No More New Games Till I Finish The Ones I Have

– and other self-delusions.

10
JANUARY, 2019
Around this time of year we traditionally make fairly lofty promises to try to be better people. This year I want to be a better gamer also.

And what is a Better Gamer in this context? I don’t mean I want to gid gUd and effortlessly pull off the 360noScope – I’m really not the competitive multiplayer shooter guy and never have been – I want to get good at:

 

  • finishing more Important Games I’ve started
  • and starting more of The Important Games I should have played already.

Yes I own Zelda – no I’ve not played it since I got my hands on the cartridge in late 2017 – what’s it to ya?

Let’s first look at what are The Import Games and why I haven’t got these important gaming milestones under my belt already. 

First and foremost: Time.

No real human with a real life has enough time to read all the books, see all the movies, finish all the TV series’, eat at all the restaurants, visit all the must-visit museums, cities, countries and most certainly they cannot play all the video games one might reasonably consider worthwhile or important or essential. Everyone feels the need to be ticking off such endless lists, and indeed might devote a goodly chunk of time to maintaining the lists, but realistically completing these lists isn’t the point.

To Do Lists are aspirational, they should give one a sense of direction and possibility rather than a feeling of inadequacy. And to that end I will declare myself EXCITED about The Important Games I haven’t played rather than ashamed of not having done so.

Second: Fear.

There is something grand and serious about The Important Games – it’s like they require a due amount of reverent sombre gravitas to play properly and I can’t always muster that due to whatever constraints apply at the given time. Often one arrives at Game Time looking to relax and unwind and have fun rather than to sit down and learn a complex new control scheme or to have your butt mercilessly kicked into next week.

 

Third: Distractions.

I am aware that I’ve felt myself getting close to being mentally prepared to embark on something big and serious like Dark Souls only to then be distracted by something else bright and sparkly to be released or to go on sale and suddenly there’s no competition.

I will now prove my point backwards: 

“Mmm Mario you so big & original you’ve rekindled the world’s love of 3D platforming and – oh my days did you see that Destiny 2 is out tho?”

…and there goes another 200+ hours…

The obvious remedy to my three-headed sickness of no Time, too much needlessly reverent Fear and the ever-present pull of Distraction is DISCIPLINE. I just have to make time and sit down and get into it and on with it.

So this is the year I make it right – it’s time to Get Whole and make peace with the casual dalliances of my gaming past. Without meaning to sound overly maudlin, it’s time to get my gaming affairs in order.

It’s time to finish – and in many cases start – The Important Games that everyone should have played in order to be considered a serious gamer.

The Important Games: My Current Wall of Gaming Shame:

Zelda Breath of the Wild
too perfect to play?

Platform: Switch
Price: au$57
From: eBay
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 3 Mar 2017
Rated: M
Genre: Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 40-93h
MetaCritic: 97

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

As mentioned above I actually bought my Nintendo Switch to get and play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild back in 2017 and I haven’t progressed much beyond the the first Shrine. The game is universally loved and revered so why didn’t it sink its cell shaded leafy goodness into me?

The issue was the console for sure – I happily dug and chipped my way round Steamworld Dig 2 and the wonderful Golf Story at around the same time – all while Breath of the Wild stared at me longingly like an expectant puppy.

I had no history with previous Zeldas (Zeldi?) so it’s not like I was worried this might sully the good name of a beloved franchise.

I can only think that in some way the game was Too Loved, Too Good, the collective gaming internet was having too much of an amazing time exploring its infinite depth and nuance. People are still making YouTube videos about how amazing the world and mechanic design of this game is – and I still haven’t played it…

There was also an element of

“this is the most amazing open world in which you can do anything – just make sure you start out doing The Right Anything from the start or you’re a loser.”

and I didn’t want to be a loser.

I’m not saying because everyone else loved it I just wanted to be a curmudgeonly contrarian and to begin my backlash early. The fact that people held the game in such high regard daunted me about playing the game for myself – it somehow raised the stakes beyond where I felt comfortable. Daft I know but there you go – I never promised you logic.

