5 Critically Acclaimed Games that I Didn’t Bother Playing – Critical Miss part 2.

We’ve already established that critics sometimes get things wrong.  They’re not exactly flawless, and have often undervalued games, regardless of what your opinion on scores or objectivity are.  Sometimes though, the foolishness goes the other way.  Rarely.  Very rarely in fact.  I’m nigh on infallible.  But every now and then, I decide to skip a game that, by all accounts, is absolutely incredible.  This list is dedicated to those games that I ignored in spite of the advice of all those experts in the field I enjoy.  Pfft, experts!

I have to Fez up to having never played this one.

Unusually for my lists, these are all games I haven’t played!  But they are games that received very good reviews pretty much across the board or regularly appear on top 100 game lists.  I’ve tried to avoid games from genres that I generally don’t like.  So no Fez here!  I’m also skipping ones that I didn’t own the system for.  Can’t blame me for not playing Xenoblade when I don’t own a Wii U!  So here we go, 5 games I just didn’t bother playing, even though I probably should have.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us (2013)

Right, I know pretty much everyone on planet Earth (and probably some people not on it) will tell me I’m absolutely wrong for having not played this before.  Everyone loves this game.  Critics, players, small animals, anyone who has played it has gone on to describe it as one of the greatest games ever made.  An adventure through a zombie apocalypse (of sorts) with a genuinely good story and well rounded characters.  I should want to play this.  But in spite of having two opportunities to play it via two separate console generations, I still haven’t bothered.

Visions of an escort quest!

Part of the problem was that when this was coming out, I was about a month away from becoming a father to a daughter.  The constantly pushed emotional side of the story from the previews made me think that it might hit me a little too hard as a father.  It’s a hard one to explain, but that was certainly a factor.  The other reason was somewhat more rational: I’m not a fan of Naughty Dog’s games.  I find the controls less tight than they need to be, the shooting slippery and the stories less than engaging.  This is also why I’ve not played an Uncharted game since the second one.  I know I shouldn’t write off a supposedly tremendous game based on the developer, but they do seem to have a distinct style in their 3rd person games, that I simply don’t like.  Try to convince me otherwise if you’d like!

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus (2005/6)

A follow up to the wonderful Ico (which I played and really enjoyed as it happens) which has received high praise for more than a decade.  I think part of the reason for it being remembered for so long is the never ending development cycle of The Last Guardian, a spiritual sequel.  A grand adventure (that reminds me of Ocarina of Time every time I see it being played) across a barren landscape, to fight and destroy giant beasts that roam the world with the aim of reviving your partner.  It boils down to exploring a world and taking on a number of epic boss battles in which you find a creatures weak point to take them down by climbing across their gigantic form, avoiding limbs and clutching on to tufts of hair to avoid falling to your doom.  Few games have attempted to ape the style of game (Titan Souls is the only game that springs to mind) in which there is nothing but discovering more and more complex boss fights.  But I didn’t play this one, so I suppose I don’t know what I’m missing!

Every boss has an epic scale and a different strategy for defeating them.  Not that I would know!

This one came out at a very unfortunate time for me.  I was just finishing university and thus had very little money.  What little money (and time) I had was going into my World of Warcraft addiction!  It also came out at an unfortunate time in Europe on the whole.  Coming out in February 2006 here meant that the next generation of consoles had released (with the XBox 360 having come out a couple of months before) and the previous generation had been left behind by many so it’s quite possible a number of players missed it at the time.  I do feel that I missed out on this one somewhat, and a re-release on this generation of consoles would probably catch my interest.  On the other hand, already knowing pretty much everything that happens in the game (this is the internet age after all) means that it might not have the same impact.

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption (2010)

It’s like a cowboy version of Grand Theft Auto they tell me!  With a riveting story, a huge world to explore, and interesting characters to meet.  There are plenty of secrets to find, animals to hunt, and the small matter of that very popular zombie expansion Undead Nightmare to play.  It’s received countless awards, requests from fans for sequels and remasters.  Recently it was added to the Xbox One Backwards compatibility list and saw a sudden spike in sales.  I’ve not played it and I probably never will either.

It certainly looks to have aged pretty well.

I’m about to say something that is heresy in most gaming circles.  I don’t like Grand Theft Auto.  I’ve played a lot of them (GTA, 2, 3, and 4) but I don’t know why I keep allowing myself to be convinced to come back to the series when I just don’t enjoy them.  The stories have never gripped me, the characters I find reprehensible in most cases, the worlds don’t interest me and all I see outside the main story is busy work.  I skipped GTAV for this reason, and I skipped RDR for that as well.  Perhaps I just don’t like playing as a character that I find unpleasant.  This might mean I miss out on what others see as a great experience, but it wouldn’t be an experience I enjoy.  Rockstar has developed, and published, many games that I enjoy.  This will never be one of them.

