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Veteran Member - Level 14
I've always said I have a high tolerance for mediocrity, at least by most people's standards. Video games certainly are no exception. It takes a lot to really annoy me (I've only ever returned one purchase out of hundreds) as my measure of a decent game simply isn't as high as most gamers. In fact, I've finished plenty of games that are considered inferior to many more games that I've only made token progress in. In that spirit, I've decided to defend a few much maligned titles.
Rebellion's Delta Force: Black Hawk Down for PS2 was a solid if colorless excursion into Somalia. I recall complaints about AI, particularly allies who reportedly were pretty lame. However, my allies would often detect and eliminate foes before I even knew they were there. And foes took advantage of large levels with multiple paths to flank my position. Mostly standard even including on-rails segments from gunships, but executed well, and action packed.
Irem's Disaster Report for PS2 received more than its share of criticism for its presentation, frame rate and repetitive gameplay. I for one do not recall frame rate problems but the low polygon world and repeat actions are valid complaints. However, the ingenuity of this essentially platforming game, scaling debris while searching for life saving water and a way out of a collapsing city, makes such cries seem petty. Occasional trial and error gameplay can grate, but this was a solid exercise.
Team Soho's The Getaway for PS2 was a divisive game criticized for its cinematic style that eschewed a HUD, featured one firefight after another and whose healing system involved literally taking a breather. Sure the latter was a little ridiculous but I enjoyed the clutter free screen and nonstop action. Whether shooting, targeting or taking cover, or driving (by turn signal), the gameplay was solid and story simple but engrossing. The much ballyhooed production lived up to its billing.
Cavia's Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex for PS2 was attacked for, among other things, supposedly imprecise platforming. One of the core elements of gameplay, I thought the platforming and otherwise acrobatic derring do of the heroine performed well in general. Sure at times I'd fall after scaling a building but never felt cheated. And the gunplay too was decent. Sometimes Batou's AI was lacking, but otherwise the anime style and GitS universe were well represented.
Hydravision Entertainment's Obscure for PS2 had a single-player mode that was supposed to suffer from companion idiocy and lame, cliched banter and behavior. However, I found AI was competent (at least until the final boss, when they fell like flies) and appreciated the fun slasher parody. As survival horror, it had all the genre elements and implemented standard gameplay in a quality manner. Critics preferred co-op, which I didn't play, but the single-player mode was no slouch.
SCE Studio's Cambridge's 24: The Game for PS2 received a critical beating for being too formulaic and having flawed gameplay such as driving. I've never watched the series but really enjoyed the game. The cover mechanic is well implemented, gunplay is solid and varied and the story is well told and interesting. And I thought driving worked fine for the most part. The only downside for me was a bug that forced me to replay half the game, which I did begrudgingly, but did nonetheless.
Argonaut Games' SWAT: Global Strike Team for PS2 got knocked for its presentation, AI and level design. I thought the presentation was good, especially impecable, realistic lighting. AI did a fine job. And while levels were standard genre issue, they were varied and offered several paths to and from objectives. All in all, a fun game played from law enforcement's perspective for a welcome change of pace.
Cauldron's The History Channel: Civil War -- A Nation Divided for Xbox 360 overcomes various criticisms for an interesting perspective on a long neglected era, at least for the roughly half I've played. AI is serviceable, and hit detection is not so poor to prove frustrating. Likewise sometimes you might be hit behind cover but it's not problematic. Reloading historical weapons makes a nice compromise between realism and arcade shooting. Plus the presentation is well done.
Spark Unlimited's Turning Point: Fall of Liberty for PS3 belies the overly negative reception for at least the first third of the game. First the presentation is meant to be more fantasy like as with TimeSplitters, Second Sight, Hitman etc. And frankly the era's art deco inspiration, in part, is what drew me. AI provides a decent challenge that improves as you progress, as they more cleverly take advantage of levels that expand with multiple paths. Unpolished in parts, it's nonetheless decent.
IO Interactive's Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days for PS3 is not nearly as flawed as many claim. Contrary to complaints, enemy AI is very good, advancing and firing under cover for the most part, and also flanking. Their aim is not perfect, but can seem so when assaulted by scores. Your hits improve as your weapons upgrade. And the shaky cam is definitely an acquired taste. I for one love it. However, the story IS nonexistent, and levels become generic. But a decent shooter, far from broken.
Maligned games many times garnered high expectations. If they had sailed under the radar, their reception might have been better. Likewise, many suffer by comparison, despite having been fun to play by reviewers' own admissions. Taken alone they might fare better. It's not always fair, but it's reality. It just proves that judging is necessarily selective. Though I don't know why I tend to end up on the wrong side of the argument, lol. That said, can't wait to play 50 Cents: Blood on the Sand!
I really agree with you on kane and lynch. People were so quick to point out the flaws but never gave any credit for what the game does right, which is just as much as it does wrong.
