5 Great Features In Average Games
A diamond in the rough. Because the Aladdin in us never dies.
Have you played my favourite game? Do you agree with my choice of console? Masterchief or Kratos?
Death to you, your parents, your unborn children and any person who has willingly, unwillingly or unwittingly helped you.
Also I’ll pee on your lawn and shave my initials onto your dog.
We all know it, we all understand it and hate it. We all propagate it, in some way or another.
We’re all small blonde girls on the inside. That Powerpuff looking thing we call confidence is really quite fragile and the result is that we crave validation.
Every time we meet a like-minded individual, who loves what we love, Bubbles gets a little stronger. When we fight intolerance, ignorance or just plain cruelty, it gets a little smaller.
Where is this hippie speech leading?
To a single quote:
A wise man can learn more from a fool than a fool from a wise man.
Life is almost never black and white. Right and wrong are ideas taught to us as children, when we knew nothing. At this stage we were barely better than retarded and the natural inclination to dichotomise makes us accept this idea unquestioningly.
Stop it. Just stop it.
Of course there are some clear evils and some clear goods in this world but they are far rarer than we think. Almost everything is a matter of perspective.
The above quote is a very powerful idea. The stupid, close-minded, prejudiced morons of this world cannot broaden their horizons; they cannot accept new ideas or fathom other perspectives.
The best of us can and do just that. Every scientist, artist and business man will tell you that failure is as valuable as success. Not to the person failing obviously, but as a broader concept.
We immediately dismiss most things. We live in an age of information downpour; so much, all the time, on every topic. Brain explode. Given this society, dismissive behaviour is understandable, a natural development and almost unavoidable. That doesn’t make it right.
Sometimes it’s worth looking at the average and the bad to find some insight into the good. If we learn from the past we can improve our futures.
That’s what we’re doing here today. As a follow up to last week’s 5 Terrible Features In Great Games here are 5 great features in average or unpopular games.
Some of these games are good. Others are not. All of them have some excellence brought down by bits of mediocrity.
We can still learn from them, because we are wise men.
5. Alice Madness Returns – Imagination
The game was solid but repetitive. The structure workmanlike and the platforming never made it past “quite fun”. Even the combat was only good up for a couple of hours before it got boring.
I only noticed all of this after 6 \ 7 hours of play time. I am a nitpicky, anal gamer. Little things bug the hell out of me if they’re not done at least adequately.
Not all of these relatively glaring flaws were noticeable because of the sheer amount of imagination in the game’s setting, world, style and characters.
When I look at Skyrim, a small part of me dies at the blandness of the world. Where is the colour? The life? The imagination?
We could all learn a bit from Alice.
4. Alpha Protocol – Dialogue Structure
Mass Effect popularised the dialogue wheel. Letting us the know the gist of what was going to be said without actually ruining the dialogue Shepard will say a nanosecond later.
This worked well and many games copied it, some well others not.
Meet Alpha Protocol; a largely broken game from Sega that failed spectacularly. Yet I remember it. I remember some missions with the same fondness that I remember some of the best gaming moments.
In Alpha Protocol the dialogue sequences and discussions were turned into a whole game in itself. Just by adding a timer to the dialogue I was forced to make decisions on the fly – making the whole experience far more intense and rewarding. It also flowed a lot better.
Then, there was their whole character system where certain characters responded to certain behaviour well and other behaviour poorly. The implementation was sometimes lacking and clunky but when it worked, damn it felt cool to say things and manipulate characters.
Alpha Protocol made me excited for dialogue and non-combat scenarios in a way few other games have. There are entire missions in Alpha Protocol that are primarily about a stake out or recognisance. They were the most compelling missions, and that is saying something.
If you’re in a gaming noir mood, grab a copy of the game. It will cost you like a buck at this point and if you view the exercise as a case study, you’ll have a good time.
3. Zeno Clash – World Building
At a guess, most people will not have played this game.
I played it when it released and it haunts me still.
What can only be described as a first person, melee brawler running on Valve’s Source engine, this game is something ridiculously unique. The weirdness and imagination of the world will hit you immediately. This is a game that shows us its world without shame.
If you can accept its premise and its eeriness, there is a warm, interesting and fully realised world beneath the relatively short game. The society has its own sects and the interactions between characters are weirdly real for such a fantastical game.
The characters behave like their world is the only one there is. Their way is the only logical one. They take for granted you understand political and personal motivations that web the story while still explaining them so you’re never lost.
With more environment variation than most triple A games the whole art style was a contender for the imagination award as well.
What set Zeno Clash apart was just how well realised the world was. By the end of the game, the world had carved its own niche in my mind.
It’s a magnificent place to inhabit if you can appreciate the weirdness.
Full of mystery and questions, itching to explore more and to experience everything, please dear lord let there be a sequel soon.