Beloved games we hate

Yes, I like an eclectic game. Sure, I appreciate a beautiful atmosphere as much as the next guy. And no, I wouldn’t like my head tested. I just don’t like the holier-than-thou Ico on PS2.

Of course, part of the reason I don’t love Ico is fans insisting that I’m wrong, or don’t get it. Quiet down, children, I do get it. I just don’t like it and don’t want to join your cult. I’m not going to pretend I’ve played it for more than a few hours, either. I haven’t. I have, however, seen enough to know that it’s a lot like dragging a surly child through a particulalrly treacherous shopping centre.

Although I can appreciate the unique experience Ico provides, my idea of immersion happens to stretch further than solving puzzles and beating smoke with a stick. And while, at times, I can be an emotional robot, I definitely have enough RAM to compute a lovely storyline when I see one. Dragon Quest VIII’s plot, for example, almost made me cry like a baby. The horned-boy and his ghostly companion’s plight, meanwhile, is lost on me.

Want more fuel for your hatred toward me? I don’t think Shadow of the Colossus is all that either. There - I said it.

Boring. Full-of-itself. Distilled snobbery. Tedious, frustrating and filled with laughably emo prose.

That’s how I feel about Braid, a game I excitedly bought and downloaded the very first day of release. I have made three separate attempts over the last seven months to give the game a fair shake, but its pretention and obliquely maddening puzzles turned me off every time. I realized I was forcing myself to like something just because everyone else loved it.

That’s the biggest problem with Braid: you're not allowed to hate it. I think many gamers and journalists honestly love this game, but I also believe that many jumped on a "games as art" bandwagon. Add to that all the press Braid’s creator, Jonathan Blow, got as the poor little auteur making it all by himself and, suddenly, you look like a cruel monster for criticizing it.

Above: So much meaning...

Braid may have fooled the world into liking it, but the avalanche of praise stops here. Not because I'm not getting the dense meanings of it - oh, the guy lost a girl, but in reality he is chasing this girl in reverse, accidentally making himself the hero and the villain of his own game! And oh, isn’t the stage layout just so chic with the Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. references!

Blargh. I may be glad that this game exists more than, say, a new Army Men title, but it needs to get over itself big time.

GTA: San Andreas hit gamers like a rush of crack to the brainstem. It was universally loved for being the biggest, most open-endedest game world ever created. Its narcotic potency somehow managed to veil millions of delirious fans from the fact that the game looked like crap, had awful controls, and was so full of pointless side-missions that it was choking on its own grandeur. One thing is clear: there is no end to Wonder Bread suburbanites who want to experience urban America at a safely mediated distance.

People loved San Andreas because it introduced scads of new gameplay ideas, like forcing you to take your character to the gym to buff up. Herein lies a major irritant: why waste time improving the "strength" of some clunky virtual being, when you could be at the gym learning to kick two-by-fours in half? Games should transport the player to another place, not serve as a nagging reminder of the neglected real world. It creates a cycle of self-loathing and recrimination in people who are interested in life beyond the couch. Better go work off those jumbo dogs, Dogg. Now that's realism.

Above: San Andreas can be summed up in one word: "excess"

So let's all take a moment to thank GTA: San Andreas for putting the Mature in immature, giving every maladjusted teen shooter a ready-made excuse for their actions and for reinforcing (or reinventing) negative stereotypes in the mainstream press. We'll fight to the end to defend your right to fantasize about running over hookers in purloined vehicles; we just wonder why anyone thinks that's fun.

Why is Gran Turismo praised for being the most boring racing game on the planet? This mega-delayed, stuffy PS2 driving sim is so concerned with realism, it forgets to be enjoyable.

Having a zillion cars is nice, but who needs the low-end jalopies? We play games to get away from reality, not to be reminded of it. Sure, it's technologically impressive that the piece o' crap Corolla you're stuck with in the game handles just like the piece o' crap Corolla in your driveway, but it's not pleasurable.

Above: So realistic, you can almost see the reflection of each driver yawning in nearby cars' indestructible side panels... 

