I realized how tedious it could get clearing out gigantic maps at a snail’s pace in proscribed order.

    I also LOVED Heroes Chronicles spin-off from HoMM 3, when I played the first 4. So I bought the whole collection on GOG and tried the 5th game… and the nostalgia didn’t carry it far. Could be it was just a very boring story, mind: but it DID sour me on trying the other ones.

    Since the topic seems to have turned to the Witcher: I loved the original from the first minute (to be fair, i’ve read all the books prior, and was very much the target audience of the original, polish-centric release). Best way to enjoy it is: up the difficulty, and role-play: don’t buy the monster/plant books-talk an barter with everyone for knowledge. Hoard money-see how much you can amass spending nearly nothing with merchants. Drink with everyone. Go out at night and watch the evil beasties crawl out of the lake to terrorize peasants. Treat the swamp a a survival game, with planned runs from one safe haven to the next- in Act III, in particular, the sheer variety of stuff trying to kill you in the swamp makes it a tactical delight as you juggle oils, swords and styles from one combo to the next. Pay attention to characters: get involved in their stories, read the glossary often. Most of all, enjoy the idea of not being the designated “saviour of the world”, but just a skilled tradesman caught in something much bigger than what he can understand, being a reluctant hero. TW3 managed to convey this sense much better than 2, but it had the niggling ever-persitent problem of “how do you reconcile the dire urgency of a tight, character-driven plot with the theme-park tone of a traditional open-world game?” I think TW3 mostly got the balance right (especially when the story gave you a convenient “out” of having a timeout to gather allies and regroup), but the levelled quest system encouraged players to “game” the game a bit too much, imho.

    • Buggery says:

      I’ve tried to play Planescape about 10 times but I just can’t seem to get into it. I get out of the mortuary, then end up accidentally getting a companion killed in a mob fight and then the game will crash 5 times in a row.

      Is it worth just following a walkthrough to get through the early part?

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        You may find this of use. Or not.

        link to richardcobbett.com

        • Buggery says:

          Oh sweet Jesus I had no idea you could bring back dead party members. I assumed there was some sort of permadeath system going on for everyone but the player character.

          Thanks for that, I’ll make it a resolution to get through to the ending this year.

          • Alevice says:

            I actually completed PS:T and didnt know deionarra could bring back your dead buddies! Maaaan

  19. andu says:

    I can’t play FF7 these days just from the hideous polygon graphics. Characters with no mouths and hands that are giant blocks. I don’t have the same problems with a game like FF6 with its detailed (for the time) sprite graphics. But back then I thought it was the greatest RPG to come out of Japan, the materia system was interesting and the story was still interesting enough to keep you going.

    Minecraft was a game I thought was meant for children and I didn’t understand it until I finally tried it during the 1.2 patch. I’ve probably put in 1000 hours into it over the past few years because of how perfect it is for creating stuff whether it’s building a city or just a giant dong.

    Mount & Blade and it’s successors was another series that I thought looked like a mediocre game but ended up being one of the most fun games I had played in years. It took a while to get used to controlling your character properly and understanding how the game world worked as a new character but once you get the hang of it, it becomes so much more satisfying.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Yeah, I was wrong about Minecraft too, I thought it was a complete waste of time, just about building stuff out of blocks, and that I didn’t have time to waste doing then when I should be being creative in more productive ways. But then it turned out my perceptions were all wrong, and the survival mode journey from knowing nothing and having nothing to building yourself a little house and learning more about the world was really something special that wasn’t being talked about enough in the articles I’d read.

      • baozi says:

        Heh. I had played Minecraft for a while and showed it to a friend, telling him that it may not look pretty, or like a whole lot of fun in videos, but that he had to play it himself. Gifted it to him. He got majorly addicted.

        Similar thing with another friend and Hotline Miami.

        Personally, the whole exploration and survival thing in Minecraft is what I most liked about it. Never really built grand structures, but I just liked building camps, going exploring, laying down paths, surviving the nights, going underground to mine, things like that.

