Everything I Love is Terrible: Dead Space 3

Reading the internet, I generally just come away feeling like every game I enjoy is the worst thing ever made. It honestly really annoys and depresses me to constantly see games I love shat on by seemingly everyone. Obviously that's pretty stupid of me, but it is what it is. Everything I Love is Terrible. To blow off some steam I thought I'd write (probably poorly, I don't do a lot of this) about those games that I enjoy that either everyone else seems to hate, or get a significant amount of hate from certain groups.

Starting with a game someone just dared to post something positive about on another, larger forum that you might be familiar with. That game is...

DEAD SPACE 3

I really enjoyed Dead Space 3. Yup. That's your signal to stop reading. I am a crazy person. Because, objectively, Visceral Games would have been better off chiseling a drawing of poop into the back of a disc. People probably would have enjoyed that well rendered drawing of poop a lot more.

Look, okay. I know. Dead Space 3 has some problems. It has a weapon building/upgrade system built specifically for microtransactions. Thanks EA. On the bright side you can build excellent weapons without needing to drop a dime, but it's still a system that is so obviously designed around microtransactions that it's pretty gross. It has human encounters that just don't jive with the series and what we all love about it. I never found the encounters out and out bad, they're not offensive or anything. However, said encounters are there and they're not something you really want to engage in but you have to anyway. It's a bummer. Carver is fucking lame. Ellie has prominent cleavage for whatever reason (it doesn't bother me, but I totally understand people calling it out as gross).

But I still loved it. It is my second favourite game in the series after the original.

Blasphemy, right? Liking Dead Space 3 more than Dead Space 2, which depending on who you ask is either at least a serviceable sequel or miles ahead of its predecessor? Truly, my taste is awful.

The big thing, where Dead Space 3 clicks for me, is its environments/world. You see, I liked Dead Space 2, but after Dead Space 1 and the Ishimura to me the Sprawl really just felt like a series of videogame environments, it just never felt like a place. If you ask me, one of the most special things about the original Dead Space is the Ishimura, the feeling that you are on this massive Planet Cracker. That everything on this ship became a nightmare, and now you have to make your way through this nightmare and find some way out. The Ishimura was almost like a character itself, and that feeling that it existed I think really helped enhance what little creep/scare factor was there.

Dead Space 2 tried show us this nightmare as it happened, and I do think it opens quite strong in that regard (it certainly has one of the most memorable openings to any game I've played). But somewhere along the way I stopped feeling like I was on a space station and more like I was making my way through a series of videogame environments that were designed in an attempt at addressing a criticism of the first game's lack of variety. It just never felt consistent. I just had trouble buying that these places really existed within the Sprawl.

Don't get me wrong, making my way through these environments was fun, but I just really missed the sense of place that I got from the original Dead Space. (on the bright side, returning to the Ishimura in 2 was a fantastic, dreadful moment)

Dead Space 3 did a much better job getting back to this element that I loved about the original game. I once again really felt like I was exploring a real place when I was making my way through the decrepit old fleet of ships, and I much preferred this atmosphere. Once down on the planet, I again felt like I was making my way through a facility that existed. As far as I'm concerned Dead Space 3 really nails it on the atmosphere and sense of place, which for me is something I love about the series and its potential. There's a consistency to the environments that I really appreciate and Visceral did a great job really making you feel like this place had this very strong history. I think in part because of this sense of place and history I actually found Dead Space 3 creepier than Dead Space 2.

I know I'm criticising Dead Space 2 a lot in my explanation of why I enjoyed Dead Space 3 so much, but it's the things in Dead Space 2 that let me down that I felt Dead Space 3 managed to improve upon that are a big part of why I like the game. This isn't meant to be a "Dead Space 2 sucks, Dead Space 3 is better" post, I like Dead Space 2, I just don't like it as much as the other two main entries into the series.

I love Dead Space 3's bosses. Especially the final boss. Yup, that boss that Brad and Patrick crapped on on numerous bombcasts. I loved the way Dead Space 3 ended. It was fun. It was ridiculous, but it was fun. It was just so crazy, and I really enjoyed it. I can't help it, I like videogamey boss fights. I like video games, and I don't care when video games dare to just be video games. I also think Visceral, with Dead Space, make pretty damn good video games. I liked Dead Space 1's final boss fight/cliche giant worm because it was videogamey, too. I didn't enjoy the way Dead Space 2 ended. I didn't particularly enjoy being chased by the ubermorph whilst being pelted by projectiles and such from random lurkers. But what I really didn't enjoy was Dead Space 2's final boss. It just wasn't fun, and in Visceral's efforts to avoid being "videogamey" with its final boss they also avoided designing an enjoyable boss battle.

