Stop chugging the Haterade
Be honest: You probably loathe at least one game genre that you've barely even played. In a pastime as diverse as gaming, there are bound to be some kinds that resonate with you more than others. But maybe you hate stealth games, because you assume that they're all sluggish and repetitive. MMOs? More like boring XP grind. Perhaps you despise sports games, thinking that they're exclusively for bros. And you couldn't be more wrong. Decrying an entire genre is silly, because there's guaranteed to be someone out there who absolutely loves it.
Which brings us to this article. Some individual members of the GamesRadar staff--who shall go unnamed, naturally--harbor an irrational dislike of certain video game genres. But for every isolated instance of illogical game genre bias, there's someone else on the team who can soundly prove them wrong, and champion the given genre for all its virtues. These are the most divisive kinds of video games money can buy--along with all the sound arguments that can debunk the haters every time. Oh, and don't worry: those haters are never the ones writing reviews.
Hate it? What's more boring than watching sports on TV? Simulating the act of playing them with bumbling AI teammates. The end result is usually the same, too: screaming at players that can't hear you about why they should've made that goal, or how they didn't block that shot. Sports games are built from the ground up to be obsolete within a year's time, when the annualized sequel touts all the new stats and modes it has to offer. But no matter how you dress it up, they're still the same game every time with slightly better graphics.
Love it? People who hate on sports games tend to fall back on the same, tired criticisms: Ooh, its the same every year, and Sports games are for casuals. Wrong, wrong, wrong--sports games are, in fact, awesome. Theyre often some of the most polished, accomplished, progressive games of any given year--they need to evolve and impress to justify repeat purchases, and that makes them high-quality time and again. Sports titles are also more inclusive than most games because theyre designed to please a wide range of players, but they never lack for depth. In fact, games like NBA 2K14 are deeper and more complex than most RPGs. Whats not to like?
Hate it? Though I respect the skill in crafting an automobile or a painstaking digital recreation of said vehicle, I feel little personality in those. To me, racing sims blandly offer up the boring reality of driving, ignoring all the possibilities for creative rules or physics that games offer. Gaming can take a person anywhere--and the last place I want to go is behind the wheel of a 2005 Honda Civic, even if it controls exactly like the one I once drove. Add time trials and a menagerie of customizable parts to the mix, and youve got the perfect sleeping aid in game form.
Love it? When impatient people play a racing sim, they want to go as fast as possible all the time, so they hold accelerate. But it's all about control. Braking for corners, balancing the car before you turn, hitting the apex of a perfectly-executed racing line, and powering through with analogue acceleration (managing wheelspin, no doubt) is just as much a test of gaming dexterity as a fighting game, except youll get KOd if you screw up even one corner. Youll never master a racing sim; there's always room to improve.
Hate it? Shooting dudes in the face can be entertaining sometimes, but am I really expected to do this over and over again in various locales, with different weapons, against different races and/or alien species? I get motion sickness, which also doesn't help, so having to play a genre that gives me headaches and makes me nauseous isn't how I want to spend my time. Also, why are there just SO MANY of them? Doesn't the extreme violence get boring after a while? And dont even get me started about on interacting with the dregs of humanity when I go online...
Love it? The dullest examples are naught but glorified shooting galleries, yeah--but are you going to shy away from beef just because McDonalds is crap? No. Play Half-Life 2; Quake 3; Bulletstorm; F.E.A.R. What youll find are not tedious corpse production-lines, but immaculate, nuanced exercises in tactical thinking, spatial awareness, crowd control, and the creative domination of environments. A good FPS is an intelligent, imaginative expression of wit and will, as much a one-man RTS as a murder simulator. As for those online griefers: thats why the universe gave us a mute button.
Hate it? Oh look. Four teenagers need to band together and discover their true destiny of saving the world. Again. The more RPGs you play, the more they all start to blend in your memory as one jumbled, fantasy-setting mess. The names may change, but the story's always the same--and that goes double for the uninspired combat. Grinding isn't typically thought of as a fun activity, yet it's all but expected from an RPG. Maybe if gamers spent less time fighting the same monsters over and over, they'd realize just how brainwashed they've become by monotonous JRPGs and derivative Western roleplayers.
Love it? The best RPGs effectively tell stories over dozens of hours of gameplay, making you far more engaged in the plot compared to your standard action campaign. Game writing is continually improving across the board, but 2014s South Park: The Stick of Truth and Child of Light show how RPGs remains a top outlet for smart dialogue and experimental plotting. And while some may call combat a grind, RPGs like Pokemon and Mario & Luigi make each battle feel fresh, thanks to deeper combat options than any other genre can offer. If you still hate RPGs after taking all that into account, maybe you just hate reading.
