5 Games That Outstayed Their Welcome

They go on and on and on and on and on and on an………..

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I remember not so logn ago, that the internet was filled with arguments over value for money in games.  This often came down to how many hours of content was there for your £40 purchase.  There were a number of arguements over this in Call of Duty games due to their campaigns being rather short compared to other FPS games.  I felt that this wasn’t entirely fair as those games tended to have a rather extensive multiplayer mode in each release.  I suppose if you were only playing them for the single player aspect then that might be worth pointing out.  But I digress.

CoD
A game cover with a soldier walking towards the camera. How unusual!

As I get older I find myself valuing time more and more, so shorter games often get my attention more readily than ones that I will probably never have the required number of hours to finish.  I’m all for good, interesting content over a substantial campaign (so long as it actually is interesting and not just filler) or through other features in a game. However there are some really rather good games that just didn’t know when to call it a day.  Games that kept on going long after their mechanics and story had become a touch on the stale side.  Here are 5 such adventures that ventured on for a little too long.

Oh, and I’ve only included ones that I’ve actually played obviously.

Metal Gear Solid V

MGSV The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V (2015)

This was one of the first games I wrote a blog post about.  Interesting fact there.  If you read that in the past (or if you just gave that link a little click), you may have found that I really enjoyed the game when it let you get on with sneaking into enemy encampments and advancing the utterly bananas plot.  Solid mechanics and well made cut-scenes certainly helped too!

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A vast open world that’s ready to be explored.  And then explored again.

Around half way through the game though, you need to complete missions to advance the plot (shocking in a video game, I know).  You can do this through sub missions or story missions.  Of course most gamers would go for the story missions, only to find that they were the same as earlier missions but with an added stipulation.  This broke the flow for me quite a bit and put me off carrying on with the game.  It got to the point where I just wanted it to be over.  Maybe the pain of carrying on was the real Phantom Pain…

Or not.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity
Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014)

This was the death knell of the series for me.  I found Assassin’s Creed III fairly tedious, but I assumed the more focused environment of a city might help.  And to an extent it did!  I liked that everything was fairly close together (although the crowded map made finding things harder than it should have been) and that the movement and combat was still fairly fun if you weren’t hot by bugs.  It wasn’t horrible.

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Time to wheel this classic out again.

But I just did not care about the story one bit.  There were various famous histroical figures doing things because the plot demanded they did to make them good/evil, and characters died before I had any reason to care about them.  The reasonably engaging mechanics couldn’t hold my attention for long without a solid purpose driving me forward.  Before long I was rushing through story missions just to get the game over with.  Maybe Assassin’s Creed Origins will be more engaging for me.

Still Life 2

Still Life 2 game
Still Life 2 (2009)

Still Life was an interesting enough murder mystery point and click adventure (which was a sequel to Post Mortem, which has aged horribly).  The story followed an FBI investigator searching for a serial killer in Chicago.  Through flashbacks and investigation, you eventually confront and shoot the killer who manages to escape.  The follow up, Still Life 2, finds our investigator on the trail of another killer.  Due to the lack of resolution in the previous game, it seems reasonable to assume we’ll find out who the previous killer was here.

Still Life 2
The whole thing looks like it would fit into a Saw movie.

Still Life 2 starts well enough, with standard puzzles in a seemingly abandoned house.  But, as is often the case in point and click games, the puzzles become more and more obscure as you basically guess what the developer was thinking.  This, combined with the pace being unbelievably s-l-o-w meant that I didn’t bother getting to the end.  Once I ended up in an entirely new area that I would have to gradually find my way around, I decided that enough was enough.  Even the reasonably interesting plot couldn’t save this one.

Serious Sam 3: BFE

Serious Sam Before First Encounter
Serious Sam 3: BFE (2011)

I loved the Serious Sam games.  I remember staying up for hours upon hours one night playing the first game in the series.  The second one was pretty good too.  Fighting off literal hordes of enemies with powerful weapons was tremendous fun.  This entry in the series carried that on, but in a more modern way with finishing moves, more up to date (and realistic) visuals, and other such features.  And it’s fun for a while.

Serious Sam 3 BFE
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was any crappy Steam game released in the past 2 years from this screenshot.

It doesn’t half drag on though.  There are only so many combinations of enemies you can fight before it starts to get a little stale.  It’s around 10 hours long and could have done with being maybe two-thirds of that length because by that point I’d grown tired of stepping into another arena, fighting off a swarm of enemies before moving 8 steps forward and fighting another horde.

The soundtrack was pretty great at least.

