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Your Favourite Game Was Rubbish

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memeroot 18th February 2010, 09:57 Quote
old games are rubbish
but so are the new games

perhaps it's just me thats got rubbish
Unknownsock 18th February 2010, 10:21 Quote
Simple, Nostalgia is bad.
Bad_cancer 18th February 2010, 10:41 Quote
I wouldn't say that.
Nostalgia is bad without objectivity.

A mix of nostalgia and objectivity is vital to your continued enjoyment of future titles.
I could rant all day about how good xenogears is for example, but that won't stop me enjoying a modern RPG.

So all in all the best way is to go forward is to always be objective.
Nice article joe.
hrp8600 18th February 2010, 10:50 Quote
Nostalgia is good it give's us some where to stick our heads in the sand and remember how good life was.
Tris 18th February 2010, 11:01 Quote
My only real complaint with the article comes from the first page - I mean, really? You just realised that people like more of the same and not innovation, regardless of what they claim?
That's true of pretty much every entertainment industry, from music and books through to movies. I'd say it's even more obvious in interactive entertainment like games though; If you were to put a hardened gamer in front of a new title which had none of the standard elements they were used to (effectively rendering all of their "skill" as a gamer useless) they would almost certainly hate it. Regardless of how fresh and ingenious the game was.
Apart from that, I think we can all remember times where our nostalgia blinded us to some extent, no argument there!

Also, now that you have mentioned Deus Ex, I assume that several readers will probably be forced to reinstall it.
barrkel 18th February 2010, 11:06 Quote
There's several aspects to games, as we all know well: story, immersion, replay value, tuned difficulty. The novelty of the story unfolding is something that only happens once. The fun you get from playing the game is what brings you to replay it, even though you already know the story. The story and replay value are both enhanced by the degree of immersion, which is affected by the quality of graphics, sound and the fidelity of the input controls. If a game is too easy, it becomes boring; too hard, it becomes frustrating. This is interlinked with replayability: surprises are easier the second time through, while learned skill with the game's mechanics may make it trivial even at harder difficulties.

Talking about older games, replayed today, one must dispense with the story aspect. Even if newer games are inferior in replay value and tuned difficulty, they can still be *temporarily* more fun owing to the novelty of the story and eye-candy immersion.

Early games usually had primarily story (think MUDs, interactive fiction, point and click) or replay (space invaders, asteroids etc.) value, but little immersion, relying on imagination instead. Every advance in graphics, and to lesser degrees, physics and sound, increases the feeling of immersion, but at the cost of making older games look more primitive, and hence less immersive.

Re linearity: there's linear, and then there's linear. It depends on how high up you are when you spot the line. Tactical linearity, such as having only a single kind of ammo or very limited choice of weapons, is different to procedural linearity such as when you're basically running from one corridor to the next, getting the magic key / switch / etc. so you can unlock the door, etc., and that in turn is different from strategic linearity, where the overall plot is pretty much predetermined. The only games that really free you from strategic linearity are world-building games like Civ etc.

I'm not suffering from faulty memory wrt Deus Ex, Thief etc. I last played Deus Ex in December; Thief, in February last year. Both suffer on the immersion front, but I think Deus Ex suffers more. There's a lot more tension in Thief, hiding in the shadows, avoiding detection - Deus Ex as a game is so easy that even on the highest difficulty, it's hard to fail, especially when it's your fifth or so time through. But levels like Thief's "The Sword", when you're extremely resource limited and inching your way through Constantine's mansion, where run-up-and-blackjack techniques are severely limited by plentiful tiles and torches, are still difficult today. Thief's difficulty was always strategic in nature: navigating the territory. Pulling up the map, reckoning you need to get to a particular location, and trying to figure out how to get there.

You're right about Half-Life 2 and its successors. I found HL2 really procedurally and frequently tactically linear, to the point that creativity was actively inhibited. Any time I thought I was being slightly creative in spotting something, I got smacked in the face, either because (1) it turned out that was the only thing you could do, as the "obvious" thing to do was a dead end, or (2) the "creative" option was telegraphed, hinted at, practically graffitied onto the walls. But HL2 and Doom 3 were really similar in another way; "surprise" monsters popping out of really predictable dark corners, or especially in the case of HL2, zombies getting up out of shallow water. Totally predictable, totally scripted, totally boring.

