Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here (opens in new tab). Below are some highlights:
- Which game deserves a No Man's Sky-style comeback? (opens in new tab)
- What's the most underrated game on PC? (opens in new tab)
- If you could play a sequel to any game, what would it be? (opens in new tab)
Videogames really end whenever you stop playing them. If you love them, maybe that's after New Game + or a replay with every character option. If you hate them, maybe that's after half an hour of frustration and a checkpoint that's on the wrong side of an unskippable cutscene. That's how it should be anyway, but sometimes we just have to see the credits of a game we're not enjoying, whether out of sheer bloody-mindedness, or because we're reviewing it and feel obliged to, or we just have to know how bad it can really get.
Hate's a strong word to use, especially for a videogame. And yet, sometimes they really do shit us to tears. This week's PCG Q&A asks the question: What game did you finish despite hating every minute of it?
Samuel Roberts: Final Fantasy XIII-2
I finally beat this Square Enix RPG last weekend, after reaching the game's finale (and one of the many endings) when I reviewed it back in 2015. Hot damn, I did not like the last few hours of that game. I went to one area to grind for hours, then returned to the final stage, overcame some terrible platforming puzzles and killed the same boss four times. There are some clever systems in FFXIII-2, like the ability to level up monsters and have them fight alongside you, a little like Pokemon. But past a certain point, the game is all busywork. It's all collectables, experience points and backtracking. I wanted it to be over so bad, and now realise why it took me over three years to return to the damn game.
Now I'm deliberating whether I want to put myself through Lightning Returns, the final game of the trilogy. The problem with XIII-2 is its characters aren't endearing to me in the way that FFX's or XV's are. This was like playing bad anime. It wasn't all bad by any means, but the finale tested my patience.
Phil Savage: Kane & Lynch 2
OK, maybe I didn't hate every minute of it. In fact, I enjoyed IO's second Kane & Lynch for its first half an hour, thanks almost entirely to its distinct presentation. Pretty soon, though, I was just hate-playing—sticking around in the vague hope that it did anything worthwhile. It did not. My overriding memory of the game was an endless procession of cover shooting, with no pacing or variety or anything to hold your interest. Just hours of crouching behind walls, shooting people, broken up only by the occasional cutscene in which the two protagonists shout at each other. The very best thing about Kane & Lynch 2 is that it's only four hours long, and so at least the misery didn't persist for long.
There remains a dedicated cadre of game critics—Andy Kelly is one of them—convinced that Kane & Lynch 2 is good. And, assuming they're not just having a mass hallucination, maybe there's something I'm just not getting about four hours of shooting a gun and nothing else. At least there was a happy end: IO returned to Hitman, which was good.
Tom Senior: Warhammer 40,000 Gladius—Relics of War
If I hate a game I never tend to finish it unless, of course, I'm reviewing it. The last review I remember turning into a grueling slog was Warhammer 40,000 Gladius—Relics of War, a well-meaning attempt to turn the Warhammer 40K universe into a 4X strategy game. You do technically explore, expand, exploit and exterminate, but the combat focus was a poor fit for a hex-based game lacking in tactical depth. The units have stat differences, technically, but that didn't seem to translate into any meaningful battlefield dilemmas. I was just shepherding dozens of units around the map hex by hex, turn by turn, and any fun I was having in the beginning faded into a haze of repetitive drudgery. In the end, I was pretty happy to get it off my hard drive.
Jarred Walton: The Crew 2
I don't normally play games that I'm not enjoying, but after doing the performance analysis of The Crew 2 (opens in new tab) and ranting about the idiocy of framerate caps, rubberbanding, and social networking as a type of point system, I kept playing it. The driving mechanics are okay I guess, once you get used to them, but in general there are just so many things I didn't like. And the storyline was like a really bad movie where I couldn't stop watching, and every time I'd lead in a race only to be passed near the finish because of a small driving error, I'd yell at my PC and at the developers. The ending was as meaningless as I'd expected. "Hooray, you're the king of Motor City, USA" or something trite like that.
Probably the real impetus for my continued play was my 8-year-old son, who wanted me to unlock all the ultimate vehicles—especially the helicopter. Then he was very upset that I couldn't use the helicopter in any races, or upgrade its components. Get used to disappointment, son. Especially in mediocre games.
Jody Macgregor: VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
Even with the undocumented feature that lets you use keyboard instead of mouse controls, the bartending is boring. I could be generous and assume it's supposed to be, as a comment on how routine bar work is, but I don't feel generous because I didn't like the rest of the game any better—not the characters, or the writing. I stuck with it because people recommended it to me and I didn't want to let them down, but VA-11 Hall-A was really not for me.