Alien: Isolation

Alien Isolation
Alien Isolation (2014)

This game was scary.  The atmosphere was tense.  The robots were scary.  The xenomorph was terrifying.  There was even a good story in there that follows on from Alien too.  There was a crafting system that actually made sense in the game’s context!  Imagine that!  It shapes up for a pretty great 8-10 hour horror experience.

Alien
You’ll spend most of your time either using the motion tracker or the flamethrower. For 20 hours.

Then the second 10 hours kick in.  The alien is less scary now as you’ve seen tons of it.  The coridors looks similar no matter where you go (the bits outside the station are still pretty cool at least), you’ve crafted everything worthwhile, and know most of the story.  All that’s left is to slog through half the game to get to the conclusion.  This game is a perfect example of less is more, and for the first half it absolutely nails that.  Encounters are rare and intense, and you don’t even see the xenomorph until a good 3 hours in.  The second half forgets that and has used all the tricks it has.  Disappointing after such a great start.

A couple of games worth mentioning (but don’t quite fit).  Borderlands 2 became a bit of a slog for me towards the end.  This was more because I was trying to do all the side missions so the gameplay had started to become a little stale by that point.  Still a good game mind!  Most of the Warriors games could fit in here for me too (Warriors Orochi 3 is the one sticking in my mind) simply because the story mode goes on for so long in most cases.  But the story is never really why you’re playing those so it gets something of a pass.

How about you?  Any games you loved playing before they got beyond tedious?  Any that you gave up on through sheer boredom?  Tell me about it!

 

 

Gears of War 4 – When did chainsawing monsters become so tedious?

Gears for fears.

I have fond memories of Gears of War.  I remember finishing the first one on Insane with a friend from university online after a monumental tussle with Raam.  I remember playing Horde mode with my now wife.  I even enjoyed Judgement for its score attack elements (don’t hate me).  I didn’t think I’d get to the point that the game’s admittedly rock solid mechanics would become tiresome.  That’s not to say it doesn’t try anything new, it just doesn’t do enough to make it seem fresh again.  It might be time to hang up my Lancer.

Gears of War 4 New Group
Our new heroes: Del, Oscar, Kait (at the back) and JD. They’re quite likable, but rest assured that old faces will turn up as the game goes on.

It’s not that the game is bad, it’s just that it does very little new.  When the original game was released, its cover based shooter mechanics nigh-on revolutionised third person shooters.  Whilst this wasn’t the inventor of a lot of its mechanics, Gears of War had it polished to a mirror sheen.  What I like to call the Blizzard effect.  The series continued, introducing new mechanics and modes, and polishing off a reasonable story and tying up the loose ends.  Judgement came along and acted as a prequel, and whilst less popular, it did some things differently.  Now though, we have a game that is the definition of more of the same.  That’s not always a bad thing, but by now it has become a repetitive thing.

Gears of War 4 Locust Swarm
Oh hey! It’s the Locust again!

It starts off fairly promising, with a dash through a “Wind Flare” that sends chunks of scenery flying around, followed by a number of gun fights with robotic enemies.  This is a nice change from previous games.  Bright colours, new opponents and using the Fabricator (a device that lets you create weapons and defenses) to defend yourself and your allies.  But before long we settle back into the old routine.  The Locust turn up (now called the Swarm rather than the Horde), the dark environments return, and we return to cover based shooting that we’ve had for 4 games now.  Most of the game is spent following leads to rescue a character, and the story is pretty uninteresting until a pretty nice twist right at the end which sets up for the inevitable sequel.

Gears of War 4 Graphics
It looks even more gorgeous and detailed than ever.

There are a couple of sections that alter the game for a short while.  The Wind Flares force you to consider your aim more carefully based on wind speed and direction.  And the motorbike chase is rather exciting.  The final scene in the game attempts to change the game’s mechanics too (although it doesn’t really change the gameplay all that much, it does feel exciting).  There are also a couple of new enemies that can change how you approach certain battles by forcing you to keep moving or rescue kidnapped allies.  In spite of all of this though, you’ll probably still end up hiding behind walls with a Lancer and Gnasher.  That might be enough for some people, but I think I was hoping for a reinvention of the franchise on a new system.  If you’re looking for more Gears of War, then this will probably do just fine for your cravings.  At this point though, I worry that it’s becoming a bit Call of Duty, the same game but throwing in a new gimmick to hide that fact.

Gears of War 4 Motorbike chase against plane.
The bike section is a nice change of pace, but you’ll be back to the same action before long.

Horde mode is back and still enjoyable.  The Fabricator that allows you to construct and place defences where you wish alters your strategy somewhat and I’ve enjoyed playing it in splitscreen.  The multiplayer is as good as ever, looking great running at 60FPS.  The new game modes aren’t anything new as most have been seen elsewhere, but the 5 on 5 action is still solid.  It’s a perfectly fine game, it’s just the same perfectly fine game you played years ago, but a bit prettier!