Apparently, the much-touted incredible depth of simulation does not extend to actually touching anything. Your car may drive like it would in the real world, but your personal force field breaks the racing entirely, enabling you to consistently ricochet off other cars on tight corners instead of slowing down. The game finally makes a concession to gameplay over simulation, and it undermines the entire rest of the game. Whoops.

And for what reason? That whole "you can't damage licensed cars" excuse is bullcrap, as games such as GT-killer Forza Motorsport have proven. Sure, many other racing games don't show damage, but they're arcade racers, not simulations. Which apparently means they have a better sense of speed, more gameplay options and online modes, while GT4 has... photo mode? That's a fair trade.

Now, let’s talk about the PSP version, Gran Turismo 4 Mobile … aaaaand … we’re done.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “Sure, you can slag on the old games, but you’re living in the past! This is the PS3 era! Gran Turismo 5 is going to fix everything!” And judging from the demo, you may be right – but that’s assuming the full game ever actually comes out. While franchises like Burnout, Midnight Club, Dirt, Race Pro, Pure - I could go on, but you get the point - are busy cramming ever-fresher and exciting forms of fun into the on-track racing, the Gran Turismo 5 dev team is busy delaying the release date (we’re hearing 2010 now), and adding in-game MySpace pages and the ability to watch TV.

Above: Gran Turismo 5: coming in 2007 2008 2009 Screw it, we don’t know - hey, wanna watch Top Gear? 

Meanwhile, we have yet to see the destructible vehicles we were promised, so you can still bounce off other cars. How is that realism? Yes, the cars in Gran Turismo 5 are pretty (the backgrounds? Not so much). But at this point, it’s so far overdue they should just cancel the PS3 verison and start retooling the game as a launch title for PlayStation 5.

Mar 25, 2009

The Top 7... games you either love or hate
If you're in the middle, you're in the crossfire


Revealed: the games your girlfriend HATES
Eight frustrated partners vent about the games slowly driving them insane

The greatest game on every platform
We crown the kings of 40 consoles, from Atari, NES and Genesis all the way through to 360, PS3 and Wii


  • Awesomeitude1523 - March 25, 2009 7:21 p.m.

    Thank you God! I now realize that I am not the only person who hates Final Fantasy, Halo, and World of Warcraft. Great article, and I totally agree with the Halo "hype" diagram. Oh yeah, as is custom, FIRST. ......Sorry. I had to.
  • Morning Ninja - March 25, 2009 7:25 p.m.

    Yes, Rock Band and Guitar Hero is over-rated, and apperently I'm not the only one that thinks so!
  • deathrebellion - March 25, 2009 8:24 p.m.

    Top Gear anyday lolz gr6 work guys
  • schmeidenkamp - March 25, 2009 8:38 p.m.

    i love gran turismo, but I completely agree with pretty much everything that was said about it. lol "coming 2007, 2008, 2009. screw it, wanna watch top gear?" LOL Completely agree with GTA: San Andreas. I live in southern california and I'm surrounded by this 'faux gangster' bullshit. reenacting it in that game wasnt fun to me. micro managing your health and 'hood' was annoying as shit. I respectfully disagree with Silent Hill 2 though. That game was so fun and scary. Its all about immersion. re captcha: 28 playthings
  • heartskuppy - March 25, 2009 8:40 p.m.

  • KillDrone - March 25, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    Personally I think Matthew Keast needs to stfu. I play Rock Band all the time and utterly love it. It's why I got into drumming, because I wanted to do that for REAL. Just because some jackass thinks he's cool because he can 5-star "Through the Fire and the Flames" doesn't mean that we all act or feel that way. Yes real musical instruments take a hell of a lot of talent and patience to learn, but Guitar Hero and Rock Band also have a learning curve. Musicians who complain about Rock Band and Guitar Hero making their profession/hobby look like a child's sport are MORONS. These games should be embraced for what they are really doing, and that is enlightening today's youth with the classic genres that were left behind in the Hip-Hop/Rap uprising.
  • Bazookatier - March 25, 2009 9:18 p.m.

