Is +Kinect like an automatic transmission in a car?

I've spent a lot of time this month listening to and reading about E3, as I suspect most people on the site have. Of all the opinions given out, the ones regarding Microsoft's showing of Kinect really stuck with me. Before I get too far, three things: Mostly due to finances, the 360 was the first, and probably will be the only console in my house this generation. I bought a Kinect. I've been mostly underwhelmed with it. Let those color your opinions as you see fit. I'm not sure if I picked it up on one of the shows, but I've started thinking of games where Kinect is optional as +Kinect games. Sort of like having a +1 on an invite.

That out of the way, the thing that sparked this post was discussion over Kinect features being added to other games. In my case specifically Mass Effect 3, since I'm more likely to play that than any other +Kinect games I've seen so far. Listening to some of the back and forth over this reminds me of discussions I've heard between car enthusiasts about manual (stick) vs. automatic transmissions.

It might be presumptuous, but I'm going to guess that most people who come to the site learned how to drive, or at least took driving lessons using a car with an automatic transmission. Also, going on generalities I'm going to guess that of the people who can drive both, you probably don't really care which you drive, as long as it gets from point A to point B with a minimum of hassle along the way.

Similarly, I'm going to guess that most people on the site are predominantly console gamers, with the occasional boot into Steam or WoW on the PC. As with those who can or do drive manual and automatic, I suspect you mostly don't care where you play the game, as long as you're having fun.

There was a time (and for some people it's still here) when cars with automatic transmissions were basically 2nd class citizens. Compared to cars with a standard transmission, automatics were harder to fix, got worse millage, increased the price of the car, and didn't have as much pickup. Depending on who you talk to, some or all of these things are still true. Despite this, a lot of new cars these days have an automatic transmission. I don't know if it's true or not, but I think that a lot of the reason for this is that most drivers don't want to fiddle with a clutch and a gearshift.

I think that some of what's being done with Kinect is getting the same reaction. It was on one of the Bombcasts where this idea was seeded. Stepto and E from Microsoft were on, and of course they were playing up Microsoft things, including some of the Kinect features. I forget if was one or both of them, but there was a mention about how handy it was to be able to speak Shepard's line instead of moving the thumbstick and pressing the button. I didn't really think much about it, because it did seem kind of neat, if pointless. I didn't care if it only saved a half second; neat, if largely pointless.

That germinated while I listened to the rest of the bomcasts, and through the last two episodes of Weekend Confirmed (the E3 one of which made me cringe for listening to what seemed like everyone except their Jeff turning into cranky old men for a while). It was listening to something from Experience Points this morning when the idea crystalized. This +Kinect stuff is like the difference between a standard and manual transmission in a car.

For someone who knows what they're doing, the time to manually shift between one gear and the next is minimal. Same for the time difference between thumbstick+button press vs. speaking the line.

Having a Kinect adds an extra bit of hardware that could potentially fail, and adds to the overall cost of the system. Same with an automatic transmission.

Some people swear by a manual transmission, and feel like the lack of fine control in an automatic isn't worth the trade off of having a free hand or foot a little more often. I think the same thing applies here; if used correctly, +Kinect could free up one or more buttons for something else.

So, what do you think, is adding in Kinect features like an automatic transmission?

And if it is, do you care? If this really is the automatic transmission of gaming controls, do you mind sacrificing a bit of fine control in one area to free you up for other things?

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2010 Disappointments - Threebie edition

Inspired by Epic Steve's blog about his biggest letdowns of the year, I figured I would put in my own top three disappointments of the year. I have a somewhat up to date list of games I just didn't like, but I think there's a difference between not liking something, and being disappointed in it. Y'know I wanted to like Halo:Reach, but when I didn't, I wasn't really disappointed. On the Flip-side, I wanted to like Transformers: War For Cybertron, and was pretty disappointed when I didn't. I kept much better track than usual this year of which games I played, and why I did or didn't like them. So, here's a list of three games I was disappointed in this year, along with the notes I made as I played through them.
 
