Beloved games we hate

Okay, I understand that Guitar Hero/Rock Band are “good” games, in that they are fun for a lot of people and are well-constructed to deliver an intended experience. It’s just that I find them horribly boring, full of terrible music and misleading, giving people the false impression that they’re doing anything remotely musical.

First, let’s take a look at a basic chord on a real guitar:

Note the number of strings (6), and the placement of my fingers. Does this resemble anything done on a plastic controller? (Holding two buttons doesn’t count.) No, and yet it’s part of the basic grammar of guitar playing. Guitar Hero would have you believe that playing a guitar amounts to plucking one string while pressing your fingers on areas vertically aligned on the neck (those colored buttons). Yes, I know it had to be simplified to be accessible, but as someone who’s played the real thing, it annoys the hell out of me that these games claim to be about the love of music when they get the basics so wrong.

As for the gameplay itself... again, the spirit of music (expression, creativity, SOUND) is all pushed to the outer regions. Instead, it has you playing Simon Sez by watching moving colors and mechanically pressing required buttons. Yes, yes the newer iterations let you “create” music, but without actual CHORDS (see above picture) you’re not making anything like real music.

Above: Yes, truly HEROIC and ROCKING

Ugh, and don’t get me started on the songs. Glam Rock should’ve died a painful death in the 80’s and been swept under history’s rug. The Star Power tilt says it all: a dated, pathetic “look at my surrogate penis." Yes, let’s glorify a douchebag maneuver.

There are a few songs I can tolerate, but trying to play with my friends forces me to slog through cheesy phallus/butt rock because playing the same three good songs gets old fast.

For the love of the Rock Gods, if you find these games fun, please try playing a real instrument. It will be vastly more rewarding.

I've barely even played Super Smash Bros Brawl and I hate it. I can't help it. I'm a bit rubbish at all fighting games, so tend to treat them all with a juvenile "not bothered" attitude anyway. There's something about SSBB, however, that snaps me violently out of my comfort zone of indifference. Something that strokes my goat in places that, frankly, my goat doesn't enjoy being stroked.

I just get this real, nasty sick taste in my mouth when I see how much gamers are willing to praise Nintendo for selling them the same old stuff over and over and over. And Super Smash Bros Brawl is the game that really dribbles on the biscuit when it comes to extreme asset regurgitation. Gamers should be up in arms, not loosening their friggin' trousers and taking it. Honestly. Jerking off to the same porno for 30 years gets pretty tedious.
But fans suck it up and get weak in the head with excitement. Want to play with all of gaming's oldest characters? Get Super Smash Bros Brawl. Want all the stages to be comfortably familiar? Get Super Smash Bros Brawl. Want to hear tunes that you'll recognize from when you were a little child? Get Super Smash Bros Brawl.

The characters! The music! The legacy! The heritage! THE ULTIMATE FAN SERVICE! Face it, suckers. It's not fan service. It's taking the piss.

MMORPG = Mostly Men Online Role-Playing as Girls. With over 11 million players worldwide, World of Warcraft can boast a virtual population that rivals the city of Los Angeles, California. With such a large pool of players, you can count on meeting your fair share of soon-to-be-divorced husbands masquerading as sultry Blood Elves as they swan and swoon over flirtatious 16-year-old boys plying their cybersex skills for some spare gold.

If you manage to find a group of like-minded friends and form a guild, you can look forward to tiring marathons and repeated deaths as you attempt to conquer the game's hardest dungeons in raid parties. Frustration from failures in these epic trips will eventually turn you and your friends against each other before your guild dissolves and joins the ranks of other burnt out crusaders.

But for me, World of Warcraft’s biggest crime is that it perverts the simple joys of questing, leveling-up, and exploring into an obsession. Before long, it becomes less of a game and more like a never-ending checklist of chores that grows each day. Eventually, you’ll skip past quest descriptors just so you can get your reward a few seconds earlier. You’ll find yourself grinding in fields of monsters long after you’ve reached the level cap just for the chance that you’ll find a rare material.

