Killzone 2 has arrived in such faculty as to cause a gigantic shitstorm of drama on the internet, which as far as I’m concerned warrants a column on the topic. I don’t know why I let this stuff surprise me. Just like Resistance 2 before it, though perhaps not to this degree, Killzone 2 has come to embody an ethereal promise made by Sony ages past. PS3 advocates have espoused, Cassandra-style, the idea that their console of choice would one day play games, and good ones at that.
The arrival of Guerilla’s shooter seems to satisfy these predictions, insofar as one believes the glowing reviews. I could take this opportunity to talk about review numbers, scales, and the societal connotations of certain numbers, if only I had not done that already in a previous column. Additionally, the topic has been touched on by fellow TGR writer Paul Delamore. Alas. Now I must do what Guerilla did not – come up with original content (snap).
This bothered me in the first Killzone. The reviews so far have been laudatory in a numeric sense. However the text of the reviews seems to be less than superlative. They all say the game is fantastic, sure, but their main points boil down to the following:
- The game looks really nice.
- You shoot a lot of things.
That’s not to say that such factors can’t make a truly great game, but the game has explosive barrels for chrissakes. The game may be a blast, but I’ve been there and done that. I have been there and done that to the extent that I don’t think going there and doing more will hold any appeal for me. While I am a bit perplexed that none of the reviews seem to mention how absolutely by-the-numbers the whole game looks, what’s far more perplexing to me is that I don’t even really want to play it…
I don’t want to, but for some reason, I have to.
Wait, what? That doesn’t make any sense at all.
There is a twisted and dark obligation at work here. Even though I don’t necessarily want to play this game, I feel like it’s too big of a game not to play. On some level, I believe that to stay abreast with modern gaming, I am required to play every big release. Perhaps this is a bit substantiated by the fact that I write opinion columns, but even still I felt this way before the writing habit had taken root. It’s sort of like the Star Wars prequels – they may not have been as epic as they should have been but god dammit, it’s new Star Wars, so you have to go see it or your nerd license would be revoked.
I will always remember what you were, my love, for all time.
Industry presence isn’t the only reason that gamers can sometimes feel this obligation to play. Video games are more franchise-based than any other consumer entertainment form. After experiencing and investing in a particular series, new entries to that series can take on a mandatory flavor. I haven’t really enjoyed a Final Fantasy game since six, and yet I’ve played every single one to date (though nine was almost awesome). I even played Halo 3 just because it had an incremental number on the end of it, despite my feelings of bitterness and exasperation towards its archaic design.
In addition to all these factors, I have only recently been able to put down the controller in the middle of a game I didn’t quite enjoy. Perhaps it is a misguided sense of pride or ego, but gamers cannot just quit in the middle of a game if they aren’t having fun. This equates to giving up, or the most dreaded of all verbs to gamers, losing. Even after falling victim to mind tricks that get us playing games we may not really want to, we feel a twisted sense to see it through to the end even if there’s more entertaining fare to be had.
One might wonder why any of this is an issue at all, but then again that one probably doesn’t have a job and an insanely high premium on his or her free time. Life is too short, time too precious to play games for dumb reasons. While I am still somewhat obligated to play Killzone 2 (and perhaps I’ve been ignoring my own advice), there’s no reason to play a game out of duty. Sometimes we get so serious about having fun with games that we forget to, well, have fun.