JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Criticising the untouchables

Date

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

Yesterday's holiday provided not only an opportunity to pay tribute to our diggers, but also for Screen Play to catch up on some reading.

Thumbing through some recent copies of Edge Magazine, I was drawn to an interesting two-part feature called The Untouchables.

Edge had asked some notable figures to dare to point of the flaws of games that they believe had been put on such a high pedestal that they were immune to criticism.

The games chosen for analysis were Half-Life 2, Rez, Grim Fandango, Resident Evil 4, Halo: Combat Evolved and Super Mario Galaxy - classic games that have not only thrilled countless players but also proved to be hugely inspiring to other developers.

Half-Life 2 was criticised for inconsistency and for having unbalanced weaponry, while problems identified with Rez included the shooting mechanics, camera control and enemy choreography.

Classic LucasArts adventure Grim Fandango was criticised for an inconsistent and annoying interface, a slow opening and disjointed sequences, while the original Halo was attacked for that tedious Library level and having too much repetition to artificially pad out the length.

Resident Evil 4 was criticised more for its silly plot than for still clinging to some of the tired staples of the survival horror genre, while Super Mario Galaxy's flaws were said to include its dreary tutorial-style introduction, repetitive boss battles and frustrating racing stages.       

Today I'm keen to hear your thoughts on some of the flaws that beset the brilliant games that Edge featured.

I'm also keen to hear about other games that you feel have escaped widespread criticism in areas that they were generally perceived to excel at. 

Possible nominations might include Shadow of the Colossus, Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, World of Warcraft, Super Metroid, Grand Theft Auto III, BioShock, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Portal. 

 

twitter Screen Play is on Twitter: @screenplayblog

31 comments so far

  • I never thought those games were immune to criticism, Halo especially has been bagged for years by just about everyone because of the Library level and the later stages just being reverse maps of earlier stages.

    For me GTA4 seems to be a game that is almost untouchable by a lot of people but when I compare it to San Andreas it seems to have lost so much. The variety of things to do in San Andreas plus the size of the map was amazing and GTA4 failed to live up to that. 4 also lacked the personality of previous instalments though the DLC helped with that somewhat. Hopefully number 5 fixes it.

    Commenter
    Hewso
    Date and time
    April 26, 2012, 8:42AM
    • Am I the only person that doesn't recall any of these issues?

      I thought the start to Grim Fandango was quite memorable and reasonably quick (unlike that bloody underwater bit... This little light of mine can be put where it won't shine, thanks very much); the story of Resident Evil 4 was certainly silly, but it suited the game (see Metal Gear Anything); I don't remember the start of Mario Galaxy, but recall it wasn't overly long and without more than expected hand holding; Half Life 2 did have some quieter moments, but I didn't think the pacing was that off - ebbs and flows and all that...

      Haven't played the others mentioned - not really my thing.

      Perhaps I'm too lenient.

      Commenter
      Blurry
      Date and time
      April 26, 2012, 8:52AM
      • Having just recently re-played through Portal last night (and Portal 2 the few nights before it), I still have absolutely no gripes with it at all.

        Navi, in Ocarina of Time, bugged me a bit with the constant popping up to say something I already knew or figured out.

        W.o.W. is just so horribly repetitive it boggles my mind how I managed to continue playing it for that 10 months of my life 5 or so years ago that I'll never get back...

        Commenter
        ZeroZeroOne
        Location
        Syd
        Date and time
        April 26, 2012, 8:57AM
        • I suppose it depends on your delineation between the definitions of "flaw" and "nitpick".

          To me a flaw is a general problem with a game that has serious impact on my enjoyment of it. The beehive room in BioShock 2 broke my immersion, slapping me in the face with the fact I was not really in a city under the sea, but was playing a video game. Super Mario Galaxy had those ice levels where the controls let the game down so badly I nearly stopped playing. Skyrim, of course, was buggy as hell, and many patches later still has issues.

          Nitpicks, however, can be found in any game, no matter how good, often because of the limitations of game controls or hardware, so pointing them out is just being petty.

          Commenter
          DexX
          Location
          MCDexX on XBL, PSN, Steam, and iOS GameCentre
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 9:34AM
          • Ah but isn't the whole point of Ice Stages Dexx?

            Let you build up your confidence w/ the game controls. And then throw it all out the window where control is your own enemy. Many a times falling down a bottomless pit and smashed controllers in frustration all to the altar of evil that is the Ice Stage =D

            Commenter
            RocK_M
            Location
            I want chinese take-away!
            Date and time
            April 26, 2012, 4:38PM
        • I've never played Halo - whats the deal with the Library?!?

          I can't think of any other examples of 'untouchable' games - I think that reviews nowadays are fairly even in showing good and bad points.

          For me, I'd rather make a list of games that reviewers hated, that i enjoyed :P

          Commenter
          beatdan
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 9:38AM
          • @ beatdan re: Halo library level. Pretty much just a long FPS slog through a dull and repetitive level with a lot of enemies making it pretty difficult.
            Stands out like a sore thumb versus some of the other brilliant levels in the game.

            Commenter
            Swordfactor
            Date and time
            April 26, 2012, 10:05AM
          • Thanks Swordfactor - the way i was reading the above, made me think it involved too much reading! Lol - should have known better!!!

            Commenter
            beatdan
            Date and time
            April 26, 2012, 10:51AM
        • HL2 is about the only one on that list that genuinely could be considered "untouchable" (that I have played - never touched Rez or RE4), I can't recall anything negative on it's release. As mentioned above, Halo was (fairly) pilloried, and Grim Fandango was always a niche game that attracted plenty of detractors (to balance out the rabid fans / "gamers' game" people).

          Of the secondary list, the only game I can't recall seeing any negative press about was Mario 64 (which I also agree with - just a great game). Portal only copped a bit, as did Zelda (mainly in comparison to Mario 64) WoW has copped it from anyone who was/is familiar with the MMO genre since it started, and Bioshock copped plenty.

          My suggestions for games that were reviewed near-universally positively: Quake, Baldur's Gate (1 and 2), Civ 2, Gran Tourismo 3 (still the standard all racing sims get measured against).

          Commenter
          azzski
          Location
          The Cow Level
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 9:40AM
          • Galaxy isn't untouchable, but for its time it was very new and doing a lot of experimentation - the game might get flak for its controls but it wouldn't be the same without it (this is also how every Mario game ever made actually goes - the controller is built to suit his adventures first and foremost).

            The other games (apart from Rez, never played it) seem to be highly vaunted sequels in saturated genres which make them kind of easy targets. Look at the arguments over Arkham City versus Arkham Asylum.

            A brickbat for Edge from me in this case.

            BUT, some gems that I think are bits of coal might be Deus Ex, Halo, Pikmin and the Assassin's Creed series.

            Deus Ex - now here's a tutorial and first level that did 'crap tutorial and first level' before that was even cool.

            Halo - granted, I only have ever played Reach but it was just boring and not meant for me - a newbie to the lore.

            Pikmin - gah, just boring. I don't get the hype.

            Commenter
            Leigh
            Date and time
            April 26, 2012, 9:47AM

            More comments

            Make a comment

            You are logged in as [Logout]

            All information entered below may be published.

            Error: Please enter your screen name.

            Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

            Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

            Error: Please enter your comment.

            Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

            Post to

            You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

            Thank you

            Your comment has been submitted for approval.

            Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.