  20. Sorbicol says:

    Assassins Creed. Well specifically Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. I played the original on my PC and it was a dreadful dreadful port. Horrendous controls on mouse and keyboard, a ridiculous save system and repetitive gameplay after the first act or so. I gave it a couple of hours and then swore off the rest of the series.

    I got Ass Creed IV free with my new PC. About a year later, bored and with nothing better to do I redeemed the code, suffered the presence of UPlay on my PC and downloaded it.

    It’s tremendous fun. You know, the reason why we’re supposed to play games in the first place. To be sure the story is all over the place and being an assassin occasionally sucks, but being a pirate in an unending sequence of joy from start to finish. Quite why Uibsoft haven’t spun some pirate playing open seas adventure from what this game was doing I have no idea.

  21. Wulfram says:

    Dark Souls. It looked ugly, the opening cutscene narration is just awkward generic fantasy guff, the learning curve is rather harder when you’re using Kb/M and thus have to cope with weird keybindings and meaningless button prompts. So I bounced off.

  22. JamesTheNumberless says:

    All the Final Fantasy games are a bit rubbish if you’re honest about it, they’re the gaming equivalent of a boy-band. If you were going through puberty when FFVI came out you probably still have a special place for them. The rest of us are just baffled by the reverence people have.

  23. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I don’t like Metal Gear Solid, it has a stupid name, I will never play it for that reason.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      I feel like you missed the point of this discussion.

    • Geebs says:

      I played the demo of the original MGS in front of a non-gaming friend, and when it got to mentioning “Decoy Octopus” in the opening text, he nearly swallowed his own tongue.

      Still a fantastic game, though.

  24. NikosX says:

    It would be very interesting to see a story named “Games I was NOT wrong about”, in the same sense of you disagreeing with the public opinion… and staying with it! That would be challenging. How about that?

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      You’ll have to settle for me at the moment, heh.

      Dragon Age: Origins, oh how I learned to loathe you! The environments, characters and much other stuff was really good, but the endless, boring combat encounters really made it a chore. The skill descriptions didn’t make comparisons easy (should I choose X or Y with my precious skill points?), mages are overpowered while any non-mages will run out of “stamina” and be unable to use special attacks and thus become useless.

      The Witcher 1 is much better than The Witcher 2. They took away so many things I enjoyed with Witcher 1 and didn’t replace it with stuff I cared about. The atmosphere in 2 is darker and drearier without any variety, it’s all just grim all the time. Number 2 took away the awesome combat animations and Group Style, making mobs much harder/tedious to fight. The music is worse and much more quiet, never sets the mood like it did in Witcher 1. Potions in no. 2 last 5 real minutes instead of several in-game hours (like 15-20 real minutes).

      Half-Life 2 is no fun without mods, Smod added a lot of stuff which made the game fun to play, like new weapons, more and harder enemies. The unmodded version feels so poor without it. I uninstalled it after a while because I’d rather play Serious Sam instead. Now, that’s a game with fun shooting.

      • Zekiel says:

        RE: The Witcher 2 – on the other hand, it looks several generations prettier than its predecessor and has an absolutely gorgeous art style. The forest around Flotsam is still some one of my favourite loctions in any game, ever.

        Also many people (inc me) prefer the combat style to that of the first, and Geralt is now not so much of a creepy sex addict.

        You’re totally right about Dragon Age Origins though :-)

    • JuergenDurden says:

      thief (the new one): never played the old ones, just came out of a dual playthrough of dishonoured and thought “this gon’ be great”. creeped through the hub city, stole stuff. loved it. 3 missions later, annoyed by super linear single path not really stealth gameplay, dumb AI, bad sound design and the worst combat ever i gave up. read up on it, have no intention to ever try again.

      just cause 2: 3 bounce-backs. awful. big, beautiful, empty, shallow, dumb. worst controls ever. no interest in going back there. imho the epitome of the empty sand (bland) box.