In the end, you’re no longer enjoying the moment. Instead, you’re forever chasing an ephemeral carrot-on-a-stick. You want that new piece of loot. But as soon as you get it, it’s no longer good enough and you’ll be obsessed with finding something even better. 

Call of Duty 4’s single-player is an utter myth. The supposedly devastating emotional pull of the narrative, the brilliant set pieces, even good ol’ Cap’n Price; it doesn’t mean a jot to me. The story is a generic Tom Clancy rip-off and the core characters never resonate.

Sergeant Paul Jackson’s death had as much emotional impact as a Tom & Jerry episode. He’s a voiceless, personality vacuum with no discernable personal motivation. So he carks it in a moment of existential brilliance that leaves the player feeling utterly helpless, mimicking the futility of war. Blah, blah, blah. If that scene really had you blubbing, tear up your man card right now.

Above: No more man card for you, Dawson 

Want to see a scene that really sums up the disquieting power of war? Pick up a copy of the original Call of Duty. The Russian charge on Red Square easily trumps anything done in Modern Warfare.

And screw Price. An iteration of him has been in every Call of Duty game Infinity Ward have ever made. Why would I cry when he bites it when I know the next Cap’n clone is just around the corner?

Technically, the game’s also infuriating. How the hell can you fight 100 guys spawning from an unseen location, kill them and then be left with four corpses when the dust has settled? "Gaylo" might have its faults, but at least everything makes logistical sense in the Chief’s game. Every single alien you murder stays on the battlefield. I. F***ng. Hate. Disappearing. Bodies.

Above: 100 dead men equal four dead bodies, apparently 

And the multi-layered, ever evolving multiplayer, with its peerless sense of reward and ingenious perk system, can take a running jump. If the core game can’t grip me, why the hell would getting shot by shouty 15 year olds - calling me "teh Suxorz!" - change my mind?


  • poderx - April 11, 2013 7:45 p.m.

    Everyone was giving very good arguments...until SSBB... Clearly this way doesn´t udnerstand the point... oh well,,, at least he got paid to say that
  • meeeeep - March 22, 2013 6:32 a.m.

    About the whole Sims thing, I actually kinda like Sims 3, but there IS a major problem: the $400 worth of DLC. And, on top of all that, there are a bunch of furniture items and maps that require some "pay real money to get special in game cash" to UNLOCK. Not buy, UNLOCK. Seriously, EA, WTF?!?!?!
  • PS3WolfUK - April 30, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    About time WOW is slated big time on a site!! Its sad, pathetic and a waste of space! Can't beleive people still pay to play it! I knew a work colleague who spent News Year Eve going to over 6 "WOW" Parites! Hmm one word! "SAD!!!!!!!"
  • Makaveli666 - April 30, 2011 11:34 a.m.

    Great article though I'm surprised one of the Uncharted games didn't make it on the list. I have found those games to be the most bland, boring games I have ever played. I thought the characters were very poor and annoying. I cannot understand why it is so beloved. It's a poor man's Tomb Raider.
  • Lycanthrokeith - June 30, 2010 7:14 a.m.

