What Game Should I Play Next?

by Jeff Akervik on Nov 05, 2010 at 01:27 PM

I've been noticing an unfortunate trend with my gaming habits over the past couple of years and thought I'd share it with you, our loyal GI audience. It goes a little something like this: You're deeply engrossed in a particular game when, while in the midst of this bliss, another title you've been anticipating eagerly trots itself out on to store shelves. Now, in the back of your mind you know you should just play it cool, wait it out, and finish the game you're currently playing. Why sabotage what is obviously a perfectly fun and satisfying experience (hopefully) with the temptation of another game that, if important enough to you, you'll eventually play anyway? Seems like sound logic, no? Unfortunately, I choose not to subscribe to such commonsense wisdom. And what do I get for my inability to quell this impulsive behavior? A stack of games all clamoring for my attention. This problem is further compounded by the fact that I, on average, devote perhaps a mere one or two hours a day to gaming. Seems ironic, doesn't it? I agree. And it also seems very counterproductive as well. But I persist regardless.

Yet it is in that moment – when I'm finally ready to move on to a new title – that I realize just how many options I have. And that's when it all breaks down.

What do I do? Nothing.

Yes, nothing.

It's as if the choice is too daunting because there are, well, just too many of them. Yeah, I know – poor me. There are greater tragedies in life, I get that. But if I can't talk about this in my blog, then what good is the interweb, anyway? Heck, it's taking all of my willpower right now not to run out and grab a copy of New Vegas as we speak (another game to add to the never-ending pile – great!). I know, like I need another open world, 60+ hour game vying for my attention. And yet, the allure refuses to die. Before I can even entertain the idea of purchasing that glitch-filled seductress, I've gotta knock another title off of my to-do list. And that's where you, dear reader, come in.

What follows are eight "new" games that sit on my shelf day-in and day-out, waiting for their turn to amaze me with their brilliance, annoy me with their trappings, and – most importantly – keep me from doing anything truly productive. So help me choose, won't you? I need to stare at the wall a bit more...


1. God of War III
Just got this bad boy a couple days ago. I was too busy back in the spring (when the game initially came out) with Heavy Rain, Spirit Tracks, and Half-Life 2 to give this game its proper due (awesome rhyme there). Considering the fact that I'm absolutely in love with Darksiders, I have to only assume Kratos's latest romp shares many of the same bloodlust-worthy gameplay traits as War's magnificent massacre fest. This game received ridiculously good scores when it came out so I think it's safe to bet I'll have a grand old time. I played the first one on PS2 and – except for the infuriating spinning spike traversing – loved every minute of it. So why haven't I play this yet?!


2. Super Mario Galaxy
Another example in a long list of classic examples in which I start playing a game only to drop it after a couple hours, never to return. It wasn't like I wasn't enjoying my time bouncing around those little planets. Quite the contrary. It was a blast, and had enough charm to even keep my wife's attention from time to time, which – trust me – doesn't happen very often when it comes to video games. But then, just like that, I was done with it. Call it the curse of the Wii, but I'd like to attribute it to a little something I call "a severe case of Zelda-michtriptomania." Once you're afflicted, you just have to – literally – let it play out. And boy, did I ever let it play itself out (A Link to the Past, Minnish Cap, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks – DS for the win!). Sorry Mario, you cannot and never will be able to compete with a young boy in white tights and a green tunic. You also can't compete with the ability to play your adventure while taking a dump. All class, ladies and gentlemen. 

But now that Link has been put to bed until the release of Skyward Sword, perhaps it's time to give Mario the credit he so richly deserves. Eh?


3. Far Cry 2
Ok, I've had this thing sitting on my shelf for a solid two years. And that's precisely the problem: Far Cry 2 was most likely a darn good title back in the summer of '08, but I fear Father Time has not been kind to this open world first-person shooter. Perhaps I'm wrong? My old man would sure think so. Just this past weekend he was endlessly singing the praise of this game, proudly proclaiming it his favorite game of all-time. Yeah, pretty heavy stuff. Mind you, this is the same person that, while playing the first Far Cry, would get extreme joy out of sneaking up behind his adversaries and stabbing them to death in the rear end. Nice to meet you, Sgt. Sodomizer.

But he swears by what he claims to be the perfect mix of open world freedom and meaty, satisfying gunplay. It most certainly sounds intriguing enough – why else would I have bought it in the first place? But I fear the likes of BioShock and my recent playthrough of Half-Life 2 would leave me severely wanting when it comes to Far Cry 2. Am I wrong?

Don't answer that, Dad.


4. BioShock 2
Another first-person shooter that may very well never see the light of day or the mastery of my trigger finger. I had high hopes for this one, but my enthusiasm has waned with each and every passing month. At first I was delighted to be given the opportunity to once again explore the hauntingly beautiful yet macabre world of Rapture. I was enamored with the first BioShock, so in my mind the sequel was a no-brainer. But that soon became the biggest hurdle for me to try and look past; the fact that it was a sequel when Ken Levine and company never intended for there to be one in the first place. And then I started to become very skeptical – afraid of what the overall experience of 2 might do to my love of the original. You might laugh, but it's not something to take lightly. Just ask any fan of Star Wars and/or Indiana Jones how well George Lucas has carried on the legacy of those franchises in recent years and you'll understand my hesitation. There aren't any vines or man-eating ants in Rapture, are there?