  25. Immobile Piper says:

    I’ve been fatigued by quite a few games that I still haven’t gone back to. You know that feeling, you play 20-40 hours into an RPG and then let it lie for a while. A long while. While longer. Well there’s no sense in getting back to my save now, I’ve forgotten everything. So I end up playing it again from the start, getting slight dejavus here and there. And in comes the fatigue again.

    Most memorable such fatiguing was Fallout 2. I knew it had a car, but I managed to avoid having it for a good while. Knowing I could be travelling faster but didn’t was very aggravating. It annoyed me far more than it should have.

    Then I got the car. Hooray? No way. Along the way I had managed to build up a Jet addiction and was suffering serious withdrawal symptoms. Far as I could tell, there was no quick or easy way to get rid of the significant stat maluses. That was the final straw, still being annoyed by the whole car debacle. I just gave up on the save then and there.

    And I do regret that, it seems like a cool game. I played and enjoyed (after having bounced off of it three or so times) the original Fallout and 2 is just bigger and better.

  26. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Cities: Skylines is this for me. I’ve clocked 56 hours in it, and that was almost entirely in the first two weeks after I bought it. I thought it was brilliant, at first, and it brought back warm memories of playing the original SimCity* on my parents’ mac. However – and fair warning, this gets a little ranty, though it’s intended as a critique – I’ve come to realize that there’s little more to the game than a traffic simulator (admittedly an amazing one) with some very basic systems tacked on to simulate the fundamentals of a functioning city. The economy is not much more complex than the original Simcity (from what I can recall), politics are a non-issue, and your citizens demands amount to basic necessities of life + “entertainment”.

    However, I think that what’s come to bother me most about the game is the way that your cities exist in a vacuum. Apart from the planes, trains, and automobiles that emerge from the aether every so often, nothing unexpected ever pops up. Any situation that arises is entirely of your own making, which means that, with even a little bit of experience, the game becomes rather dull. Give me the tornadoes and godzillas of yore! Let there be droughts and economic sanctions and military production contracts!

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve realized that what, at first blush, seemed to be an incredible citybuilding game is actually just a great tool for city planners dressed up as a game. That doesn’t make it any less valuable or the work of its designers any less incredible, but I do find it disappointing, nonetheless.

    *Sidenote – when the hell will I get a sequel to SimLife or SimAnt?

    • Dicehuge says:

      Yeah I have similar feelings about Skylines. Loved it at launch and still really enjoy it but it’s very much a game about perpetually expanding rather than a city-sim. Random events or unexpected challenges would really liven up a game where it’s very hard to actually make mistakes or feel any sort of tension.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Sounds like a good idea for DLC. Or, you know, a mod.

  27. vahnn says:

    GTA (the fancy 3D ones.)

    Loved 1 and 2, then GTA 3 hit and I bounced of it hard as hell. Didn’t care about them at all. Now 5 hit recently and I picked it up. And boy was I wrong!

    Just kidding, GTA still bores me to tears and I regret the purchase.

  28. noodlecake says:

    I disagree on FFVII. I want more games that are enormous clusterfucks of mad ideas stitched together, with huge worlds to explore, beautiful enemy design, gorgeous and varied environments and magnificent scores.

    Sure, it’s flawed in a lot of ways but there are also a lot of very neat ideas in there and a lot of hard work went into it.

    Whether I could sit and play it from start to finish right now is another matter, but it’s still a very inspiring project that had such a huge influence on me as an artist… Which would imply to the most cynical among you that I make fan art of generic anime characters. I don’t do that. :P

  29. ExitDose says:

    I’ll have to give FFVII another shot with the remake, but my first brush with it left me suspecting that it was coasting largely on nostalgia. Vagrant Story on the other hand, while desperately in need of an overhaul on the graphical and control side of things, seemed like something special was underneath it all.

  30. Sin Vega says:

    I bounced off Planescape Torment hard the first time. After several hours, it felt arbitrary (one thing that stuck in my mind was giving a guy at a gate a fake name made him go “never heard of him. Kill him”, whereas saying “I don’t know my name” made him shrug and let you pass. That was, for some reason, the final straw) and ugly and awkward and generally dull.