    Rock Band/Guitar Hero: Wow, how badly did the point get missed there. I'm guessing you don't like karaoke either. RB and GH are just another way to live out a fantasy. They are to being a rock star what Ace Combat is to flying a real fighter jet, or Madden is to playing pro football, or countless games are to being the hero and saving the day and having cool powers to do it with. I have tried learning guitar. I don't have the patience for it. I also don't have the money to spend on equipment and such. RB and GH are simple, fun ways for me to do what a video game's ultimate purpose is: Let you live out the fantasy life you don't have otherwise. And granted, Rock Band 3 has instruments that are bridging the gap; fine for those of us who want that. I'm happy with just eating my cake; I don't care to learn how to bake the damn thing. World Of Warcraft: You forgot the biggest point of contention: There is absolutely no reason WHAT SO EVER to be forced to pay to play a game you've already bought. Especially coming as it did from a developer like Blizzard, who ran incredibly good servers for years absolutely free. I want to blame Activision for this (oh, how we've forgotten our roots), but Blizzard did this years prior to the merger. You want to have charges? Either make the game free, and then charge a fee for the play, or charge for the game and give the play for free, while funding the server costs through optional bonus items and such. Doing both is inexcusable, and anyone who enables them to keep going by funding their social stupidity experiment deserves the ridicule they get. All they're doing is making things worse for the rest of us, both in mainstream perception of the community and in passed-down costs to the players. The Sims: As a horror/fantasy fan, I did get some enjoyment out of two Sims expansion packs: Nightlife and Pets, since I could make communities of vampires and werewolves. Amazingly, even that became boring. It's worth noting that a large part of the Sims' success has been from the mainstream, people who usually don't play games anyway. So, like pretty much all things mainstream, it's inherently wrong, and their opinion on this is really irrelevant. GTA San Andreas: And yet, the biggest problem with this game was overlooked: Hot Coffee. A stupid, juvenile, waste of disk space minigame that set the public and legal perception of the industry and of gamers back to near-criminal standards. I shudder to think of how close the games industry came to government regulation as a result; the ESRB, the games industry's self-policing body, is the only thing standing in it's way, people, and Rockstar/Take Two made them look like corrupt inept idiots who willingly let pseudo-pornography through. Coupled with most non-gamers perception that all video games are still like Pac-Man, and therefore all games are clean and pure and kid-friendly, it was a recipe for atomic-level disaster. I work for a major game retailer. The fine for selling ONE M-rated game to someone under 17 (or even someone who looks young but doesn't have ID) is $5000 to the EMPLOYEE, instant termination, and a ban from ever working for any retailer who sells M-rated games, R-rated movies, or Parental Advisory CD's. In New York State, they add a charge of Contributing To the Delinquency Of a Minor, which is a mandatory 6-month prison sentence. FOR ONE OFFENSE. Literally, it is the most hated part of my job; it frightens the hell out of me. (Point of comparison: The fine for the same offense at most liquor stores and tobacco shops is $1000 to as little as $250. I wonder what selling an actual firearm and ammo to a kid would get you fined? Just goes to show how ludicrous people think media is as a violence catalyst. Of course, these are mainstream, out-of-industry and community beliefs; the folks who impose these rules don't play video games or listen to rap, but they do drink, smoke, and have NRA memberships.) Personally, I didn't buy or even play a Rockstar game for years after that whole debacle, considering that when they were caught, they BLAMED GAMERS for making it (specifically, PC gamers who allegedly cracked it and retro-fitted it in somehow). As much love as I have for Red Dead Redemption, I wanted Rockstar and Take Two to go right the hell out of business for that cowardly stunt. If you're a gamer and you weren't outraged that they threw you under the bus like that, then you have no business playing games.
  • Hendetta - June 6, 2010 7:32 p.m.

    I disagree about Smash Bros. The series was created for fans of Nintendo, hence all of the references. The game wasn't made to be revolutionary and change fighting games as we know it; it was made to honor Nintendo's huge, awesome history and appease the fans with tons of characters and stages from their favorite games. Also it is hard to argue that the gameplay isn't addicting and pretty solid.
  • spencerisgod1990 - May 15, 2010 6:47 p.m.

    i agree with most of what was said, but i think sports games have to be up there. all EA games are reskins of the previous entry, followed by a deteriating gameplay that gets more dull the following game (and day). today i played 2010 FWC and thought "wtf, there is nothing changed apart from players look partly better than Fifa 10". i also played NBA live 2010 yesterday, what aload of crap, just exacly the same as NBA live 2001 (last one i played since" also p.s i noticed that with san andreas the moment i put it
  • yonderTheGreat - March 23, 2010 9:16 a.m.

    Best review of Halo 3 that has ever existed.
  • Zeb364 - March 23, 2010 12:19 a.m.

