Greats That Didn’t Quite Make The Cut
As the name of this very website suggests, gamers often struggle to keep up with their extended backlog of quality video games. Sometimes, you just decide that, for whatever reason, a certain game you’ve been playing is no longer worthy of your time and that you need to move on.
I’ve played a number of solid-to-great games over the years, but sometimes I just decide to call it quits before finishing a game, and not even because I think the game is problematic or poorly designed; sometimes I just hate a certain mechanic, gameplay sequence, or plotline. In certain cases, the game might be good, but just not good enough to motivate me to play more. A number of factors are at play whenever I opt to abandon something, and to be honest, there are probably more decent games I never finished than ones that I have. So, I’ve decided to list a handful of games that I can admit are good (at the very least) but I just know I’ll never beat.
Some things to consider:
1. All of the games on this list are ones that I believe have good or even great qualities, unlike games that others might like that I think are just bad (e.g. Bioshock Infinite, Battlefield 1).
2. I didn’t play all of these games right as they came out, so some issues here have to do with certain games aging poorly.
3. There are some genres (e.g. RTS, lifestyle simulators) that I’ve never been particularly drawn to, so any problems I have with those games are more related to my apathy towards those genres.
Here we go!
Batman: Arkham Knight
The Batman: Arkham games succeeded mainly due to masterful storytelling, excellent level architecture, smooth player movement, and crisp battle sequences. Arkham City may very well be the greatest comic book video game ever made, with Arkham Asylum as a close second.
When Arkham Knight arrived on next-generation consoles two years, it seemed prime to take the top spot in the franchise, with ultra-polished graphics, a large open world, and an even darker, more disturbing story. How could it possibly fail? Freaking stealth tanks.
Of all the things that could submarine a game from being a classic, poor controls and awkward gameplay sequences involving the Batmobile, one of the most iconic vehicles in the history of all fiction, must be the most disappointing. The vehicle itself controls just fine if you’re using it primarily as a car (even though there are no consequences at all for ramming into pedestrians, as they are merely “shocked” out of the way) but falters grievously when it enters tank mode, where Batman can fire missiles at what appears to be an endless array of enemy tanks (seriously, how many damn tanks could the Arkham Knight possibly have?)
To make matters worse, the game forces you into various “stealth tank” sections, where you not only have to blow up a bunch of other tanks from the Batmobile, but also have to do so without being noticed. For some reason, the game’s developers decided that even the car has to operate the way Batman does. Each of these sequences bogs down the whole experience and made me want to quit playing the game forever.
While the weird tank missions are not the only flaw to be found in Arkham Knight (there are far too many dumb side missions and collectibles that distract from an otherwise thrilling main story), they are frustrating, clunky, and totally unnecessary. Eventually, I had enough of it, and I haven’t touched the game since.
Super Metroid is one of the best games on the Super Nintendo and perhaps the pinnacle of “Metroidvania” style gameplay. The world is eerie, mysterious, action-packed, and chock full of secrets.
So why haven’t I finished it? At a certain point, I just get tired of backtracking. Though Super Metroid’s backtracking does not have the same level of tedium and frustration found in the Prime games, it does muddle an otherwise great experience. I understand that the backtracking mechanics in Metroid serve a greater purpose than just lazy game design, but at a certain point I get tired of essentially running in circles.
The Turing Test
Put simply, The Turing Test is a solid first-person action puzzle game that reminds me in some ways of Portal. Using a gun that transfers electrical charges between conduits to open doorways, you navigate through a planetary station trying to get to the bottom of a mystery.
You know what? I’d rather just play Portal. The Turing Test has some clever puzzles, but it’s clearly just a less interesting experience than the adventures you find with Aperture Sciences.
Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 3 has an enormous open world, tons of content, beautiful graphics, a great soundtrack, and silky-smooth controls. In theory, it should be the greatest open world racing game of this generation.
Still, I have no interest in doing a million dumb stunts, nor do I particularly like how much of the world feels lifeless. And no, I don’t care that there’s another rare vehicle to be found in some barn. Don’t make me do fetch quests with a car.
FH3 is a great game on its own merits, but suffers from a case of “doing too much” syndrome, where the developers crammed so much average content into the game that after a while I was tired of pushing through boring challenges just to unlock more good ones. The first Forza Horizon was better, anyway.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
It’s no secret that The Legend of Zelda is my favorite video game series, and Majora’s Mask often roams near the top of other Zelda fans’ rankings. Majora’s Mask might have the greatest artistic valor of any game in the franchise, as the themes of the inevitability of death and irreversible consequences of our mistakes have spawned a seemingly infinite number of critical analyses.
Still, the three-day cycle, while remarkably interesting and innovative as a game mechanic, sort of killed the experience for me. The ability to explore and experience the world at your own pace has long defined the Zelda series for me, so forcing the player to complete dungeons and side quests in a timely fashion (or risk having to do everything again) felt out of place and made me anxious constantly. Every time I try to play through Majora’s Mask, I reach a point where I’m tired of playing the “Song of Time” because I realize I only have an hour left (which is like 30 seconds in-game) to kill a boss or something. It’s infuriating, and that kind of frustration seriously takes away from an otherwise enthralling experience.
Don’t get me wrong: Majora’s Mask has a lot of complexity to it, and I always respect when developers take risks in an attempt to construct a wholly unique experience. Just give me a little more time.
Mass Effect 2
Lauded by many as one of the greatest role-playing games of the last decade, Mass Effect 2 built upon the solid structure of its predecessor, improving on nearly all aspects of combat and establishing a rich, deep universe to explore. You wouldn’t necessarily be wrong in saying that it’s just as impressive a game for its time as Fallout 3 and Skyrim.
Why is it on this list? At a certain point, I’d just had enough.
Before you take out your pitchforks, let me explain: I played through roughly half of ME2, including many of its side missions, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The storytelling is very good, and the improved shooting mechanics make each firefight a delight.
That said, there’s a certain point in games like Mass Effect where I’ve seen all I needed to see. Many of the side quests are excellent, but I never felt like I had to do all of them. The characters are fairly well-written, but there are too many for me to care about all of them equally. The combat is fun, but not fun enough that I’m willing to enter the same kinds of battles over and over again for 30+ hours. There are so many places to go and things to do, but at a certain point, I’m not interested in doing everything anymore.
You might think Mass Effect 2 is one of the greatest games of its time, but all I can remember about it is how big and complicated it was, not how nuanced or exciting it was. But hey, that’s just me.