I’ve had this off-again/on-again love affair with Sony’s consoles since the mid ‘90s. I was satisfied holding onto my SNES for years and while I had fun playing Tekken and Tony Hawk on my friend’s PlayStation, I wasn’t really sold on the brand. Eventually, franchises like Resident Evil and my favorite, Final Fantasy lured me around. In fact, the minute I laid hands on Final Fantasy Tactics I knew it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
I’ve got nothing but great memories of the original PlayStation, but its successor impressed me less and I ended up on Team Xbox for the next gen and most of the one after that. But in spite of years of “PS3 has no games”, I ended up buying one as Sony came on strong at the end and Microsoft faded a bit. But I had a lot of catching up to do.
In the time between getting a PlayStation 3 and upgrading to a PlayStation 4 (what can I say, Sony won me back), I had a lot of ground to cover to play all of the game I’d missed. But not all of them turned out to be what they were cracked up to be for me. Not all games are for all gamers. I mean, I’m not making a list of games I knew weren’t going to set my world on fire like LittleBigPlanet (not a platformer guy) or Jak and Daxter (just…..eh).
The following are games that look right up my alley and I should be a fan of. Games that other people love and I want to love, but just don’t for whatever reason. Here are five traditional PlayStation franchises that should be blowing my mind, but have either left me moderately pleased at best or hesitant to even give a chance in spite of universal praise.
I mentioned earlier that Final Fantasy Tactics was the game that inspired me to buy a PlayStation in the first place. It remains one of the my all-time favorite games and the deepest SRPG I’ve ever played. I’ve been looking for another game like it ever since. That curse is probably best illustrated in its subsequent brethren series, Disgaea, which has so many great things about it but has somehow failed to make a fan out of me.
I’ll admit that if I’d never played the definitive SRPG, I’d probably have been an instant fanboy of this series. But having played FFT way back in the ‘90’s and then firing up Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice last year to find a game with mechanics that seem inferior in almost every way was disappointing to say the least.
I loved the music, the goofy tone, and the overall concept, but the deeper I got into the game the more shallow the actual game seemed. There was a ton of stuff to do (max level is 9999…and you don’t level very quickly), but very little reason to do most of it. The story itself was cute and clever, but eventually became a revolving door of repeating gags that were hilarious at first, but got old over dozens of hours. The last straw was diving into a dungeon to upgrade a weapon (every item contains a dungeon and you can level them up from within) and grinding with no save point for hours only to end up in a battle that was literally an impossibility to win. That’s just shitty game design.
It’s one thing to get wiped in Persona or whatever because of a bad choice or crummy luck and lose hours of progress, but at least you had the possibility of victory. Dated gameplay and repetitive humor I can deal with, but insanely overleveled enemies that you can’t escape from in virtually infinite dungeons with no save points are just not cool. Ever. I’m not saying I’ll never play another Disgaea game(I probably will), but I have to say that against all odds, I was pretty disappointed with my first experience with the series.
This was the game I was most iffy about going in. I love blowing shit up and the almost satirically edgy style looked like it might be up my alley, but as a general rule I’m not into driving games. Then again, Mario Kart and Burnout are awesome and they don’t even have flaming psycho clowns driving ice cream murdermobiles.
I was looking forward to getting into the PS3 reboot after having missed out for so many years and hearing people praise the franchise. And with full multiplayer support, what could go wrong? Not much, I reckon, but it just failed to grab me. Halfway through the first story mode I was inexplicably bored. Like I’d done it all before. Drive. Shoot. Drive. Yawn. Shoot. Drive. Repeat. A few different vehicle options was the only real variation.
Maybe I’m just getting old, but throwing chainsaws at people from a suped-out chopper just was not as fun as it felt like it should be. I love battle-royale combat. I’ve always loved it. So why did I not love this game? Only the gaming gods know for sure.
This is a big one. Everybody loves Uncharted. You love Uncharted. Your significant others and parents like to watch you play Uncharted. Hollywood wants Uncharted to be their next big franchise. Uncharted is really cool and fun. But no way would I ever pay $60 for an Uncharted game.
