Have you ever found yourself in a position where your opinion on a game has changed, for better or for worse?  Surely we aren’t so infallible that we’re correct 100% of the time!  So spill it – when were you initially wrong about a game?

Friday, 2:43 pm – Ricky

Interesting topic this week! I can’t say I have a lot of opportunities to change my opinion – most of the time, when I finish a game, I just move on to the next.

The best example I can think of is The Last of Us. Yes, I really disliked the combat. Yes, the game was beautiful and the story was interesting, but for the first 3/4 of the game, it was a pain in my ass to actually play. That all changed after a long hiatus and an introduction to the Winter stage of the game. My entire opinion flipped because of the setting, environment, story, characters (and maybe partially, just forgetting about the thing I hated in the first place). I honestly can’t wait to experience the game again on PS4.

Big football weekend coming up – looking forward to squeezing in some local multiplayer on Nidhogg or even some more co-op Insurgency. GET HYPE.

And I still love Nintendo – just waiting for another price drop to come along, then I may finally hop on board the good ship Wii U.

Thursday, 9:58 am – Gavin

Hm, things are noticeably quiet around here this week!

Anyway, not a particularly big surprise, but still disappointing nonetheless, but Nintendo has only managed to sell 9.2m Wii U consoles since launch in 2012.  There are still many more first-party games to come, but how long can the system survive on first-party alone?  The Wii did tremendously well on first-party, but still had sufficient third-party support to justify its ongoing existence – that is, discounting the first-party sales, the third-party sales, while not sufficient to sustain the system, were sufficiently complementary.  This unfortunately doesn’t exist on the Wii U – heavy hitters such as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed didn’t fare well, with AC IV barely shifting over 100,000 units.  Splinter Cell: Blacklist, one of my favourite games of 2013, barely cracked 10,000.  It’s abysmal.

There will be a million analysts studying this for Nintendo’s next home console, all of whom will be more knowledgeable than me, but in my opinion, Nintendo needs to do two things to succeed next generation:

  1. Understand how western marketing works.  The Wii sold itself with its low price and motion controls, but you can’t bank on that.  Western Europe and the Americas account for the overwhelming majority of home console sales, so understand how to market to them.  Bombastic, high-production-quality ads that spend equal amounts of time on the games you can play as on the system.
  2. Consistent architecture.  The PowerPC architecture that they use right now is different from the x86 that Sony and Microsoft use.  Porting between the PS4 and Xbox One is just a matter of scaling (yes, I know I’m minimizing it, but it is relatively straightforward).  Porting from x86 to PowerPC is, comparatively speaking, a nightmare.  And considering that the console that uses PowerPC represents a fraction of the user-base of those that use x86 (9.2m vs approximately 28m), it’s no surprise that nobody wants to.  It’s not a function of power – the less-powerful 3DS has vastly outsold the significantly more-powerful Vita.  Often, it’s just part of that never-ending cycle – Vita games cost a ton to develop, but the Vita doesn’t sell well, so developers won’t waste their time, but nobody buys the Vita because there are no games for it.  I’ll be interested to see if more western-friendly developers produce games for the 3DS now that it has a more consistent control-scheme (dual-analogue with consistent mechanical inputs and effectively infinite soft input options).

As a games enthusiast, I must constantly remind myself that sales figures are irrelevant to me if I’m not getting anything out of them.  All that matters to me is the number of games released, and the Wii U has tons of games that I continue to enjoy on a regular basis.  If the company as a whole starts to seriously suffer, then I’ll be concerned, but this short-term nonsense is short-sighted and doesn’t benefit me at all.  Besides, 2015 has Zelda U and Yoshi’s Woolly World.  GET HYPE.

Monday, 2:28 pm – Gavin

Easy call for me – I’ve been wrong about games many a time in my life.  Below are some prime examples:

Revised my opinion to be better:

  • Splinter Cell: Conviction.  I stand by my opinion that this is decidedly NOT a Splinter Cell game, and I strongly disliked it when I first played it.  But upon reconsideration, it was mechanically sound, had a decent challenge, had the best plot and voice acting of the entire series, and had a very appealing aesthetic.  It lacks the trappings on a conventional SC title, most notably nonlethal options for addressing threats, which turns it into a game about assassination, rather than stealth.  But, if you can come to terms with that, what you end up with is a game that feels very spiritually similar to the Bourne trilogy.
  • Left 4 Dead 2.  The first L4D title was a wonderful game for me.  I’m not going to say “revolutionary”, but very engrossing nonetheless, as it was the first of that type of co-op FPS game that I’d enjoyed.  It helped that the humour was more restrained and that it retained more of the horror elements – the game played (and was deliberately designed) as though the characters were in a horror movie.  However, once you got to L4D2, it felt a) like more of the same, and b) they forced too much humour into the dialogue that it detracted from the environment.  I admit that I thought the second game was nowhere near as good, even with the added enemies – it just felt like a reskin.  I will say that it’s grown on me over time, and I’ve come to appreciate it, if for no other reason than realizing that melee weapons completely change how much fun you can have in that game.

Revised my opinion to be worse:

  • Half-Life.  Now, before you get out your pitchforks, know that I still love HL.  It was a revolutionary title with a phenomenal ambiance and a terrific artistic direction that few games since then have been able to match.  However, upon replaying Half-Life 2 recently, Half-Life 1 has me thinking that a) graphically, it did not age well, b) the pacing of Xen disrupted the otherwise outstanding flow of the game, and c) I have a natural disinclination towards games where the player is captured or something else happens to the player, and you end up losing your weapons.  It’s such a lazy trope, and I know that it wasn’t commonplace before HL1, and that the level that followed was still highly enjoyable, but I do not have time in my life for games that utilize that mechanic (the original Deux Ex permanently exempted).  I railed against Max Payne 3 for doing this as well.  Heck, MP1 did this as well, but at least you got a new weapon when it happened, and you were so fully loaded with ammo like two minutes later that it didn’t matter.

I’m generally pretty steadfast in my opinions otherwise.  Upon reflection, there aren’t many games that have aged poorly in such a way that I don’t like them as much as I once did.  I know that it’s not fair to punish Half-Life for its graphics, all things considered, and it’s doubly important to remember that Half-Life is still a phenomenal, playable title that controls well and has a great ambiance.  It’s more that over the years, I’ve become more aware of its flaws and shortcomings, and they’re slightly harder to overlook, especially in the shadow of Half-Life 2.

A quiet weekend on the gaming front here – some Insurgency with the dudes yesterday (we actually weren’t horrible!) and then more progress through Bioshock.  I hope that BS is one of those titles I’ll be able to my “improved for the better” list in the future.  I’m enjoying it, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed Infinite, or as much as others said I would.  Nice setting, but I’m just not enthralled.  I don’t think that’s Bioshock’s fault – I think it’s more that a lot of the narrative devices and artistic decisions that Bioshock employed in 2007 and that people experienced for the first time in 2007 are ones that I experienced for the first time in 2014 with Bioshock Infinite.  I’m sure there will be a big reveal at the end – in fact, I’m hoping so, because right now, Bioshock is settling in firmly as “quite above-average” rather than “amazing”, and I feel like I’m missing something.

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