Twinfinite’s Unpopular Opinions for Your Health
Great minds think alike, but sometimes the better ones think for themselves. Here, at the Twinfinite office, we don’t always agree on everything, whether it’s with each other or a large portion of the gaming population. Still, it’s important to recognize a variety of opinions with thorough explanations. Some of our unpopular opinions may offend some of you, in which case, deal with it. Many people may never like what you like, or dislike what you dislike, and that’s okay. For now, just put down the dagger and hear us out:
You guys, I have a confession to make: *whispers* I really hate BioWare RPGs. I’ve tried to like them, I swear. On the original Xbox, I played a few hours of the much-beloved Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (known affectionately as KotR). My reaction? “Eh, thisTwin is okay, but I’d rather play more The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind,” which is precisely what I did. Although I thought the setting and storyline of Jade Empire was cool, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get into it.
As for Mass Effect and Dragon Age, they’ve just never appealed to me. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of sci-fi or high-fantasy RPGs, because I totally am. I’m not really sure why I dislike these games so much; for all intents and purposes, they should be right up my alley. I played maybe two hours of the first Mass Effect and was thoroughly unimpressed. It’s a good game, hell, it’s even a decent RPG. But for some reason I felt completely blasé about playing it. Whether it’s the combat mechanics, the asinine binary choices (“good” vs. “evil” dialogue options), or the way-too-forced romance, I’ve never really felt compelled to finish it.
I suspect I feel this way because my first open-world RPG was Morrowind, and it sort of made a Bethesda fangirl out of me. I know Bethesda and BioWare RPGs are not mutually exclusive, but let’s just say I’ll take Fallout 3 over Mass Effect any day.
As much flak as the game has gotten and as good as the sequels were, I still think that the original Assassin’s Creed was the best one in the series. People who complained about its repetitiveness obviously didn’t notice the differences between the 3 different cities in terms of enemies and missions. Yes, you were best served finding all of the eagle perches in the area before attempting any missions, but you didn’t have to. It only makes sense that a very good, if not master, assassin would scope out every little detail of a city before going after his targets.
The main thing the original Assassin’s Creed did correctly was the protagonist. As entertaining as Ezio was, he never came off as the reserved professional that Altaïr did. Altaïr seemed like the kind of guy who was always “on”, while Ezio seemed like a ladies man first and an assassin second. Plus, Altaïr was a Middle Eastern protagonist is a sea of 30-something gruff white heroes. Yaay diversity!
(Oh, and I didn’t like GTA IV AT ALL. Niko was just the worst…)
Dragon Age II wasn’t that bad.
Okay, hear me out on this one. The game was flawed, but I don’t think Dragon Age II was anything close to the trainwreck everyone made it out to be. I will admit that the level design was plain lazy, and not even lazy in a believable way. Repeating the exact same floor layout three times in apparently different caves? Yeah, no. The plot, usually a make-or-break element in games I enjoy, wasn’t up to snuff either. Hawke didn’t actually matter in the long run of things. You essentially played a supporting character, reacting to events beyond his or her control initiated by characters that mattered more in the overarching plot. And don’t get me started on whatever character they morphed Dragon Age: Awakening‘s Anders into for his DA2 appearance.
So yeah, like everyone else in the world, I had my gripes. But the game was still fun to play. The dialogue trees were downright brilliant. Not only were we given a fully voiced PC this time around, we were able to craft the personality of that PC through the dialogue wheel. When the player was given an option on what Hawke had to say, the options were divided into three general categories: Diplomatic/Helpful, Humorous/Charming, or Aggressive/Direct. The engine would keep a tally of which category Hawke’s dialogue choices fell into most, and that count would affect the static spoken lines. Each play-through of Dragon Age II could have a Hawke that felt entirely different, thanks to small dialogue tweaks.
Partially as an appeal to console gamers, the gameplay was streamlined to feel more like an action RPG and less like a tactical game. While I missed my tactical view, I really enjoyed the visual overhaul combat received. Bonding with my companions was much more enjoyable this time around because relationships with different party members actually had impact on the story. I played a mage just to woo the mage-loathing Fenris. My second mage character fell in love with the mage rights activist Anders, then sided with the Templars at every turn. While the overall story was lacking, the pure amount of small choices players were given throughout almost makes up for it. Honestly, the biggest obstacle DAII had to overcome was the name it was given. Dragon Age II wasn’t a terrible game, but it was nothing compared to Origins. Had it been released under a different name I think it would have fared much better in the long run.
This might not be as unpopular as I think, but it sure feels that way from my point of view. My close friends and I are buying an Xbone in November, but outside of that, most people I know seem to be going with a PlayStation 4. I totally understand why; I would love to save $100, and I’m not particularly excited for the new Kinect, but hey, Dance Central is pretty damn fun with friends. The real draw for me is Dead Rising 3 and Forza Motorsport 5 this year, Titanfall, Below, and Halo 5 (or whatever they feel like calling it next) next year, and that I’ve just always been a fan of Xbox Live’s overall interface.
