Time and Time Again

Posted: October 3, 2009 in Ranting Saturday
Tags: , , , ,

Time and Time Again

Remember GUN? No, of course you don’t, GUN was rubbish. It was a terrible attempt to cash in on the short-lived Deadwood craze of cowboys, violence and modern day swearing that fell flat on its face because it simply wasn’t very good. It was released on all three consoles (Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube) and met absolutely no acclaim. The cowboys were incredibly wooden characters with poor dialogue, the violence was so badly animated it might as well have been made using beef mince lobbed at a wall and the swearing was hilariously childish. Of course, there was the fact that you could blow up horses.

The reason that I mention GUN is because I suddenly got to thinking about it the other day. Since leaving uni I’ve had precious little time to actually sit down and play games through to their 100% marks. I tried playing Chrono Trigger but had to drop it like an unwanted child when the game made it very clear that I was going to need far more than the ten hours I’d already put in. I’ve long since given up on Okami after playing for over thirty hours and forgetting where I was, forcing me to realise that I just don’t care enough to keep throwing away vast chunks of my life just to help a white wolf with a magic paintbrush. Screw him – he’s a God, he’ll be fine. The last game that I actually put enough time in to try and see everything it had to show me was Resident Evil 5 and even that required a monumental amount of willpower to force my housemates off the 360 for a few hours. At one point I even took the Xbox out of the living room just so I could keep playing it.

What was it about GUN that suddenly made me remember such a bland, forgettable and ultimately unworthy game in such positive light? It’s got nothing to do with rose-tinted glasses or a wish to return to a simpler time – hell, even when I was playing it I knew it was utter crap. No, it has more to do with that fact that I managed to see everything the game had to offer in less than the time it takes to prepare, eat and wash up a roast dinner.

The game was entertaining in the same way as watching old people fall over, a haphazard cross breed of GTA-style freeform roaming sandbox play and actual storyline. You get a pretty large, mostly featureless map to wander about in, visiting the handful of brown, dusty featureless towns that consist of a few cardboard buildings and two people you can interact with. These people will then charge you with pretty much the same quest as the actual story missions themselves – race to another town, murder a lot of Indians, move some cattle to another town, murder some Indians with a big gun or just plain ol’ killing loads of people quickly.

It was incredibly repetitive and very, very easy. But the reason I’m remembering such a unremarkable game in such a positive light now is simply because I no longer have the time to play games in the way I used to. Once upon a time, I could take a massive, sixty hour game and see everything it had to show me within a week. Nowadays I have to give up on a game if it runs over ten hours.

It’s not that I don’t want to play games – hell, I love them, they’re my entire life – it’s just that so many games today demand so much time and attention that I simply can’t give them. Call of Duty 4 was the perfect length. It took me three sittings over a couple of weeks and I loved every second, but I’m damned if I’m going to play it again on a harder difficulty – there are other games out there. Dead Space was magnificent, but I could only play one chapter a week, and by the end I was playing it more to finish it and move on than because I was gripped by the story. Mirror’s Edge was just right, a healthy six hours.

The problem is in the diversity of the games I’m offered. The ones I want to play are the huge, seventy hour games, but I know I’ll never get around to playing them. The alternative is that I play a selection of mini games designed to entertain dysfunctional families that last around an hour before I see through their lies and realise that I’ve just spent forty quid on the same two games repackaged over and over and over and again and again and again. However, if the game lets me blow up horses, I’m all in.


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