Primal Scream-Inducing

It's not very often that I get the urge to give up on a game. Sure, I'm prone to putting titles down when I tire of them. I think we all are, to some extent. But I'll always endeavour to pick them back up at a later date and plough on through to the end. For me to irrevocably say "fuck you" to a game is rare. I think the last time I experienced any such feeling was way back in 2005, when the eagerly-awaited Unlimited SaGa turned out to be nothing like what I was expecting. Five years later, it seems to be happening again. 
 

 I wanted to like you, Jen. Really I did
The game in question is Primal, an action-adventure game for the PS2. On paper, it's a game that I should dig the hell out of. For a start, it's developed by SCE Studio Cambridge, the British development studio responsible for the wickedly fun MediEvil games. The world, story and characters are steeped in a twisted, unique mythology, all with a "metal" edge to it. It looks great, and has some terrific audio, in terms of voice acting as well as musical score. The gameplay, a mix of exploration, environmental puzzle-solving and combat, isn't too far removed from titles like Soul Reaver and Tomb Raider - games I already have an established love for. Throw all this together and theory dictates that I should be loving this game. 
 
Unfortunately, that couldn't be further from the truth. The promise of fleshed-out worlds is countered with environments that look and feel sparse and empty, leaving me with no motivation to explore them. The environmental puzzles are few and far between, meaning that most of the game seems to be spent running from one end of the environment to the other in order to trigger the next story-advancing cut-scene. As great as the game's graphical presentation is, its interface is clunky and hideous. Worst of all, though, is the combat, which is mapped to the shoulder buttons in such an unwieldy fashion that I seem to be spending most of my time fleeing from enemies just so I don't have to suffer the abysmal controls. Bear in mind, this is coming from somebody who's spent parts of this year with tank controls, characters who plant their feet when they shoot, and camera control mapped to the face buttons. Questionable control schemes are something I usually have no trouble overcoming, but Primal has pushed my tolerance to the absolute limit.
 
 If you think I'm going to endure another ten hours of this, you're very much mistaken
As things stand, I think Primal is going to be the first game in five years to get the brush-off from me. Nobody is more disappointed by this more than me, I can assure you. Ever since I ordered the game last year, I've been excited about the prospect of dipping into its world - a world that is clearly a labour of love, and constructed from themes that really appeal to me. To discover that my ticket into that world has been invalidated by the title's core gameplay is disheartening to say the least. Maybe I'll give Primal one last chance and go back to it over Christmas, or perhaps even next Summer, when I might be more willing to forgive its flaws. Right now, though, I'm not prepared to spend any more time with it, and back on the Pile of Shame it shall go.
 
With University back in full swing, my time available to play games has once again dwindled away. Most of my game-playing outside of Primal has been spent on titles that are fun to play, but don't demand much attention or commitment in terms of story. My go-to title in this regard has been FIFA 11. It's been four years since Pro Evolution Soccer 6 marked the last time I got excited about a sports game release. After two years of disappointment having spent full-price on Konami's flagship soccer series, I decided to sit out last year, and ended up returning to the field this year after switching teams. I bought FIFA 11 purely on the strength of its demo, and I don't regret a single penny of that £35 purchase. After some abysmal online performances I've confined myself to the game's Career mode, where I'm having a blast playing for Watford. While Pro Evos 2008 and 2009 failed to hold my attention for any longer than a couple of months, I already get the feeling that FIFA 11 could keep me busy not just over the next twelve months, but well into the year beyond that as well. I guess only time will tell. 
 