Fable III:     
11/01 - Picked up over the weekend. Only a couple hours in. Doing several fetch quests. Have a sword, a gun, and one magic.
I should maybe go back and play part of Fable II for comparison, but otherwise I'm having fun so far. The menu room may get old after a while, but so far I like the ability to move around the map, and zoom in on towns to fast travel there. The interface for changing clothes, weapons, etc. is well done. It's nicer than having to go to a specific shop to try on new pants, or to dye something.
I haven't had any serious fights so far, but the combat seems smooth and easy enough; it's nice having a single attack button that works contextually with a click, press-and-hold, or press-hold and aim with a thumb stick.
Based on the other games I've played so far this year, It's opening at #4, below ME:2, SC:Conviction, and Alan Wake.
11/09 - At a week in, I'm really not liking the inability to look at a list of active quests without going into the sanctuary. It's not bad when following the story, since that quest is always defaulted. When trying to run through multiple smaller quests, it's annoying to have to keep going back to the sanctuary and pick one of those instead of the main story quest.
I can understand that they wanted to not have a standard menu just pop up, but with the design flourishes the game already has, why not have an option where your character pulls out a scroll, and writes things down, or crosses them off?
Still pretty high on my list, but I can see where some of Brad's three-star rating came from. There are parts of the game I really like, so the parts that get in the way stand out that much more.
11/16 - Finished the main storyline, and got a couple of achievements I was hoping for. Still planning to get all the Road To Rule chests open, but that may take a bit of a back seat to Assassin's Creed, which is opening at #4 based on a heck of a good time I had in the first 10-15 minutes.
Moving Fable down at least to 5. 
 
You can see the progression there, where it went over about two weeks. So far I haven't gone back and finished the game, and I guess I'm really not likely to, unless there's a sudden huge dry spell where I've finished all the other games I'd like to check out from this year (While I'm suspicious of scripted events in shooters, I'd like to try cod blops just for the story). 
FWIW, Fable III actually ended up at #5, but I'm disappointed that the things I didn't like by the end seemed so obviously easy to fix. 
 
 
Red Dead Redemption
06/15/2010 - Pretty good. I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying this, even though I'm probably not even a 1/4 of the way through the story.
06/18/2010 - On hold for a bit, while I have some other games in from GameFly, and looking forward to Transformers next week.
07/14/10 - Picked back up last night. Very easy to get back in to.
08/16/10 - Picked up again about a week ago after rounding out the first DLC for Alan Wake.
Don't remember his name, but the govt. guy that is holding his family's safety over Marston's head is so hateful that, taken in combination with having finished slogging through Mexico so soon before, I'm having to push myself into playing.
Maybe this is a problem with trying to make a game too much like a movie. I know that guy gets dealt with in the end, but if RDR were a movie, I'd have a reasonable idea that things would resolve in about the next 20-25 minutes. As it is, I'm looking at probably a good hour or two. At this point, the redeeming thing about this game is everything other than the story.
11/09 - Moving down a few rungs. The first part of the game was good. The middle section was not fun, and the mission system really dragged things down. As well, the ending(s) didn't seem too fun.   
 
I think it's telling, the number of times I put the game aside for something else. Also, I suppose you could say that it was good storytelling on Rockstar's part that I had enough interest or investment in a character that I could actually hate the govt. guy who's holding the reins, as it were. My counter to that is I never understood well enough why Marston didn't shoot the guy's deputy dead, then put a bullet in the foot of the offending person as a start to working on 'where is my family'. Marston doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for the law, so why bother with all of these shenanigans? 
This was also the game that helped me realize the criteria for when I shouldn't keep playing a game. If I have to make myself keep playing, it's time to stop. There are too many other things I could be doing to spend my time playing a game that I'm not having fun with. It's interesting. I think If I had stopped before getting too far into Mexico, I probably would have rated this higher than the #10 spot it ended on. 
 
Transformers: WFC
06/28/10 - Been Playing for a few days. Single player, campaign only, so far. Disappointed. lots of nice little graphical touches. The movement of the parts for each character has individuality. I got distracted during one fight just watching Megatron's back and side plates move.
Similar to Dark Void though, having AI buddies that don't seem to hit anything more than 1 time out of 5, nor react to getting hit just seems stupid. I don't want to be able to stand back and let the AI win the game for me, but if I'm playing as Bumblebee, I should NOT be racking up that many more kills than Optimus, even if he isn't a prime yet. There are also a few times where I've felt like I was getting targeted simply because I wasn't an AI. Maybe there's a logic there; the enemy AI attacked me because technically the friendly AI wasn't actually doing any damage.
The targeting also seems intentionally broken. With the exception of a rocket launcher weapon that locks on to vehicles, everything is just a reticule on screen that has to be aimed manually. If I'm playing a robot, I would expect at least some sort of lock-on feature. I could even see having the lock be more or less effective depending on class, but not having one at all makes me wonder what the design philosophy was that made High Moon decide to take it out.
06/29/2010 - Just noticed that having played through about 3/4 of the single-player, and none of the multi, I have a B grade for this game on the GiantBomb scale. 
 