To each his own. It takes alot for me to overlook the glaring flaws of a game, especially considering how much the average game cost. For $60, I don't think I should have to search for the silver-lining in any product that I buy. Its either worth the price of admission, or it isn't.
Haha. Delta Force: Black Hawk Down and Civil War: A Nation Divided were my two first FPS's.
I have a hard time returning games as well. I usually wait until the new wears off a little bit and buy used that way if it is too bad to keep I can return it with no real worries. The other thing is know what you like and play the demos before spending your money on something you might like. If it is questionable go out and rent it, that way you don't waste more money on buying the game.
@trevor, i didn't even tout the gutsy presentation. yeah it's definitely a mixed bag but it was entertaining.
@sealsaa, no doubt you speak for most. i try to buy deals, like $40 on kane & lynch new. that helps. check out cheapassgamer.com.
@skol, and you're still playing? lol. imo you could do worse. too bad delta force team sabre was supposedly a horrible game.
@habitualsinner, couldn't agree more. i read, watch videos, play demos, sometimes buy used. maybe why i still enjoy those maligned games.
I've been known to enjoy rather mediocre games as well, usually because I've learned to take things for what they are, if it's fun than it's not a big deal especially dealing with games, however if it's not enjoyable to me than I just don't finish it.
Well, Delta Force was from the library, so I only had it for a month or two. I thought it was so cool how you could switch from semi to full automatic. And Civil War is currently under my computer desk, and for some reason the graphics have exploded into a crapfest on it. I really want to play Black Hawk Down again, though. And Team Sabre... I don't know too much about it, but I do remember there was an advertisement for it on the back of Black Hawk Down's manual.
sabtos, thanks for your feedback. rebellion was the developer of the (ps2) console port, which is what i played. you're right, i didn't have the privalege of playing it online. perhaps it wasn't clear, but generally i was referring to each game's campaign and the criticisms thereof. i understand that after playing online, the single player might pale by comparison. nonetheless, i felt this title's campaign was underappreciated. the ai, both enemy and teammates, was relatively good and made for an entertaining game. that said, i do prefer more tactical gameplay such as operation flashpoint elite or the battlefield series as opposed to more arcade style shooters. so looks like i missed out by not playing novalogic games online, though i probably would have been chum for more hardcore shooters such as yourself.
Absolutely understandable, and there's no way you could rate a Novalogic game anything above Mediocre based on its single player. Which is one major weakness to the professional review process. Nova games hardly focus on single player, to the point that Joint Operations didn't really have the option outside of training, which I believe was still online. I mean you literally could not play the game without being online, kind of like an early form of DRM. I think their games slipped under the radar due to the penchant for ratings games mostly on their single player experience. Not to mention it takes quite a bit of time to get accustomed to a Nova game online.
The funny thing is, for other games like CoD and Halo, I get annoyed when their reviews are bumped higher by taking multiplayer under consideration, so I guess I also have a sort of double standard.
@sabtos, interesting point. i never thought about how reviews emphasized sp because i used to only play offline until relatively recently. but now i have noticed the emphasis on mp and regret how some devs seem to neglect sp as a result. medal of honor is an example. up till recently the only coverage was mp; i still have little idea what the campaign will involve, which is a shame as i was disappointed by the beta.
@vurtax, i think you're right. as sealsaa pointed out, many gamers don't want to waste their money on substandard titles regardless of how entertaining they might be. case in point, ptom said singularity had a remarkable campaign, robust multiplayer and fast paced action. but it qualified each statement for a 3 of 5 star review. respectable, but when did we stop playing games for the fun of it? i loved crackdown, and hope 2 lives up to it despite the reviews.
I kinda understand where you're coming from, but I'd rather see a game actually want to try something new and different than play it safe. I like having our medium evolve from the mediocre, but then again, we do kinda need mediocre games to make all of the true gems shine brighter.
Also, this is just my opinion, but Kane & Lynch 2 sucked so much. I played the demo, but it was enough to give me an idea of how sh*tty the actual game was going to be. Okay, the camera thing is very love/hate, and I hated it, but there was absolutely no variety in the levels, every firefight bored the living hell out of me, there was no character arc, which was a real shame seeing how Kane & Lynch are actually somewhat interesting, and the cover system sucked (Even when I was in cover, enemies were still able to hurt me, which totally defeats the system's purpose).
I agree, some games like MoH should lend themselves well to a solid SP experience, so hopefully it exists for the newest entry.
I noticed that PTOM review, and I also noticed a couple of 4-star rated games in that same issue that honestly sounded like crap, and there wasn't much justification in the written review for the 4-star, they're throwing them out like it means nothing. If you check Metacritic, PTOM rated Sinularity the lowest yellow and almost every other publication put it in the green. I don't know what's going on with PTOM but I don't think they're doing a very good job anymore. That recent issue was poorly written and very boring, maybe they were all playing Starcraft II when they wrote that? I don't know, but I regret renewing PTOM. GI has been so good at covering everything I care about I don't know why I feel I need other mags.