    Second time I tried it, a couple of years later, it just clicked. Maybe I went into it with different expectations, maybe I’d grown, I don’t know. But it grabbed me that time, and it’s still a really interesting game, full of genuine conceptual and philosophical pondering that actually provokes thought rather than clumsily dictating it.

    Still a horrible engine, mind, and despite multiple attempts I only ever hated the other games it spawned.

    I turned round the other way on Morrowind. After weeks of trying (then mega-modding), I finally realised that it was never going to do what it promised to, and instead would keep reassuring me that any minute now it was just about to get really good forever. Now I occasionally have another crack at it, but the world is so dead and your interactions with it so mechanical, I end up losing heart within a couple of hours.

  31. ddaymace says:

    Minecraft: at first I was like who cares? Looks like some mindless student project. Then I caught the bug and started building stuff, and getting into survival mode.

    Initially I disliked Metal Gear. I was more into Splinter Cell; the Japanese and Kojima style storytelling and the control system threw me off. Plus the lighthearted style of depicting the takedowns etc.

    I have since played through mgs, mgs2, mgs3 and enjoyed them a lot. I think part of it was getting past the storytelling and control style, and just wanting to get good and not be detected. Splinter Cell having withered in recent years doesn’t help either.

  32. badmothergamer says:

    I enjoyed both Witcher 1 and 2. They weren’t my favorites but I played them start to finish. However, I purchased Witcher 3 the day of release and have yet to play more than 90 minutes. I just can’t find the desire in spite of all the great things I hear. I think part of it is knowing if I do start to enjoy it I’ll get sucked in like everyone else, but also it’s a lack of further interest in the story of Geralt.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      The story is different in tone in a lot of ways to the first two and Geralt is a more likeable and rounded character, plus it could be argued Witcher 3 is more the story of Ciri (eventhough you mostly play as Geralt). If your reason for not persisting is the general manner and attitude of Geralt in 1 & 2 I would give it another shot.

  33. Lord Zeon says:

    I remember playing the first Witcher game before the Enhanced edition came into existence. I fired it up and got completely lost within the first 20 minutes. The English translation was so poor I had no idea what was really going on in Caer Morhen, and once I left I had no idea why I wasn’t at the place it said I was traveling to. I still loved it for being unique, but that was a hard one to like right off the bat.

  34. lyje says:

    still gives rise to regular (and oh so stereotypical) exam nightmares.

    So… sans pants?

  35. LennyLeonardo says:

    I still haven’t been able to really enjoy Invisible Inc, though I feel it will all click at some point in the future. It’s too hard! Conversely, I feel that when someone complains of not ‘getting’ a great game, the answer is usually “play it on the hardest setting, duh.”

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      For example, Vanquish.

      • Geebs says:

        I’m a huge fan of Revengeance and I really like Bayonetta, but I don’t “get” Vanquish at all. I think it’s the cover-based stuff.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Play it on the hardest setting, duh.
          That way it’s not really a cover shooter, it’s a 3D bullet hell shooter, in which cover is a trap.

  36. 1Life0Continues says:

    Assassin’s Creed II

    I loved the first Assassin’s Creed. Every little bit of it (except the flags, I’m not a masochist) and thought it was a fantastic game. I eagerly looked forward to Assassin’s Creed II because I was hungry for more.

    Then I played AC2.

    I forced myself through the story to the end, and then uninstalled it with a long string of curses.

    I won a copy of AC3 and gave i away to a friend, AC2 soured me on the series so much. I now have ZERO interest in any AC title anymore.

    Also, I keep bouncing off the Witcher games too, and I own them all now. The first one, I get to the swamp and I’m done.

    I’m currently trying to play the second one and very early on (I’ve just beaten the first “boss” monster”) I stopped because it was boring me. Something about these games just seems to create a giant ‘I just don’t care’ feeling and I wish I knew what it was, because I actually like the bestiaries of the games.

