Readers discuss the games they feel don’t deserve their good reputation, including classics such as Halo and Bloodborne.
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gadfly and didn’t necessarily have to be about games that are considered classics, but just titles you think are undeserving of their critical acclaim.
There were plenty of sacred cows being sacrificed, although in many cases people were happy to admit the game was good – it just wasn’t for them.
A discouraging word
Undoubtedly the most overrated game of all time in my mind is Red Dead Redemption 2. Currently sitting at 97 on Metacritic, and comfortably, as rated by critics, one of the greatest games of all time.
Except, when you look beyond the surface, it is a pretty average third person shooter with a very basic mission structure (travel here, shoot things, travel back, repeat), a padded story which is so self-indulgent it won’t even let you skip the inane chatter between characters on the way to missions.
In my opinion Rockstar seemed totally fixated on the technical side of the game they completely forgot to inject any fun into it. To be fair, they did a good job. The world is absolutely beautiful, a flawless recreation of the American West which does a great job of transporting you into character and sucking you into its world. The animations are great, and we all know the effort they put into recreating horses. but that’s not even near enough for classic status the critics bestowed upon it.
Almost everything else is bang average. The shooting is unremarkable (as always with Rockstar), the missions are dull and repetitive, the story is bloated and far too long. After around 10 hours the gameplay has exhausted itself and got me thinking, to paraphrase Trinity The Tuck Taylor: Where. Is. The fun?
But don’t just take my ‘it is overrated’ word for it. GC’s original review was glowing, as with all other publications, until the came out a year later and a re-review righted some of the wrongs and called it ‘fundamentally flawed’. In my opinion, critics were swept away with the hype and majesty of the game, it’s incredible environments and perfectly realised world, and that’s why it ended up with the reviews it did – and so little mention of how rote the gameplay becomes just a few short hours in.
I’ve always felt that pretty much everything Rare has ever done has been weirdly overrated. As usual the reason for this is that their graphics are good but I’ve always found their games to be second-rate copies of other, better games. Even if the graphics are often better there’s no way that Banjo-Kazooie is better than Super Mario, Diddy Kong Racing better than Mario Kart or Donkey Country better than proper Nintendo platformers.
Even things like Battletoads were rubbish and Star Fox Adventures was so shallow I laughed out loud when I found out it was supposed to be a Zelda clone. They haven’t impressed me with anything they’ve done since Microsoft have taken over either. Viva Piñata had a really clunky interface and bad mini-games, that you just know Nintendo would never have put up with if they were still in charge.
Sea Of Thieves is also weird in that they basically seem to have forgotten the gameplay. I wasn’t surprised to find out that Everwild was delayed because basically they didn’t even know what it was and had only made a vague trailer and were going to invent the game around that. Seeing how their other games have turned out that seems like exactly what you’d expect.
Personally, I never got on with Resident Evil 4. I know, I know. Many people consider it a classic, but I got bored of it pretty quickly, it just never grabbed me.
It’s too long ago now to say why, but if I recall:
1) Not scary
2) Clunky controls
3) (And this one’s probably more my lack of skill) Too hard
I just ended up getting annoyed with it, with no enjoyment, so I just thought ‘what’s the point’?
My housemate at the time loved it, and indeed completed it. I watched him play a bit. But, well, it just wasn’t for me.
Still, we can’t all enjoy everything can we?
As ever, whatever you are playing, have fun y’all!
The Dude Abides
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Assassin’s Creed is a franchise I will never understand. It is basically 100% busywork while none of the combat or platforming (if it even has any nowadays) is any real fun and the storytelling is really dry and boring. And yet it sells and sells and I have to acknowledge that I am in the minority opinion.
I can only assume that I’m missing the appeal and that people like them because they’re so formulaic and unengaging, like it’s a way to unwind because nothing in the game is very challenging or difficult to understand and you can just kind of veg out.
I do get that, if that’s the reason, but personally I’d just rather have a game of Tetris or something and get the same effect. At least then I wouldn’t have a ton of bugs to contend with as well.
Fear your blindness
Sorry everyone but it has to be Bloodborne.
I’ve written in multiple times to say how I wasn’t able to get into it but more recently about how I have finally gotten into it after finishing Elden Ring.
I’ve just got up to Rom, the Vacuous Spider (what a lame boss) and I just can’t be bothered anymore. This is the only Souls game I haven’t completed yet. What don’t I like about it? Farming healing potions and bullets, the (understandable) scarcity of online match-ups, the lack of weapons, lack of spells (I’ve only got one so far), the constant screaming noises made by bad guys.
I will play it some more later (just got Returnal instead) but Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Elden Ring are way more fun. Sekiro made me a badass ninja with lightning quick reactions and Elden Ring had an almost endless amount of content, so that farming was almost done naturally just by exploring. Not having to repeatedly run and kill everything in the same area.
I can’t think of a more over-venerated game. Must be rose-tinted glasses.
GC: But it was venerated when it came out, just as much as it is now?
Oh, lovely a chance to have a whinge. There are two titles that stick out a mile for me.
Firstly, Grand Theft Auto 4. This game has got a 98 on Metacritic, which is enough to make it their third best game of all time, but only a 7.8/10 user score which I think is more reflective of how good it is.
All the usual great world building and detail you’d expect from the series is there but the controls weren’t great, the combat was still poor and they should’ve just left the driving as it was: arcadey and fun.