I tend to use my main console as an overall media machine, for which I feel Xbox works better. I’m sure the Sony will step up their game with the PS4′s functionality, like being able to replace all in game music with your own streaming tunes, which is something I do frequently with certain games. On the contrary, the PS3 in my apartment is used mostly as a PlayStation exclusives machine. I will definitely pick up a PS4 sometime next year, but for this Fall, I’m sticking with Xbox One.
If there is one game series I find myself unable to enjoy, it is the Assassin’s Creed series. For quite some time, I was not able to pinpoint what I didn’t like about the games, but recently I’ve realized why.
Desmond ruins that entire series for me. He is completely unnecessary because if this is supposed to be historical fiction, we don’t need a made-up reason to go back. We can just go back and live the life of Altaïr. Instead, we have to randomly take over as this largely uninteresting character whose story line is added to the game with the subtlety of a cinder block through a plate glass window. The only justification the game needs for these travels back in time is that it is a video game, not some convoluted run-around without any decent payoff.
If John Marston doesn’t need a future character to flashback to historically fictional events, why does Altaïr, Ezio, or Connor? Without a doubt, the Assassin’s Creed story and particularly Desmond, are one of the most unnecessary popular parts of the gaming industry I’ve ever seen.
Let me start by saying I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If I like something, I’ll likely have my justifiable reasons. Now, it’s no secret that I enjoy the Final Fantasy XIII games. My favorite Final Fantasy, and probably JRPG, of all time is Final Fantasy VI, but I still enjoy both series. How? I don’t expect the same experience, even if they carry the same name. It helps, really. The XIII games look beautiful, have gorgeous soundtracks, and a swift, fun as hell combat system, and that’s enough for me. As a standalone series, without trying to see how it lives up to its ground-breaking predecessors, the games themselves are pretty good.
Now, I am willing to look past the shallow dialogue and character development. I find solace in appreciating the saga as a work of art, rather than a literary masterpiece. However, I did recently find out that it has a massive mythology with interweaving plots that aren’t even shown in the games, which makes the plot make much more sense actually.
I would be lying if I said the storytelling of these games was easy to follow, but apparently there are some novellas that give a lot more details to really bring this world and its ideas to life in a way no other Final Fantasy game has before, complete with its many similarities and references to Norse mythology. I just wish the games would have shared that with me; I’m not about to go and read the books or in-game datalogs. Nevertheless, I think you can see where I’m coming from when I say that there is something to be appreciated here. It’s definitely ambitious without being very pretentious, which I find very admirable. I played the first Final Fantasy XIII game before I saw what some people thought of it online and was surprised to see how detested it was for being so experimental. I still enjoyed it anyway though. Basically, don’t knock it ’til you try it.
I can’t honestly say that I’m a fan of open-world games. I’ve played some of the “great” ones, like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto IV, but for one reason or another I can’t seem to find that thrill in open-world games that most people do. They always just come across as somewhat overwhelming and a scattered experience, since I’m always torn between side quests and completing the main storyline. When I’m playing a game, I like to feel that I’m making steady progress and accomplishing something, which isn’t always easy to find in games with unlimited quests and a plethora of side missions. Maybe I just don’t have a penchant for exploration like the majority of the genre’s fans. Either way, I tend to prefer a more linear experience in games.
This doesn’t mean that I want to play through a massive eight-hour cutscene, though. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood found the perfect balance between freedom to explore without totally derailing the player from the main storyline. The overall game map was big enough that the player could run around for hours completing random faction quests and renovating buildings, but what kept it from being too over-the-top was how those endeavors related to the central story. Accomplishing faction quests allowed for Ezio to earn the loyalty of those factions and have them available to help him in the main quests. Renovating buildings and shops had a similar effect, in that it earns you a discounted rate on armor and weapons.
The size of the map in relation to how many quests are available also plays a part in why I don’t like the open-world aspect of some games. True open-world games usually present a massive, sprawling landscape for the player to traipse across in search of adventure. Too often though, I find that there aren’t enough quests/events evenly distributed throughout the map to keep things interesting, and if you can’t fast travel to a location, travel times can be a grind. That’s why I appreciate games like Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood more than Fallout or Skyrim. They give the player a big enough sandbox to play in, but it’s not so big that they risk getting buried in it.
To bring everything to a close, it’s easy to see that all of us here at Twinfinite also look for certain gameplay elements that help us enjoy any particular series, against the grain or not. If anyone ever decides that you should feel ashamed for liking or disliking a certain video game, they are the bad person, not you. My suggestion to the community is that they tout their opinions with humility, without boasting them. Peace and civility can be found in the video game industry and community; everyone just has to do their part and show mutual respect. Spread that respect like a beautiful, highly infectious, and terrifying disease, and the video game world, as you know it, will be a better place.