I find it funny that people can catch flack for actually critically reviewing a game. Readers spout back nonsense like, “This review didn’t tell me if it was a good GAME or not, though.” Worshipping “gameplay” is like looking at the cost of the pigments in a painting to decide if the painting is good or not. Gameplay is just a piece of a puzzle, and critical thought about games is not about gameplay. It’s about the experience as a whole. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that gameplay is a factor. It’s just that critical evaluation must look at how gameplay jives with the artistic purpose of the entire work. Building games around mechanics is fine, but as a designer, you have failed if you haven’t look at what the mechanic is saying. If mechanics were all that video games were about, then I would be done with Duet already. Gameplay is just half the story. You need to do the extra work to make a complete game. And judgement of a game definitely involves looking at the gameplay, but a half-rotten banana is not saved by the half that’s still good.
The FPS is dead, if your game is not going to do something about it. Then I don’t give a damn. I don’t want to play it.
I’m currently in the middle of L.A. Noire. And although it’s certainly not the crowning achievement of what video games could be. I must commend it for being a step in the right direction. Even though some would criticize me for supporting something that is only a small step, that seems to be the best that I can do. I try to vote with my wallet, and currently my vote is “no” to more thoughtlessness.
A brilliant game is not afraid to bore me. Games are slices of subjective experience, and all the possibilites of experience in life definitely over-shadow the “fun” section. Games like GTA and Gears are great, but mindless fun is overrunning the mainstream industry. Why can’t game with a budget actually deal with something besides how cool explosions, space marines and goblins are.