It’s the end of the year, and that means loads and loads of top 10 lists of various kinds. Top 10 indie games of 2010, top 10 RPG games, top 10 porn movies, etc etc. I decided to go for something completely different: I’m going to list the best games of the year that I haven’t played…and why.
Let’s get on with it! Here’s a list starting from the game I’m most likely to play (but probably will not), to the ones I definitely will not pop into a console or PC.
10 – Minecraft
This weird little indie title has conquered the world. Everyone loves this one-man project that has sold millions and millions, and people keep making movies, build complete working ALUs (and CPUs) and generally muck around in this free-form 3D adventure game that doesn’t contain a storyline at all – instead it relies on emergent gameplay and the users’ imagination to create user-generated narratives.
Personally, I can’t be arsed with it. Yeah yeah, I get the idea: it’s fun to build with LEGOs, and this is essentially LEGO but with monsters, collecting things and exploration mixed in a gigantic bowl. The possibilities are endless. There’s countless hours of fun in this game. And that’s the problem for me. I don’t want countless hours of fun – I want a nice and entertaining game that won’t take too much time off my hands. And I definitely don’t want to learn how to play, or spend time finding out what exactly I want to do with all the possibilities in the game.
However, since it’s PC based and seems to be fairly easy to get into I still might, just might, try it sometime. I highly doubt it, though.
9 – Limbo
Limbo intrigues me. Who wouldn’t like an artsy black-and-white game about a little boy that gets stabbed to death and ripped in pieces over and over again? To me it sounds very much like the concept of experiencing the same day over and over again, until you figure out what you need to do to break the curse. Always liked stories like that. They contain a lot of subtext about guilt and punishment, as well as atonement.
However, from what I can see in the screenshots this game looks like it requires a lot of dexterity. I’m getting to old for that stuff – I’m not going to play a game that requires split second timing while solving puzzles and avoiding giant spiders and whatnot.
Not to mention that reviewers seem obsessed with that giant spider. As an arachnophobic, this game seems like a horror game to me. And not in a good way.
8 – Starcraft II
I was pretty excited about Starcraft II a while ago. I loved the first one; I liked the story and the general polish of the game, and the thought of a sequel made me smile. But once the sequel came out I found myself…disinterested. It’s like I know what it’s going to be like without having to play it.
I’ve loved RTS games, from Dune II to Warcraft to Total Alliance, Command and Conquer, World in Conflict, and many many others. But maybe it’s all come to an end, because I simply don’t feel like building another base, clicking and selecting a bunch of troops, and marching them off to their mostly-certain doom. Been there, done that.
I like strategy games, but turn-based ones are much more appealing to me. That’s why you don’t see Civilization 5 or King’s Bounty: Crossroads in this list of games I haven’t played.
7 – Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect was a nice game. Good dialogue, cute quests, nice gameplay. I thought I’d be playing ME2 as soon as it came out. But hell no, they’ve gone for a real-time approach in the battles. “We’re trying to reach a broader range of customers”, “we’re trying to appeal to both RPG fans and shooter fans”, “today’s games require a more intense experience” – whatever, I’m not playing it.
There’s simply no way that I will spend time on a game that requires motor skills. I even ditched Fallout 3 because it was too shooter-like for me. If I’m going to invest time in a game I demand that it rewards me with fun most of the time – not hard work and frustration. I guess I could go for a game that had auto-aiming and auto-hiding. A game in which your character’s attributes determine whether you hit or not, and whether or not you’re getting hit. And that would include not being able to aim better than your character – otherwise the difficulty would automatically be upped in order to compensate for most players’ agility.
But Mass Effect 2 is not that game.
6 – Red Dead Redemption
Grand Theft Auto was pretty fun. You rode around this 2D city, stole cars, avoided the cops and acted as a glorified errand boy. Then something happened… I think there was a GTA3, and some sequels to that one, and then there’s this cowboy game that people refer to GTA with horses. Oh right, Red Dead Redemption. As you can tell I’m not one of Rockstar’s biggest fans.