It's nice to have a new Sonic game featuring loop-the-loops that there's no danger of completely falling off of
I've also been dabbling with a couple of Xbox LIVE Arcade titles over the last couple of weeks. The first of these is Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One. As somebody who effectively passed through the gateway to video games via Sonic the Hedgehog 2, I felt somewhat obliged to pick this up back when it released last week. I'm not going to go into any great detail about the game here, so if you'd like to know more about what I thought of it, be sure to check out my review. The other downloadable gem that I've been spending the last couple of days with is Super Meat Boy. I'm not usually one to gravitate towards titles bearing the masocore label, but something about Super Meat Boy seemed irresistible to me (actually, it was probably more the fact that I still had 800 Points kicking around after buying Sonic 4, and I seem totally incapable of leaving any residual Points unspent). I've only played through the first "world", but there's something oddly compelling about its simple gameplay and demand for pixel-perfect jumps. Chances are I'll never finish it, but whatever time I do end up committing to Super Meat Boy I know will be time well-spent and enjoyed. 
 
A final note to those of you who are sitting, waiting patiently and twiddling your thumbs in anticipation of Episode Twelve of Enduring Final Fantasy VII. I must be sounding like a broken record at this point, but I promise I haven't forgotten about the series and I have no intention of stopping. I'm currently in a position where I have the next three episodes planned and ready to write up, but I just don't have the will or the desire to sit down and pump whole afternoons into writing them. I've hit something of a stride in my creative writing recently, too, to the point where I'd much rather be doing that than blogging here on Giant Bomb (hell, the only reason I'm writing this blog is to let you all know that I didn't die during Freshers' Week). When I have more time and more motivation, I will pick the series back up. For now, though, consider it on hiatus. I'm sorry, but I'd rather write those blogs at a time when I want to write them, than at a time when I feel like I have to write them. They'll wind up better that way. 
 
As always, thanks very much for reading. I'll see you around. 
 
 
Dan
 
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Currently playing - Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One (XBLA)
3 Comments
4 Comments
Posted by dankempster

It's not very often that I get the urge to give up on a game. Sure, I'm prone to putting titles down when I tire of them. I think we all are, to some extent. But I'll always endeavour to pick them back up at a later date and plough on through to the end. For me to irrevocably say "fuck you" to a game is rare. I think the last time I experienced any such feeling was way back in 2005, when the eagerly-awaited Unlimited SaGa turned out to be nothing like what I was expecting. Five years later, it seems to be happening again. 
 

 I wanted to like you, Jen. Really I did
The game in question is Primal, an action-adventure game for the PS2. On paper, it's a game that I should dig the hell out of. For a start, it's developed by SCE Studio Cambridge, the British development studio responsible for the wickedly fun MediEvil games. The world, story and characters are steeped in a twisted, unique mythology, all with a "metal" edge to it. It looks great, and has some terrific audio, in terms of voice acting as well as musical score. The gameplay, a mix of exploration, environmental puzzle-solving and combat, isn't too far removed from titles like Soul Reaver and Tomb Raider - games I already have an established love for. Throw all this together and theory dictates that I should be loving this game. 
 
Unfortunately, that couldn't be further from the truth. The promise of fleshed-out worlds is countered with environments that look and feel sparse and empty, leaving me with no motivation to explore them. The environmental puzzles are few and far between, meaning that most of the game seems to be spent running from one end of the environment to the other in order to trigger the next story-advancing cut-scene. As great as the game's graphical presentation is, its interface is clunky and hideous. Worst of all, though, is the combat, which is mapped to the shoulder buttons in such an unwieldy fashion that I seem to be spending most of my time fleeing from enemies just so I don't have to suffer the abysmal controls. Bear in mind, this is coming from somebody who's spent parts of this year with tank controls, characters who plant their feet when they shoot, and camera control mapped to the face buttons. Questionable control schemes are something I usually have no trouble overcoming, but Primal has pushed my tolerance to the absolute limit.
 
 If you think I'm going to endure another ten hours of this, you're very much mistaken
As things stand, I think Primal is going to be the first game in five years to get the brush-off from me. Nobody is more disappointed by this more than me, I can assure you. Ever since I ordered the game last year, I've been excited about the prospect of dipping into its world - a world that is clearly a labour of love, and constructed from themes that really appeal to me. To discover that my ticket into that world has been invalidated by the title's core gameplay is disheartening to say the least. Maybe I'll give Primal one last chance and go back to it over Christmas, or perhaps even next Summer, when I might be more willing to forgive its flaws. Right now, though, I'm not prepared to spend any more time with it, and back on the Pile of Shame it shall go.
 
