Monday, July 28, 2014

The Most Overrated Games of the Recent Years Part IV

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock was one of the best FPS games I have ever played, an incredible, sick and terrifying experience (with a few problems here and there) and because of the first game, I followed the entire series hoping that I will get to play something at least close to the quality of the original.
While Bioshock Infinite is a good game, it doesn't rise up to the hype created around it, with a journalists score on Metacritic of 9.4 for the PC version and I can’t figure why (I can, but I don’t want to go into the conspiracy theory lands).
The world of this game is linear with some of the levels breaking free from the shackles of corridor shooters, but overall the level design doesn’t offer much movement freedom.
The game aesthetics look impressive, but the graphics are very demanding and far from being up to 2013 PC standards, also the producers used all kinds of tricks to cover up these facts (like bloom spam).
The story is predictable to some degree and not that interesting compared to the original game. Irrational Games used very sensible subjects in the matter of story like religion and racism, but it’s obvious that they were afraid to use these subjects at their full potential and because of this the story suffers a lot, lacking the depth and sickness of this series. Because of how the story evolves, the ending could have been a real savior as there are endless possibilities for it. But instead of providing players with endings based on their choices, the developers only offered one and that ending didn’t have enough of an impact to save the entire story.
When I played this game, I was expecting a twisted (especially considering the subject) and atmospheric story with characters at the level of Andrew Ryan, Fountain, Dr. Steinman or Sander Cohen; instead all I got was a girl who throws coins at me and has super powers, the diaries of some unmemorable people and one overrated ending.
Developers should always put as much effort as possible in combat, when making an FPS game, so that the shooting is top notch. But when it came to this series, the shooting was always a letdown and Bioshock Infinite doesn’t disappoint. The shooting in the game doesn’t feel right, the guns don’t act as you would expect and have no weight and as the player you have to suffer with this poorly done feature through 13 to 16 hours of action packed gameplay.
The attention to details in Bioshock Infinite has been praised by both critiques and players, but I will always remember this game for the ironic and funny fact that this is a game that takes place in the skies, yet you can’t even shoot a bird (I was able to do this in Half Life 2 in the year 2002).
There are some top quality features in this game, like the sound and the artistic design, but that's not enough for a triple A title.
My impression about this is that Bioshock Infinite is one of those extremely overrated games that come every once in a while and most people will remember them as genre saviors (later on as classics), but to me it will always be far behind in the shadow of shooters like Half Life 2, STALKER and of course, its own father, Bioshock, one of the greatest FPS games  ever made.
Bloom spam!

Fallout 3

The Fallout series is my favorite RPG series (not so much anymore, since it’s now in the wrong hands). The nuclear post-apocaliptical theme combined with a good story, an amazing dialogue system and tactical combat, placed Fallout 1 & 2 among some of the best RPGs ever made, despite their insane number of bugs and issues. But after Interplay went under, the license moved to Bethesda and they did as they had known best with it (so pretty much a large world and nothing more... oh I forgot the radio!).  
Fallout 3 is one of the games that I waited for the most in my entire life. I wanted to see what will become of this awesome series and if Bethesda could rise up to the challenge of making a true Fallout game. But as more information was released about the game the more grim the future for this series became.
Bethesda changed everything, but the IP, which they basically used to trick the fans of the series to buy their game.
The action takes place almost 40 years after the events of Fallout 2, yet the world is in a worse shape than before. People now live in terrible places that hardly make any sense, like a city around an unexploded nuclear bomb or a ship broken in two (really?!). Apparently in the 40 years that passed, the world went from a healing society back to atomic caves.
The new world is barely plausible and has no interesting places to visit like those from Fallout 2 which gave players the chills.
The story in this game is not very interesting being about a boy from Vault 101 who is tracking the steps of his father through the ruins of Washington D.C. in order to find out the reason why his dad left. During this (un-epic) quest, you don’t encounter any memorable characters, everyone in this world is so uninteresting that after a while you don’t even want to talk with anybody anymore especially because of the terrible dialogue system. The series went from some of the most intense and epic dialogues to something so basic (Bethesda style) that you start wandering how old were those who wrote this.
The combat system suffered major changes, from an isometric turn-based combat system with action points it went to an FPS combat system with a new mechanic called VATS which allows the player to pause the game and pinpoint the body part of the enemy they want to hit triggering a cut-scene with automatic shooting based on weapon skill level (basically an I win button). This new mixture of FPS and RPG works terrible and after a few hours into the game makes the player almost invincible.
The graphics of the game are lacking color, a world painted in grey and beige that becomes tiring to the eyes after a while (I understand that it's a post end-war world, but nukes can’t erase all colors). The game looked good for its time of release, but it did suffer from the problems of Gamebryo like frame skips or characters that look like they fly instead of walking over the ground surface.
Instead of being a hardcore title like the games in this series used to be, Fallout 3 refocused to a more casual and arcade style, making it less attractive to the fans of the original games.
Overall, as a huge fan of the old series, Fallout 3 is the most disappointing game I have ever played. I found the new approach insulting, Bethesda bought a popular IP and they used its name just to attract the old fans while modifying most of it to attract the rest of the market.  The radio is the only thing I remember with pleasure from this game.
In the end, Fallout 3 is a hybrid of multiple genres and styles, but it doesn’t really excel in any of them.