This ended up all the way down at #18 for the year, based mostly on disappointment. Friendly AI that did little to no damage to the enemy, and enemy AI that . . . .this is the weird part, is I can actually understand why the enemy AI attacked me more often than my AI buddies; THEY WEREN'T BEING HELPFUL. 
Also, why not have more of an auto-targeting system? They're all robots, how unreasonable would it have been to have a bit more snap-to on the guns?

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Good. Fun. Ramble?

Listening to Weekend Confirmed since it came back, I'm liking the discussion about Good and Fun in games; their Jeff will talk about games being more Good than Fun, or vice versa. I've been keeping what started as a top ten list for the year (currently at 19 and counting), and as much as there's still a few weeks left, my top ten are pretty much nailed down for the year. 
I don't know their Jeff's definition of Good, but I'm going with this: 
- A Good game is mechanically sound; it may have a slowdown here and there, but overall it's capable of doing what it was designed to do.
- The mechanics of a Good game should, at minimum, not get in the way of the player doing common tasks in the game, and at best they should make those tasks more enjoyable. As much as I didn't care for what I've played of Gears of War, the reload mechanic was a perfect example of doing something right; you can hit the reload button and just get it done, or you can try to time it for a little bonus.
 
Obviously Fun is a lot more wide open than that; I had fun with third person games, first person games, tower defense and even a point and click adventure this year, so that's open to interpretation from game to game.

The jockeying in the list at this point is largely a question of the balance between Good and Fun. Out of the current list, I can easily say the top four games ( ME:2, Splinter Cell:Conviction, AC:Brotherhood, Alan Wake: ) are both good and fun. 
 
Right now, Fable III sits at that half-way mark, where it starts getting into weighing and measuring Good and Fun. 
I had a good amount of Fun playing Fable III, and I think for the most part it was a Good game. There are a few places though where the mechanics, and the interest in a certain vision got in the way of the Fun. 
I can understand why the sanctuary room was done; it makes all of the things that would normally get done in a menu have a more concrete feeling. The problem I think is that it doesn't really fit a game with so many choices and options. I only had about 8 weapons total I think, but there's at least one post out on the GB forums from someone complaining about what a pain in the ass it is to scroll through things when you have 100+ weapons. I can sympathize a bit; I regularly had 10 or 15 friend quests going at any one time, and having to warp back to the sanctuary to choose the next one each time, instead of having the game default back to the storyline was Not Fun. 
 
The next two down the list are in a bit of Flux: Singularity, and BioShock2. Both FPS, which historically I haven't been into. In both cases I liked the story, and the if there were specific mechanical issues, I don't remember them at the moment. Oddly, I think the straight ahead nature of Bioshock 2 that made it more enjoyable for me than the first one, is what's keeping it just below Singularity. I liked the sense of purpose in Bioshock2 that I didn't feel in the first one, but at the same time, I liked the story in Singularity better. Maybe it's just that I like sci-fi and time travel better than one long rescue mission, who knows. 
 
Under that is Alpha Protocol. This is the poster child in my list for being more Fun than Good. While this is almost exactly the sort of game I would love, it has enough little problems and issues that it's ending up on the lower end of 10. 
 
Below that, Split/Second. I had fun with this one, but in the same way that it's hard to measure a comedy against a bunch of dramas, it's hard to measure a racing game against a bunch of adventures and shooters. I think if there had been more tracks, or if the placement of the explosions had been more varied, this would have scored higher on my list. 
 
And at the bottom of the top ten: Red Dead. 
I've posted a few opinions on this on the site before, but as much as the mechanics were good to me, the progression of the story, especially starting in Mexico, just killed it. Maybe it was a marathon session with the game, but after getting through Mexico, it stopped being fun. 
The mission structure stood out like a sore thumb, and as much as there was an open world with lots of little side quests to do, I didn't feel that I was in particular control of what I was doing as far as the story. 
Maybe bringing up such objectionable characters as the government handlers was done on purpose, to wrap you up in the sense of powerlessness that John Marston felt, but one of the reasons I play games is to have some freedom to do what I want to do. Sure, shooting those guys might have ended the game, or made it so that I didn't see my family again, but as I know I've seen in at least one other blog (maybe was it Sweep?) talking about how the ending part with Marston doing chores and helping the family out could just as well have been put at the start of the game; at least that way there's a potential that I as a player would have some interest in saving John's family beyond his repeatedly telling people that's what he was after. Speaking of which, it also occurs to me that if it wasn't for his talking all the time about how much he really wanted to be back with his family, I might not have felt such a disconnect when I couldn't, in fact, shoot someone in the leg to motivate them into helping me. 
I think this was a really Good Game, and I have some good memories of it, but compared to the ones above, it just wasn't that fun. 
 
