August 17, 2010 12:00 PM |
['The Magic Resolution' is a regular GameSetWatch column by UK-based writer Lewis Denby, examining all facets of the experience of playing video games. This time: how some games shine not through the elegance of their construction, but through the imperfections which give them soul...]
Back whenever it was released, I wrote a review of Gears of War 2. It was the first time, I think, that I was presented with a real critic’s paradox, and the first time I started to seriously think about how games operate and how they affect me personally.
Gears of War 2 is, undoubtedly, an enormously well constructed game. It’s pieced together with real precision, the action is as tight as anything, the production values sky high. As a traditional games reviewer, I felt compelled to award it a high mark. But as both a player and a critic of a form, I didn’t like it. I enjoyed myself, but I didn’t like it.
Blasting the Locust hordes was fun, sure. But there was something cold and distant about its unrelenting competence. It felt like a mechanical construction, something created by a sort of games development machine, purposefully built to churn out high-durability action fodder for the masses. Which, of course, it is. And there’s a place for that. But I still came away from Gears 2 disappointed, having just spent several hours in the company of a game completely devoid of character or soul.
I’ve been thinking a lot about imperfection in video games over the last few days. Specifically, since Deadly Premonition was confirmed for a European release. I’ve never played Deadly Premonition, but everything I hear about it makes me desperately eager to do so. As a game, people say, it’s broken beyond belief. But as an experience, there’s nothing else like it.
Categories: Column: The Magic Resolution