Beloved games we hate

Though we’re a minority, I’m sure there are other sane gamers who don’t like Grand Theft Auto IV (PhD candidates, scientists, immigrants, democrats, people like you and me, etc.). However, while many people find fault with the racial stereotypes, indolently violent solutions to everything, the way moving cars appear to Nico’s right every time you look left and how the game makes you commit real-life crimes, I think those are hilarious. Plus, those problems are hardly unique to GTA.

The deeper flaw in the design of Grand Theft Auto IV is how the game emphasizes realism over fun. There are realistic doors that you can’t open and realistic buildings that you can’t enter. It has realistic ways to use the E-break in your ordinary cars, as well as unremarkable guns, a modest wardrobe and down-to-earth stereotypical enemies. Would it have killed them to put in a minigun, banana hat and Godzilla attack cheat?

Above: Why don't you get to hang from the bottom of a helicopter?

Some would argue that the realism adds to the fun, but after the new-game shine on the first few heists wore off, GTA felt like a car-stealing/driving simulator with nice scenery. This is supposed to be a game, which means I’d like a bit of creativity instead of a racetrack in disguise. Yes, the city looks beautiful, but the buildings are just eye candy. There’s nothing to find by diligently searching every alley that can’t be bought from any of the cookie-cutter stores. What we’ve got with GTA IV is a very professionally polished game set in an austere city that didn’t bother with the sloppy fun stuff.

What do you get when you cross on-rails shooting with repetitive techno beats and wireframe graphics from 1982? You get spank material for hordes of pseudointellectual game journalists eager to mistake novelty for art, and art for fun.

Rez isn't a bad game, necessarily. In fact, if you like your games short, easy and pretentious, it’s friggin' awesome. An on-rails shooter about an evolving stick-man, Rez casts players as a hacker flying through a computer network, which is really just a thinly veiled excuse to substitute wire models, bright colors and cool effects for actual graphics.

It does have a unique hook, though; as players shoot stuff (done by painting multiple targets with a cursor and letting fly with a few heat-seeking missiles, or whatever their virtual equivalent is), each sound effect makes up a beat or note in the level's throbbing music, which grows increasingly more complex the further you get into the game. But "complex" doesn't automatically equal "good." The trippy techno tracks are all pretty unmemorable regardless of your input, and usually sound off-rhythm because of it. And no, the Japan-only “Trance Vibrator” (or the 360 controllers that replace it in RezHD) doesn’t make them any cooler.

Yes, yes, I know – I’m missing the point. To focus on Rez’s pedestrian gameplay is a mistake; it’s about the experience as a whole. And to be fair, Rez’s visuals are a fun experiment, and I’ll even admit they can be hypnotic in spite of their minimalism. But they don’t make Rez an enjoyable game.

Above: HD or no, it’s all the same

Original presentation aside, Rez is still an on-rails shooter about painting targets with a cursor and shooting missiles at them. That’s inescapable, and so is the fact that there’s no real story or variation to keep me invested in the action. Rez is all flash and no bang, a game that’s mildly entertaining while it lasts, and that isn't long.

To hear seemingly every other reviewer on the planet gush about its “brilliance” and “synaesthesia,” though, you'd think Rez was an unparalleled masterpiece. Instead of, you know, a music-driven version of a game we’ve already played a thousand times before.

Mario Kart rubs me the wrong way. I hated the way the SNES version controlled. I hated the way the N64 version looked like garbage with the worst draw distance I’ve ever seen in a multiplayer game. I hated the GameCube’s “switch-up” reliance on having two drivers throwing asinine weapons like last minute blue shells that disrupt the entire race.

Above: The stupidest thing I’ve ever seen

And I hate hate hate the Wii version. I hate how Nintendo stripped features to make the game more appealing to more people. That’s a clever way of saying, “dumbing down for the idiot masses.” They decreased the amount of drivers, they included terrible rubber-banding AI that makes you wonder why you’ve even started a race if skill was never involved, they packaged it with a dumb looking Fisher-Price plastic wheel and they put Mario on a goddamn, super-detailed motocross bike.

Above: Have fun looking at your quarter of a television screen

Plus, I don’t have any fun with it. I race and hear the same canned wallowing whenever someone is rammed off the track. I collect the same mushrooms and the same lightning bolt power-ups. And after five minutes, I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing.

But the DS version… I like that one.

The Sims wouldn’t bother me so much if it weren’t, literally, the best selling game of all time. Not only is its popularity the likely inspiration for the plague of casual crap on white background boxes currently polluting retailers everywhere, it’s the complete antithesis of what games are about for me.

ABOVE: The Sims - your gateway to sad

I suppose it boils down to a simple question: “Why do you play games?” Personally, I like traveling to untold worlds, filling the shoes of a powerful hero and achieving the otherwise unattainable while completing a consistent series of goals. Escapism, if you prefer. Quite simply, I want to ignore all the rules and routine of civilized existence, and momentarily leave behind the ceaseless mundanity of everyday life… and that just so happens to be the core aspect of The Sims’ gameplay.

It’s baffling that there are so many people willing to play games, yet are so boring and unimaginative that their version of “role-playing” is washing polygonal dishes with shorter hair. I’m sure plenty of you have some way of justifying the purchase of each and every new expansion just to train a terrier and/or find that perfect hat. But how can you possibly reconcile any amount of money spent on a gaming rig, if you’re only going to use it to perform monotonous chores you’d probably pay someone else to do, if only you could afford it? 

Above: Now that’s more like it!


  • 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

Showing 1-20 of 145 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000