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NightmareFarm

Games that are less than the sum of it's parts?

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What games do you feel have some good attributes(like storytelling, gameplay, visuals for example) but as a whole experience fall flat for whatever reason?

I would say FF7 R. There's a lot to like about it. IMO It has probably the best combat in the series, the story is controversial but it is a nice twist on FF7's plot and the soundtrack and visuals are great. However it feels so bloated since its a 10 hour disc stretched out into a 40 hour game and theres lots of interactive loading sections like squeezing through debris, both of which make the game feel like a slog a lot of the time. 

I would also say FE:3H. There are some nice attributes about it like monster fights, weapon designs, the plot and the OST. But the overall experience always gets boring after a while and I had to keep taking long breaks to get back into it. Maybe it's the setting and graphically ugly looking church school hub world. I also don't like divine pulse much since it completely coddles you as you can just hit the undo button if you fuck up which takes away the tension/stakes and weapon skills felt easily abusable. 

 

Edited by NightmareFarm
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This has to be my absolute favourite topic brought up on the forum, and yet I strongly doubt I can do it justice in response. I'll give it a go.

Spyro Fusion/Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy (Vicarious Visions, 2004)

It was the dream crossover for the Playstation One: Spyro and Crash Bandicoot working together to defeat their most hated nemeses, Ripto and Dr. Neo Cortex, respectively. In The Cortex Conspiracy, Spyro took on Crash's antagonist. Sounds fun enough: the two have had cameo appearances in each other's games, from the Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped demo being available in Spyro: Year of the Dragon, to Spyro appearing as a playable character on Crash Nitro Kart on Game Boy Advance. The problem is the crossover came over four years too late, which is particularly bad when a working and fairly competent game could be released in 8-12 months. Furthermore, this wasn't on systems where the characters' designs could be realised with greater graphical fidelity, but instead the concept was made for the Game Boy Advance.

The concept not being fully realised due to the technical limitations of its sytem is one thing, but the execution was also bad. A constant complaint I have with Spyro and Crash is the unnecessary amount of vehicles in platform games (full disclosure: link is to my Let's Play of Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly), and the Fusion games are nothing but vehicular mini-games. They're not particularly good either, the game only being more favourable over Crash Fusion/Purple: Ripto's Rampage because the vehicles control slightly less shoddily than Crash's mini-games.

So why is this game less than the sum of its parts? Some of the vehicles stages perform better compared to their console counterparts in Enter the Dragonfly and later A Hero's Tail. But the main reason is the fact this is the first Spyro sidescroller which worked incredibly well, especially in contrast to the Season of Ice/Flame games earlier released. It wouldn't be until The Legend of Spyro on Game Boy Advance where we'd see it again, except now with health bars, enemies requiring multiple hits and breath weapons... again, the consoles doing all that already in full 3D.

Its music is phenominal to say Spyro veteran Stewart Copeland (yes, the drummer and founder of The Police) didn't make it. Instead we have Martin Schjøler to thank for the smooth audio beats, meanwhile making crunchier, upbeat tunes for Crash Fusion. Its graphical fidelity is also pretty good, doing a better job of matching the style of Spyro than previous games. Its story isn't half bad either, with frequent updates between Crash and Aku-Aku, and Spyro and Sparx on their next moves and their progress in their respective games.

~

This is the first game that I'll probably mention here. I'll come back with another game, hopefully without risking clogging up the page, but I'd like to contribute more to a question I'm deeply interested in and when I've got more time to type.

Thanks again for posing this question. Never would've thought to ask it myself!

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Surprised nobody said Destiny yet. Top of the line AAA graphics, amazing gunplay, competent multiplayer but it all kinda added up to... meh. Obviously the story was a hot mess but that wouldn’t have been an issue if the gameplay were more interesting. You can blame the writing for that. Basically every spoken line in the game was either merely informational or filler. They built this awesome world, and then told you nothing about it. Instead you just listen to dumb jokes all day long.