I win interface

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

                 Morrowind is one of my favorite RPGs of all times and after this game I had high expectations from The Elder Scrolls series. Sadly Oblivion was a disappointment delivering only on the technical part, the game had amazing graphics at the time but everything else was just dumbed down, from gameplay mechanics to quests, story and world. After seeing what happened with Oblivion, even if I still am a huge fan of Morrowind, I lost my faith in Bethesda Softworks and when Skyrim was announced I was very skeptical about it.
TES V: Skyrim was a huge commercial hit, selling a ton of copies on all platforms and being well received from both journalists and most of the gaming community, but looking at this game in a purely objective way, things don’t look so good.
Skyrim is focused on exploration , offering players a huge world to discover, full with dangers and treasures and while this sounds very good on the paper in reality the game offers a predictable and repetitive experience.
While there are many dungeons, caves and strange places to visit in Skyrim, all of them share the same pattern: a few enemies, some loot, some basic traps or secrets and a boss at the end of every hostile area. The game lacks the uniqueness of exploration, the places players visit only look different from outside (barely), indoors everything is almost the same, basically Bethesda reused as many models as possible and just renamed a few things here and there so players don’t find themselves fighting the same thing over and over again.
Because of this terrible level design, after visiting each type of dungeon in the game any new dungeon explored feels just like a déjà vu and nothing more, ruining the feeling of exploration.
                Oblivion was a graphical masterpiece at its time, because the new generation of consoles was just released back then and the game could take full advantage of the new technology. Skyrim suffers from the technological problems of a game released at the end of a console generation, the game tries to look good by using all the tricks possible, but doesn’t get the desired effect. The PC version of the game looks terrible for the year 2011 and it is put to shame by Witcher 2.  Texture resolution is incredibly low and the game doesn’t even have DirectX 11 support (despite what was promised). While the landscapes look awesome from afar, when getting closer to them the blunt reality hits the screen and wakes up the players from their immersive state.
                TES series never excelled in the story part, storytelling or dialogues, but after all these years we should have some expectations from a game with a development cost of almost 90 million. The story follows the same pattern of any other TES game I have played. The main character is a prisoner that escapes because it turns out he’s The One and he has to save the world from utter destruction, add to this pathetic scenario some dumb dialogues and some cliché quests and your ruined most of the RPG elements in this game.
                Complexity is what PC players usually want (otherwise why would you play games on a PC?) , on top of graphical fidelity, and this is what they won’t get in Skyrim. The game is a console port (and doesn’t disappoint!) in every aspect, the interface is terribly looking and hard to navigate with the mouse and keyboard, the skill system has been dumbed down with fewer skills and spells to use, there are less weapon types in the game and the action combat is as basic as possible (but hey! we have cinematic finishing moves!!!).
                Bethesda does wash some of their sins off (or do they?!) by adding support for mods and the community of this game is extremely passionate, creating awesome content and improving the game in every aspect. But the questions are now: Why would a game worth 60 bucks (with DLCs worth 100 more) need modders to fix and improve it? Why Bethesda couldn’t do all these things themselves? Is it really the merit of the studio for all these mods just because they went a little out of their way to add support for community created content?
I would say NO! The game is what you get from the producer with all the patches they deliver to fix and improve it, while modding does add a little more to a game and prolongs its life, that game should not get the full credit for someone else work.
The community was always active for TES games and if Bethesda followed them throughout the years they should know what they want and add this things into their game. But the producers didn’t bother to use any of the community ideas in Skyrim, instead they let the players improve the game while kept collecting the pay checks!
                While being a fun and enjoyable experience for a short time, way better than Oblivion, I find Skyrim one of the most overrated games of all times. This game takes a huge credit for being massive and having mods support, while is ignored the fact that the quality of all the original content is low.
A wise youtuber once said: “Skyrim is an ocean with the depth of a puddle” and I find this the best summary for what this game really is.
Look at those high resolution textures!

I've met you before in like 50 other dungeons.

These are the games I find the most overrated in the latest years.  The majority of these games are good and enjoyable, but not as good as professional websites make them look.
I wrote these articles to point out some of the most obvious (most of them objective, some could be considered subjective) and annoying problems about these games that should be taken into consideration when someone calculates the score in a game review. And considering the high scores these titles received I believe most of these problems were not taken into account (why?!?!).
A game can be enjoyable and fun, but that doesn't make it a masterpiece and players should always remember that!


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