What the hell’s wrong with me? How could I not want to preorder Naughty Dog’s video game sensation? Sony’s pride and joy? It’s like the second coming of Indiana Jones, man! A bro Tomb Raider! All true facts and fair points. But as the article title says, I’m just not that into it.
I respect the franchise and have genuine affection for the characters, but when playing I find myself going through the motions of shooting/climbing/shooting/climbing/puzzle somewhat joylessly. The set pieces are beautiful -some of the best in gaming- and the puzzles are often imaginative and just plain cool. Nolan North is the man, and the rest of the cast is great too, but as smooth as it is, the gameplay itself just doesn’t thrill me.
All of the jumping and swinging and shimmying is just a time-consuming excuse to ogle the killer level designs from different angles, the combat has nothing at all to set itself apart as an action game, and the excitement of button-prompt cliffhanger sequences lose their luster after a while. I like Uncharted, but I just can’t bring myself to love it like everyone else does.
God of War
Now this one I really should love. And in some ways, maybe I do. Clash of the Titans is one of the most important films of my life and I rented it countless times at my local VHS place as a kid. I’ve always had an affinity with Greek mythology and it’s actually really weird to me that so few games take advantage of its rich history, iconic characters, and general epicness. God of War takes that vacancy and stabs its eyeballs out before ripping its arm off and then using it to tear off its head in a shower of gore.
Yeah, badassness is what Kratos is all about. So much epic badassness. It’s all very epic. And badass. I love epic badassness. I’m even up for silly sex scenes where you move the thumbstick around to be the sexiest sexer ever to sex on top of the killlingest killer ever to kill, because you’re MOTHERFUCKING KRATOS, MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!!
Yeah, you see what I’m getting at. Too much edginess can become a form of comedy unto itself. But I can appreciate this ironically if for no other reason. And let’s admit it: even if maybe it tries too hard to obtain maximum grittiness, the overall aesthetic is pretty damn cool. In fact, if any video game series would make a visually amazing film franchise, this is probably the one we should be looking at. It’s not like there’s a lot of character and story nuance for Hollywood to miss, you know?
But still, I find that after button-mashing through hours of combat and minutes of climbing and shimmying, it all ends up just becoming a vehicle just to see the next button-prompt cutscene where Kratos destroys another Godzilla-sized monster or deity in insanely brutal fashion. It ends up being less about the joy of playing the game. I think I owe this lack of joy in part to Bayonetta, which had similar combat but was just way more fun all around to play. What I remember about that game was how fun the combat was. What I remember about God of War 3 and Ascension was how epic and badass the cutscenes were and how the combat just got in the way after a while.
This franchise has since gone universal, but MGS had primarily been a PlayStation series at its core for most of its existence, so I’m qualifying it. What should disqualify it is that this is one series here that I have yet to actually try. But seeing as how I’m fated to try it out and I have had a long debate with myself about it, I figure it’ll make an interesting discussion to anchor this list.
Fun fact: the last time I played as Snake was in Metal Gear. No “Solid” to be found. That’s 1987’s NES title, so it’s been awhile. The weird thing about this is that I enjoy stealth/survival games and shooting stuff too so I really should have stumbled upon a Metal Gear game since, but I somehow have not. I meant to play MGS on the PlayStation, but never got around to it (blame my 10th playthrough of Final Fantasy Tactics if you must).
My lack of a PS2 locked me out of that gen and by the time I’d gotten a PS3, the franchise had developed a rather interesting reputation. Reading about 45 minute cutscenes with multi-hour endings to nonsensical stories managed to offset the borderline universal praise Kojima’s work had garnered because if there is one thing that enrages me, it’s a “game” that doesn’t let you play it. I remember demoing Devil May Cry 3 and shutting it the hell off after being interrupted over and over with entirely unnecessary cutscenes.
So I never ended up playing a Metal Gear Solid game, even though I knew I should. But with MGS V being praised almost across the board for giving players freedom to play without excessive endless self-indulgent cutscenes, it looks like I’ve found my entry point at last. So maybe, just maybe, this will be one franchise that can win me over as a fan.