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Here's another one, and I invite the mods to come and stop me if I keep bumping this thread.

Crash Bash (Eurocom, 2000)

Crash Bash was the second spin-off Crash Bandicoot game, and the final Playstation One exclusive. Intended to be a party game and rival to Mario Party, much like how Crash Team Racing was to Mario Kart 64, Crash Bash tried to go for substance over style... and still failed compared to Nintendo's hit-and-miss approach to mini-game design.

The first salvagable thing to take from Crash Bash is its continuation of the theme of cosmic balance, particularly the battle between good and evil which began in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. Aku-Aku and Uka-Uka, enchanted and sentient masks which champion the causes of good and evil respectively, debate on which is stronger. The idea of who the Ancients are, who do not allow them to fight directly, is not developed upon (a shame as Uka-Uka stole the spotlight in Crash's rogue's gallery). So a contest must be held by agents who subscribe to their cause. Unfortunately evil outnumbers good 3:1, so the teams are balanced out. Interestingly enough a new member is introduced to the aforementioned gallery: Rilla Roo, an obvious knock-off of Ripper Roo, and combination of gorilla and kangaroo. Whichever team wins (both good and evil are playable) gets a different ending, and I must say the evil ending is rather bleak: the Earth is doomed, and all that Crash and Coco can do is run on a tiny asteroid where the two masks reside. The good ending, however, gives a sense of triumph... if you can reach it.

Crash Bash is more a Crash game than Crash Team Racing. Everything about it oozes consistent style and an understanding of what makes Crash Bandicoot just that. The art style, the colour pallette, the navigation of the hub world, the themes in each level, and the level design of each game matches everything you know from a Crash game. The best part is it does the opposite of Bethesda/Zenimax design: it takes more than just the latest styles. It takes level designs from all three mainline games, from the dense jungle thickets to the sci-fi urban sprawl, from the depths of the underwater stages to outer space.

Compare that to Crash Team Racing: what's the difference between Cortex Castle and any old castle save for the villain's faces appearing in stained glass? What does Dragon Mine have to do with Crash, besides havign Komodo Joe's face plastered on a few walls? Since when was Pinstripe Potoroo associated with airships? Crash Bash, despite its bosses' placements in contrasting places, knows how to make these villains threatening even out of their element.

The final good thing worth mentioning is the audio. What few voices there are add a more primal, desperate and straight up wacky feel to the characters. Dingodile's lines are bestial rather than the cunning jabs he usually makes; N. Brio is buffoonish rather than the vastly more intelligent (if clumsy) version seen in the previous games; and Dr. Neo Cortex makes a lot of frustrated groans which are always good to hear after years of painful boss battles. The music is to die for, once again rivalling Crash Team Racing quite easily for the better soundtrack. Its songs are upbeat, matching the games and are worth playing the miserable attempts at mini-games for alone.

So, the most important question: what makes all of this greater than the whole? Crash Bash is a party game with limited function for parties. It's fun with a friend in the cooperative campaign mode, but its attempts at trying to attract up to 4 players (using the Multi-Tap peripheral) were abysmal. Anyone who wanted a party game could play a myriad others like Bomberman Land or... Bishi Bashi Special? Its selection wasn't that great: four-way pinball, throwing bricks at one another, a bad racing game and literally watching paint dry weren't much fun, especially with frustrating controls and AI that was either inept or on red alert. Without the campaign the game had no staying power, making it no better than its knock-off Dinomaster Party.

The takeaway is that Crash Bash's story, characters, visual and audio elements far outweigh whatever little good the few uninspired and clearly rushed minigames which existed achieved. All of this could've been added to Crash Team Racing, a job that was done in Crash Nitro Kart... whose purpose was to be the opposite, being an alien game in an alien setting with Crash characters.