Gears of War 4 Choice
As in previous games, there is an occasional choice of route in which the team splits up and you cover your allies. You can see a Wind Flares in the background.

Gears of War 4 was developed by The Coalition and published by Microsoft.  I played the game on Xbox One and I don’t know how to recommend this!  If Gears of War is something you dearly need more of, then this might be for you.  If not, then there are plenty of other third person shooters out there.  I for one felt disappointed, maybe I was hoping for something more, maybe I’m bored of the series now.  Maybe I’m just too old to enjoy this series as much as I used to!  Either way, I think I may be done with the series for now.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair – The buggiest game I’ve played in some time!

Did you see what I did there?  In the title?  Bugs?  Because there are giant insects in the game.  It was a joke!  A good one!  Ok, fine.

Insect joke
Is this more to your liking?

Anyway, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (which is a hell of a long title) has you shooting giant insects.  A lot.  Right from the word go, you will be confronted by hordes of rampaging giant insects, from ants, to bees, to spiders (I know, but the game calls them insects…) before moving onto robots and space ships.  It’s utterly bonkers, but great fun for it.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair environments
The environments look very nice from a distance, although the textures look a bit shaky close up.  They’re fairly large too, often too large necessitating long periods of running.

And I’m not kidding when I say hordes.  On pretty much any one of the almost 90 missions, you’ll be confronted by hundred of enemies to take out either alone or with a local partner or 3 online team mates.  Taking on so many enemies at once and coming out on top is quite cathartic.  In many ways it reminds me of the Warriors games (Dynasty, Samurai etc.) in that you lead a group of soldiers to mow down swarms of opponents using your choice of weapons.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair Environments 2
Much of the environment can also be destroyed using explosives. This can prevent insects from climbing out of reach, but also removes your cover.

There are 4 classes available.  The middle-of-the-road Ranger, the agile but vulnerable Wing Diver, the support and vehicle summoning Air Raider and the walking tank designated Fencer.  Each has their own abilities and variety of weapons, giving you more longevity than you might expect for a game solely about blowing up bugs.  Once you pick a character, though, you’ll likely want to stick with it, as your health and weapon stash increases for that character only.  This means that if you switch class half way through the game you will be significantly under-powered.  This felt a little unfair as once I had finished the game on normal, I wanted to play as a different character on a higher difficulty.  Doing so was near impossible due to all the other characters being far too weak to survive on hard mode.

EDF Godzilla
Oh, and sometimes Godzilla turns up.

And this is where the game starts to slip somewhat.  Farming.  Do you like farming for items and buffs?  Then this is the game for you!  To have a hope on any difficulty above hard, you will have to go back to previous levels and farm health pick ups.  I don’t have a big problem with farming, but after a while it becomes rather tedious.  And if you want to see all the game has to offer, you’ll need to do this with 4 classes.  I saw an estimate that to finish the game on the highest difficulty with all 4 classes would take around 500 hours.  That’s a lot of content I suppose, but I for one would be bored long before hitting that!

Mothership attack
Occasionally it can get rather hectic.

I’ve yet to mention the story, and that’s because there barely is one.  It’s very much old fashioned B-movie fare: aliens invade Earth with giant insects.  This is fine as I don’t think anyone was expecting literary genius here.  The graphics are serviceable, but certainly won’t blow your mind.  The sound is fine, although the music is repetitive.  The voice acting is simultaneously some of the best and worst examples of video game vocal work I’ve heard in a long time.  It’s full of cheesy dialogue between the soldiers mid-mission and lead to more than a couple of laugh out loud moments (Soldier 1: “Why did you sign up?” Soldier 2: “For some reason!”).  Utter gold.

EDF Air Raider
Air Raiders can call in support, from vehicles to air strikes.  I’m not an Air Raider, but it looks great when it happens.

Most important though, is that this is fun.  It’s light-hearted, switch off your brain fun.  The combat feels fine and you don’t need to think too hard about what you’re doing on the first few difficulty settings.  On higher settings you’ll need to be very careful and plan ahead, but for the most part you can simply run around having fun.  If you go into this not expecting anything more than that, you should have a good time taking out aliens and collecting hundreds of different weapons.

EDF Balam
Oh, and obviously there are mechs. Which you use to punch Godzilla in the face. This game is bonkers.

