Games that are flawed but you defend them anyway


#1

For me it’s always been Batman:Arkham Knight. There are too many Tank battles, that’s something I think everyone agrees but I really enjoyed the story for what it was and found it rad flying around a real scale Gotham city.


#2

You might want to check out the Podcast Recommendations thread, there’s a ton of really great suggestions in it!


#3

Yeah just seen so I changed my post, thanks!.


#4

Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Unleashed

We would not have Sonic Colors or Sonic Generations without Sonic Unleashed, and in my opinion, Unleashed is still better than both of those games. It’s just it had the unfortunate position of being the game to follow up the abysmal Sonic 2006; I think a lot of people are way more critical of Unleashed than is frankly necessary.

That doesn’t mean the game isn’t flawed, I just think people put undue weight on how much those flaws actually negatively impact the game. A lot of folks go in to Sonic Unleashed expecting a bad Sonic game and lean on a kind of confirmation bias when it doesn’t immediately defy their expectations.

Like, yes: The “Werehog” sucks. Werehog levels are much too long (at least 4x as long as any of the normal Sonic levels) and the combination of Sands of Time platforming plus God of War combat seems like a weird fit for a Sonic game. But it’s really not so bad, it just feels like a slog when such huge chunks are presented all at once. It’s also a lot better once you pump enough experience points in to leveling up the Werehog – most of the useful combat abilities are locked when you start, and a low-level Werehog feels too weak and too fragile to be much fun.

The other big stumbling block is the Unleashed’s collect-a-thon tendencies. This was back when Sonic Team was still trying to find ways to pad out their short 2-3 hour games with enough fluff to make them take 10+ hours, and Sonic Unleashed does this by forcing you to collect Sun and Moon medals. Unlike the Power Moons in Mario Odyssey, these medals are unceremoniously stashed in all kinds of boring corners, and if you don’t meticulously comb through every single level, chances are you’ll hit a roadblock later on when the game tells you to backtrack and find 10, 20, 30, maybe even 50 more medals in order to unlock the next stage on the map. They aren’t hard to find, so as long as you’re keeping one eye open it’s not TOO annoying, but it’s one of those things where you don’t know it’s a problem until it’s already too late.

But if you ask me, both things are worth the slog for what I would say are the best 3D Sonic levels ever made.


These levels are HARD in a way that Colors and Generations just aren’t. I’m guessing Unleashed must not have tested well with a younger demographic who found the game to be too difficult, but that’s what made me fall in love with Unleashed. This is a game that demands you rise to its challenge. It’s a twitchy adrenaline rush in a way I don’t think any 3D Sonic game will ever be ever again.

I will be on my deathbed still defending this game for those “Daytime” levels.

(Just stay away from the Wii/PS2 version. People who say it “fixes” Unleashed are crazy.)


#5

Jet Set Radio series. The first one is straight up hard to play and kind of a poor control experience, the second one got slightly better but was still sometimes trying to make the player do unfun things in a fun world. The experience could either be more focused or less focused; it’s these beautiful levels that you mostly engage with by being routed into kind of stiff objectives or competitions, and only kind of knowing where to find the next one through a cutscene. The maps in both games are also really bad and really necessary sometimes.

I am going to go ahead and say it–I think Jet Set Radio Future is the most beautiful video game to ever exist. Its color scheme and mastery of cel shading and visual effects is a dream come true. It also has one of the top soundtracks. These two extremely strong elements, the character designs and voice acting have made sure it has a fanbase to this day.

Ideally, a new Jet Set Radio game would have something like Super Mario Odyssey’s moons, small challenges in the levels that felt well-designed, combined with overarching objectives. The games struggled to find an audience because of the hard-to-love gameplay and because of players’ stuck-up attitudes about the cel-shaded style at the time, but I think they would have a much larger chance of succeeding today.


#6

this kind of makes me wish it was easier to edit saves on the 360 so I could just unlock all the stages and play em freely.

is this still worth the effort if I’ve run through em via the Unleashed Project?


#7

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows for me. It was pretty mediocre most of the time but I really liked just swinging round the city collecting shards (or whatever it was) also being able to be black suit spidey throughout the whole game was pretty cool.


#8

The Unleashed Project is… fine, but even the mod authors admit it’s not a perfect replacement for the real thing. Generations doesn’t support every gameplay feature that Unleashed did, so some levels end up worse for wear in The Unleashed Project (Cool Edge, the snow level, for instance – you get WAY less control over the Bobsled segments in Unleashed Project).

I keep The Unleashed Project installed for convenience but whenever I do eventually end up putting the real Sonic Unleashed in to my 360, it’s like coming back to an old friend and I definitely prefer it over the Generations mod.