Thief 2

Thief 2 (2000)

Looking Glass Studios could do no wrong from the mid 90s to early 2000 and their untimely demise that same year.  System Shock 2 is a game that sticks with me to this day.  That SHODAN reveal gave me chills.  The Thief games were ones I never really played though.  I had a go at a demo of the original game, but that’s about as far as my experience with this series got (although I did download the most recent one when it was free on Games with Gold).

This one has not aged as well.

In simple terms, I didn’t enjoy the demo of the first game.  That switched me off from the series almost immediately.  I suspect that, at the time, this wasn’t the right sort of game for me (or I wasn’t the right sort of gamer for this game) due to my not being a fan of slow methodical games back then.  System Shock worked for me as it was a bit faster paced, and the sci-fi setting was more to my liking.  If I had been a little older when this had been released I may well have enjoyed it more.  Going back to play the series now is probably not the best option as it will likely be very clunky by today’s standards.  I’m probably more than a little spoiled by modern games.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (2013)

I have a lot of respect and a lot of time for John Bain, aka Totalbiscuit.  I find his YouTube videos entertaining and enjoy listening to the Co-Optional podcast during my walk to work.  So when he described this as one of his all time favourite games I took a good long look at it…and then decided not to bother with it.  Not because it looked bad either, it looked like a tremendous game.  Just not something that I would enjoy.  And that’s saying something, as I normally thoroughly enjoy a game with a good story.

I’ve heard that this scene is particularly clever, involving hiding behind snowmen.

There’s something unquantifiable about this one.  I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that turns me off from this game.  I’m not a fan of puzzle platformers, which this seems to have elements of, but it seems to be more than that genre.  I’ve grown a bit tired of silent protagonists, but this supposedly tells a fantastic story without voice acting.  I think the issue her is that I really dislike the idea of controlling each character with a different stick on the controller.  I remember a game on PS2 called Twin Calibre, which allowed you to control your character’s two guns independently by using the two thumbsticks.  It controlled horribly and made the game very hard to play.  I suspect it’s this issue with dual stick control that has turned me against this game before even trying it.  That may be a little irrational, but I think that’s what my issue is.  Convince me to try it out if you’d like!

Some other mentions.  Okami is one that I simply missed at the time.  It was another game to come out during university so it simply passed me by, in spite of being very impressed by the games art work.  Destiny is something of a polarising one with a lot of people.  I avoided it merely due to feeling I didn’t have the time to put in to get the most out of it.  I probably would have enjoyed the game, but it’s an issue gamers face as they get older.  The next one people may be surprised at: Undertale.  This is one that I really wanted to play, but there was so much mentioned in podcasts, write-ups and reviews that I feel I’d had a lot of it spoiled.  It is one that I may end up playing some day.

How about you?  Are there any games you regret missing out on?  Ones that you saw everyone enjoying but just couldn’t understand the buzz?  Let me know!


35 thoughts on “5 Critically Acclaimed Games that I Didn’t Bother Playing – Critical Miss part 2.

      1. This isn’t a join the crowd kind of game. TLOU takes couple hours to draw you in, after that, you’ll see what you’ve been missing. I get how you don’t like longer games, folks get their enjoyment in different ways.
        Also, RDR’s John Marston may seem like an unlikeable character, but he’s a friggin’ saint in comparison to everyone else he meets. Besides, the game is all about REDEMPTION.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe in the run up to the sequel I might take a look at it. At the same time though, I feel I’ve read so much about it that I know the story already. In some cases I feel that that’s enough of the experience for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. No judgments here! Since I’m more of a retro gamer and RPGer I haven’t played any of these either. I do want to watch a Let’s Play of Shadow of the Colossus and Ico since those look (and I’ve heard are) amazing.

    The only thing I really like about GTA are the ridiculous radio stations, and there’s this one amazing video where someone modded the game so that a character is literally driving a grand piano to Vanessa Carton’s “Thousand Miles,” but internet insanity aside, I agree with you about the reprehensible characters.