Considering all the above, some of the best games I've played in the past few years, to rank alongside Deus Ex and Thief in my estimation, would be Far Cry (the extra tactical freedom and big jump in immersion), Far Cry 2 (the big jump in immersion, and the *strategic* freedom of navigating the territory, avoiding the guard checkpoints, whether to use foot, boat or car to get from A to B), GTA 4 (huge jump in immersion compared to GTA 3-era - I considered those games unplayable - and replay value from the fun of driving cars that are substantially more realistic), and perhaps Oblivion or Fallout 3, though these lack in replay value - having done almost all side-quests the first time through.

Bioshock wouldn't be on my list. I found the story interesting at the start, the immersion from the atmosphere was pretty good, but the game was still really linear at the procedural level, and I didn't particularly enjoy the game mechanics at any time - it was never really fun.

Crysis also wouldn't be. It was way too easy if you used your powers - particularly if you're a sneaker like me - or tedious if you didn't, and they still brought in anonying non-human enemies, while Far Cry 2 had better immersion and stuck to people.
idontwannaknow 18th February 2010, 11:15 Quote
This is just a ridiculous article and it misses the mark set by the title by a wide margin. Was "Older games were rubbish and I for one welcome our new console overlords" too long?

Of course all games have flaws and you should expect newer games to be better than the older ones, both in terms of presentation (including graphics, voice acting and storytelling among other things) and gameplay (mechanics, options, controls etc.), if not the content (story, originality). Comparing the budgets and taking into account lessons learned and advancement in technology and craftsmanship, how can you write such nonsense? It's like saying that original King Kong was rubbish because it had crappy SFX, wasn't even in color and the actors were sub par.

That the older games had flaws, says nothing about junk that passes for good games today. There will always be "good" and "bad" games, it's just the criterion by which we (or should I say YOU, the "gaming journalists") judge them is becoming twisted. When Fallout 3 can win an award for the best story of the year and somehow Mass Effect 2 is the best RPG ever, that tells you all you need to know about state of the gaming industry, or at least the gaming press.

You should note that the real "decline" started with the introduction of Xbox 360 and "unifying" the game platforms with its SDK and Windows-like Direct X. It pretty much forced console mentality and design principles on the computer game market via the lowest common denominator and similar thinking in order to maximize profits. So here we are, looking back at older games and declaring them rubbish. Because of blocky models. Nice.

I just hope all consoles (or whatever name they give the "home entertainment systems" in the future) "evolve" into Wii clones with motion controls and other gimmicky controllers, so that we can finally see some mature games that don't (just) involve gallons of blood, banal obscenities and nudity. Also dedicated servers (yeah right), mouse adjusted game menus and interfaces and less f**cking bloom.

I liked your previous articles about older games, so I hope you're just "trolling". If not, you can always ditch your girlfriend and hang out with Peter Molyneux. He had an epiphany and finally managed to make some great games after all the junk he made earlier in his career. Who in his right mind would want to manage a dungeon? Or be a god? Some games weren't even 3d! And you should have seen the character models. They were all blocky! :(
Stonerd 18th February 2010, 11:35 Quote
Nice post, glad to know I'm not the only one who feels that way, however, saying that, nostalgia comes easier when the only working computer available to you is a netbook. :-P

uktb
AstralWanderer 18th February 2010, 11:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by
I hardly think it's fair to single out Deus Ex for the "illusion of choice" (where similar things happens whatever you do) since pretty much every other game is guilty of the same. They all have a limited number of endings (one only in all too many cases) so all plotlines have to converge on those. Even a deep RPG like the Witcher, claiming to have quests with consequences, leaves you with just 3 paths near the end.

The only exception would be a "pure" sandbox game where you're left free to create your own goals without any guidance, and I can't think of any. There have been many games that come close (from the original Elite to the likes of X3 or Morrowind, but these have a plot or a scoring system that then leads to a fixed conclusion).
Skiddywinks 18th February 2010, 12:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by idontwannaknow
This is just a ridiculous article and it misses the mark set by the title by a wide margin. Was "Older games were rubbish and I for one welcome our new console overlords" too long?