 

Brooding? You’re Brooding.

Platform: PS4
Price: au$34.16
From: PSN
Publisher: Sony
Released:30 Jul 2014
Rated: R18+
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 15-20h
MetaCritic: 95

The Last of Us Remastered

Ok ok slow your roll – I have played almost all of The Last of Us and I have most certainly shown that famous first ten minutes to friends and significant others more times than is decent over the years. But what happened was that I had a game save approaching the hospital (which I’m preeeeety sure is preeeety near the end of the game) then upgraded my machine to a PS4pro and lost maybe 4 hours of progress du to an online save data mix up and never really had the heart to start again from the saw mill. 

Don’t get me wrong it’s an incredible game and the amazing relationship between Joel and Ellie is one of the most compelling partnerships I’ve seen in media – it was nice to see elements of that broken father, hopeful child dynamic echoed in God of War (my Game of the Year 2018…)  and visually it was way ahead of its time, even “unremastered” (pre-mastered?) it was and still is quite something to behold.

So why haven’t I gone back to get back through to the end? I think mostly the annoyance at the save loss and not wanting to go back through those levels again, and also other distractions have come and gone and come again as they do. I know the ending is where the game gets a good deal of its Important Game oomph and I’ll get there one day – I just haven’t yet.

 

Red Dead Redemption
a forgotten sequel to the prequel

Platform: PS3
Price: au$11
From: eBay
Publisher: Sony
Released: 16 Nov 2011
Rated: MA15+
Genre: Action Shooter
HowLongToBeat: 18-30h
MetaCritic: 95

Red Dead Redemption

The first Red Dead Redemption is one of the main reasons I still have my Playstation 3 – along with Spec Ops The Line, Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3  (hey I played Andromeda – take pity) and Portal 2 – although I must say it’s pretty dusty now. I had hoped to stream some SOTL and RDR1 in the build up to Red Dead Redemption 2 but of course I then ran into the HDMI splitter issue and ran out of patience.

I have probably put 10-15 hours into Red Dead Redemption – I never got to Mexico – but having played, finished and totally loved at a deep level the amazing prequel I wonder now if going back is still a viable option? I’m certainly aware that RDR1 has kind of slid down my priority list since I finished raising the beams at Beecher’s Hope outside of Blackwater, even though it should now make more chronological sense to persevere. 

If I’m brutally honest, the dualshock 3 controller now feels a bit like a tiny toy in my big manly man-paws. I know it’s possible to hard-wire a friendly familiar dualshock 4 into the console but really, playing with a wired controller just doesn’t feel like cricket in 2019.

 

Bioshock Infinite
flawed genius?

Platform: PS4
Price: au$15
From: eBay
Publisher: 2K
Released: 26 March 2013
Rated: MA15+
Genre: Shooter
HowLongToBeat: 11-16h
MetaCritic: 94

Bioshock Infinite/Bioshock Collection

Bioshock Infinite was one of the first video games I saw criticised intelligently on youtube back in 2013 – I know, I was young, games were young, Youtube was young, Matt Lees was young too – but it suddenly reminded me that games could be taken seriously, even when they had faults – probably most especially because they had faults.

I have a record of my buying a copy of Bioshock Infinite for the PS3 back in in July 2014 and while it makes little sense to fire it up on the dusty old system when its now part of the often on sale Bioshock Collection but lets face it the platform is not what has stopped me getting much further than a couple of hours into the game.

And now that the game is wrapped up in the big beefy Bioshock Collection it seems that in order to play Bioshock Infinite in order to see modern games in deeper context, I have to play the collection in full in order to appreciate Bioshock Infinite in its proper deeper context – and that’s big hulking 50+ hours I’m not sure I really have.

How much context is really appropriate or does one really need in order to appreciate today’s games?

Also this game seemed to use the same kind of “tools for mutant women” favoured by scary Jeremy Irons twin from Dead Ringers as its melee weapons.

