[Featurama] Games That Make Us Go “Meh”
Apparently, I say “meh” a lot. So much so that one of my colleagues here joked that we should run a “meh” collaboration focusing on that single syllable utterance for my birthday. Thinking that this day of all days should be commemorated as one of open expression and opinion, I forced the staff to hurry up and get me this post as a make shift celebration of me, or “meh” I guess in this instance.
For those uninitiated in the word meh, it is a single expression that describes a person’s indifference towards some thing. It can be a term of ambivalence to some, but usually it stems from a feeling that could never be bad, but also isn’t all that good.
And I guess I use the term way too much. So in celebration of Bastille Day, the death of Billy the Kid, and my own birth, here is a list of games that make us go “meh.” You might have your own games that people hold to critical acclaim that you just can’t stand. Sound off below if you have a game that fills your heart with indifference.
Please note that these are our opinions and as wrong as they may be, we still hold them to be true.
BASTION by Mike Eaton
A little while ago, I bought that Humble Indie Bundle which contained a ton of great games like Lone Survivor, Super Meat Boy, and Limbo. Amongst those titles was last year’s indie darling: Bastion.
About this time last year, you couldn’t swing a stick without hitting three critics who were falling over themselves praising this game. They raved about its stellar soundtrack, its striking art style, and its moving and innovative story. I have to say, that game sounds pretty kick-ass and I wish it were part of the Bundle. The version of Bastion I ended up getting was a moderately decent beat-em-up that was half as profound as it thought it was.
I will definitely concede that Bastion is a very beautiful game, and it has an excellent soundtrack. Then again, so does Braid. And Limbo. And Super Meat Boy. And Infinity Blade. It’s pretty much expected for an indie game to have a distinctive visual/musical style these days, so I’m not sure why Bastion gets singled out as the pinnacle of such characteristics. Gameplay-wise, it’s enjoyable enough but not particularly deep, innovative, or challenging. Naysayers would probably argue here that Bastion is more about the narrative than anything else. That may be, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with that either. Apparently, the story made a lot of people cry because it was so profound. Personally, it came across to me like SNES-era Final Fantasy Fan Fiction. One last thing, a lot was made of the narrator and how he reacts to your actions as if it were flashback. Well, I’m sorry to say but that is neither innovative nor is it new. I first saw that 12 years ago when I played the first Max Payne, and again 8 years ago when I played Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
So yeah. Bastion? Meh.
BAYONETTA by Tyler Humphrey
Bayonetta. I should love this game. From the slick, hyper-fluid combat to the crazy bananas storyline, this game seemed like it was meant for me. Mix in all of the inside jokes for fans of Capcom and Clover Studios and it should have been a Godsend. It’s a shame, too. I love Bayonetta every second that I’m not playing it.
Put that controller in my hand though, and the behind the scenes design undermines any enjoyment I may have had. Every scenario in the game is too long and drawn out for my tastes and, for me, it just ended up being a slog. A slog that I never bothered to finish.
Bayonetta, I raise a toast to you with Chris Hadlock. As our glasses clink together, we both exclaim, “Meh.”
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM by Rex
Even though my opinion towards it has warmed greatly since then, my first experience with Skyrim left quite a bit to be desired. For quite some time, my friend had been telling me how good it was, how great it looked, and so on. Sadly, I didn’t share the same opinion.
When I first started up the game, I was impressed by the weapon design and magic. In addition to that, I found the dungeon crawling to be fairly entertaining. That was pretty much it. I found ninety percent of the environments that I experienced to be horribly dull, consisting almost entirely of grays, browns, and white. When it came to hand-to-hand combat-which I dislike even now- it only got worse. Enemies didn’t react to anything. Swinging a weapon felt sluggish and ineffective. Finally, my friend got me to a battle with a dragon- who promptly began to attack my companions as I swung a hammer at its tail for two minutes. Soon after, I decided to end my session with the game. There were some good parts and bad parts, but my overall impression could be summed up in one word: meh.
L.A. NOIRE by Brett Mcleod
After every developer diary, video preview, and review I saw, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on L.A. Noire. The facial technology they used for the characters looked groundbreaking, and I truly thought this would be a revolutionary experience. By no means was this a terrible game. But I got exactly what I was not expecting; a giant “meh.”
To start off, I thought the game would be open. While there is an illusion of openness, the game is linear in every sense. There aren’t side missions to complete, or crime scenes you run into. You’re always dictated on where to go. In fact, nearly everything is scripted, even intense on-foot chases that appear unscripted, but there is a clear point in which you should be running, and a clear point in which you should apprehend the criminal. It’s frustrating as it is painfully obvious that you are put behind some awful boundaries.
While the facial technology I mentioned is impressive, they just do not fit in the game. It looks as though these fantastic faces were just plastered onto some crap body models. It seems they focused too hard on the faces, not enough of the natural human look.
Not to mention that the protagonist you play as is a total overreacting douche who can’t keep his composure for more than a second. On top of that, he’s not a detective, and either are you. You hold the analog stick, wait for your controller to vibrate, pick something up, turn analog stick, wait for it to vibrate, find out new information. It’s completely frustrating when all you want to do is discover evidence on your own, but you become completely reliant on this system.
So obviously, I’ve give this a solid Chris Hadlock Meh/10
GEARS OF WAR 3 by Josh Whitehurst
One of the biggest “meh” moments in gaming for me was the entirety of Gears of War 3. I felt like it was over-hyped to the umpteenth degree, and very dull. The boss battles (especially the end one) lacked fun. The horde mode was and is something that I think will always be enjoyable as long as you have some buddies or even just a lobby full of good, fun-loving players. I just would have liked it if the story held up its end of the bargain.
I realize not everyone plays Gears for its story, but it is a story that has carried significant weight over the arc of three games, so it would have been nice just to see it finish off properly. The cringe-worthy campaign definitely made the already great multiplayer shine even brighter, so I guess I can’t complain too much.
Still pretty meh, though.
METROID by Chris Hadlock
I have a lot of Nintendo franchises I’m not a huge fan of. Most are because of supersaturation or stagnation of IP. Some have design mentalities that just leave me tired. Of course the company makes fantastic franchises and games that deserve to be played and enjoyed. There is one however that has never done it for me. Metroid.
The adventure of astronaut Samus Aran in her daring defiance of the Space Pirates is exciting. Homages to the classic Alien, interesting level design (you can go left??!?) and the best opening song on the NES, make this a classic on aesthetics alone. Pair that with all the advances you have for the game in design, and it is a much deserved classic.
I just could care less about it. The reason is simple. I get lost and bored in Metroid. Not because the game is too tricky or the areas too complicated, simply because 5 minutes in to the game I lose interest. I reach a room I can’t enter, a door blocks my path that my current level of power ups refuses to break through.
I am forced to re-evaluate my formula. That’s where all hell breaks lose. I back track, I jump around and roll around shooting and blowing up enemies. Eventually I grow weary and turn the game off. I just don’t get Metroid and upgrading to Super didn’t help.
That’s not to say the genre is lost on me. Zelda (the original) had a similar design frame and I loved it. Likewise, many of the same design ideas are now utilized within the Castlevania series and I don’t seem to have qualms with those games. Unfortunately, many of the design features surrounding Samus just cut me down and make me tired of the experience I’ve played.
If there is simply one franchise that I don’t get, it is Metroid.
Here’s a happy unicorn to remind you to get yourself a special treat today. It only comes once a year.