Maybe I'm just getting older and have less time on my hands, or maybe I'm changing with the mood of the culture, but I'm finding I'm having difficulty sticking with one game at a time. There's more than a couple times I've been playing a game and thought, "Come on, just end it all ready!" I suppose this is a testament to the stories in these games, though, since I'm willing to keep playing through the game to see how it ends. Or maybe I just want to finally finish the game so I don't feel like I've wasted the time I've invested. Regardless of the reason, I have managed to get through a couple games recently. They are all solid games (with one major exception), but I can't help but notice some things in all of them, including the length. So bear with me as I get down to picking some nits with the games I've been playing.
First up is Dead Space. I liked this game, though I found I got tired of the gameplay about 3/4's of the way through. The shooting was solid, but it felt like the same thing each time, no matter the variety of enemies I faced. Of course, I also didn't buy too many different weapons, and stuck with the pistol, flamethrower, pulse gun, and sawblades. So maybe I'm to blame for the repetition. But I still think I was a couple hours too long. I'm kind of curious how Isaac was the only one who managed to handle these creatures. I mean, we have trained soldiers who are no match for the horrific monsters, but an engineer is able to mow down countless hordes of them? That kind of stuck out to me, but not enough to ruin the atmosphere. And the atmosphere is terrific, I have to say. The way the plot and tension build, I was convinced Isaac was going to die at the end (I won't spoil it by saying if he does or not). The ending confused me, though. I'm talking about the very last part. If you've beaten it, you probably know what I'm referring to. That happens and then the credits roll. It was a true WTF moment for me.
Another game that overstayed its welcome was Condemned: Criminal Origins. I've only had my 360 for about a year now, so I missed this one when it came out. I had to go hunt down a used copy, and the only reason I did that was so I could play the sequel. I have a hang up about needing to know the continuity in stories. In a pinch, Wikipedia will work, but if I can go through the original then I prefer to go that way. I liked Condemned, but it was way too easy to get frustrated by the combat and incredibly dark enemies. And yes, I know that was intentionally designed that way. I was very ready for that game to be over before I beat it. Well beat it I did, and went on to Condemned 2: Bloodshot. In fact, I pretty much started it immediately after finishing the first. That had advantages and disadvantages. It became very clear what a huge leap the sequel made in graphical quality. It looked beautiful after Criminal Origins. It also really confused me with the combat. They didn't change it that much, but it was enough to throw me off when the enemies attacked faster and the blocking was a little different. Eventually I got into the rythym and found myself enjoying the game much more than the first (for whatever reason). Unfortunately, my save file seems to have been corrupted and now it wants to take me all the way back to the start. So maybe someday I'll finish Bloodshot, but right now, I just can't make myself go back through the last seven hours of that game so soon.
I can't really complain about the length of Prince of Persia, since it's not that long. But I still found it pretty repetitive. The reviews all pretty much nail it. The game is beautiful, and the dialouge between the Prince and Elika was brilliant. But you pretty much just do the same stuff over the course of the whole game, and it doesn't take much skill to beat the game. Occasionally the bosses will give you a challenge, but it's not much. The gameplay just seemed to be missing something the last couple games had, and I don't know what it was.
Oh, but one game I have plenty to gripe about is Mirror's Edge. Oh wow, did they screw this one up. I really wanted to like this game. I really, really wanted to like it. In fact, I convinced myself I DID like it at one point. I read Ryan's review and thought he was probably being too hard on the game, and that I could look past any faults and enjoy the free-running action. Boy was I wrong. His review is spot on, let me tell you. There are good moments in Mirror's Edge, but they get dragged down by everything that's wrong with the game. There are times you'll swear you pulled off a move right only to have Faith jump around like an idiot and plummet to her death. The characters are unlikeable, the story is dumb and forgetable, and the e-Surance cutscenes are...well they're not THAT bad. But the worst part is the combat. Oh God, the combat. Why...WHY...did they insist on having you fight in this game?! It's just stupid!! Faith is supposed to be a Runner. I take that to mean she runs. Not fight off tacital SWAT teams with kung fu. I played through a lot of the game without firing a gun, partly for the acheivement and partly because shooting cops didn't make sense to me. What if these guys are just following orders, trying to live out their lives and then go home to their families? Yeah, they're working for a shady government, but who am I to judge? I didn't feel heroic putting a bullet to their heads. But I eventually found it impossible to continue if I didn't kill some dudes. It felt wrong. And the combat is broken regardless of how you play. Every time that douchebag Merc told me to get ready for a fight, I felt like chucking my controller through the TV. Oh, and Merc is a douchebag. This is a spoiler, but when his character died, I actually chuckled and cracked a smile. That's how much I hated that guy. He actually chews you out for not knowing where you're supposed to go. How about giving me a hint or something, instead of yelling at me to move my ass, you useless piece of crap! For some reason I was determined to beat the game, so I kept at it and nearly did, but eventually I just reached a point where I had to throw up my hands and call it quits. I think I'll be a better person for it.
So that's pretty much it. I did beat World at War, but there's not much to say. It's a Call of Duty game. It's good. It's not COD4. Overall, I've had to accept that growing up and becoming an adult is changing the way I play and think about games. I don't have the time I did before to power through Final Fantasy (or any other RPG). I have more income to spend on games and less time, so I've got games piling up to play and no time to beat them. So the movement I see in our culutre in regards to gaming makes sense to me. I want more quality in my game and less quantity. COD4 had one of the best single player stories ever, and I didn't feel ripped off about it being incredibly short. I want to get through Fallout 3, or Fable 2 (or even FFXII...) but I can't seem to get a few hours into them before I feel like playing something else. I know there are these incredible gaming experiences out there, and I don't always feel like I can devote a whole month of my time to one game at a time. I hope developers are taking note of this with their consumers, because if we get more experiences like COD4, I think many of us will be more satisfied with our games as a whole. We'll feel like we got our moneys worth, got closure by beating the game, and still have time to have a life somehow. But I'm sure even if that happens, we'll find ways to nitpick. I mean, we're gamers. It's what we do best.