It dawned on me in all the kerfuffle about Fallout 4 that I’m terrible at video games. There’s no doubt that I love the medium, that I’ve sunk innumerable hours into franchises like Final Fantasy, Pokémon, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Starcraft and loads more (lest this just become half an hour of listing video game IPs). I’m almost ashamed to admit however, that I can’t really call myself a gamer any more. Like reading, gaming has just fallen off my go to hobbies list. Sure, I play Magic the Gathering online (with the help of Magic Workstation), but using that as a claim to being a gamer is about as audacious as branding my daily online article reading as the mark of a habitual reader. I take small bites, but I don’t make much of a meal of it. In the past 3 years, the few games I can remember playing from start to finish would be likely be countable on two hands:
Bioshock Infinite. Gone Home. Bastion. Borderlands 2. Mass Effect 2. Telltale’s The Walking Dead (Episode 1), The Wolf Among Us.
The games I started but never finished would be a more interesting list. It’s partially a symptom of the day and age. Years ago new video games cost a bunch. Big releases were rare, sparse. You had time to play something and sink a huge amount of your life into it. Much like the television industry, the gaming industry has proliferated beyond expectations. The quality of Triple A titles is staggering, as games are such an immensely valuable entertainment property. The rise of indie gaming means that new, diverse options are out there for people who previously lay outside the realms of what mainstream gaming provided for them. Video games are everywhere, they’re easily accessible and the number of available options is almost too much to bear at times. For me this has made it easier to drop a game without finishing it and move on to something else. What did I play and not finish though?
- Dishonoured – It was an excellent fusion of stealth into a first person shooter shell. A mix of steampunk ethos and dark magic. A blast to play, though my lack of patience quickly translated into sending hordes of rats after people, slowing down time and mowing down rooms of people before they could alert other guards. I became a brawler, as I often do. By the time I got to the final mission my newfound aggressive stance made it superbly difficult to progress, so I didn’t bother. Seriously, quit the game on the final mission and never looked back.
- Transistor – An isometric platformer that oozed style. Sister game to Bastion, it had an intuitive combination of real time and planned attacks. Options were everywhere and attacks were super customisable. I think eventually I crumbled under the weight of choice and couldn’t bring myself to take time and work out the most effective tactic. If I couldn’t have the best, I didn’t want to play. Geez, I’m such a brat.
- Batman: Arkham City – I loved this game. Never before had I really felt like I was Batman. Yet again, I went the route of the brawler and levelled up my beatdown combinations and quick actions. I would’ve happily finished this game, but it was my flatmate’s Playstation 3 and he had other games he wanted to play. After months without the game I eventually moved overseas and didn’t have access. I’d almost consider downloading it again, it was that fun.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Once again, great game. I did a bunch of the side missions, got Biggoron’s Sword and swung the hell out of it. So many people told me how difficult and frustrating the Water Temple was. I’d borrowed a friend’s N64 in order to play through and by the time I got to the temple I was so intimidated that I didn’t even bother. Instead I just gave back the console. To this day I’ve got no idea how it ends.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – This was one of the perks of my computer, it could run Skyrim at full capacity. So I did. It ran like a dream, I made a nifty sorcerer and turned enemies into charred shells. I was playing the game the night of a huge breakup with a long term partner. I paused the game when she showed up at my house and broke up with me. In my post-breakup state I couldn’t bring myself to keep playing. Afterwards the game felt synonymous with the breakup and I couldn’t touch it again. I wonder if anyone at the College of Winterhold still misses their arch mage.
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – This game was so wonderful. The dialogue was legitimately funny and it was an utter pleasure to play. Once a more sandbox element was introduced I lost my focus and just spent my time roaming the city as Venom (like I do in every Marvel game where I have the option (Marvel Heroes 2015 anyone? Another game that could make this list for the same reasons)). Then the game kept forcing me to be shitty Avengers like Captain America or Hawkeye and I lost my interest.
I might’ve lost my save files for most of these games, but it’s not like the games cease to exist. There’s nothing preventing me from starting Skyrim again (I mean, I loaded up on side quests but hadn’t even completed my first main story mission). They’re probably all sub $10 on Steam. Thing is, so many things have been released since then it makes me wonder if it’s worth looking backwards at all.
Speaking of which, now that Fallout 4 is out, should I start Fallout 3?