Of course all games have flaws and you should expect newer games to be better than the older ones, both in terms of presentation (including graphics, voice acting and storytelling among other things) and gameplay (mechanics, options, controls etc.), if not the content (story, originality). Comparing the budgets and taking into account lessons learned and advancement in technology and craftsmanship, how can you write such nonsense? It's like saying that original King Kong was rubbish because it had crappy SFX, wasn't even in color and the actors were sub par.

That the older games had flaws, says nothing about junk that passes for good games today. There will always be "good" and "bad" games, it's just the criterion by which we (or should I say YOU, the "gaming journalists") judge them is becoming twisted. When Fallout 3 can win an award for the best story of the year and somehow Mass Effect 2 is the best RPG ever, that tells you all you need to know about state of the gaming industry, or at least the gaming press.

You should note that the real "decline" started with the introduction of Xbox 360 and "unifying" the game platforms with its SDK and Windows-like Direct X. It pretty much forced console mentality and design principles on the computer game market via the lowest common denominator and similar thinking in order to maximize profits. So here we are, looking back at older games and declaring them rubbish. Because of blocky models. Nice.

I just hope all consoles (or whatever name they give the "home entertainment systems" in the future) "evolve" into Wii clones with motion controls and other gimmicky controllers, so that we can finally see some mature games that don't (just) involve gallons of blood, banal obscenities and nudity. Also dedicated servers (yeah right), mouse adjusted game menus and interfaces and less f**cking bloom.

I liked your previous articles about older games, so I hope you're just "trolling". If not, you can always ditch your girlfriend and hang out with Peter Molyneux. He had an epiphany and finally managed to make some great games after all the junk he made earlier in his career. Who in his right mind would want to manage a dungeon? Or be a god? Some games weren't even 3d! And you should have seen the character models. They were all blocky! :(

Thank God you took the time to post that, since it saves me having to do the same!

I think the big problem is miscommunication here. Like IDWK said, with all the advances in technology and all the lessons learned, of course modern games are going to have vast improvements to them. The problem is, they seem to have lost everything that makes the old games still amazing fun.

I'm not going to deny the effects nostalgia has on me, that would be stupid, but there are old games I loved that I can not bear to play today. And yet games like Desus Ex and Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper (to name just a few), NEVER get unbearable. They have it, that pure, unadulterated fun feeling. Even now, with the terrible graphics and old fashioned gameplay, they still manage to sap hours from my days. Granted, some modern games do that as well, but most of them, I can't be arsed with once I have finished once or twice. I ****ing love Halo. Always have, always will. But despite having my 360 and the game with me, I never play them. They have it, no doubt, but they don't have the timeless kind that is so prevalent in old classics. It wears off, and you move on. A lot of games nowadays don't have anything, much less it.

It seems like games nowadays are taking two steps forward, and then a leap back. For everything that evolves, for everything that changes the way we play games or makes you think "Wow!", there is something that is taken away. Something is lost. Some would say it is the soul.

I might even agree with you that some games are better than their old counterparts (never going to agree with you on Deus Ex though. I really didn't give a **** about the characters in IW), but that's only because they are new. If we judge all games based on what is out now, a lot of games would be considered poor. But that's just common sense. The way games should be compared is based on how they made you feel when you first got them. When you first plunged a crowbar in to the face of a headcrab, or when you find out about Polito (sp?) in SS2. Those moments are the reason people get so nostalgic.

I have to admit experiencing some in Bioshock 2 (in which case I actually think the sequel is better), but they are few and far between in most games today. They have all the bells and whistles, the buzz words and the PR, but very few have the magic. Very few of them have any moments that instantly make me think "I'm going to remember that for the rest of my life". And that is why nostalgia is so powerful.
OWNED66 18th February 2010, 12:25 Quote
shadow of colossus is my fav game :)
and the sequels/prequels are getting better and better
the Japanese do know how to make awesome games
cjmUK 18th February 2010, 12:32 Quote
Odd to read such an article from Joe of all people, but at least he addressed as much. And I was prepared to overlook *anything* thanks to the cheek little 'Wouldnt you kindly agree?' comment - which I thought was tiny piece of genius.

