Friday, 10 May 2013

How I Decide Which Games Are Worth Playing

        Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything – the main reason being my taking time to steadily work through my huge backlog of games. Bought, borrowed and rented, they have been piling up on my table, begging to be played. I like to give each game the attention it deserves, so rarely do I play through more than one game at time – only moving onto the next once I have played through their story at least once and watched all those names roll up the screen.
        Recently I have worked my way through the following: the occasionally creepy but ultimately flawed Silent Hill: Downpour, the hideously botched Aliens: Colonial Marines, Borderlands 2 (the only game on this list that I actually got halfway through and could not be bothered to finish), two playthroughs of the utterly brilliant Dishonored (which you can read more about HERE), the visually stunning and yet slightly too ‘on-the-rails’ Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the western re-invention of demon slayer Dante in DMC: Devil May Cry and finally, yet another complete playthrough each of the superlative Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls (still quite possibly my favourite games of all time) to accompany a friend through his first time through both and to play the DLC expansion for the latter that wasn't available the first time I played it).
        Oh, and I’m currently half way through the excellent Tomb Raider reboot…

        What is this compulsion of mine to spend so much time playing these games? Is it an addiction? Or a way of life? Does it enrich me in some way or is it simply a waste of time and I should instead be playing outside with all the other chil-de-ren?
        Most other ‘dedicated’ gamers that I know either only play a few titles religiously, or they like to play many games (especially ones that have just come out) but don't really get around to finishing any of them. I sit very much in the middle ground - there are many games that I am interested in playing but at the same time I generally don't like not finishing games (The exception being when I get the feeling that it’s really not worth the investment of my time).

        Woah Woah, hold up! I hear the fan boys cry, You finished the abysmal Colonial Marines but not Borderlands 2?! Well yeah. As bad as Colonial Marines was, I was only renting it and I knew I could finish it in a few hours just to see how the story panned out. With Borderlands 2 on the other hand (also a rental) half way through it I could sense that the mechanics of the game and the ridiculous amount of travelling was just really artificially lengthening out the whole experience for me not to mention the monotony of the combat had began to sink in. I knew it would take many more hours of repetitious (and not particularly enjoyable) gameplay to get to the end of a story that I ultimately didn't really care about - and so I left it. Time was better spent playing something else.

        You see, it’s all subjective about finding what is ‘worth’ your time and what is not. I know many people who rave about Skyrim. Me? Couldn't get into it at all. Get over it. Whereas Dark Souls… I’ll probably continue it into New Game Plus (once again) after I’ve cleared a few more games in the current backlog.

        And I still have a few unopened games sitting on my shelf, the Black Ops 2 single player campaign that I still haven’t touched and not to mention a handful of PSN titles and games on my Mac that I bought in sales but have yet to even start. And by the time I finish some of these I’m sure the more recent games to have come out would have dropped in price or arrive at my doorstep via the good folks at Lovefilm.

        I guess what I have learned (there’s always a lesson somewhere in there folks) is that for me, whether or not a game is worth playing (or more specifically spending time in playing) comes in two parts. Firstly, whether or not the game is worth playing through once, and then beyond that, whether or not a game is worth keeping to play through again in the future (possibly getting the plat too). If not, get rid. Move onto something else – life is too short.
        So I guess the games I play fall into three categories then: games I feel are not worth my time (eg: Borderlands 2, Skyrim, Fallout 3 - notice a pattern here?), games that I feel are worth my time to play through once either for the story or to see all there is to see in the game (SH Downpour, MGR: Revengeance, DMC – alternate endings, secrets etc can just be viewed on youtube these days without having to slog through the whole game again), and finally games that I can keep coming back to and replay indefinitely because they are a true joy to play (the Uncharted trilogy, the ‘Souls games, the Batman: Arkham games…). Invariably it is these games that I usually end up getting the Platinum trophy in too – just because I enjoy spending the extra amount of time needed to do that. These are the ones that I generally tend to keep and not sell on.

        Still, a lot of it is down to personal preference and although there are definite stinkers out there (yes YOU, Colonial Marines…) it’s all just swings and roundabouts – different people enjoy spending different amounts of time playing different things and that's that.
        It's also about priorities. As with most people, I find that I have less time to play games as I get older – so sussing out what is worth my time and what is not is often at the forefront of my mind when starting up a new game. If I don't intend to finish it, better to bail out early and move on to the next. That's why renting games is so great for me.

        So what’s the point of all this? Have you ever called into question your own personal game playing habits? Do you stockpile hundreds of unfinished games, or are you a completionist too?
        Never mind… just let me get back to finishing Tomb Raider so I can decide whether it’s worth going for the plat or not.

9th May 2013

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