Having said that, there's a good buffer below RDR, such as Lara Croft, Dark Void, Transformers, Case Zero, Sherlock Holmes, Blur, and a few others.

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So, Kinect. Yeah, not so much anymore.

Back in June I wrote the longest blog post I've done in months, if not ever. It was about how Kinect was made for someone like me, and my family. 
I don't disagree with that blog, I still think Kinect is made for a family like mine where there is no Wii in the house. 
What I started to think about the last few weeks is whether Kinect is made for my house, and my budget. 
I don't remember the exact date, but when I saw the Kinect promo box in the gamestop a little while back, it had recommended distances for one or two players. It was 6 and 8 feet respectively. 
So I went home and measured between the front of the TV stand and the couch; 6'2". Hmm. Enough room for me then, but nobody else. . . . if I moved the table out of the way. A little bit of shoving and pushing, and the distance is up to 7'. Better, but still not enough for two. It wouldn't be much of an issue, except that part of the reason I want this is for two player stuff with my daughter. Hmm. Maybe a slightly raised stand behind what we currently have? I did some measuring, and for a week or two, the plan was to add a small extra level stand, above and slightly behind the current one. this would work fine, there's a good 8" or so between the back of the stand and the wall; the 360 power brick, and some mess of cabling live back there, making it nigh impossible to push the whole mess straight back to the wall. 
"What about mounting the TV to the wall?" I can hear at least one person asking. Aside from the parts we've knocked down and replaced, all the walls in our house are plaster and lathe, which is more than a bit of a pain in the ass to try to hang anything other than a small picture on; plaster is wicked crumbly, lathe is only strong enough really to hold the plaster that's been slathed on to it, and the wall studs are pretty much covered in the nails used to hold the lathes in place. 
Then I saw a video showing a Kinect on top of a TV. Well, well. The measuring tape came out, and sure enough, that would add enough depth. Sweet. I might still build the extra stand, that would be plenty of room. 
Then I started to think more about what would be required. Every time I wanted to use the Kinect would require moving the table from in front of the couch. It's not a big table, and I can move it easily, but the more I started to think about it, the less I wanted to be moving things back and forth as often as I was hoping that the Kinect would be used. 
And, maybe the last straw(s), were a couple of games coming out; the new Assassin's Creed, and the next Fable. I essentially finished Fable II before linking myself up to GB, but I know I played the hell out of that game, and Assassin's creed II is in the top five for games I've spent the most time with. For as much as I'm really looking forward to the MP in AC:Brotherhood, it was reading about the single player in GameInformer yesterday that really cemented it for me. 
I could spend 150 on an untried, and only lightly tested peripheral and a game that I might, in all likelyhood end up playing alone. 
Or. 
I could get two sequels to games I already really liked, and had collectively spent months on. 
So. The pre-order for Kinect got switched to AC:Brotherhood, and sometime next week, after payday, I'll be driving over to get a fresh new copy of Fable III. 
 
I'm still looking forward to getting a Kinect at some point, but I think it'll wait until the early adopter tax has come off, and the 2nd round of games arrives.

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Retro-activity

Sometimes I don't quite follow the quest system. I got something popping up today for visiting my own profile. 
Which, not to be self centered, I do a couple times a day. 
Then, I got one for going to the How to build a bomb page, which I've also done recently. 
ditto for the podcast page. 
And, if I'm guess right, I'll get one for posting on my blog. 
Which I already did once today. 
 
Weird.

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Is four a magic number for rebooting?