 

Super Mario Odyssey
in all its umm glory

Platoform: Swtich
Price: au$68

From: eBay
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 27 Oct 2017
Rated: M
Genre: Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 12-26h
MetaCritic: 97

Super Mario Odyssey

My reasons for not getting further with Super Mario Odyssey introduce another component to the complexities of trying get gaming done in the modern ear- kids. Sure I selfishly started out this amazingly bright (both in terms of colour and conception) adventure on my own but then felt “oh the kids would love this” so kind of invited them in.

The kids enjoyed it in so far as they enjoy bright colours and love looking at screens but their dexterity isn’t great so they sort of lost interest but the damage had been done – Super Mario Odyssey was The Kids’ Game and progressing further than the wonderfully titled New Donk City felt like a betrayal of their tender trust.

In order to keep going I will ignore them and their shallow whimsy. Who’s list of games I want to finish is this anyway?

 

Shadow of the Colossus
skies Turner would be proud of

Platoform: PS4
Price: au$22.20

From: PSN
Publisher: Sony
Released: 7 Feb 2018
Rated: M
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 6-10h
MetaCritic: 91

Shadow of the Colossus 

The reasons Shadow of the Colossus remains unplayed are a mystery to me – its not overly long, it doesn’t have a deeply complex control scheme, it has a celebrated gift for its grand majestic sense of scale and a progression mechanic that afflicts the player with deep pangs of guilt – it’s like this game is so far up my street it should be hurting – and yet it sits in my game library on my PS4 hard drive unplayed.

But why?

It can’t just be the drab by modern standards colour scheme can it?

Again I can only really imagine a large part of my reticence may be rooted in the sombre reverence with which this game is so ofter regarded. Its a Serious Game and I’m just not often enough in a serious enough mood to get into that vibe.

 

Doom
heavy metal shooter

Platoform: PS4
Price: au$14

From: PSN
Publisher: Bethesda
Released: 13 May 2016
Rated: R18+
Genre: Shooter
HowLongToBeat: 12-16h
MetaCritic: 85

Doom

The 2016 Doom seemed to take a lot of people by surprise. It’s an unashamedly video game-ass video game that delights in its conformity to what people who don’t play video games think all video games are like.

I’ve played some but nowhere near enough. I love how the combat mechanic encourages the all-up-in-your-business very close quarters approach by basically hiding health and ammo supplies in the dismembered cavities of the punched and ripped asunder.

I appreciate that this game is so intensely confrontational but part of the reason I haven’t progressed is that Doom requires a level of aggravational player rage to connect with one’s in-game avatar that I just can’t muster with ease. Maybe one day I’ll be angry enough to play through to the end.

 

Undertale
If you don’t know do you matter?

Platoform: PS4
Price: au$22.95

From: Amazon
Publisher: 8-4
Released: 15 Aug 2017
Rated: PG
Genre: RPG
HowLongToBeat: 6-11h
MetaCritic: 92

Undertale

A game made famous for amongst other things its Pacifist Run, Undertale is a game who’s legend looms large over the gaming landscape because of what it does with one’s expectations and preconceptions of game and how it does that. Very clever.

What scares me most is that if there’s an option to do the pacifist run, it feels like that was intended to be the higher path through the game and if there’s a preferred path through a game I’d be worried the whole time that I wasn’t on it.

Don’t get me wrong I love a game that seems to be laughing at you a bit from behind it’s hand, or one that often thinks it’s cleverer than you but what worries me is getting through a game to the end and then feeling like you should have gone a different way and then not having the time or patience to subject yourself to a whole other run.

Does this mean I’m secretly just afraid to fail? Or at least to fail first time? Usually not but when getting it “wrong” or at least sub-optimally right means another 12+ hours, that can weigh heavy on a boy.

 

Dark Souls Remastered
too dark

Platoform: PS4
Price: au$31.20

From: Amazon
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Released: 25 May 2018
Rated: MA15+
Genre: RPG
HowLongToBeat: 26-42h
MetaCritic: 84

Dark Souls

There ok I’ve said it – yes we have no Dark Souls, we’ve even owned Bloodbourne pretty much since it came out in March 2015 and got nowhere with it. Everyone knows these games are hard, inscrutable, actively discouraging but the glow on the faces of those who have pushed through is a glow I want one day to share.

