Have you ever had difficulty enjoying a great game and had no idea why?

Let me just clarify something before this Dead Space 2-focused rant starts and GamesRadar Towers (alright, grey, semi-depressing office building) burns to ashes in the ensuing flame war. I think EA’s survival horror sequel is utterly excellent on almost every technical level I can think of. Visceral Games has created a moody, beautiful-looking environment, which shares the same sense of claustrophobic dread as the colony from Aliens. It’s an absolute masterclass in arresting sound design. And the core combat and weapons feel brilliantly judged and balanced.

Yet still, there’s something missing that I can’t identify. Some reason I can’t quite connect with the game, which I’m struggling to understand. So, my question to you, oh wise and learned reader is: have you ever been left cold by an excellent game and had no buggering clue why?


Now, I was a massive fan of the first title. Released the same year as Resident Evil 5, it felt effortlessly polished, exciting and fresh placed next to Capcom’s increasingly geriatric horror/action hybrid. From the incredibly well-realised Ishimura (that somehow miraculously managed to make every level of a banged-up spaceship feel like a distinct, memorable environment in its own right), to the constantly satisfying Strategic Dismemberment system; I had one hell of a hoot and a half throughout Isaac Clarke’s adventure. 

On the decomposing face of it, then, I should be getting on with the sequel like a house with extremely flammable shag carpets and no smoke alarms. But I’m not. And it’s bothering me like having to share a linguini with a Necromorph, Lady and the Tramp-style.

Above: The new Zero Gravity sections are easily the most improved feature from the first game

As I said earlier, on a technical level, there’s really nothing that bothers me about the sequel. Combat feels just as meaty and visceral as the first game. The new weapons and enemies (I’m looking at you Stalkers and Johnny Javelin Gun) are most agreeable to my DualShock-obsessed digits. Oh, and some of those setpieces? Lets just say I seltzered my intergalactic pantaloons during the early tram crash.

Above: This setpiece is incredible, but I'd have liked a few more on this scale in the first half of the game

So what’s the problem? Well, admittedly my gripes are all small and fairly pernickety. Though I’ve enjoyed exploring the Sprawl, no one part of it has had the same impact on me as the initial approach to the Ishimura or the starling botanical section in Isaac’s original adventure. I’ll confess that I’ve only completed ten of the game’s 15 chapters, but so far, there’s been a little too much backtracking for my liking. Compared to the original, the pacing doesn’t seem to be quite as well judged or carry as much momentum propelling things forward.

I’ve also got a final gripe, which will make me sound like a mentalist of the very highest proportions, who needs to be promptly fitted with a straightjacket and personal padded cell. I don’t like the save system. Specifically, I think there are too many checkpoints. I’ve played both of Isaac’s games on the Hard difficulty. The big difference between the two for me, in terms of harvesting and maintaining a genuinely off-putting atmosphere, comes down to the sense of peril I feel while playing.

Above: The Sprawl might give you some stunning views, but I still preferred exploring the Ishimura

In Dead Space (at least on Hard) there was a fairly punishing checkpoint system, which actively encouraged manual saving. One impromptu decapitation for our space miner and you could easily be looking at having to redo 10 minutes of progress. But the sequel, on the other severed hand, loses a degree of this tension and dread simply because the punishment for death isn’t as severe.

Yeah, I’m aware you’re only given three saves on the highest, granite-hard difficulty setting. But you have to finish the game first to unlock this. Again, I must stress I’m only around two thirds of the way through Dead Space 2. Although so far, I’ve not found it to be as edgy or distressing (eh, in a good way) as its predecessor.

Anyhoo, I realise a couple of the above arguments aren’t particularly rational. That’s the whole point. Even though I’ve moaned about them, none of these fairly insignifcant factors should be detracting from my experience with the game in any significant way. There’s just something which has left me cold in the seven or so hours I’ve spent with Visceral’s title. Perhaps it's because the sense of having a new, amazingly atmospheric, unsettling world to explore has been dulled due to Dead Space 2 sticking so closely to the formula of the original. Or maybe, it's just because I'm a moaning prick.

That’s why I want to hear from you. Help make me feel partially less of a contrary, picky bastard by telling me about any irrational ill-feeling you might have towards a game you recognise is great. 

Feb 10, 2011


  • Makaveli666 - February 22, 2011 5:27 a.m.

    Both Uncharted games just bored me to tears. I could tell they were well made and gorgeous to look at, but I hated the characters and the gameplay was not enjoyable at all to me.
  • tacehtselrahc - February 14, 2011 4:40 p.m.

    I loved Mass Effect 2, but I think the inventory was over-simplified as was the levelling up system. Also, while the combat was an improvement over the original the cover system sometimes felt broken.
  • CountZero - February 14, 2011 5:12 a.m.

    Well, I played all the way through Red Dead Redemption, but I definitely did not experience it as the paragon of video game storytelling that some people seem to regard it as. Maybe I was playing it wrong. Overall it was fun, and some of the characters WERE brilliantly written and acted, including Marston. But the overall plot was awkwardly paced, many of the missions were nonsensical, the villains were virtually non-existent until the anti-climactic missions where you kill them, and in the end it didn't really feel like I'd accomplished much of anything. Also, the first Assassin's Creed. I found it to be an awful, tedious, boring game. I tried to force myself to play it, because some people ranted about it so much. I played a couple hours and couldn't take any more.
  • crossed23 - February 14, 2011 5:06 a.m.