Regarding the games, obviously I broadly agree with the article, but there is one point that hasn't been specifically addressed; although the older games are often inferior to their modern counterparts, we are still justified in lauding them. Bioshock is the product of years of experience, of learning from older games that got it right, including SS2. It needs to be much better than SS2 to achieve the same level of praise. We expect more these days - and it is not an unreasonable expectation either. The Spitfire was a marvellous plane in it's day and is rightly heralded - we could equally argue that we are locked into blind nostalgia when you consider how inferior it is to an F15 Eagle.

Two final points: Never played Deus Ex; played and thoroughly loved Invisible War. I don't want to go back to Deus Ex, because no matter what people say, graphics *are* important. And... I can't possibly comment on the plot or back-story behind Doom3 because as everybody knows, it as good as didn't have one. While we all know the lore behind HL1 & 2, only the few even realised that there was a 'story' behind the Doom series and the HL series. Nobody ever bought Doom for the plot - whereas although the HL1 & 2 game mechanics were good in their respective days, it was the back story that elevated them above their peers.
Brooxy 18th February 2010, 12:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The article
I do actually love Deus Ex (it is my favourite game)

No Monkey Island love from Joe?

Nostalgia can be a two way thing - I recently dug out my N64 and played through Goldeneye - although the graphics and control style are dated, it brings back the memories of how good it was, which creates a warm, fuzzy feeling

On the flipside, the co-op on Perfect Dark is laughable - the slow frame rate makes it almost unplayable when you have explosions going on.
yakyb 18th February 2010, 12:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralWanderer

The only exception would be a "pure" sandbox game where you're left free to create your own goals without any guidance, and I can't think of any. There have been many games that come close (from the original Elite to the likes of X3 or Morrowind, but these have a plot or a scoring system that then leads to a fixed conclusion).

Thus the appeal of MMO's to an extent


however i thought this to be a very well thought out article that highlights how fickle people are.

they want something revolutionary yet they want more of the same.

personally i seem to have found myself in the position where i am no longer gaming and long for a world i can get involved in and have a real impact upon.

i would love Oblivion / Fallout if they changed the difficulty logic. essentially i would love a MMORPG that did not require you to be connected to the internet and there fore be at the mercy of others in terms of you need to be logged in at this time.

Something about Mortal online really grabs my attention (despite its early beta stage).

one of my favorite games of all time (FF7) saw you as a reletively talented soldier start as a seemingly unknown amongst a group of terrorists (for good or bad) by the end of the Game people knew who you where they feared your strength and you could beat people without touching the gamepad if you had your materia setup correctly yet despite getting stronger and stronger there where still challenges to accomplish (weapons + Battle Square). the same is true of perhaps FF10 (in there very difficult version of battle square) but the lack of an open world map let this game down,

after resintalling Deus ex recently i found that the games smoothness was very refreshing. whether this was for the low specs of the game a finished tranch of patches due to the age of the game or whether it was just well built from the start. made a change to games i have played recently that you could expect to crash every so often or studder in parts

i tend to compare all games i play to one of the first platformers Sonic i loved playing that and would waste hours at a time trying to
beat robotnik however nowadays that would only hold my attention for a day or 2 (hence the lack of long term wii usage) so whilst we love our older days they would not grip us for hours like they once did we need more
Omnituens 18th February 2010, 13:40 Quote
It's offical.

Joe has lost the plot.
Cobalt 18th February 2010, 13:59 Quote
I'm not exactly sure what your point was about HL2's plot. It seemed to me you're saying that because there is an element of mystery and frustration keeping the player from knowing everything, that its worse than Doom's plot? I'm sorry but thats just nonsense. The G-Man is interesting because we don't know who he is. Gordon is interesting because he never talks. Just because the underlying machinations aren't delivered to you on a platter doesn't make the plot bad. Confusing maybe...
HugoC 18th February 2010, 14:08 Quote
Games don't just pop out in a vacuum. You can't judge a game -- or any work, for that matter -- ignoring its context, its predecessors and, by the way, its heritage. Case in point: Dune 2 is a brilliant and genre-defining game. Is it because it's better than modern day RTSs? Of course not. But it was outstanding enough to spawn an entire ecosystem of replicas.

