Celtic Kings styles itself as ‘[a] great mixture of two genres – adventure and real-time strategy [with] beautifully stylized 2D graphics [and] an inspiring storyline set during the Gallic Wars’. Nowhere in that list does it say ‘the most prolonged escort mission since Callgirls 3: Banker’s Bonus’.
I’ve seen less blatant padding in a drag queen’s bra. The devs were all about two things: putting vital locations on opposite map corners, and druids. Druid is another word for speed trap.
Might and Magic VI is a game composed entirely of fetch quests. You go on six fetch quests for the items required to unlock another four fetch quests which will, eventually, allow you access to a fetch quest. I’d love to see the planning room for this project:
“Okay, Steve, we need you to go and get an old lady’s groceries. Then, with the money she gives you, catch a bus to the home of a guy who delivers The Yellow Pages for a living. If you bring him a newspaper he will let you look through a spare copy for a freelance programmer. When you get to his house…”
And then, after procuring the wine, flowers, French Chef and Barry White CD needed to make the programmer’s girlfriend forgive him for forgetting to feed her goldfish, Steve sat down and wrote the game plot.
When the Thief 4 ‘trailer’ leaked last month, the internet went mildly enthusiastic. Intrigued individuals and 200-word articles as far as the eye can glance. Bit of forum activity, even.
Less a big splash than a skipping stone, but that was to be expected. It’s a 30-second clip for Thief goddamn 4; the next in a series which most people have never played, and which Eidos Montreal have released Sweet F.A about. Most of the attention it got consisted of ten words and a video link, or a sweet little teaspoon of rampant paranoia about The Creeping Inevitable Doom That Has Fallen Upon This Game.
Me? I was pretty psyched, because look at this motherfucker:
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MORE SPOILERS THAN WORDS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Skyrim is not a particularly good game.
Not a terrible game, just a lazy one. It comfortably settles for mediocre with the occasional jaunt into pretty good or descent into god-awful. It’s not bad. It’s okay. It’s a horrendous brush to tar any creative property with: not so bad as to be entertaining, nor quite good enough for ‘decent’. The pity-prize of the praise world.
So why has Skyrim earned it? There is a lot about it to praise. Magic is fluid and extremely satisfying, Alchemy and Smithing both made for highly addictive little mini games, the Thieves Guild questline was coherent, and-
Hesitantly, I pushed open the door. Before me lay a tunnel heading deep into the earth. To my right, about five feet down the passageway, was a door. I tried the handle.
Barred from the other side.
“Oh,” I said, “This’ll be my shortcut out at the end of the dungeon.”
It’s no way to play a game. Catacomb or cave, ancient temple or mystic pilgrim’s path: Bethesda have a formula and they’re sticking to it. It consists of a long crawl through twisty tunnels, the occasional large room to spice things up, and a whole lot of cannon fodder. There will be trippable traps. Even if it’s a sewer.