There are games that are universally praised. There are games that are universally panned. Then there’s this lot – the games that either hit your G-spot or make you want to bring heavy objects down on kittens.
We all know how game reviewers work – many usually base their final score on the quality of each individual aspect rather than simply on the enjoyment they had with a title. Non-journalistic gamers, however, are ready to throw 9’s and 10’s at games that just work for them, regardless of whether it has terrible sound, graphics or whatever. “A story that mixes medieval times with space travel!? Give it a 10!” “Gameplay mechanics that result in a room full of blood with just one press of a button!? 9 and a half!”
It also works in reverse, with some people wondering whether they should ring up the psychiatric assistance hotline because their best friend enjoyed Lair. Below are five games that have a habit of splitting gamers right down the middle.
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, those lads and ladettes who brought us New Vegas, Alpha Protocol plays like a mixture of Mass Effect and Splinter Cell, with stealth or gun-blazing third-person action interspersed with dialogue trees and skill levelling. The reviews for this are all over the place, ranging from upwards of 9 all the way down to 2.
There are a ton of bugs and gameplay issues that many cannot look past. The A.I and animations in particular are quite shoddy, and the action does have a habit of growing repetitive, but amongst it all there are also some features that some people understandably fell head-over-heels for. The whole feeling of espionage is well executed and the choices you make during conversations truly have a noticeable and lasting effect on the plot, adding weight to every dialogue decision.
Everything else, though, will really highlight your tastes and preferences. The voice acting is either going to win you over or encourage you to reach for a hammer to end everything, and the characters themselves will probably test you in the same way. Since these two elements are what a lot of people care about when they play RPG’s, it’s no wonder reviews ranged so greatly.
Worth a look: if you’re a person who gets off on cause/effect gameplay. And spies. Lots and lots of spies.
Kill it with fire: if you’re all about polished, non-repetitive gameplay. And if a spy killed your family.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Infinity Ward’s fourth CoD game, and second to be based in ‘modern’ times, this title broke sales records all over and was showered with praise by nearly every reviewer out there. Having a rating of 94 on Metacritic surely means everyone’s going to get a kick out of it, right? Er, well…
The things it does right is immerse you in all-out action of an immense scale while providing you with some of the most user-friendly gameplay and controls this side of pong. Graphics, sounds and music are some of the best the industry has on offer, and the set-pieces in the campaign are varied and get the adrenaline coursing. Multiplayer is also huge, with a bundle of modes, maps and features that encourage you to come back time and time again.
But then we get to the more preference-based facets of the game, which are, funnily enough, everything that’s just been mentioned. The story is well presented but dumb. Mind-numbingly dumb. It’s also one of the shortest in living memory. The multiplayer can make you feel like a hero or it can make you question religion. In fact, the MP is such a divider, as well as such an influencer, that many gamers have blamed it for bringing about the ‘downfall’ of the FPS while others worship it for invigorating the genre.
Worth a look: if you love action-packed stories and blink-and-you’re-dead multiplayer with thousands of guns and killstreaks.
Kill it with fire: if you like intelligent stories and slower, thoughtful multiplayer with perfectly balanced guns and killstreaks.
Probably the greatest divider on this list, Deadly Premonition, created by little known Japanese developer Access Games, is an open-world horror game that has become somewhat of a ‘cult classic’. As we all know, ‘cult classic’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘What in God’s name is this?’. Destructoid gave it a 10. IGN gave it 2. You do the math.
It’s a shining example of a game being so strange it’s good. Or perhaps it’s just an example of a strange game being terribly shit – it all comes down to you. The graphics are not very good at all, the controls feel clunky, the gameplay is overly simplistic, and you’ll find yourself driving A LOT, which is horrific enough without the aforementioned control problems.
But then there’s the story and the characters, both of which are so unique and out-there that they can easily make you forget about all the game’s issues…or they can just mutilate your soul even further. The open world of the game actually feels intangibly living, with the citizens of Greenvale operating on a daily schedule akin to The Elder Scrolls. If you do find yourself loving the quirkiness of the plot and characters, then you’ll soon be drawn into the game in a manner unlike much else you’ve experienced before.
Worth a look: if you love Japanese wackiness and enjoy open-world games that feel a little more personal.
Kill it with fire: if you’re a graphics whore, if you play games solely for their action, if you hate repetitive music…this could be a long list if I continue.
The baby of David Cage and Quantic Dream, Heavy Rain is one of the most unique games going around, combining a crime-thriller with quick time events and…well, actually that’s about it.
The game builds a great sense of atmosphere, tells a gripping tale from four different perspectives, and provides you with some of the most intense actions sequences around – intense in that there’s no game over if you die; the story just keeps plugging away. Like Alpha Protocol before, this adds greater weight to all decisions and actions. The gameplay and the acting, however, will definitely split you, as you’re either going to grow tired of the QTE’s or embrace them, and you’ll either appreciate the quality of the vocal performances or sit around pondering why an American kid sounds like he’s fresh off a boat from Calais. Since the game is naught but QTE and story, these are pretty dividing factors.
The true game-breaker here, though, is when all is revealed at the end of the story. Without giving anything away, IT MAKES NO SENSE. If the realism of the story is all that’s keeping you entertained, you will probably rip the disc out of our Playstation and swear that you’ll never trust the French again. If you’ve found something else to enjoy about the game, as many gamers have, then chances are you’ll overlook it.
Worth a look: if you’re after a moody title with cinematic presentation and game changing action scenes.
Kill it with fire: if you need more than a few button presses every so often to get you going and you like endings that make sense.
Old Notch and his company Mojang have created something special here. Whether this statement applies to the game or just to the hysteria surrounding the whole thing is really up to you.
A sandbox title where you punch trees, construct palaces and dig for precious stuff, Minecraft is a ‘like it or loathe it’ experience based on what you expect a game to give you as well as what you expect a game to allow you to do. You’re thrown into an intentionally-pixelated block world which is picturesque during the day but becomes a living nightmare during the night. To survive you must make use of the tools nature gives you, building equipment and shelter out of wood, stone and more difficult to locate minerals such as iron and diamond.
There’s no story and no objectives other than ‘survive’. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t enjoy a lack of meaning or direction in their open worlds and prefers more polish in their games then you’ll quickly find yourself escaping to Windows. If you’re the sort of person that loves to get creative while still being challenged then this game will consume you. Of course, it may be a little early to be listing this as it’s still technically in beta, but let’s be honest, you still have to pay for it and 3 million people have done just that.
Worth a look: if your favourite part about The Sims was the build mode, and you like swords and mountable pigs.
Kill it with fire: if you don’t like the idea of countless hours of quarrying just so you can build a pixelated hut.