1920s silent horror movies, seen today, wouldn't scare a 5 year old. But at the time they were as effective, maybe even more, as the best you can think of today. The knowledge of what came after doesn't diminish them, quite the opposite, sets them as vital chapters in the history of cinema. That's why, unlike most of today's popcorn flicks, they'll still be relevant in 100 years.
Bauul 18th February 2010, 14:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by idontwannaknow
This is just a ridiculous article and it misses the mark set by the title by a wide margin. Was "Older games were rubbish and I for one welcome our new console overlords" too long?

Did someone totally miss the point of the article?

Joe's point is that when your experience of a game is very positive, over the following years you end up remembering all the good and none of the bad. Then, any new games end up always seeming worse than the unrealistic memories of the older game. End result? You never really appreciate a new game again. Which would suck, obviously.

I personally think that bad nostalgia trips only affect a relatively small number of die hard fans. My all time favourite game is Doom 2, but it doesn't mean I'd blindly argue it's better than any other game. I have a huge personal relationship with it, but I can't pretend it's not as two dimensional as a piece of paper.

Of my top five games, three are nostalgia trips: Doom 2, C&C Red Alert and Dungeon Keeper. All are fantastic, and got it right first time around. Any modern immitation games would obviously lose appeal as their just rehashes of previously done great games. I think there is justified lack of praise for endless copies of the same format, even ignoring the problems of the earlier games (Doom 2 was little more than an arcade shooter, Red Alert could be won with tank rushes and nothing else, and Dungeon Keeper was totally broken by the invincibility of fortified walls).

However, my other two favourite games are quite new: Braid and Left4Dead. Braid is a special case due to the high concept, but Left4Dead is a straight up new game design. Nothing ever came close before to matching it's combination of co-op and semi-random zombie action, and it can't be affected by nostalgia because it’s a new design.

So, the only way to stop the nostalgia problem is to never create a game that's similar to any other game. Problem being, that's what everyone wants. You create a copy of an old game, people complain it isn't innovative. You try something new, people say the original was better. Maybe we should have mass hyponsis every year to help us forget about old games?
HugoC 18th February 2010, 14:24 Quote
...
Of course, there's not even the need for a game to be groundbreaking to be part of the all-time best.

One of my favorite games is Vampire:Bloodlines. There's nothing groundbreaking there: the setting is taken from role-playing books/games, the graphics engine is Valve's Source and the game mechanics is no different than that of plenty of others. Yet, with all its flaws (and they were legion), I still find myself going through the likes of Fallout 3 or Mass Effect and telling myself "If only these NPCs/quests/lines/etc. were half as good as those of VB, this could be absolutely brilliant. Instead..."
bbshammo 18th February 2010, 14:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by idontwannaknow
This is just a ridiculous article and it misses the mark set by the title by a wide margin. Was "Older games were rubbish and I for one welcome our new console overlords" too long?

Of course all games have flaws and you should expect newer games to be better than the older ones, both in terms of presentation (including graphics, voice acting and storytelling among other things) and gameplay (mechanics, options, controls etc.), if not the content (story, originality). Comparing the budgets and taking into account lessons learned and advancement in technology and craftsmanship, how can you write such nonsense? It's like saying that original King Kong was rubbish because it had crappy SFX, wasn't even in color and the actors were sub par.

That the older games had flaws, says nothing about junk that passes for good games today. There will always be "good" and "bad" games, it's just the criterion by which we (or should I say YOU, the "gaming journalists") judge them is becoming twisted. When Fallout 3 can win an award for the best story of the year and somehow Mass Effect 2 is the best RPG ever, that tells you all you need to know about state of the gaming industry, or at least the gaming press.

You should note that the real "decline" started with the introduction of Xbox 360 and "unifying" the game platforms with its SDK and Windows-like Direct X. It pretty much forced console mentality and design principles on the computer game market via the lowest common denominator and similar thinking in order to maximize profits. So here we are, looking back at older games and declaring them rubbish. Because of blocky models. Nice.

I just hope all consoles (or whatever name they give the "home entertainment systems" in the future) "evolve" into Wii clones with motion controls and other gimmicky controllers, so that we can finally see some mature games that don't (just) involve gallons of blood, banal obscenities and nudity. Also dedicated servers (yeah right), mouse adjusted game menus and interfaces and less f**cking bloom.

