I've been playing games for a quite a while now. I remember my family's first computer around 1994 and all those amazing games I was introduced to back then but was way too young to appreciate. The Legend of Kyrandia: Malcolm's Revenge, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, Crusader: No Remorse, Descent and so many more! Since then I've been playing on all sorts of different systems including the PS3 and 360 as well as some PC gaming here and there. To me games have always been about having fun and enjoying yourself first and foremost.
So it has really bummed me out to see people, game reviewers included, take these cynical and harsh tone with a lot of games these days. It almost seems like a lot of people have lost focus about what this is all about - you know, having fun. While I disagree with Jeff on a lot of things, I really appreciate his no-nonsense approach to enjoying himself on a very basic and "raw" level. He played that new Syndicate reboot, had a ton of fun and gave it a high score. There wasn't a lot of hands wringing and whining about how the story is barely fleshed out and theres no character development or hows theres dubstep music in literally two spots - because the gameplay introduces a lot of fresh concepts and is highly enjoyable. Yet I keep reading stories or hearing comments that will nitpick at a lot of titles without giving them a proper chance. A lot of people wrote off Dead Space 3 completely before having even played it. If you decided that you've had enough of the franchise I can completely understand that. On the other hand if you denied yourself the conclusion to this series which you've enjoyed in the past because of the newly added micro transactions then that seems absurd. I enjoyed both Dead Space 1 and 2 and consider it one of my favorite new IP's of this generation. I wasn't about to say no to the third game just because of some business model out of my control. But you're part of the problem! - you might say, because I help fund the product that propagates this vile business practice. I don't know, I just remember a time when there wasn't a problem to begin with - companies made games, people bought them and there wasn't some holy war of fighting off these asshole publishers with my wallet because they keep trying to earn a profit from the multi million dollar titles they develop for gamers to play.
More recently it's this whole Tomb Raider conversation about narrative disconnect between story and gameplay that had me scratching my head. The idea of a "narrative dissonance" ruining gameplay seems strange to me. The developer advertised Lara as your typical female who is thrust into the belly of the beast and must learn to cope with a lot of terrible situations, growing along the way as a person. Yet a lot of people seem to be dismayed by the fact that, while that is a great story angle, at some point this thing will have to turn into a videogame which means killing a whole lot of things in a fun and mechanically enjoyable way. Most big name titles are centered around mass slaughter of baddies. Games like Uncharted, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed, inFamous, Saints Row and many others are basically big killing simulators, some which go to great lengths with their robust kill animations. Thats how games have been for ages. Sure in Uncharted you would climb something and flip an ancient stone lever from time to time but a lot of the gameplay was focused on killing literally hordes of people. In the latest Bombcast Brad and Patrick both bemoan the absence of a believable thread between the story and the gameplay aspects of Tomb Raider. Instead of touting the extremely fun and fluid game mechanics, they instead concentrate on the completely insignificat fact that Lara is sad at having killed someone and then the cutscene ends and you kill 15 more people. Granted they both, almost begrudgingly, agreed that it's a good game - but it's this laser focus on small details that really "held the game back" for them which seems so baffling and makes them appear like cynical, grumpy old guys instead of the fun and playful doods I know them to be. At the end of the day, that narrative dissonance is not going to make the game any more fun to play. It may be just me, but 9 out of 10 times I will take gameplay over narrative because I buy these things to play them, and if I get a great story coupled with awesome gameplay I consider that a huge bonus.
Back in the day no one cared how this Mario plumber went down a green tube or what that meant on a grander scale of the Super Mario Bros Timeline. Times have gone forward and expectations have changed obviously, but I think what has remained the same is that it's the fun that matters most. If you're going to have fun actually playing a title, everything else shouldn't really affect it. This is why a lot of the time you'll have people say "oh that happened? I totally forgot.." yet they'll remember that they had a lot of fun playing the game. Where has all the fun gone for most people? Why do they get so bogged down with the details that they can't see the bigger picture of just enjoying themselves. I read a person write that if the new Tomb Raider was an original IP without any association to the existing Tomb Raider franchise they'd be a lot more interested but as it stands they doesn't really care about it, because it's Tomb Raider. How insane is that? What difference does a name on the box make? When The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out, a game with gigantic narrative dissonance, no one cared because they just had fun playing it, even despite the fact that many agreed the combat wasn't that great. Jumping on top of a tablet and knocking off all the dishes in someones house didn't destroy any gameplay fun for me!
In closing I think a lot of people need to lighten up. These are videogames, it's not especially serious business. For the most part Jeff has the right idea - just have fun with it. I bought DmC Devil May Cry, Dead Space 3, Syndicate and the new Tomb Raider. Guess what? They were all a lot of fun in their own ways. Did Dead Space 3 have an amazing story? No but it wasn't hot garbage as many claim it to be - it was video game adequate and the act of shooting necromorphs was still fun. Was DmC crass as hell? Heck yes and it was awesome from beginning to end! So what I'm trying to say is, if people want to keep picking these games apart for insignificant details then I guess thats their gosh given right, in the meantime I'll be playing them and having a blast.