With University back in full swing, my time available to play games has once again dwindled away. Most of my game-playing outside of Primal has been spent on titles that are fun to play, but don't demand much attention or commitment in terms of story. My go-to title in this regard has been FIFA 11. It's been four years since Pro Evolution Soccer 6 marked the last time I got excited about a sports game release. After two years of disappointment having spent full-price on Konami's flagship soccer series, I decided to sit out last year, and ended up returning to the field this year after switching teams. I bought FIFA 11 purely on the strength of its demo, and I don't regret a single penny of that £35 purchase. After some abysmal online performances I've confined myself to the game's Career mode, where I'm having a blast playing for Watford. While Pro Evos 2008 and 2009 failed to hold my attention for any longer than a couple of months, I already get the feeling that FIFA 11 could keep me busy not just over the next twelve months, but well into the year beyond that as well. I guess only time will tell. 
 
It's nice to have a new Sonic game featuring loop-the-loops that there's no danger of completely falling off of
I've also been dabbling with a couple of Xbox LIVE Arcade titles over the last couple of weeks. The first of these is Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One. As somebody who effectively passed through the gateway to video games via Sonic the Hedgehog 2, I felt somewhat obliged to pick this up back when it released last week. I'm not going to go into any great detail about the game here, so if you'd like to know more about what I thought of it, be sure to check out my review. The other downloadable gem that I've been spending the last couple of days with is Super Meat Boy. I'm not usually one to gravitate towards titles bearing the masocore label, but something about Super Meat Boy seemed irresistible to me (actually, it was probably more the fact that I still had 800 Points kicking around after buying Sonic 4, and I seem totally incapable of leaving any residual Points unspent). I've only played through the first "world", but there's something oddly compelling about its simple gameplay and demand for pixel-perfect jumps. Chances are I'll never finish it, but whatever time I do end up committing to Super Meat Boy I know will be time well-spent and enjoyed. 
 
A final note to those of you who are sitting, waiting patiently and twiddling your thumbs in anticipation of Episode Twelve of Enduring Final Fantasy VII. I must be sounding like a broken record at this point, but I promise I haven't forgotten about the series and I have no intention of stopping. I'm currently in a position where I have the next three episodes planned and ready to write up, but I just don't have the will or the desire to sit down and pump whole afternoons into writing them. I've hit something of a stride in my creative writing recently, too, to the point where I'd much rather be doing that than blogging here on Giant Bomb (hell, the only reason I'm writing this blog is to let you all know that I didn't die during Freshers' Week). When I have more time and more motivation, I will pick the series back up. For now, though, consider it on hiatus. I'm sorry, but I'd rather write those blogs at a time when I want to write them, than at a time when I feel like I have to write them. They'll wind up better that way. 
 
As always, thanks very much for reading. I'll see you around. 
 
 
Dan
 
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Currently playing - Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One (XBLA)
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

I'm hitting a similar wall of frustration with games I should like and just can't.  Wild ARMs 3 is probably the biggest offender at this point, which is weird.  I played about twenty minutes of it when it was released and totally enjoyed it.  I'm a huge fan of the series, as ridiculous as those games are, but I never played 3 or 5.  Now that I have the opportunity to play both after having run through the first two games, I feel sort of burned out on the games in general.  I know in this case it's just a matter of coming back to them when I haven't played the series in a while.  But honestly, with other (admittedly better) RPG's on my shelf or saved to my hard drive, it's hard to justify a committed playthrough right now.

Moderator
Posted by C2C

Yeah, I was really surprised at all the praise Primal received when I was playing it as well.  I simply could not get over the controls.  Oh well, just glad it wasn't just me that didn't like the game.

Posted by Bruce

If I had an Xbox I'd be all over Super Meat Boy. That type of crap just appeals to the sadist in me.