    This was pretty cool, but some of the arguments are pretty weak. For example, the attempted thrashing of COD4 was pretty bad. Let me sum up 6 paragraphs: 1. I am angered by 15-year-olds talking smack. 2. I hate dead bodies that disappear. I think that's almost every game dude.
  • Danomeon - March 25, 2009 9:19 p.m.

    Games that I love on my list, and my reason for loving them... Halo 3- yeah, the single player does suck. But online, the game turns into a bit of a party game, the kind when a large group of people are all drunkenly laughing as their ghost crashes into someone, crumpling them to the floor. By myself, the game is a complete mess. But add friends into the mixture, and the game becomes an explosion of joy. Call of Duty 4: I loved seeing all of the cinematic moments, not for the plot, but just for the sheer eye candy of being able to open up a can of pop and watch as explosions fly around me. The multiplayer's online matchmaking system also gave me an incentive to keep playing, and made each kill feel like a joyous, progressive step forward in the rank. World of warcraft- Yes, it is a little too obsessive, but when I reach the top tiers, the joy of teaming up with 25 friends to take down some completely massive and awesome badass while utilizing my character's special abilites makes for a great joy on the weekends, and like call of duty 4, that incentive to continue getting better gear breathes longevity into the game. Braid- What? You thought it was difficult? My 11 year old sister completed the game without any assistance! Anyways, I guess since this is the week of hate I will pitch in my two cents about a popular game I despise... Gears of war (Both.) The controls feel very narrow and sluggish, and I hate the feel of the weapons. Besides the brutal chainsaw kills, none of the weapons feel like they are making a connection with the enemies, and my kills never get that entertaining zing like in halo or call of duty that makes you think, "I OBLITERATED THAT GUY!" I also hate the look of the characters. I can't relate to massively beefy men, as not only are they unrealistic, but they also take up most of the dang screen while I'm playing! And don't get me started about the level design. How do you people find constantly black, dark levels fun? Take gears 2 for example. Level one? A destroyed city. That was in the first gears, so what else can you cough up? An underground cavern. Great, what else? A dark labratory. O...k? Anything more??? What? More underground caverns? What now? AN UNDERGROUND CASTLE? And then, what else? ANOTHER DESTROYED CITY?!?!??! All of the environments seem dark and lifeless, and they just drag on forever and ever. I also hate the fact that truskill matchmaking can't get me into a single multiplayer match. Really. I've even left the console on for an hour while it was searching, just to see if it would drum up some results, and it never did. Go figure. Fallout 3- I dont' care how large your game is, if you can't populate its "massive" world with anything interesting, don't bother making it in the first place. Really, the game has the equivilent of two environments. Dark, deserted buildings with trash everywhere, and a massive, boring wasteland with trash everywhere. I'm constantly getting deja vu from the subway trains, and I think that there aren't enough weapons. throw in terribly abrupt and boring ending, and a giant bucketload of glitches, and you've got yourself a game I hate! Oblivion- Basically, take my explanation of fallout 3, and change the 2 environments from "Dark buildings with trash everywhere and a large wasteland with trash everywhere" to "Dark maze-like caves and boring wilderness that all looks the same."
  • flare149 - March 25, 2009 9:56 p.m.

    I think my pick for this would definitely be Half-Life. It's the most overated piece of garbage I've ever played, and it makes no since to me why people think it's "the greatest FPS ever". In my book it scores about level with Time Shift...screw that, in Time Shift you could mess with time and there was an explosive crossbow, so it scores LOWER than Time Shift.
  • skelt - March 25, 2009 10:01 p.m.

    I can understand how you could hate any of those except for ico.
  • ian edgar - March 25, 2009 10:16 p.m.

    I thought Super Mario World was a really good game. Super Mario Bros. 3, however, is the biggest classic that I hate.
  • Shadowhatchi - March 25, 2009 10:26 p.m.

    Also it's good to know I'm not the only one that hates CoD. People always harass me at school for not liking it the ask me why and I tell them the truth. Cause it is awful
  • FadedLineVigil - March 25, 2009 10:31 p.m.