~

I would hope I can continue posting in this thread as and when I have more ideas, with the OP/moderators/admin's approval. I'm always happy to be reminded to keep on topic if I end up infodumping more than I do staying within the perameters of the subject.

Edited by Withywarlock
Removed unnecessary but well-intending sentence.
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I had to google what the "less than the sum of it's parts" means and i'm still not 100% sure what it means exactly but i'll try to do my best to cover a few games combined over a couple of posts. I apologize in advance that It may not be as in depth or as good as @Withywarlock posts but the least i can do is help out and keep this thread alive. Let's start with an obvious choice :

Mafia III ( Hangar 13/2k games 2016 )

Mafia series has always been a favourite of mine, albeit the first 2 games are mosly linear in an open world city as there is little to no exploration possible in both games. The strength in both games were always the story, fun and varied missions, great likeable characters you know the sorta things you expect from a mafia game.

Mafia 3 takes another route by going full blown open world because that is what all the games tend to to these days but boy in my humble oppinion New bordeaux is still one of the best open worlds to mess around with it, it's bursting with life, different communities in different disctricts, the 60 ies atmosphere shines trough and trough and you really feel like you are into late 60 ies.

The story is top notch and has great production value, if you haven't played it i'm not going into details about the story, but's all about revenge and you're pretty much a man army kinda like a 60 ies John rambo. There are some really likeable characters like Donovan and that priest who's name eludes me sadly just to name a few. However the main character Lincoln Clay is as boring and generic as possibly can be, this is the first thing of critique that stands in the way of the game being a modern classic as you never feel really connected to the main character.

Musicwise you'll get greeted by jimmy hendrix on the title screen so you just know it coulden't get any better then this. Killing dudes on the tunes of Creedence clearwater revival, the animals or even the rolling stones it never gets old. Just look at the sountrack and judge for yourself.

Let's talk about the exellent combat it's brutal and there is a real sense of satisfaction when you kill everybody the stealth way with a rambo-esque knife, the gameplay is top notch, pretty much your cover/shoot affair nothing wrong with that. Guns handle well and each feel unique to handle. The cars feel heavy they way it should be and the handling is one of the better i've seen in open world games. There are some of greatest collectibles i've seen in any video game like album covers, playboy centerfolds, hot rod magazine you know items you would go out of your way to get. 

Now here is where "are less than the sum of it's parts" is in place. The whole premise of the game is to take over new bordeaux district by district, things you have done a million times already in ubisoft games. Not only that but the missions are repetitive and are just plain boring after a while and you just force yourself to continue playing because of the great story. You go on all this effort to make 90% of the game a potential modern classic just to was it all with these boring activities and missions why oh why hangar 13.

I haven't played any of the mafia III dlc so this is just the base game i'm talking about. Also it's been a while like 5+ years since i played the game so apoligies if i forgot to cover anything in particulair, since this was the first title that came to my mind, figured i'd give it a go.

 

Edited by Yaramaki
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On 6/24/2022 at 5:54 AM, Empire said:

Surprised nobody said Destiny yet. Top of the line AAA graphics, amazing gunplay, competent multiplayer but it all kinda added up to... meh. Obviously the story was a hot mess but that wouldn’t have been an issue if the gameplay were more interesting. You can blame the writing for that. Basically every spoken line in the game was either merely informational or filler. They built this awesome world, and then told you nothing about it. Instead you just listen to dumb jokes all day long.

Not only the gaming issues either, you also had the microtransaction policies which also messed up Destiny pretty badly. First, it was under Activision but even when they left Activision, Bungie made some very questionable decisions which caused controversy in the Destiny community.

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I think I'd say the newer COD games, mainly because they've become much of the same each year. The thing is, each COD game is competent and has the gameplay to keep it going, but the fact that these studios don't do much of anything new, makes the whole experience stale and mundane. It always has decent multiplayer, but lacks in single player for the majority of the series, at least the recent ones. 