I think I’ve heard that if you have the PS3 version you can download a save off the internet and throw it on a USB stick (or whatever), but I’ve also heard that the PS3 version has more performance problems. The 360 version is capped at 30fps (and sometimes dips well below that, especially in the back half of the game where it feels like they ran out of budget for optimization) but from what I’ve heard, the framerate in the PS3 version is uncapped and varies much, much more wildly – higher highs, but also much bigger dips with those same late-game levels supposedly getting close to single digit framerates. If you have a PS3, that may be something to consider, depending on how much framerate fluctuations bother you.


#9

tbh I have trouble thinking of a game other than Tetris that isn’t flawed in some way

but I am a staunch defender of “messed up but fascinating ideas” so here’s some, with varying levels of screwed-up-ed-ness:

Odium/Gorky 17
KOTOR 2
Fallout New Vegas
Metal Gear Solid V
X-COM Apocalypse


#10

Obviously it goes without saying that people can enjoy whatever they want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. No need to defend or justify. But defending a game, or as I’d rather say “your hill to die on” regarding games, is I think, a natural reaction to something you like getting criticized. I’ve heard Austin talk about the gutteral defence of stuff he loves, and that it’s a trait he doesn’t like. I feel very similar about a lot of things but it’s very hard to let it go. I get the feeling every time Austin and Patrick say that they can’t tell if a games 4K or not. All because I recently bought an Xbox One X and feel like I have to defend my purchase.


#11

It’s already been mentioned once, but Knights of the Old Republic 2 for sure. I understand the development issues, including cut content and bugs. However, while Kotor 1 crafted the perfect prototypical Star Wars romp in an RPG, Kotor 2 offered a deconstruction of that formula. I’m not saying the latter is necessarily better, but it’s more compelling to me personally.

Beyond that deconstruction, I also loved the darker, more dire tone of the sequel. Peragus Mining Station is one of my all-time favorite intro levels, mainly because of how vulnerable it made me felt. There I was on a derelict space station, no context for why I was there besides a smattering of workers’ logs. When the cutscene plays of Darth Sion’s ship docking, followed by his minions turning invisible as they boarded the ship, it suddenly felt like a game of cat-and-mouse. I may not have felt such vulnerability were it not for my inexperience as a gamer at the time, but it still made for a very organic tension hardly any game has rivaled for me since.


#12

Alpha Protocol is exceptionally flawed in execution, but the premise of a spy-themed RPG using the Mass Effect engine is just too cool of an idea. I just wish Matt Rorie had the time needed to really polish that game.


#13

Morrowind.

It’s totally broken (if you can see a system, you can exploit it to destroy any intended power curve/gameplay progression), a visual disgrace in the shipping incarnation (rigid sub-object intersections were not still passable at the time for characters and it’s not like the engine couldn’t do deformable meshes - something modders quickly completely reworked), and full of very crufty design (that dialogue system certainly stands out today as years after that went completely out of style).

But once you’ve completely rebuilt the engine to allow rendering of the true distant areas of the island (plus far more detailed versions of the original ideas about foliage etc), once you’ve swapped in fan-crafted alternatives for every single texture and mesh in the game, once you’ve gotten used to any of the systems you’ve not swapped out: then you find the strangest of places to explore. Every bit of character that later Bethesda RPGs have completely avoided is woven into this land, plus it’s where all that open world gameplay was first working as you’d expect it today (to play, it’s not that far from a Skyrim or Fallout, once you’ve become accustomed to some of the sharper edges to many of the systems). It’s worth defending because it shows what could be possible for the newer Bethesda RPGs - the things they’ve still not matched yet in later projects.


#14

I am extremely here for all the other Obsidian stans love u all


#15

I feel you. I like a lot of games one might charitably describe as flawed gems. Titles which have a lot of interesting ideas or mechanics, or both, even if they’re not executed perfectly.

The very buggy, but still best of the series imo, Fallout New Vegas is a good example. I don’t hate Fallouts 3 and 4 or even think hating those two is necessary for enjoying 1, 2, and NV. (The less said about Tactics, the better though.) But FNV forms such a damned good ending to the “trilogy” started with 1 and 2 (despite not technically being the third game). It’s a stimulating culmination to those questions raised in the first two titles, e.g. what is civilization? What does it mean to be civilized? Or to civilize people and the landscape? So, I can forgive the bugs and outdated dialogue system because it’s such a richly layered game, with fascinating moral and philosophical choices. I’ve never tired of replaying it or thinking about it.

Plus, when you’ve got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle, the journey can be as amazing as the destination.

Related tangent: for any Fallout fan, I recommend watching Brows Held High’s video “The Future We Choose,” about choice and consequence throughout the series.


#16

if i can find a cheap PS3 version i might pick it up to mess around with. i’ll probably emulate the Wii version just to take screenshots in and whatever. what were you’re big problems with PS2/Wii versions btw (besides the even more confusing level structure)?


