North Texas Daily

Charm of mediocre games

Charm of mediocre games

Charm of mediocre games
July 01
14:50 2020

As gamers, there is somewhat of an onus on us to keep current with every amazing title that comes to our respective systems. With Next-Gen on the horizon, we’re seeing games at their max potential on existing platforms, and while these offerings are more timely and reflective of the state of the industry today, there is something to be said about all the games from our past that we overlooked on account of the less-than-shining review scores. And even more so, there is something to be said for simply following which games pull your interest and allowing yourself not to feel pressured to only play the greats. People worked for years on these kinds of games, and while the project didn’t come together as was intended, you can often tell a lot of heart went into this or that aspect.

As a seasoned gamer, I’ve noticed that I usually enjoy games that major game review sites dismissed. These could be totally valid criticisms: that of slow frame rates, glitchy A.I., or even something as trivial as graphics not being up to the latest standards, but games are often dismissed if they aren’t polished in presentation or the like. Regardless, there is much to be learned by appreciating a game’s development by experiencing the good, the bad and even the ugly.

Nostalgia led my heart firmly in the mediocre pool of games that came about in the AA-title era on the Xbox 360 and PS3, roughly from 2008 up until late 2012. The example here is with the very recent release of Sony’s love letter to the PS4, “The Last of Us Part II.” After only an hour of this supposed tour de force, a little old pirate game from 2012, called “Risen 2”, drew my interest into what has become a 30-hour quest across a series of mystical islands, janky animations and all. The games are in no way immediately comparable, but there were simply more draws at the moment that led to the decision to play something far less recent, and somehow managed to obtain immense levels of joy from.

For example, though this game is ugly to look at, that’s hardly a deal-breaker. The game’s deep magic creation system, the interesting and dense islands to traverse, the idea of targeting specific traits and leveling up your abilities to access locked doors and chests, hell the pirate theme is awesome too! In-depth RPG systems were, at that moment, more appealing than “The Last of Us  Part II’s” grounded and darkly visceral story-telling, which is framed around hyper-accurate animation focused experience.

There is also something to be said for the content of the two’s respective stories. “Risen 2” is rooted strictly in fiction, as the main quest involves the hunting of ancient titans who’ve been released from their imprisonment. TLOU2’s story is fiction, but its tackling of complex social relationships under the constant pressure of apocalyptic disease and bigoted/cannibalistic groups constantly hunting your gay protagonist is stressful, to say the least. It’s heavy stuff to be sure, and with everything going on right now, there’s surely levity to be had in your daily gaming time here and there.

Speaking of levity, there’s also something to be said for gathering around a TV with your friends and playing a straight-up bad game. People laughing about an old game together can bring unconventionally humorous times, filled with laughter and light-hearted fun. “Duck Dynasty” is the most memorable example of time spent well on a bad game. This an example of only buying a game of this low quality on eBay when it is sub $10, of course. Still, you’d be surprised at the wacky good times that often ensue with these types of games.

You should never ignore reviews, rather it’s the number at the end that matters little. Seeing as the game in question might have a specific pull to your sensibilities, one or a few reviewers final tally matters little if they noticed things you otherwise wouldn’t.  Read as many reviews on a game as you feel necessary, just remember that a seven in one reviewer’s mind is a nine in another’s, it’s all about what you most value in a game and how you’d most enjoy spending an hour, two hours or even three in front of your living room television.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Zachary Helms

Zachary Helms

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