 Was just listening to the Bonus EXP podcast, and they were talking about Civ 5 a bit. Andy basically said he already had 4, so why bother? 
It got me thinking about franchise reboots or retools, and how many games a series can go before it's time for a reboot. Based on the few games I was thinking about, it seems like 4 is a good number. 
A few games I was thinking of: 
Devil May Cry went to 4, and is now coming back as just Devil May Cry again. 
Civ 4 to Civ 5 
Whatever the next Halo game is (you could almost count odst as a reboot, except they really didn't go anywhere with it, and essentially finished a story arc with Reach) 
Call of Duty 3 to 4 (I'm discounting the 1st CoD, and the portable releases in this case) 
Ratchet and Clank: went four games, and rebooted as Ratchet and Clank future, which is on tap to get a 4th game in the series. 
Splinter Cell 
 
Obviously there's franchises I'm not familiar with that may add or subtract to this idea, but I'm curious to know your thoughts on if if there's a reason 4 seems to pop up the way it does, and if there are games that maybe you wish would have had a reboot that didn't get one.

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Kinect Me

 It may be obvious, considering this is a blog, but just to save myself all the caveating latter: anything here that I don't cite is my opinion, so when I say Microsoft must be doing or thinking xyz, it's only speculation. 

That said, Kinect is for me. And by me, I mean that since I'm the one in the family who buys any game-related things, Kinect is for me, to buy for my family.

I haven't always had video games around the house, but I've almost always had at least reasonably easy access to them.

When I was very young, one of my dad's friends had an Atari, and when we'd visit for cookouts or whatever, I would get to play some of the games that they had. I remember they had Pitfall, and one of the two player air combat games.

Somewhere around the time I got to be 8 or 9, dad brought home an Intellivision. I honestly can't say how many hours we spent playing Astrosmash, Space Hawk, the downhill skiing game, Atlantis (I loved that game. The pop out effect with the saucer was so cool), and probably a couple others I don't remember.

After that died, or maybe a little bit before, I got to be good friends with a kid at school who had an NES. He and I spent, again, more time than I can remember with Mario, Castlevania (those f'ing Medusa heads), Contra, and Metal Gear. My grandmother of all people bought one as well at some point, and got to be a particular wiz at Tetris and Dr. Mario. I'm not sure if it was just the sheer amount of free time she had, or some innate ability, but she would regularly beat any high score I had for Tetris, and would bury me in Dr. Mario.

I was mostly away from home video games during Jr. High and High School. There was an arcade a short ride from school, and a slightly longer ride from home, so I had a fair amount of time on the weekends, if I wanted it, to play games. I didn't really get back around to home games until 92~93 when I went away to college for a year. Even then, it was an old NES with a very well used copy of Blades of Steel that took most of our time. We had floor-wide ranked matches with spectators on a regular basis. I think I only made it past the first round once, but it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately I spent way too much time skating, and not enough time studying to last more than a year there.    

I moved back to Massachusetts, and enrolled in the state college here. Some time in 1994, I heard about a big electronics sale, and figured I'd go out and buy myself a console again. Given the choice, I ended up buying an Atari Jaguar. After all, it had 64 bits, when the Playstation only had 32. How could you go wrong with 32 more bits? It only took a few months to realize exactly how wrong you could go.

Around 1996 I met a guy, and his then girlfriend (now wife, and mother to their two boys) who were much more into gaming than anyone I had met before. They had both Nintendo and Playstation at the time, and I still very vividly remember the first Resident Evil. Coming around the corner and seeing that guy hunched over a dead body, and the HOLEY SHIT moment when he turned around and was not 'a guy'. Over time, I played or watched various games on that Playstation, the N64, and the PS2. Good times.

Over time we've drifted a bit. I moved a little ways North, they moved a little ways South. We all got married, had kids, etc. My wife wasn't particularly into video games, and since it had been several years since I had owned a real console myself when we got married in 2001, I didn't really miss it much. I picked up a PSP in 2005 to help pass the time on the 90-minutes-each-way train ride I had to and from work every day.

Some time in '07, a friend of mine from work inherited a PS2 from a room-mate of his that left (town, and most of his stuff behind) somewhat suddenly. Since he already had one, he passed the spare on to me. I only found out latter that I had been this close to getting a new PS2 for my five year anniversary at work. My boss told me latter that he'd called my wife with the suggestion, and she'd told him something along the lines of Not in a million years. So, whether by luck or not, I had a PS2. I played a few games here and there, but with limited time, increasingly dated graphics, and fewer and fewer releases, it wasn't really a thing. So it was that as a just before Christmas gift to myself, I traded in the PS2, and picked up my first (and knock on wood, so far my only) Xbox 360.

So how does all this mean that Natal/Kinect is for me?