And yet, there is a part of me that really wants to experience Rapture again, in a different manner. And BioShock 2 supposedly delivers just that, but at what cost? It's like Pandora's Box: you'll never know what you'll actually get and, once you open her up, there's no going back. I want the original BioShock to remain the cohesive, singular piece of gaming mastery that it is. If the sequel won't tarnish that reputation, then I'm sprinting for the nearest bathysphere pronto. Otherwise, BioShock 2 will remain a box I'd rather leaved permanently closed.


5. Assassin's Creed II
Remember the part earlier about Super Mario Galaxy's demise? Yeah, the same thing happened with this one as well. What's even more egregious in this particular case is that I've been to Italy multiple times and a big part of what sold me on Assassin's Creed II was how fully realized the cities of Florence and Venice supposedly were. The small time I spent causing bloody havoc in Florence was proof enough that the developer's most certainly did their due diligence – and yet it wasn't enough to hold my attention (see: Zelda-michtriptomania).

Oh well, I know this is one I need to play at some point just based on my Italy obsession alone. And the imminent release of Brotherhood has me even more stoked seeing as it takes place in my favorite city ever, Rome. It's like they do it on purpose. Go back to creating fake worlds, developers! Stop messing with my beloved reality!


6. Grand Theft Auto IV
GTA IV was the very first PS3 game I purchased. In fact, I got it well before I ever had an actual PS3. How stupid is that? I guess I must have been excited to play this one. So excited that I never once thought it bizarre to buy a game without at least having the intention of getting the required system any time soon. Yep, GTA IV came out in May of 2008 and I finally landed a PS3 by that August. That's over three months of me just staring at the box art. After a while, stuff like staring at box art tends to get a little boring, if not downright pathetic. And as result, my enthusiasm for the game eventually died off. When I finally did get a PS3, it was Modern Warfare that got all of my attention. Poor Niko.

GTA IV is one of those games I've been meaning to play for a long time, but for some reason can never fully commit. Perhaps it's the time investment or the constant baby-sitting you have to perform with certain characters or the nagging fear that those tried-and-true GTA mission annoyances will rear their ugly heads again – who knows? The point is, if I'm skeptical about a game, then why bother taking the plunge? But perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. By and large, most people seemed to thoroughly enjoy their experience in Liberty City and perhaps I would as well – albeit over two years later. It's just hard to fathom this game holding up well to the likes of, say, Red Dead Redemption – a game that practically everyone whole-heartedly agrees is better than GTA IV is almost every conceivable way. Why even bother? Ah... why indeed!

And speaking of Red Dead Redemption...


7. Red Dead Redemption
Yep, haven't played this one either. I know, right? But I was clever enough to buy it when it came out even though I knew I wasn't going to touch it for months (why?). Red Dead was tough, too, because I dabbled with it for a little while just to see if all the universal praise it received was justified. Bad move.

I was immediately sucked in to that time suck and found myself at that ever-so crucial tipping point: Either surrender myself completely to John Marston or resist the urge and finish what I had started a couple weeks earlier – Half-Life 2 and its two subsequent Episodes (not exactly a gaming lightweight to be sure). The fact that I was debating ditching Gordon Freeman for the wide open expanses of the wild west at all is proof enough of the allure that is Red Dead Redemption, but that was three months ago and here I sit – and still no Red Dead. Nope, instead I gravitated towards the likes of Portal, Killzone 2, and now the aforementioned Darksiders. And I know why, too – time. These are all short games and short games fit into my schedule much better than those of the longer variety. That's not to say I don't like titles that require a large investment of your waking hours (hello, Fallout 3), but there's something foreboding knowing you're about to venture into a game that, based on my gaming schedule, could essentially last for months and months on end. To some that might be a wish come true, but I find it almost a hindrance. Especially when there's a handful of other games coming out in the next couple of months I'd very much like to my hands on. (As you can probably tell, I don't do well with multiple games at once, in case you hadn't noticed by now. Yay, me.)

And yet it just seems as though this game is far too compelling to ignore and that, at some point, I'll have to succumb entirely. A fate worse than death some might say...


8. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Noticing a trend here? Yeah, me too. And no, it's not my clever humor.

Yep, another massive open world game. Funny how I rail against the whole time commitment issue when talking about Red Dead and other large open world games, and yet I continue to purchase them. I perplex even myself.

Oblivion... coming off the high that was Fallout 3, I thought why not delve into some more Bethesda gaming goodness? Seemed highly logical at the time. But just like every other game on this list, I had no intention of actually playing it right away. Nope. I was, of course, busy playing something else. I just liked the "high" of buying it. Sweet. So off on to the shelf it went and two years later it's still collecting dust.

By today's standards, Oblivion appears rather antiquated. I can't say for sure, but I worry that a game made four years ago, during the genesis of the 360, won't carry the same weight as your more recent open world games. If Fallout 3 had annoyances when it came to gameplay and graphics, I can only assume that Oblivion will have them in spades, no? But the medieval setting and character customization really intrigued me at the time and I find the world of Cyrodiil much more compelling than, say, the urban atmosphere of a GTA IV. I just don't know...

Has time been kind to this legendary giant or is it a quest best left in the past?

And there you have it. So which one will it be? First-person mayhem? Globe-trotting whimsy? Or perhaps open world exploration? I'm counting on you guys to guide me towards what will hopefully be my next great gaming triumph! Don't mess it up.

But don't worry, I won't hold it against you if you do.