Cowboy themes are cool but I don’t care much for sandbox games these days. It’s too much freedom for my taste. I’m certain that the story is excellent in RDR but I have a suspicion that it’d be like wading through frustrating and boring bits just to see bits and pieces of excellent dialogue. If I have the choice I’d much rather watch some Clint Eastwood flick.
5 – Super Meat Boy
I know surprisingly little about this game, except that the protagonist is a dude with no skin, he is fairly pissed (maybe because of aforementioned lack of skin?) and that it’s a platform puzzler. I used to love platform games. I got 100 exits on Super Mario World, yo. But maybe the honeymoon’s over and the magic’s gone.
This game interests me in the same way Braid did. It’s a game I’d like to play and would like to like. But I tried Braid and I couldn’t feel gripped by it. I have the feeling that it’d be the same thing with this game, so to save myself time and effort I simply won’t try it.
Beside that, it’s been way too hyped. “Ooh, look at this quirky little indie title! It’s a masterpiece!” Bah, I don’t believe in masterpieces. There are good games, there are bad games, but anything that people try to sugar coat too much is bound to taste like crap when you get through the sugary outer shell.
4 – Rock Band 3
I’m not going to write a long piece about the qualities of this particular game. Instead I’ll just put it in four simple words: music games are passé.
Don’t get me wrong! They’re still awesome at parties and it’s still fun to mash buttons on plastic guitars. I just wouldn’t play it by myself anymore. And if I’m not going to play it except at rare occasions it’s not really worth buying, is it?
The songs are pretty nifty though. Everything from Dio and The Doors to Metric. Good setlist.
3 – Halo: Reach
Cinematic space opera shooter. A lovely combination of words. I think they’re relatively applicable to Halo: Reach. Unfortunately there’s one word in there that I don’t like. Can you guess which one?
It’s not that I don’t like action games. I do like them! And I do like the satisfied feeling of shooting down an enemy or watching a big explosion. The problem is just that they’re suited for the next generation. Sure, there are people in their 30s playing these games, but those people have been playing them continuously for years and years. I was pretty sucky at Quake 2 but I did play it online a bit. I played Unreal, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Half-Life 2 and many other games. But they’re all just too hard for me – I flail around like an epileptic with my mouse and send off rounds into everything but the enemies I’m supposed to hit.
I’m sure that I can train my skills if I put my mind to it. But why would I want to? I play games to relax and have fun.
2 – Call of Duty: Black Ops
Come on, after writing about Halo, do I really have to write anything at all here? Yes, come to think of it, I think I do. I can mention something about run-and-gun, cover-based gameplay. It’s natural to let shooters evolve into cover-based games, requiring you to add some strategy and planning into your gunning. The problem with that is that developers seem to assume a very high entry level skill.
Let me make an analogy with driving a car. I never got a driver’s license when I was young; no money, no one to drive with. Later on I was simply too lazy and didn’t see a need for it. Now, at the ripe age of 32, I’ve finally gotten my license…and I’m noticing an interesting thing: people who’ve been driving for years have no understanding about the problems a new driver have.
Driving a car requires a lot of coordination, decisions to make, and things to notice in the surroundings. I’ve had my license for some weeks but I still get…confused…if there are too many things happening all at once. Especially if I’m upset or irritated too. It’s pretty much like that with action games: people who’re used to the concepts of running, aiming and looking for cover all at once see all these things as natural, but for me it’s like trying to juggle while tying my shoelaces with my toes. Bloody hard, is what it is.
So, no thanks to Call of Duty. I have enough work, learning to become a better driver.
1 – World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
I tried WoW for a couple of days because my ex had a trial account and nagged me into giving it a shot. I created a shaman, killed innocent creatures, got killed a few times, met some annoying people and got my character up to level 10. That’s when I thought things would start for real.
And that’s also when my ex told me that I need to start playing with other people to get anywhere in the game.
I like cooperative gaming as much as the next person. I had a lot of fun in Gears of War (even though I suck), and I like the thought of grouping up to kill large horrible monsters. But WoW seems way too planned. I like the Diablo 2 multiplayer: get online, check for an open game, and go mess up Diablo’s rear end. Quick, simple, no socializing. In WoW people seem to want to talk about things and join guilds and plan raids and….snore.
Wake me up when Diablo 3 gets here.