    Infamous. It's a great game and a must play for PS3 owners. It's just as much as I liked the game, I had a hard time finishing it. By the time I rolled the end credits I was over it.
  • extrajelly - February 14, 2011 4:39 a.m.

    Have you ever had difficulty enjoying a great game and had no idea why? I know Charlie Barratt has.
  • Yaro - February 14, 2011 3:02 a.m.

    Well I just beat DS2 and if you think the checkpoints are too forgiving, wait for the last two chapters...I played on survivalist and consider myself quite the DS veteran (platinum on DS) but the last two chapters are fucking tough. Or maybe I just temporarily sucked. =) Also you should TOTALLY play demon's souls if you haven't already.
  • darkprince4321 - February 14, 2011 1:35 a.m.

    Fallout New Vegas and Far Cry 2, New Vegas is the sequal to one of my favorite games, but it was just boring, i played it through once, tried to play through it again, and lost interest and got bored immediately, yet in fallout 3 i played through it at least 5 times, and it didnt even have multiple endings! [well it kinda did], and far cry 2, awesome, but i hated that half of the game is walking, walking, and more walking.
  • fartinapot - February 13, 2011 11:22 p.m.

    i have'nt gotten into epic mickey yet. i know it got a 9, but it feels like after the opening scene, you jump in to some random gameplay with little motivation. in otherwords, i think epic mickey is not "epic" enough for me.
  • SeaSalt - February 13, 2011 6:35 p.m.

    Darksiders, for me. I love Zelda, and I had a blast plowing through God of War. So why the crap couldn't I get into the unholy lovechild of them?! It's not like I felt jaded by it (I'm looking at you, Dragon Age), but I just could not, for the life of me, keep myself in the game. Maybe I'm getting picky with my titles in my old age...
  • koubo - February 13, 2011 9 a.m.

    Bioshock and Gears of War. I have played them for about an hour each, and haven't had any desire to touch them since.
  • bedelicious - February 13, 2011 12:27 a.m.

    This has happened to me with a lot of games. Dead Space is a case in point, it happened with both parts. Bioshock 2. Kinda Fallout 3, but I was a little disappointed there, had different expectations. All these games should have been great, but they just didn't feel right. But (for me), I think I know why. Dead Space wasn't really scary, it was startling. And then I got used to it. Gameplay felt repetitive. Bioshock 2, unlike Bioshock, didn't have a compelling story. I've already seen Rapture. Gameplay was annoying and repetitive. Fallout 3 (unlike Fallout: NV) didn't meet expectations. Story felt flat. But gameplay was addictive, so I finished it, unlike the others. This is my opinion, of course XD I never got why these games got so much praise. They felt really repetitive and flat to me. With no good story I had no motivation to keep playing and with the repetitive gameplay it got boring fast.
  • Fiin - February 12, 2011 11:02 p.m.

    Like alot of people said.. Bioshock and Dead Space. I have them both but cant get more then an hour of playing in before I wanna go play something else. I love the games too, just cant keep my attn, where I can do a few hours of DA or ME np.
  • ragespot - February 12, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    it happend to me when the hype is too much for the game. Dead space 2 is still just killing aliens like the first one. the beginning is really cool but after its still the same as always.
  • Afrodisiac39 - February 12, 2011 5:30 a.m.

    Dead Rising 2, Resident Evil 5. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I LOVE killing zombies be it Nazi Zombies, Special Infected or just your typical zombie but neither of these games piqued my interest much. I love RE's Mercenaries mode but the story line itself was mostly 'meh' for me. Dead Rising 2 was a nifty little game but I felt like I phased through the game more focused on finding new combos than actually enjoying it. Neither game is bad by any means but I couldn't truly say I "enjoyed" either of them.
  • cronomonkey - February 12, 2011 12:49 a.m.

    I felt this way about Red Dead Redemption, despite its glorious set pieces i feel like they were to spread apart, and the rest of the game just got to repetitive for me
  • OtterPopAfterbirth - February 11, 2011 11:06 p.m.

    thought i'd add another one: minecraft. when i first heard about the concept i thought: freaking bad ass. but after i played it for a wihle, really trying to force myself to get into it..mehhhhh, what an over hyped firstie hipster piece of trash
  • Ashermeister - February 11, 2011 7:23 p.m.

    Fallout 3. It's bland visuals (I understand it's a post apocalyptic setting but still), standard gameplay and shoddy lip syncing really bugged me. Talking about bugged...the games full of them! I didn't and still don't understand how it made game of the year with most places and receive 10 out of 10 scores!
  • Nikku7 - February 11, 2011 6:27 p.m.

    For me, this game was mainly the first assassin's creed. I saw the genius behind the idea and thought that being what it was, I would like it but I didn't. I bought the game when assassin's creed 2 was about to come out. Now that I have played assassin's creed 2 and really like it, I see why I hated the first. It was outdated to me and I expected more like what ac 2 had in it. Also, I have been a hardcore Zelda fan since I was a kid but didn't care too much for phantom hourglass, so I completely understand the hate on spirit tracks.
  • End - February 11, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    For some reason I really struggled to get into oblivion, despite the fact I knew it was an amazing game, and it's exactly my kind of game. This really upset me
  • Jaces - February 11, 2011 4:38 p.m.

    Dragon Age: Origins and Elder Scrolls 4. I love ME and Fallout 3 but for some reason I couldn't get into either of those two games, makes me sad when I read about how great they were and seeing millions enjoying them knowing that no matter how hard I try I just won't feel the same about them. Plan on giving Skyrim a try hoping it'll change my mind about ES.

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