    Wow, for once I agree almost completely with this 'article'. The only game on here I disagree with is Silent Hill 2. It still stands as the scariest, most disturbing, tense game ever for me. All the others- Halo, CoD, WoW, Sims, etc, I COMPLETELY agree with. Especially Halo, maybe I'm too old, but I DO NOT understand the fanfare over that game, especially considering the competition.
  • game-thugsta - March 25, 2009 10:47 p.m.

    gta: san andreas is one of my favorite games of all time... suppperr duper saddd face
  • Sabtos - March 25, 2009 10:53 p.m.

    lmao love the rock band video
  • superninja - March 25, 2009 11:01 p.m.

  • The_Zanger - March 25, 2009 11:28 p.m.

    My neighbor is so incredibly obsessed with World of Warcraft. he lives 20 steps away and considers me one of his best friends, yet he ant stop playing for five minutes to help me with Zelda or something. I kind of agree with Mario Kart Wii. Theres just something about it that didnt reel me in. But Mario Kart DS is the best, thats for sure.
  • GoldenMe - March 25, 2009 11:41 p.m.

    I only see one thing in this. All of the haters in the article are british........ Makes sense. Makes more sense if they were french. US all the way, bitches.
  • reyalejandro13 - March 26, 2009 12:25 a.m.

    I like most of these games, and see where most people are coming from when hating them I can honestly say that I am a gamer who can like just about any game for one reason or another. However, I must say to the person who hates Halo-I have been hearing the hate from all my PS2/3 loving friends, and i've staved them all off every time. this one proves a challenge. Well, for starters, let me say that i see where you're comig from, and some things do require fine tuning. let me also say that i prefer Halo 2 in some ways. But I believe that Halo 3 is one of the best shooters i've played. The story was a little lacking, true, but I still get a feeling of thrill when i take down the Scarab on legendary mode with my friends when we get bored. The multiplayer is so much more fun though. The range of weapons is a good deviation from games where it's just various types of machine guns, with rocket launcher, shotgun, and sniper variants thrown in. True, in some ways the same could be said about Halo, but The Brute Shot? the Spartan Laser? the Energy Sword? the amount of customization? very large when compared to other shooters. I mean, what other shooter lets you play around with the map? and when done right, it can be very fun. One of my favorites is called Godzilla, and it's a Standoff map with a bunch of scenery pieces put together to make a Giant Godzilla looking creature, that is flled to the brim with weapons. Also, racetrack maps are so much fun as well. game types are great in Halo 3. Most only have basic Deathmatch, CTF, and King-of-the-hill style games. But Halo, well, that has Oddball, Juggernaut, Infection, VIP, and more that just add to the fun. and when you can customize those as well? Even better! My favorite variant is Fat Kid, where one player is a Zombie, who has 4x overshield and is very slow and has high gravity, but is near invincible, and takes little to no damage from conventional weapons. his little minions have incredibly low healh, but are fast and have high gravity. when combined with a good fortress map, the game is very fun, and very intense. Vehicles are another thing I like. Sure, some games have them, but most FPS's don't. Cod 4 Doesn't. Cod 5's aren't as fun. The Ghost and Warthog are great vehicles, and the Banshee and Hornet are amazing, if a bit unbalanced. but a good missile pod should take those down, balancing it again. and last but not least, if you have a good connection, you can always find a game that's on or close to being full. There are always a lot of people on, and if you can't fill up, then you can get pretty close. anyway, that's my argument.
  • super-saint - March 26, 2009 12:33 a.m.

    Phh, everyone knows that every bad guy in CoD4 is infected with a mutigen that instantailosly dsinagrates their body so you cant prove how meany kills you actualy got, thereby nerfing your pay... ohh and chris they are makeing "the sims: veitnam" its roumored to have compleatly broken gameplay forceing you to go through deep menus to find the option to shoot people! it evan comes with cute camo fatuigs!!!

Showing 1-20 of 145 comments

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