    Haven’t played an MGS game since the first one on the PSOne. Recently tried to play the second one and bounced off the obtuse controls so hard and fast that the very first enemy on the boat killed me.

    • 1Life0Continues says:

      I swear I closed the bold tag. Can a kind soul fix that for me if possible, please?

    • golem09 says:

      I can really recommend to just read the first witcher book, which is a collection of short stories. It gives much needed context to understand your character.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Seconded. The short stories are fantastic (ha), and offer some sneaky twists on well-known fairytales. I always loved it when the games did this too.

      • bill says:

        Thirded. Reading just the first short story book gives the game and characters much more background.

        Geralt is a hard character to get a read on at first, but actually quite a good character.

    • Zekiel says:

      Fascinating. I really enjoyed AC1 (in spite of its frustrations, like the repetitiveness of the game’s structure) and thought AC2 was pretty much the best thing ever since it basically fixed loads of things that were frustrations in AC1, while maintaining the awesome parkour.

  37. golem09 says:

    I was alway disregarding Dragon’s Dogma because of so many AI companions, which is a concept I generally hate. But when I got into it, I finished it twice (with a NG+ in which I could actually play solo). What a fascinating game in so many ways. I’ve been praying for a PC release ever since, and here we go.

    I also was never interested in Dishonored until I tried it, because I despise stealth. Thus, no MGS (wait, I actually played 1+2, which completely bored me) and no thief for me. But Dishonored had a weird steampunk scifi world, and lets you skip all the bad parts of stealth by teleporting. Yay.

    I also thought I would never play FF13. After playing the first two hours, I especially thought I would forever be done with it, and didn’t play it for months. Then I marathoned the first 15 hours and got closer to the good part, and really started to appreciate the combat system. Currently playing FF13-2 and 13-3 is already bought.

    • Kala says:

      Well done, you. I couldn’t tolerate playing 15 hours to get to the good part, personally :S

  38. Unsheep says:

    I never thought I would enjoy a sports game.
    However, once I actually played a FIFA game I was hooked on it.
    Then I played PES, NHL, Madden, Tiger Woods, Top Spin, Rugby etc.
    Each new sports game offered something new and unique.

    Over the years we have constantly been reminded by media and critics to despise any kind of sports game that requires skill-building. An ideology that equally applies to racing games.

    If a sports or racing game is too technical to master we are not supposed to like it, a contradictory logic considering the popularity and success of the Souls games, where progression is only possible through skill and patience.

  39. Kala says:

    “What a stupid, feckless teenager I was.”

    I was about to warmly comment that we all were, and relate I’d just finished Wil Wheaton’s book, and how he apologised to Patrick Stewart for being a dick as a teenager and at the time not treasuring doing Star Trek with him, and Stewart responds “Wil, my dear, you *were* a teenager. We all understood.”

    …But then I read that bit you wrote about FF7 >:(

    ;p

    As an aside, I liked these letters between Leigh Alexander and Kirk Hamilton; her having played it as a youngen and him coming into it in modern day:

    link to pastemagazine.com

    • JuergenDurden says:

      How a blathering twit like Leigh Alexander made it this far will forever baffle me.

  40. Kala says:

    … What I was most wrong about, probably, was Life is Strange.
    Not from discounting something as a teenager and being wrong as an adult but like, last year :p

    I’m not a patient person. I have an exceptionally low tolerance for puzzles that aren’t in an obvious puzzle game like Word Brain :p I particularly dislike them in narrative-driven games and view them as an obstruction to keep me from proceeding with the narrative. (the only thing worse being jarring gamified quick-time events)

    So when friends went on about how good Life is Strange is, I quite liked the ‘rewind time’ mechanic, but was a bit bored walking round talking to everyone. I wasn’t necessarily keen on the setting (in the same way I was Wrong about Veronica Mars. Which I initially dismissed from the adverts as Sweet Valley High PI. WRONG!).