    I may need to add The Last of Us to my list. I’ve heard amazing things.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did play Ico, and really enjoyed it, the spiritual sequel just came out at the wrong time. Really I’m at a point in life where I can’t play huge, lengthy games anymore. A lot more games will end up on this list for that reason I bet!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I totally understand that. It’s why it takes me so long to finish a Final Fantasy. I only really have time to play on the weekend, which is when I still have to catch up on my other things. Now that I’ve finished IV and my one rule is I can’t play the next until I’ve written a review of the just finished, I’m in between games. I wish I had something small to tide me over. There are a ton on my to play list, but I don’t own most of them. I will say I do love Let’s Plays for the games I don’t have time to play myself. I can still experience them, and I always loved watching others play certain things growing up, Legend of Zelda being one of my favorites to watch.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Let’s Plays are great for that. Not having a Wii U means I get to see at least some of the games. They’re also good for deciding if I would like a game! Good luck writing your FFIV review! I can imagine reviewing games of that size being quite an undertaking.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was overjoyed the day I discovered the world of LPs. Of course this also meant that I wanted to try my hand at it so eep more projects. They are definitely good at advertising games. There are quite a few I want to play now that I’ve seen them.

        I think FFIII took me a week or so to draft? I’m hoping to start FFIV this weekend. I have plenty of notes and I divide each review into Gameplay, Story, and Music to make it more digestible. I try to stay a creature of habit and go by the template I’ve already set. That makes it seem much less daunting.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I have not, but it’s on my ever growing to-do list! I need to get the equipment as it stands now so my progress is stymied a bit by that. I actually think I’d do an FFIV LP to start, because it’s one of my favorite games and it’s woefully underrated. I also have a lot to say about it so following the “always keep talking” rule wouldn’t be too hard.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I can understand that! I’ve heard quite a few LPers say the same thing. For me I talk to myself all the time hehe so doing that isn’t so much a problem for me. I actually almost prefer sometimes to talk about things and record myself saying them. It’s why I have like 200 videos on my iPhone that I really want to edit and eventually post once I have the time. My husband has been the sounding board for many of my rants. The only issue I have with talking is if I’m fighting a hard boss, I might find it difficult to concentrate on both at once, thereby invoking the “Let’s Player’s curse” of dying at a part you normally don’t die at.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You see quite a few Let’s Players suffer that. Cue the comments section happily telling them how terrible they are at games!
        I’ve seen a couple of videos Markiplier does when he has that problem and I think he has the right idea: Concentrate on beating the boss/level/whatever and edit a commentary on afterwards if it’s proving to be that difficult.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. That make so much sense to me, and I’ve seen a bunch do after commentary. I’d be totally okay editing that in; I’d just give full disclosure that that’s what I was doing.

        Ugh YouTube comments are the cesspool of the internet. I have a few slideshow videos up on my small channel, and I disabled them. You can like/dislike, but I don’t need to see what some of the worst have to offer.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like I’m going to have to break your winning streak because I can safely say you’re not wrong for being hesitant to play The Last of Us. It’s not an escort mission, but it is a pretty standard third-person shooter that only barely sticks out from its contemporaries. It’s not worth it for the story either; it doesn’t take any risks, and it devolves into a complete mess at the end. Its scenario is massively acclaimed, but that’s mostly because Naughty Dog’s peers don’t provide them with any serious competition.

    I may not like Shadow of the Colossus as much as my peers, but I think it’s a solid game. It and Ico are, in my opinion, much better takes on the artistic game than a good chunk of their contemporaries.

    Thief is one of those games I just could not get into despite being a sacred cow in the PC gaming crowd. I did not enjoy searching every inch of the levels for valuables only to be informed that I missed 75% of them. It was like looking for secret passages in Wolfenstein 3D only far worse and without any interesting gameplay to make up for it.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Red Dead seems to be the most narratively robust of all the Rockstar giants, but I too haven’t had a chance to play! I’ll probably nab it on sale with the Xbox One BacCompat

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Everyone has their own preferences! The Last of Us was an emotionally charged experience for me. This game had me crying like a baby within the first 20 minutes… No game has ever made me cry other than this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Last of Us was okay. Actually, I had the same feelings about Naughty Dog as you did before I went into it. But Last of Us felt like they finally figured out how to make a decent action game. Unfortunately, I didn’t really care so much for the story because it relied way too heavily on standard tropes of zombie fiction at a time when zombie fiction was getting stale.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t think the shooting is as bad as Uncharted 2, but it is still not quite as tight as a comparable shooter of another series. I guess the main reason I consider it a better action game was that it had quite intelligently designed encounters when compared to the Uncharted series, which has always had the bad habit of just throwing waves and waves of bullet sponge enemies at the player.

        Liked by 1 person

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