#17

KotOR II is quite possibly my favourite game, and certainly my favourite story told in the Star Wars universe, so I’ll third this.

Kreia’s an absolutely fascinating character, and the revelation of her motivations, and ultimate goal, remains one of my favourite moments in all of gaming. It’s such a staggeringly compelling deconstruction of, essentially, the entire premise of Star Wars, and I absolutely love it.

And Kreia’s just one aspect of the game! There’s so much other amazing stuff there, from the Peragus sequence you mention, to the exploration of the Exile’s role in the war, and how it affected her and others… God I love KotOR II so, so much.

I’m still absolutely astounded that Obsidian were allowed to tell that story–I can only imagine that no one at LucasArts ever actually read the synopsis or script!

@SnowCrashed

Yeessss inject all the buggy masterpieces into my veins! My fondest wish in all of video gamedom remains Obsidian somehow getting hold of the Star Trek licence and a AAA budget, and then just going to town on it. I wouldn’t necessarily want a KotOR II-style deconstruction - DS9 already tackled that territory remarkably well, while retaining enough reverence for the ideals the series is built on to not feel mean-spirited - but holy crap, there’s little I wouldn’t give to see what they’d do with it. I wrote a basic pie-in-the-sky outline over on ResetERA a while back:


#18

Most people claim that the Wii version of Sonic Unleashed “solves” the problems the HD version has because it gets rid of the collect-a-thon aspect and significantly restructures the town segments so you can’t “get lost.”

Removing the medal requirements is nice (you still earn medals, now for finishing levels, but I think they only count towards unlocking bonus content), but the restructured towns aren’t much better. Towns in the HD version are incredibly small and impossible to get lost in, and in the Wii version they’re replaced with a pre-rendered map screen image where you move a cursor through icons meant to represent various locations in that town. Moving the cursor is actually incredibly confusing, because sometimes you’ll press left, only to have the cursor move down, or vice versa. Figuring out the sequence of d-pad inputs to get to a specific menu option on the map is actually a lot harder than you’d think.

It also plays in to one of the misconceptions that bothers me about Sonic Unleashed. Usually, a common complaint is that people don’t want to wander around towns in the HD version and talk to NPCs. What I don’t think anyone realizes is that you don’t actually have to do any of that in the HD version – throughout all of Sonic Unleashed, I think there’s a maximum of seven or eight NPCs spread across the entire game that you are flat out REQUIRED to speak to, and most of that is made up of talking to the same character multiple times at different points in the story. All of the game’s side quests can be completely ignored (and I did, my first time through the game).

Where it gets frustrating is this narrative of the Wii version “fixing” the game, because in the Wii version, you DO actually HAVE to talk to everybody (read: you have to click on every menu icon on each town’s map at least once, sometimes twice, before it’ll let you access that continent’s level).

But also it’s just not a very good version of the game, on its own. Sonic’s daytime levels feel empty and lifeless. Sonic himself has very stiff controls and the boost system was changed for the worst (instead of just holding the button, it’s segmented out in to 5-10 pips, where pushing the button will burn through one entire pip, and you have to keep mashing the button to maintain constant boost).

The Werehog is even worse. The HD version will routinely give you one big 10-20 minute Werehog stage, but presumably this is impossible on the Wii, so you get 3-5 separate, individual Werehog levels all back to back, each one taking 5-8 minutes each. Not only does it feel like more Werehog (because you have to do so many of them in a row), but it genuinely IS more, because the total sum of the four smaller levels still ends up taking longer than one giant Werehog level in the HD version.

Plus, the Werehog combat in the Wii version is just abysmal. It’s also insanely stiff feeling and incredibly rote, because you have very, very little combo variety. You spend actual hours wading through hundreds of enemies using the same three or four herky-jerky punch attacks. It is soul crushing.

And then there’s the fact that the Wii version is missing content. They must have run out of money or something, because the Africa (Savannah Citadel) and New York (Skyscraper Scamper) levels aren’t in the Wii version. You go to those locations to watch cutscenes, talk to NPCs, and fight the relevant boss battles, but the actual levels contained on those continents don’t exist for the Wii version of the game.

It is all around a much worse version of the game in nearly every aspect.


#19

That old Austin favorite Far Cry 2. It took me three tries and two years before the game clicked, but the description I once saw of the game as “the Demon’s Souls of FPS” rings true (though I suppose plenty of folks would say that of STALKER). The most oppressive atmosphere I’ve ever felt in an FPS, with some very cool mechanics (playing with fire) interwoven with some lousy ones (malaria!! respawning checkpoints!!). Somehow these elements mix into a game that feels lived in, and there’s enough gameplay freedom to allow for some great watercooler moments.


#20

100% Agree. Lord knows what I’d do for them to get a second stab at it.

The original NieR & Dragon’s Dogma are my other two although I don’t think DD needs a lot of defending at all.