    Final Fantasy, San Andreas and The Sims Sucked Ass. GTA IV gets pretty tedious after awhile and the constant cell phone calls/relationship upkeep is just fucking annoying. And COD4 lost all concept of fun in the later campaign levels and online due to frustratingly easy it is to die and how ridiculously broken the matchmaking system was. And I agree what was said about Halo 3, it is a dumbed down, kiddie "my first FPS" style game where the most intense strategy is when to throw a grenade but it serves a wonderful purpose of being a more relaxing, less intense online shooter experience then say, Gears of War 2 or Modern Warfare 2.
  • BertTheTurtle - March 22, 2010 10:30 p.m.

    I agree with the Halo thing (but custom games are still fun) but Silent Hill II is awesome. I have also discovered that I can start arguements by uttering the statement, "Bad Company beats MW2." This amuses me.
  • Green_Shade - March 22, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    The Sims : Vietnam FTW
  • RanTheAwesome - February 19, 2010 1:48 p.m.

    A lot of the hate for these games are pretty weak, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Seriously, that's like telling someone not to play Call of Duty and become a soldier IRL, same thing with other simulation games. And Paul Ryan, once again you do something utterly stupid. Though I can agree that some of GTA IV's realism took away from most of the fun in previous games, but I still loved it and thought it was fun, however, you forgot one thing; You spelled Niko's name wrong. God forbid an Eastern European or Serbian came across this article, they would tear you a new one for being ignorant as Hell. Next time, research, get your facts straight, and actually PLAY the game, otherwise you'll sound like the IRateGamer, except much worse.
  • NINJA90 - November 30, 2009 2:30 a.m.

    And brawl... again its sheer scale is what makes it enormous... It obviously DOES get VERY repetitive tho.
  • NINJA90 - November 30, 2009 2:26 a.m.

    What I say about Halo... CAMPAIGN SUCKS ALL ASS EVER! However, the sher customizability of the custom games is what I like. I don't know anyone who EVER plays the campaign, when we play, we play inspired game types like cops and robbers, tuskan raiders... That is why Halo 3, and none of the other halo games, are good. (Firefight was pretty good tho).
  • legendofzeldarocker - November 26, 2009 4:43 a.m.

    Matt Cundy and Shane Patterson deserve a punch to the balls, but they will probably die from a coma because they jacked off to way to much CP.
  • sveini22 - November 23, 2009 2:23 p.m.

    halo 3, cod 4 and brawl are good games
  • RoxasXXion - November 20, 2009 7:42 p.m.

    I actually liked Ico but i can understand why some peeps would hate it. Agree with pretty much all of the rest but ive never actually played halo before
  • jackthemenace - November 19, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    I lvoed the fact that i'm NOT the only one that's thinks halo 3 is too run-and-gui and is completely crap, but matt cundy can never be forgiven for disowning SSBB!! and @danomeon- please take back that part about GoW, because, y far, it beats hao, both in story and in gampeplay
  • SilverWerewolf - October 31, 2009 8:21 p.m.

    I loved this article. Braid, Halo, WOW, Final Fantasy, Super Mario World, and GTA IV are among the games I can't stand, although GTA IV did grow on me a tad when I TRIED to move past the realism aspect. Plus, I agree with Tyler that WOW is barely more than a level grinder, as is Everquest II and other MMOs that I have tried. (In my opinion, Guild Wars escapes this classification since you can freely respec your skills and hire henchmen to help you.)
  • Hawkeye719 - May 21, 2009 6:35 p.m.

    dave houghton? i wonder whos idea it was to hire you? u cant say halos crap n blabber on, when it obviously isnt, ur head is so far up ur own backside the lump in ur throat is ur nose. if halo is a crap game why oh why did it sell so many copies and why is it enjoyed by every gamer ive ever come into contact with? ill tell you, people love the game, so what that the main part of it is gunning things down, thats the main goal in COD4 too, n how can u compare gears of war to halo? GOW is a tactical based shooter, halo is a fps, there two completely different types of games with one thing in common, oh yes its true they both revolve around gunning things down, every time i play online on halo 3 its always a laugh, the map editor has allowed alot of skilled gamers show what they can do and some of the editations are amazing, ur argument is like water running through a siv, full of holes

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