THE PCG Q&A
This weekend's PCG Q&A is a spicy one, inspired by PC Gamer's Andy Kelly putting this out there on Twitter (before being disappointed by the answers, which is just Twitter all over, really). What's the one game you think people pretend to like the most?
Below, we provide our answers. It's just a bit of fun, really—we mostly take shots at games that have been talked about to death, or whose reputation and meme potential have outgrown how enjoyable it actually is play. Let us know your choices in the comments.
Andy Kelly: Deadly Premonition
Yeah, I get it. It's endearingly ambitious, it's weird, it's a bit like Twin Peaks, sort of, and it has some quotable lines. But I've tried playing this thing a few times and I really can't get my head around its popularity. The shooting is painful. The environments are blocky and sterile. The loading times are absurd. And the conversations are achingly slow.
I'm sure a few Deadly Premonition fans will be reading this and thinking I'm a jerk who just doesn't get it—and they'd be right. I don't. I just think people like the idea of Deadly Premonition more than the game itself. But hey, watch this space: I might try it again one day and the magic will suddenly take hold. I'd actually love that, but I'm not holding my breath.
Samuel Roberts: Far Cry 4 or 5
Andy's call of Deadly Premonition is a good one—I think the game has a lot of charm, but on PC the crashes were so bad at launch that they absolutely evaporated any goodwill I might have towards it. At least make sure the slightly bad game works.
I'm so tempted to say Far Cry 2, which is deliberately not the most fun to play, given how the game successfully conveys its themes. But that might just be because I've read so many opinions on it over the years where the person is straining to show off how clever they are for understanding the game. Mate, I studied A-level English Literature too: I get it.
I'm being mean! And I like Far Cry 2 a lot. Below is a more cowardly answer.
I'll pick on the two more recent Far Cry entries. People talk favourably about the kind of wacky stories created by these games: about how a gunfight will be invaded by an animal's rampaging attack and how exciting that is. Personally, I think its specific kind of sandbox experience is too incoherent and random to actually be exciting after the first two or three times something ludicrous happens. It's just a collision of stuff, and instead of being impressively dynamic or a cheery step away from overly scripted shooter games, it's kind of a mess. I don't entirely get why the series is so popular in its current form.
Steven Messner: Dark Souls
Whenever someone tells me how much they like Dark Souls I immediately suspect them of lying—but I totally understand why they would. Dark Souls is a gaming phenomenon that is also so entwined in that 'git gud' attitude that people use as the litmus test to measure how much of a True Gamer you are, and I think there are loads of people out there who pretend to worship every bit of it because they feel like they have to. And I get why: I've witnessed the bloodbath firsthand when someone admits to not liking Dark Souls or thinking that it's overrated—suddenly, people are climbing out of every nook and cranny to tear that person to bits and tell them why they're objectively wrong. Witnessing that, I think people do the smart thing and decide to pretend to enjoy Dark Souls lest the obnoxious True Gamers who Got Gud find out and, like the KGB, drag them kicking and screaming into the shadows where we'll never hear from them again. Sometimes it's just easier to nod along and say Dark Souls is cool.
Wes Fenlon: Metal Gear Solid 2
You say you like Metal Gear Solid 2. You probably even think you like Metal Gear Solid 2. But how could you, with that godawful clunky first-person aiming and those top-down camera angles that make it impossible to see what's going on half the time? No, what you really like is watching cutscenes written by Hideo Kojima and thinking La-li-lu-le-lo? Hell yeah, man. That's some deep shit. You don't know what it means, but you like thinking it means something. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, with a camera actually designed for three dimensional games, was the first time a MGS game was actually enjoyable to play. Everyone who says otherwise is lying (to themselves).
Philippa Warr: Stephen's Sausage Roll
Although when I say "people" pretend to like it I mean I pretend to like it. Stephen's Sausage Roll is a hard game. It lurks at the back of my mind as an unfinished challenge. I am actively annoyed that I have not finished it, even though it's been about a year since I last had an evening with it. (Life gets in the way.) You have a pronged fork and you have to push and pull gigantic sausages around a blocky space, trying to roll them over grill pads and cook them on all sides. It's simple, and it's infuriatingly difficult. I don't think there's another game out there which annoys me so much and which I haven't abandoned forever. The idea of dying while this game still thinks it's better than me is unacceptable. I still recommend it to hardcore puzzle fans. I just also have to pretend that I like it, because otherwise I must admit to myself that I've committed to a potentially lifelong pissing contest with a piece of code.
Jarred Walton: Deus Ex
This was a great immersive sim game when it launched, and it pretty much defined the genre. But here's the thing: it has aged badly. There are loads of people that never played the original, and for all the hype and praise it receives, that's probably for the best. It came out over 18 years ago, and it feels every bit of its age. It's not a bad game even today, and there are various mods that try to make it a bit less...ugly, but this is one of those classics that I think is best left in the past. Even if everyone around you sings its praises. "Remember that Statue of Liberty level? It was awesome!" Yeah, maybe you only played the first level and then stopped.
Tim Clark: Half-Life 2
C'mon now, none of you really liked that crate stacking bit.