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I can't believe it's been this long since the last post here. I would hope that there's been enough posts between my last one that I can contribute another suggestion, as this topic is rather near and dear to me:

Gothic (Piranha Bytes, 2001)

Gothic is the RPG time forgot. Its fanbase, frothing at the mouth to defend any criticism levelled at it, did not. They seemingly cannot, for its effects on them and the effects it could have - no, should have - had on the industry are profound. Gothic very nearly changed the RPG space for the better, protecting it from the streamlining The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and its predecessors would go on to perform uninterrupted.

You are a convict, sent into a mine protected by a magical barrier to prevent your escape. You've been sent down to hand a message, and all the while survive the camps vying for power, using the precious magical ore to bargain. It's a great story and it's told well to say it's an open world game. The open world itself is compact, wasting no space: everywhere you can go exists for a reason, every creature you can slay (which don't respawn) giving you valuable experience and loot. Not a single pixel or polygon is idly coded in. It's world is quality over quantity, unlike its contemporaries who boasted to have bigger fully 3D worlds. Graphics over gameplay was still a major debate.

And while Gothic didn't look particularly fancy, it ran smoothly to say its developers had never made a game before. Gothic is their lifeblood, continuing to make experiences such as Risen and ELEX. One thing you have to give the developers is that they're committed to making this sort of game, even if they never really got better than this. They don't pander nor do they compromise on their artistic vision.

Despite its janky controls - a common, but my only real complaint - Gothic does a fantastic job with its technical aspects. No longer are the 'chance to miss' wild swings of Elder Scrolls games implemented, but instead a crunchy combat mechanic: positioning. You can hold your weapon (what few drop) in a number of ways to guard and deflect blows, and swing in different directions for the best performance, which requires you learn from experience or asking around. If you want a skill, you have to speak to an NPC about it and they will instruct you on how to do it rather than simply nudge a bar on your user interface. If you want information, you have to speak to NPCs and write it down out of game because the journal and what few maps exist are not particularly helpful.

NPC reactions to your presence are varied. Much like Fable, people will comment on your renown or lack thereof. If you're shady they may step up to challenge you or back away. If you're heroic they may do the same with different commentary. It also depends on the faction; some are welcoming of a thug, and some prefer a character who wields their power with discretion. You don't exactly start out as a saint and you won't necessarily progress that way; being soft will not save you. If you sneak, NPCs will note how you're hunched and walking like an idiot. If you enter a home they will follow you, and passersby will call the owner if you're trespassing. Should you refuse to leave you'll be attacked after multiple clear warnings, rather than just stand and kindly ask you to leave.

So why then, after all this praise, is Gothic less than the sum of its parts? Because Morrowind is the overall better game, coming out a year later with its bigger (but sparse) world and minimal voice acting and incomprehensible skills. Morrowind was the quantity versus quality game that people wanted and were told they wanted, and it was ultimately the game that pushed RPGs firmly into the mainstream.

Gothic made a point of being hard to access, and it does nothing to discourage its fans' stalwart gatekeeping. Its world is as harsh as its control scheme, but those who play it and survive its trials come out feeling the better for it. It's hard to go back to RPGs after Gothic... but why can't its parts exist in a better controlling, more helpful and wider, deeper game? Its ideas are brimming with greatness but due to their implementation in the hands of Piranha Bytes they cannot meet their full potential.

They are the architects of the Great Library of Alexandria, and they choose to burn it down every time they build it.

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On 6/27/2022 at 9:36 PM, Kane99 said:

I think I'd say the newer COD games, mainly because they've become much of the same each year. The thing is, each COD game is competent and has the gameplay to keep it going, but the fact that these studios don't do much of anything new, makes the whole experience stale and mundane. It always has decent multiplayer, but lacks in single player for the majority of the series, at least the recent ones. 

Isn't that part of the reason why the recent COD game keeps losing number of active gamers. These guys have been so lazy that they now lack ideas on how to make the game worth buyers money. 

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