Another thing about Dead Space 3 I really enjoyed? Its weapon system. In spite of the gross implementation of microtransactions (even if there's absolutely no need to resort to them). I know people want survival horror from Dead Space, and that as the series has gone on Isaac has become more and more overpowered. I can understand if that kills any kind of horror factor for people, but personally I can still find things creepy and threatening even while feeling powerful.

I really enjoyed building my weapons in Dead Space 3, modifying and upgrading them. Experimenting with different combinations and gradually building a pair of devastating weapons. And as the game went on, I kind of appreciated feeling reassured that in spite of fearing what lurked around the next corner, or being overwhelmed that I had the firepower to in most cases come out the victor. For me, personally, Dead Space 3 does a great job striking a balance between being a fun action game to play while also being a scary and creepy horror experience. This is something I enjoyed in Dead Space 2 as well (though I found it less scary because of my problems with the game's setting and atmosphere). And even in the original Dead Space to an extent (you're certainly powerful in Dead Space, but not to the extent of Dead Space 2 or 3), though Dead Space is much better at being less an action game and more a scary game (obviously your mileage may vary).

So, that about wraps it up, I guess? My reasoning for enjoying Dead Space 3. You probably don't agree with anything I've written, but hey, at least you now understand just why it is I like this game in spite of it having been decided that it is terrible. My taste is pretty awful. If you managed to wade through that poorly structured and worded jumble, kudos.

Everything I Love is Terrible.

Next up? I'm not sure, currently I'm playing through Skyward Sword again because I loved the game and was feeling frustrated by hate for it being drummed up again. (Though in Skyward Sword's case I'm not really willing to accept that it's just my taste being awful, Skyward Sword is a legimately fantastic goddamn video game goddamnit. :P)

I'm thinking if I write another of these it'll be about the much maligned Dragon Age 2, a game that is indeed very flawed that I managed to thoroughly enjoy anyway (it will also be a fine example of my taste being terrible, since I don't particularly like Dragon Age Origins. I know, I'm a terrible person). I'll probably be revisiting it with Dragon Age Inquisition on the way in October.

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The General Future of Games, DRM and ownership. Not for me? How about you?

I just feel like rambling some thoughts about the current path of the industry, with Microsoft's announcements about how DRM and connectivity will work and the fact that Sony will likely wind up with similar features. Apologies if it's all a bit of a mess.

Heading into next gen and the all digital future, I'm beginning to think that I just don't generally want a part in any of this DRM business. Or at the very least, given my history with Steam, I guess waiting until I can get everything ridiculously cheap to the point where I con't care about ownership quite so much?

There's certainly a sort of inconsistency to my reaction to Console DRM and the fact that I have quite a large Steam library. I think part of it is that PC games have long dealt with things like CD keys and DRM, and thus Steam for some part felt like a lesser evil? For me personally it's also because I'm not much of a PC gamer, and so purchases there have been on something of an uncaring whim, whereas on consoles I like to buy new and typically in a game's launch period. On consoles I've always really cared about gaming there and owning many of the games I play on those systems. If that makes any sense.

All of this business with console DRM has definitely caused me to pause and rethink the way I've been spending my money on PC.

Perhaps I will ultimately at some point get in on the next generation of systems, but be far less invested?

I have also made mostly digital purchases on Playstation Vita, but on Vita there is a large, easily understandable advantage to digital purchases that come with Sony's DRM - on a handheld having access to games without having to swap physical media is great. Whereas I don't honestly care about having to switch discs on a console. I think it's also a case of, again, not being quite so invested in the Vita and what's available for it, the one game that I really care about on that system I own a physical copy of. At least on Vita you have options, you can still purchase games without having to deal with DRM if you don't want to.

The industry's larger endgame at this point seems to be the "all digital future", where they can far more easily control users' access to games and receive compensation for any sale. I understand why publishers/developers feel they should receive compensation for any of their games sold, and I try to support them by buying new and extremely rarely buying used - it's a shame that while I care about their position, they don't seem to give any sort of shit about my rights as a consumer or what I want ownership to mean when making a purchase.