I've read an awful lot on forums about how Kinect is pointless because anyone who would be interested has already bought a Wii. To me, Kinect works because it's the stealth agent. I've already bought an Xbox, and it's only taken my family a couple of years to go from not touching it, to being mildly interested in the games I play on it. That said, I don't see any way that I could convince myself, or my wife that we should get another one. But a peripheral? Sure. We've got those. The drums and guitar don't come out too often, but they're always there, next to the TV. Peripherals. Add-ons. Mostly Harmless. That's how Kinect will work its way in, as a peripheral for a house with one xbox360 game system, used primarily by the fiance/husband/dad. My wife and daughter both love them some animals, so in our house, the game that makes it happen will probably be Kinectimals.    

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Finishing thoughts

  So I finished F.E.A.R. 2 last night, and I'm glad I did. The ending was sufficiently weird enough that I'd be interested to see what else they could do with that world if they really wanted to go off the deep end, but at the same time it was enough of an ending that I didn't feel like I had just finished part two of a trilogy. 
Going back a bit, I was roughly half way through the game when I did my first post on it a few days ago, and enjoying it much more than I expected. 
Well, I did run into a bit of a flat part about a day and a half after that writing. There was a whole level where the enemies seemed really bullet-spongy, and the level itself didn't seem to serve any purpose other than to introduce a new weapon, and stretch the game out. Not that it was badly designed, far from it, but it just felt like padding. 
Aside from that, the flow of the game felt pretty good: The levels made sense, there were only a couple of places where the enemies seemed infinite, and they didn't ever get stuck on the environment that I noticed. 
 
I think I got about 60 out of the 70 journal entry / story plot pickups; I don't know how much I missed from those last ten, but with what I got, the story stayed pretty interesting from start to finish. I think I got about half of the reflex injectors that give you the bullet time effect, but only near the very end of the game when it didn't really matter. For anyone playing the game fresh, I would suggest looking around for a guide on where to find those boosters; the effect made some of the fire fights a good deal more fun. 
It's also worth noting that the lead up to the final fight gave me a don't-wanna feeling. It was sort of like going into a haunted house, where part of your brain wants to not. do. this. but at the same time you have the feeling that it's something you need to do. And that was without any fighting, or sudden jump-scares. I don't want to oversell it, because Alma wasn't ever really a threat the other times she showed up, but everything that had happened during the game made that lead-up really effective. 
 
I didn't try the multiplayer, or download the dlc adventure, so I can't say anything about either of those. If you're not into rentals, I think it's well worth the 10 or 15 dollars that it's currently selling for used on Amazon.    

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Finally found an FPS I'm probably going to finish.

I know I've posted in a couple of places that I've never really been into FPS games; it seems like there's always something that doesn't quite work for me. I've found a game that works for me now, though: F.E.A.R.2. for a combination of reasons I've played it longer, and have more intention of finishing it than any recent FPS.

For some time I thought that the reason I never finished, or much enjoyed an FPS was that the character never really changed beyond getting upgraded weapons.
Maybe I just didn't play them long enough, but playing Halo3 and COD4 after borrowing them from my brother-in-law seemed to bear this out. After messing around with both of them for probably a couple of hours each, I cased them back up and handed them back over with a sort of shrug.

I also tried the first Bioshock; that one I lasted for at least as long as Halo and COD4 put together. Even then, even there, even with what at first glance seemed to be an upgradeable character, I didn't last. I don't know how far into the game I was before I quit, but I found myself running around a garden looking for a widget when I realized I didn't want to play any more, and for a few reasons.

  • I wasn't really upgrading my character, I was just getting more and better weapons.
  • I didn't care about the story; here were these people in this little self-contained world, fighting a little war that only they really cared about.
  • The combat just wasn't doing it for me. Maybe it was the lack of dual wielding in a place where it seemed like it should have been obvious.

Having played Fear2 for a bit now, I realize a few other things that I didn't know I really needed/wanted from that sort of a game.     
  • A story that I'm invested in beyond "go here and shoot things because that's your job". This is one of the reasons COD lost; I didn't care. It's very possible that if I had played the first 2 Halo games, I would be more invested in the story, but starting at 3, I wasn't that interested.
  • Environment. I like urban settings more than I thought I would. This is part of what kept COD going as long as it did; something about door to door fighting, sniping, etc. is apparently what I need.
  • Pacing. I like something a bit methodical. Maybe deliberate is a better term; enemies should move around an area in a way that seems realistic. I don't mind getting rushed a bit from time to time, but I like it when the enemies react to my shooting them by at least pretending to re-think their strategy.

For anyone reading this, any suggestions on a city-based, deliberatly paced FPS with a story that goes beyond just following orders?    
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