I liked your previous articles about older games, so I hope you're just "trolling". If not, you can always ditch your girlfriend and hang out with Peter Molyneux. He had an epiphany and finally managed to make some great games after all the junk he made earlier in his career. Who in his right mind would want to manage a dungeon? Or be a god? Some games weren't even 3d! And you should have seen the character models. They were all blocky! :(

Not sure you're on the money there old chap.

I don't think the main conclusion of the article was simply saying old games are rubbish, as you seem to be arguing against.

The main message, to me, was to just take nostalgic opinions of classic titles in perspective when comparing against similar modern titles.

The author's absolutely right that people tend to look back on favorites from the old days in a far more emotive way than objectively.

I can't remember how many times I've fired up an old favorite only to find myself getting bored quickly.

Our memories and feelings about things we experienced in the past are created at the time we experience them, and we tend to carry the same thoughts and feelings on, unchanged until said experience is revisited.

The problem is that during the time passed, we've also been exposed to years of incrimental advancements in every aspect of gaming from story, graphics, realism, story-delivery and so on, and can't help but compare old favorites with current expectations that have since developed.

I don't agree/understand with the arguments made about how Doom 3 is as good as Half Life 2, as this is a comparison of plots and how easy to grasp one is over the other; this is entirely subjective depending on the person experiencing it at the time.

One person can play Doom 3 and be enthralled by the story and delivery, another can play and find themselves predicting everything and getting bored. Vice Versa for Half Life 2.

We can argue that those who found it hard to follow the plot were just out of their usual comfort zone.

I personally found the plot and delivery on a whole different level than doom 3 (higher, that is) and had no worries getting it as it played out. The greater depth and need for the player to invest some energy in figuring out what was going on was half the fun. Reading the sometimes subtles clues and indicators to what was happening to fill gaps in knowledge really drew me in as a player, rather than the simple spoon-fed experience that, for me, was Doom 3.

The same argument applies to almost every example cited by the author in the article.

Deus Ex was the first game I remember playing where I could interact with the gameworld as I wanted. Sure the plot and story was largely linear, but how I went about the minutae of dealing with one moment to the next was my choice. For example, catching the attention of one of the big robot f***ers and leading them around the corner to a gang of guards was both an accident and jaw dropping at the time I encounterd it. This was after numerous attempts at stealthily crawling through that part. I'm not a natural stealth-type player.

As for Deus Ex IW, I don't ever remember such moments.
Redbeaver 18th February 2010, 15:05 Quote
Bravo! BRAVO!!

Good article, Joe! thx for such refreshing read!

im too lazy to read all the comments here lol but damn, thats a good article. im not agreeing 100.00% to it, but its darn well beyond 95%.
SMIFFYDUDE 18th February 2010, 15:37 Quote
On completing HL2 my first though was WTF was that about. I've had to go to websites to find out what had gone on between HL and HL2 and who the Combine were. It must be explained in the game somewhere for the websites to know, but I found it hard to know what was going on from playing through. Perhaps i should have payed more attention to the background noise and not fallen to sleep whilst talking to vortigaunts.

Although i havent played Doom3 to completion, from what i have played its more like stuff happens rather than a real plot. But as i say, i havent completed it so i'll lay off it a bit.

Not played Thief, but have played Thief2 and Deadly Shadows. T2 is one of the best games i've ever played, DS is pants, and nothing is going to change my mind on that.
Hustler 18th February 2010, 15:39 Quote
Doom 3 better than Half Life 2............

Did i really just read that correctly, or have i just awoken in a parallel twilight zone of logic failure and journalistic nonsense.?


Bit Tech's credibility just went down a notch in my estimation....

Utter garbage.
Phil Rhodes 18th February 2010, 16:07 Quote
Joe Martin, how dare you!
bowman 18th February 2010, 16:37 Quote
Doom 3 was utter **** whether you compare it to Half-Life or not.

Anyway, I'm nostalgic, especially for the Syndicate games. I'm still waiting for someone to do games like that again. It seems nowadays every single game is the cover-mode regenerating-health grey bland shooter thing. I'm guessing that the rumored Syndicate remake will be another one of those and an utter pile of poo but I'll give it a chance..
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