I also care about this whole "internet connection once every 24 hours" deal. Put simply, I want to be able to play games offline if a situation arises where I don't have an internet connection. Over the last two years I have gone through periods of a couple of weeks at a time without internet while moving, and the ability to play videogames has been extremely welcome. I'm not particularly interested in owning a console that won't let me play games if I'm without internet for any extended period of time, it was annoying enough when my WiiU would repeatedly ask me if I wanted to set up my internet connection when it didn't pick one up!

So, with things feeling personally somewhat bleak at this point, what does the future of gaming hold for me?

Ultimately I'm left thinking that maybe videogames are heading in a direction that I just don't want to be a part of. I'm really beginning to think that for me the future of videogames means Nintendo (which have their own problems when it comes to digital purchases, obviously), Vita, "Retro" and DRM-Free PC gaming.

I've long been planning to hold off on purchasing either a PS4 or an Xbox One, in favour of purchasing them at a cheaper price and continuing to play my current gen collection and WiiU games. I've amassed a great library of games this gen that I either would be happy to return to, haven't yet finished or haven't gotten around to playing. It's almost like I've been hoarding games for this very scenario like a crazy person. Perhaps this just means I'll be spending even more time with this current generation of systems than I originally anticipated.

Indie developers often offer DRM free purchases of their games; just this week I bought Gunpoint DRM Free and got a Steam key with it, so I could still play the game with the things I like about Steam, but still own a copy of the game that I get to own without any restrictions! Fantastic! Humble is doing awesome stuff with its bundles, and in the case of Gunpoint acting as the service from which you buy a DRM free copy of the game. You can even now sign up for an account and get access to all of your bundles/games in one easy place, all DRM free! And then there's GOG.com, no longer just a place for old games specifically, you can now also buy new DRM free indie games and we're seeing more "old" games that aren't quite so old.

So while I'm really disappointed that Xbox One (and probably PS4, but we'll see) are doing things to keep me from a generation of games that will likely be awesome, at least there will no doubt still be options in this weird transition period. Like a stick in the mud, though, I kind of just wish things would stay the way they are.

Thanks for putting up with my rambling if you got through all of that! I hope I made some semblance of sense!

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No Marketing? It could have been worse, you know.

I know, it's frustrating to see Shadows of the Damned essentially thrown out there in the middle of June to die with little in the way of marketing support from EA. But thinking about it, maybe it's a good thing EA's marketing team didn't go advertisement crazy. I quickly put this together to demonstrate my point.

As I said, it could have been worse. ;)

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Considering a playthrough of SMT Nocturne/Lucifer's Call

So I finally got done watching the Persona 4 Endurance Run and it got me in the mood to try my hand at some ShinTen. The only Shin Megami Tensei game I own is Lucifer's Call, a game I picked up in the PS2 heyday when I loved me some JRPGs. Obviously there are some marked differences between Persona 4 and SMT3. However, I remember being really interested in this game in the lead-up to its release (in spite of no prior experience with the series) thanks to its really interesting art direction, strong reviews and word-of-mouth. I was really excited when I managed to pick up one of the very few locally available copies around release.

However, when I played it at the time I wasn't really feeling it. I don't remember particularly enjoying the dungeons or finding much interest in the story and I don't remember getting much of a grasp for the combat system and recruiting/fusing monsters. Then I ran into The Matador. I was completely demolished. What an arsehole. At that point I put the game back on the shelf. It was an experience that was far from encouraging. In spite of all that, I did feel there was something there, and I regretted the fact I found parts of it disinteresting and too difficult.

So now, here I am. The game has finally been pulled back off the shelf and I'm very close to sliding it into my PS3 (and hoping it's backwards compatible - I still have my PS2, though, so failing that I'll still be able to give it another try). It's a tad daunting, to be honest, I'm somewhat expecting that I just won't like it. The thought hit me, however, why not turn to my fellow Giant Bomb members for some advice?

So...any advice for someone who is essentially a Shin Megami Tensei newbie?

Failing that, I'm strongly considering buying Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2 (and likely will regadless of how this SMT3 experiment turns out). Speaking to a friend who adores Shin Megami Tensei, he says they're easier games than Nocturne/Lucifer's Call and have a story that is more strongly presented.

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