    Then I encountered a puzzle, whereby to proceed (in a story I was only barely interested in, at this point) I had to clear out some mean girls from in front of some steps. JUST PUSH THEM OUT THE WAY, MAX. I thought. KICK THAT ONE IN THE FACE. THAT’LL SHIFT HER.

    Anyway, it soon became clear that to move them I would need to do something with an conveniently placed paint bucket hanging above them, rewind time to make it so it emptied over their heads. I’d done something with the sprinklers, but it wasn’t enough. What do I need to do to get that paint bucket to fall down…?!

    I got annoyed and frustrated and probably would’ve left it there, if it wasn’t for the persistence of friends and the knowledge there was apparently going to be a song I liked in “a meaningful part of the story” :P

    I did have to resort to a walkthrough, and the solution ended up being as simple as rewinding, clicking on bucket, and selecting ‘tamper with bucket’ (how?! WHAT DID SHE DO?! I was looking for tools!). I’d perhaps overlooked how simple that was, and the solution was further hampered by the game’s temperamental cursor meaning you have to target an item ‘just so’ for any options to appear >.<;;;

    Nonetheless, if I'd huffed at that and called it quits, I would've missed out on something that I've ended up rating incredibly highly. Easily game of the (last) year, for me. Probably the last several years.

    • Zekiel says:

      If it’s any consolation I found that bucket puzzle unfeasibly baffling too. And I’m so, so glad I perservered to experience the entire game.

  41. phlebas says:

    As a hardened text adventure fan, when I first saw The Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle I was deeply unenthusiastic. Clearly these were but a dumbed-down version of the adventure games I knew and loved, designed to appeal to those whose brains had rotted from too much exposure to pretty graphics in other game genres.
    I have, of course, repented wholeheartedly.

  42. poliovaccine says:

    I tend to have these silly regrets with music more than games. Not sure why.

    I thought I was against turn-based strategy until I played XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It’s funny – the actual combat still seemed stilted and slow to me, but I followed others’ advice and heavily customized and named all my team members with meticulous care, and, manufactured as it was, that combined with the oddly-addictive base management component wound up investing me enough in the rest of the game that the combat space was somehow affected by enthusiasm via osmosis.

    I had a hard time getting myself to try both BioShock and Dishonored, though, and I think honestly it was because I was defensive of the comparisons they drew. BioShock was said to be as good as Half Life, and Dishonored was said to be as good as Thief, and I approached playing those games sort of the way a loyal but dissatisfied house-husband would approach a chance lunch meeting with a mysterious, voluptuous, dark-eyed woman of passion… which is to say, he’d know he would regret it, right up until the moment it happened, when he didn’t, oh glory, he regrets nothing at all…! But up until then, he had been afraid to be disloyal.

    Much more often, sadly, I find games I thought I was going to really like, and I don’t so much. It can be due to the stupidest little quibbles too, like a wonky walk animation I don’t like, but I find it impassable just the same. The only cure for those stupid self-sabotages is time and a revisit.

  43. drewski says:

    Agree with all of those apart from Civ, which grabbed me by the short and curlies from a very young age and maintains the grip to this day. Although I’ve not yet played MGSV, I have reason to believe I will enjoy it.

    Maybe the Dark Forces series for me. I bounced off the very first one so hard I’m still kind of impressed that I was willing to give the sequel a go. Totally worth it.

  44. Betamax says:

    Morrowind springs to mind.

    I was young, my computer at the time had less power than most pocket calculators do now, and I was going through a phase where RPGs seemed dull. I watched a school friend fighting some Cliff Racers near Balmorra and was far from impressed.

    One computer upgrade and a thorough re-evaluation of ‘what is good in life’ later and I picked up Morrowind+Tribunal for a lark. I think it was the inclusion of a physical map in the box that sold me on it, “Ohh a map, I like maps” young me thought.

    I have since completed that game 4 times, clocking up many hundreds of hours of killing Cliff Racers. I even tried to write a screenplay of it once.