The internet is rife with tales of “yay though I struggled toiled until one day something clicked and the light oh the beautiful light” – it makes it sound like yoga or meditation and I can get with that. Except that in nearly 4 years I haven’t got with it.

It may sound trite but a fair chunk of my gaming availability is during daylight hours and these games are dark. I’m not generally given to hiding behind drawn curtains when it’s nice outside so dark games present their own issues, even with a nice 4k HDR TV it can be hard to make out subtle variations of black on a well lit screen.  

Am I really sayings it’s too sunny in Australia to play Dark Souls comfortably? Maybe I am. Will I have to move to somewhere less brilliant in order to finally commit myself fully to the unique masochism that is a comprehensive Dark Souls experience?

I’d like to think not.

 

OTHER HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I’m expecting this list to grow and shrink over the year and I intend to keep it updated. I didn’t initially have time to elucidate on all the games I’d like to have played or played more of but here are the cliff notes on some others:

Prey/Dishonored

I’m aware that Dishonored 2 and Prey are currently available as a bundle but I’m lumping these together not just because they’re made by the fabled Arkane Studios, but the Dishonored series and Prey are essentially all meticulously crafted single-player adventure action games with stacks of background reading, slow investigaty exploration with nearly limitless crafting and nebulous skill trees.

They possibly also all have the capacity for Pacifist Runs which is an idea that scares me as much as it impresses me as a game mechanic.

Nier Automata

I’ve played through the first 3 or 4 endings and ran out of enthusiasm for the others – I had even – look away please – turned the difficulty down to speed my later runs over the same ground.

The New Wolfenstein’s

I’ve made decent progress through The New Order and of course I own Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus but need to finish for former before I can start the latter before I can finish the latter.

Soma

I picked this up recently for “free” via PS Plus and have been eager to have a run through it for narrative reasons. I’m not overly into the horror aspect but have been heartened to hear that it now has a non-attacking monster version for the faint of heart.

XCOM 2

I have played a fair bit this – and watched other folks play more online. I know there is a multiplayer element but it seems to lend itself very well to more than one person chatting casually about the possible moves in single player. Obviously this desire to play more applies quite specifically to the War of the Chosen expansion.

Papers Please

I own this game because I own a PS Vita but I must say the restrictive screen size is problematic – perhaps it’s an age thing?

Resident Evil 7 – in VR or not

As pointed out above I’m not really a horror person but this seems to be a kind of high point for the genre – even the nasty little Kitchen sampler for PSVR made me grab for the headset and squeal embarrassingly. I’m not proud. It hasn’t put me off entirely and I’d love to yield to full experience at some point.

The Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises

Undoubtedly games that informed the way the games industry works but it’s perhaps harder to argue that they have brought much innovation beyond the battle royale modes which is really just a different set of restrictions on a similar shoot everyone else formula. I have put myself through the occasional story mode to get a sense of what the games were trying to do but the stripped down experience holds little appeal to me.

ONE LAST THING…

Apart from the smug satisfaction of having these choice medals on your tunic there are other benefits to having completed The Big Important Games of Video Game History

  • your can uninstall your trophy game and free up that sweet precious disc space
  • you can – and most likely will – become an insufferable, friendless bore at parties, assuming you are not already
  • you can – and most likely will – become an insufferable bore online
  • you can relax knowing that you’ve done good, been disciplined and pushed through, even when tempted to stop or give up or go eat food or talk to your family or do homework or go to work or get enough sleep ever or keep friendships or walk and feed your pets or see what the sun looks like o read a book or look away from screen for just a bit or smell some roses or whatever it is that people smell these days. You’ve arrived, you’re whole.

Did I miss something?

I’ll rephrase that.

Would you like to point out what I blatantly missed? Feel free to comment below :-)

 

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