Earth Defense Force 4.1 was developed by Sandlot and published by D3.  I played the game on PlayStation 4 and would recommend you give it a try as a cheap action game.  If you need a palette cleanser game that you can easily dip in and out of, then this could be exactly what you need.  Put your feet up, switch off your brain, and kill some ants!

DOOM – All the demons say I’m pretty fly (for a Doom guy)!

They are rage, brutal, without mercy.  But you.  You will be worse.  Rip and tear, until it is done.

The opening line of DOOM could not sum the game up any more perfectly.  You will face powerful, grotesque adversaries, but you will tear through them all at a breakneck pace.  Did you play Doom all those years ago?  If so, you’ll probably remember it being a fast paced shooter in which you would mow down hoards of demons with big guns, taking time out to find secret areas and completely ignoring what little story is there.  DOOM 2016 is that.  It’s as though id genuinely looked back at why people loved the original campaign and modernised it without losing its soul in the process.  The guys did good.

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It’s been a while…

The fast pace is the biggest thing they’ve brought back to DOOM.  Doom 3 was slow and creepy, which is fine, but that isn’t really what the series was always known for.  Within 15 seconds of starting the campaign, you’ll have crushed a demon’s head, broken out of your chains, grabbed a pistol and gunned down another pair of demons.  No exposition, no cutscene, no trying to ape the classic Half-Life slow world-building introduction, just straight into the action.  You’ll grab your classic armour (the Praetor Suit as they call it) and you’re away.  Before long you’ll have a shot gun, an assault rifle and the chainsaw.  More weapons are introduced at regular intervals to keep the variety up.  The weapon models are all interesting to look at with plenty of detail, and have a variety of different uses depending on if you can find secret weapon mods that can turn your shotgun into a grenade launcher or allow your assault rifle to fire rockets.  If I had to criticise something here, it’s that some of the gun models are a little too big, taking up more of the screen than I’d like which obscures your vision.  A minor gripe but certainly one I noticed.

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Massive guns can take up a lot of space on the screen.  I love the background detail here though.

Enemies are introduced in a similar way, lots of variety and plenty of call back to the classic games.  You’ll often find yourself locked in a chamber with a large mix of soldiers, imps, hell knights and other enemies.  Fighting them mostly involves moving quickly, taking enemies out as you rush by them.  The speed of the action is unbelievable, with you rushing past enemies, dodging attacks and firing at your targets as quickly as possible.  Clearing out a room is as much planning a route as it is being accurate, and deaths rarely feel cheap.  Occasionally you can get yourself caught up on the scenery when you expected to be able to climb up it, but this is very rare.  Overall, the minute to minute gameplay is tremendous fun, with you mowing down one enemy before “glory killing” (the game’s animated finishers) another, dashing along a hallway to use your chainsaw on the next and seeing them explode into…ammunition pick-ups(!) is quite satisfying.  They can become a little stale after a while as you see the same animation many times.  Luckily they’re all quick enough to not break the pacing.

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In about 2 seconds I will be rushed by these enemies.  Around 3 seconds later they will all be pulp!

There is a story and it isn’t half bad if you’re willing to dig into it, but it can be completely ignored if you wish.  Simply put, the UAC opened a portal to hell and decided to use the energy they find there as a form of renewable energy, which is about a sane as it sounds.  Hell are not happy and set about invading Mars.  As I said earlier, there is very little exposition, and scenes in which the story is fed to you take a total of about 10 minutes of the entire game’s playtime (about 10-12 hours depending on if you go searching for secrets).  This is rather nice as breaks from the action and exploration are kept to a minimum.  There is a lot of lore available if you’re willing to look for it though.  The codex entries from finding hidden logs fill in a lot about the universe and your history, as well as the demons and how they view you.

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Some of the exposition is provided by these ghostly images…which can be completely ignored!

The game also comes with the obligatory multiplayer mode.  It’s perfectly fine if I’m honest, with a fast pace and a variety of game modes.  Warpath is one I actually quite like, which is basically king of the hill but with a control point moving along a set path.  It’s really nothing special though, using the usual modern setup of loadouts and “hacks” (think limited time perks from Call of Duty).  It’s fine but nothing special.  Then there’s Snapmap, which is a level creation utility that allows you to piece together a map for your own levels or game modes.  Triggers can be included to allow events to happen at certain times.  It seems quite powerful with some interesting levels already created, although most of them seem to be remakes of classic maps from Doom and other games.  It’s nice to have these features but you’ll have by far the most fun in the campaign.

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Yes, this is a shot from the credits, but the game very much feels like this all the way through.

DOOM was developed by id Software and published by Bethesda.  I played the game on Xbox One and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, shooter, that’s more interested in being fun than being dark and gritty.  Take a look FPS developers.  This is what fun looks like!