Hate it? Pause the game. Press down a few times through the unreadable serif font to the "Movelist" button, and you'll see why I can't get into most fighting games. Because for me to use Ivy's Howling Spirits, I need to hit Triangle, Right & Triangle, Left & Triangle, Right & Triangle, Left & Triangle. And if I mess up, you'll respond by locking me in a 100-hit combo by rubbing your face on the controller. Fighting games are the art of memorizing button patterns and punching a controller until your on-screen avatar throws attacks that don't actually physically connect into your lagging opponent.
Love it? As in all aspects of life, knowledge is power. And whether youve memorized every move in the book, or youve just grasped how to throw a fireball, its the fundamentals that will always determine the winner. Can you read your opponent? Do you know when to take a risk, and when to bide your time? This unspoken dialogue between you and your adversary happens every single round. Some experts liken it to playing chess at 60 frames a second. If thats not a beautiful form of demanding, high-level competition, nothing is.
Hate it? The thought of spending my evenings clicking on ugly-textured monsters with a bunch of assholes Id barely tolerate in real life fills me with dread. Thats basically how I see MMOs. Theyre like the deformed, money-grabbing cousins of my favourite games (looking at you, Elder Scrolls Online), filled with a near-limitless number of hateful nerds, a confusing array of items that all seem to do the same thing, and a plethora of fetch-quests. And I have to pay EVERY month for the privilege? Hey hero--I need 1000 bumwolf pelts. Get me them, and Ill give you a sword that wont be very useful in about an hour. Fuck off, mate.
Love it? Sweet summer child, you're only viewing MMOs from the surface level. Those ugly-textured monsters? They look that way because you're either playing a decade-old game, or you're playing on a decade-old PC. And if you're slaying them with a bunch of assholes, that's your fault. There are dozens of friendly guilds full of surprisingly decent people who'd be happy to have you. That's the beauty of MMOs: community and cooperation. Once you've experienced the thrill of working in a dozens-strong team to down a raid boss or win a PvP battle, you're hooked for life.
Hate it? When you first fall in love with a sandbox, it's magical. The power to create and demolish as you choose; the freedom to explore a wide-open world at your own pace. But when that novelty fades, and you realize that sandbox games are an entire genre, it all starts to feel so pointless. Why bother tackling a new challenge--provided you can come up with one to begin with--when there's no tangible reward? That cycle of build-destroy-build is a never-ending treadmill, and all you'll have to show for it are some pixelated pet projects.
Love it? Most games have some kind of purpose. Get to point A from point B without dying. Solve this puzzle. Kill this big boss. Find this piece of cheese and give it to this person. The beauty of sandbox games is that you get to make up your own rules. Do I want to roam around and maybe build a shack and plant some daisies? Sure. No one cares. No one is telling me I'm not doing a good job or that I'm obligated to solve a problem. I can build a sprawling metropolis, and then blow it up with some dynamite. It's liberating.
Hate it? In a perfect world, MOBAs are all about working with others and developing your own skills to climb the ranked ladder. But we don't live in a perfect world. In reality, playing a MOBA means getting stuck on a team with FahkinB1tches, who immediately greets you with "hey f***head, go die." Then he auto-locks into a position others called first, and feeds the enemy team while he blames you for his blatant errors. This happens every three out of four matches, eventually turning even the gentlest of humans into trash-talking douchebags. Welcome to MOBAs.
Love it? Oh, come on now. FahkinB1tches isn't such a bad guy when you think about it. He's passionate! He has the drive to win! He wants you, MOBAHaterNumeroUno, to commit, to be all in, to push bot and jung jung jung. Yeah, that may manifest in some fairly foul language and unsportsmanlike behavior, but that MOBA he's playing? It made him feel something. Feel it on a visceral level, deep down in his bones. And you feel something too. If you didn't, you'd just write him off as the child he is, wholly and utterly uninvested in his outbursts. You know you can't just walk away. This drug is too good.
Hate it? In Metal Gear Solid 5, I'm able to stand next to a statue, change my gear to look like marble, and guess what? The enemies won't know it's Snake. Even though it's BLATANTLY a guy with a gun standing next to a bunch of nude statues. Stealth game AI is never as good as it should be, fundamentally breaking the entire genre. Guards are too dumb or too smart, and when the whole point of stealth gameplay is sneaking past AI, it ruins the experience.
Love it? Plan, then execute. Thats what every game is, essentially--but stealth games boil this process down to its raw, empowering essence. Of course, no plan ever goes off without a hitch. Thats where intelligent improvisation comes in, forcing you to devise solutions to problems you never even considered. When your plan fails, you learn and retry; when it succeeds, you feel like a genius. Snapping a terrorists neck, sniping his attack dog, then defusing a nearby bomb in quick succession delivers the same satisfaction as lining up a pristine set of blocks in Tetris. Sneaking stealthily through the shadows is simply the means to executing your plan.
Learning to love again
Any genres we might've missed (perhaps farm simulators et al.)? Think someone on the GR staff is certifiably crazy for loving / hating any of these genres? Share your insight in the comments below.
And if you're looking for more, check out the Top 7... Game characters we (seriously) fell in love with and 25 things we hate about our favorite games.