You can argue the toss about whether the missions, characters, and plot are any good but the gameplay certainly isn’t, I can’t have it as the third best game ever.
Secondly, NieR:Automata. Not as highly rated but still very well reviewed in its own right, Metascore 88, user score 8.9. If you’d have told me to score it after the first couple of hours I’d have happily given it 9+, but then the rest of the game happens.
Again, you can argue the toss on things like the combat, characters/plot, missions and whether the prevalence of the hacking mini-game was a good idea (you can guess my personal thoughts on that one).
One thing you can’t argue the toss on though is the repetition, which is fairly nakedly down to budget restrictions, but not forgivable just because of that. If we all recycled as prolifically as Yoko Tarō we could probably avert the climate crisis. I just couldn’t wait for the game to end. I also thought the plot badly lost steam and forgot what it was trying to say, and I thought most of the bosses were boring – but once again those two points are subjective.
I think players got seduced by the first couple of hours and made up their minds about the rest of the game before they’d played it, for me NieR:Automata is every bit as flawed as the original.
Great music though.
Yeah, this is going to get me a lot of stick but then again you don’t hear many people getting misty-eyed about it these days. Virtua Fighter. I got a Saturn in my mid-twenties, mostly for NiGHTS Into Dreams, which is itself a touch overrated, but I also picked up the very first Virtua Fighter for about a fiver. Which was about five quid too much for the bloody thing.
Back in 1995 the Saturn version came out to rave reviews everywhere, not least of all the Sega magazines. But after trying it out for myself, I couldn’t for the life of you, or one of my friend’s three cats, tell you why. Because it was more realistic? But… how does that make it more fun? You’re given a few moves listed in the manual and that’s it. Certainly no move lists contained in-game, as is taken for granted today. Yet, I distinctly remember this as being a positive – as being left to your own devices meant ‘discovering and creating your own combos’, according to the Official Sega Magazine at the time. What a load of rubbish!
So, to summarise: you have no idea what to do, the characters are boring, the move lists incredibly sparse, just one single and one multiplayer mode – neither of which are interesting, and there aren’t even any character endings! Well, what’s supposed to occupy your time, then? It would have to have been your main multiplayer game of choice back then. But I struggle to think how anybody would choose this over Street Fighter 2 or even the very first Mortal Kombat! Even that had more content!
Last time I criticised the awful graphics, GC said that the backgrounds are nice. Yeah, I guess they are. And, in the arcades, seeing a camera swoop and pan around the fighters would have been a nice ‘woooo!’ moment. But that novelty would wear thin after a few rounds. Besides, it is the characters that command your full attention. And they look like jagged, cardboard monstrosities that had crashed into a vat of toxic waste. Like that guy in RoboCop. ‘Argh, help me! I’m melting!’
Those in the know will recall that Shenmue was originally going to be Virtua Fighter: The Role-Playing Game. Can you imagine how tedious Akira Yuki must be for Ryo Hazuki to be the better option? Woof. But hey, some of the music was nice. Sarah’s theme obviously being the best.
Much like Virtua Racing a year or so earlier, had I have owned a Saturn while it was still alive, I would have started to worry that the prefix ‘Virtua’ was Sega-speak for ‘Extortion’. Had it been just a free tech demo that was built into the already expensive Saturn, then it would be much less egregious. But no, Sega charged £40-45 for an experience that you can be done with in minutes. But hey – Fighters Megamix was great, wasn’t it?
GC: Virtua Fighter was popular because the gameplay, which you didn’t really mention, was excellent. The graphics in the 1993 arcade original remain one of the most important milestones in video game visuals, for their portrayal of a human character in 3D.
I’ve always felt like Ninja Gaiden was ridiculously overrated. It was kind of the Dark Souls of its day, in terms of difficulty, but also frequently unfair and random. A lot of this was due to the camera, where enemies could just come at you from off-screen and there was nothing you could do about it, but the whole thing just seemed to have this really off-putting, vindictive attitude as far as I was concerned.
It doesn’t matter so much nowadays, given we haven’t had a new one in decades but if it does come back that will be one reboot I’ll take a hard pass on.
When I think about overrated video games I have to be pretty careful in how I perceive this. Is it me just not liking the genre or is it just game reviewers becoming too caught up in a review? Or there are games with a big fan following that have become cult classics but are highly criticised by other gamers and reviewers!
The reason I am looking at it this way is I recently looked at some overrated gaming suggestions which included the original God Of War, Dragon Age: Origins, Bioshock Infinite, and other surprising titles.
I loved getting stuck into the above games and it was difficult to think of some as overrated games. Halo could be overrated and it’s showing now with the critical response to the possibly dated gameplay, with not too much new added for this modern incarnation.
When Call Of Duty and Wolfenstein, along with Metro Exodus, seemed to be attempting to find new fun ways to keep getting you excited with first person shooters, Halo seems to be falling behind with what makes this genre fun.
Many people will disagree with me, with the above comments, but Halo never attracted me despite the large fanbase and hype surrounding it. I was way more interested in Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2 -Jedi Outcast for the GameCube and many of the other first person shooters from an open world perspective.
But I am certainly not going to deny the fun had by Halo fans all over the world, who will always herald this as a firm classic, despite seeming overrated to me. A bit like film and music tastes, not everyone’s cup of tea but gold to others.
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