Video Games Ambivalently Continued by VGGers in 2019
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The third wheel to the ever-popular Videogames Beaten by VGGers in 2019 and Video Games Abandoned by VGGers in 2019 geeklists, this is the list for games that you are still playing even though you are frustrated with at least one aspect of them. See last year's at: Video Games Ambivalently Continued by VGGers in 2018

This list is for the games you're still sort of playing, albeit without full enthusiasm, but have neither beaten nor abandoned them. Games with which you have a love/hate relationship, maybe games that have no way to fully "Beat" the game (esp. online games), maybe games you play obsessively and then feel bad about, maybe games you stopped playing but then felt bad about quitting... basically games that have at least one annoyance that should merit quitting, but that also have at least one shining glory that keeps you hooked.

Post your games here, ideally starting with:

At least one PRO
At least one CON


Naturally, following with a detailed explanation of both sides of your ambivalent feelings is best.
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1. Video Game: Hearthstone: Rastakhan's Rumble [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Video Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Osirus
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Massachusetts
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PRO: Highest production value and smoothest interface for a CCG, filled with entertaining cards and some truly fantastic solo modes.
CON: Playing against other players is mostly annoying.


A moment of silence for SolForge, once my favorite online CCG, now defunct.

Anyway, Hearthstone is the online CCG I end up playing these days (technically I still log into Eternal now and then, but I play Hearthstone much more). There's a lot to recommend about Hearthstone; you start with not just a basic deck for 1 class, but a full set of basic cards that include decks for all 9 classes. Blizzard has spared no expense in making a game that's not only high production value, but incredibly smooth in a way that frankly no other online CCG has yet managed.

Unfortunately, actually playing the game against other players is mostly an exercise in frustration. First of all, everyone is running ridiculous decks from the Internet, even at the lowest ranks. So you're quite likely to be facing down either a ridiculous combo that can kill you from full health in a single turn, or at least a something that fills their board with giant monsters in a single turn, to kill you next turn. Or the other month, a deck based around a card that was literally just "if you've emptied your hand and deck, your opponent loses"

So if you've cobbled together a deck from whatever decent cards you have, a typical "good stuff" deck, you're probably going to be thwomped by someone who has a carefully synergized deck. This is a good thing in general -- someone who builds a better deck *should* win most of the time -- the problem is that this persists even at the lowest ranks.

Thus in order to win games against another player even at rank 20, you'll probably need a well-crafted deck of your own. And this is annoying because a) To keep up with the Joneses, said deck will probably need some expensive cards, b) Because the sets constantly rotate, even if you spent a lot of money on a big collection in December of 2017, by 2019 all your cards have rotated out so you can't play them in Standard,
and c) Unless you're pretty good at the game, trying out your own deck ideas will just get you stomped by people piloting known decks.

Again, all of this isn't a bad thing at the highest ranks, where competition should be fierce and require you to play the best decks. But I'm a casual player at the very bottom of the ladder, I just want to put together interesting cards I have and play decks I haven't copied from online, and doing that it's hard to win many games (which you need to do to beat most of your quests, which you need to get gold to buy boosters without paying cash).

Still, the solo adventures (which are completely free!) are a lot of fun and involve mini-campaigns for your deck where every win gets you a choice of 3 new 3-packs of cards to add to your temporary deck for this mini-campaign only. So I continue to mostly play them and then grind quests for gold occasionally but never seem to leave the bottom ranks.



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2. Video Game: Toybox Turbos [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
Video Game: Toybox Turbos
Aaron Tubb
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Fuquay Varina
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PRO: It's a casual fun top-down racer.
CON: I'll have to replay events for better placements to progress.

Toybox Turbos is a really nice tribute to the old Micro Machines racing games, and is quite enjoyable in a casual fun kind of way. Also features up to 4 player splitscreen, which I have played with my boys a bit. I'm close to the end of the single player campaign, needing only a few more stars from events to unlock the final class of vehichles, but events are definitley getting harder at this point. I've been playing it occasionally for the past year or so.
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3. Video Game: Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:1393]
Video Game: Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City
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United States
Indiana
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The surprise with this one is that I thought I had settled in. After clearing the first floor of the labyrinth, I decided to explore the Seafaring portion of the game, which was not in the previous EO.

(My only experience with the series is a full playthrough of EOII)

I completed a ton of Seafaring exploration and assumed that would give me at least a modest advantage back in the Labyrinth, but nope.

For the moment, it seems like any tactical decision-making is moot. There is a good chance one of my characters will get one-hit-KO'd as I explore the 2nd floor, regardless of what I do. I have all the best equipment available in every slot for every character.

OK?

Maybe I need to powerlevel some of my characters by fighting sea bosses, or maybe my party is poorly suited to this part of the game. EOII was hard, but I literally never felt like I was subject to random KOs the moment I set foot in the labyrinth.
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4. Video Game: Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword [Average Rating:8.46 Overall Rank:24] [Average Rating:8.46 Unranked]
Video Game: Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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Pro: One of the best 4X TBS games ever
Con: Stacks of doom

My longest-running case of gaming ambivalence. I experienced it with the original Civ, back around 1991, and then with every iteration through Civ V (haven't seen Civ VI yet).

I just finished a game of Civ IV, so it's fresh in my mind. And that goes to show I'm still playing it in spite of my reservations.

In that game, the usual happened: things were going swimmingly, and then the bugle sounded, announcing that Babylon had declared war on me. I was somewhat unprepared for that, as I always am. But the thing is, even when I'm prepared overall, I don't even know how to prepare for what the AI does. It sends a "stack of doom"--more units than I can imagine the enemy could have built already--to pound one of my cities into submission. No matter what units I've stationed in that city, or whether I've built walls or a castle there, the first enemy attack almost always overwhelms me.

Apparently the best defense is a good offense, and I hate that in a game. I don't mind going on the strategic offensive, but when I do so I want to know my garrisoned cities are relatively safe. I don't want to have to go on the tactical offensive every time battle is in the offing.

But in this particular game I just played, the Babylonians only took one of my cities. They did it with trebuchets and knights, and by then I had artillery and infantry. So I gathered my superior forces and, several turns later, recaptured the city. That's all there was to the war; the enemy agreed to peace after that.

So it turned out to be a good game after all. I love playing Civ, but I hate war in Civ, and yet the game would be too boring without war. So, I'm endlessly ambivalent about it.

I like the way war works in Civ V better. Unfortunately, that version feels long and slow and unsatisfying. Playing Civ IV has pretty much killed Civ V for me.

Now I wonder if Civ VI would be more to my liking or less.
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5. Video Game: Pikmin 2 [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:262]
Video Game: Pikmin 2
☆ ✧ ☆ ✧ ☆
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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Pro: I paid for it

Con: Holy bananas I don't like like trying to tweak out and guess my optimal squad, trying to separate the pikmin particularly during combat, trying to activate only a particular color, having Louie decide to fall over while separating the colors, having some of the pikmin decide to pick Louie up and drag him to the ship, having my pikmin wind up getting poisoned by a farting beetle I can't see because of the foliage and it taking me several attempts at the Frontier Cavern before I could even figure out what was killing my pikmin...

Pikmin 1 was a funny little puzzle for most of the ship parts. It did get pretty intense for some of the battles but overall was alright.

Pikmin 2 shows that my natural aversion for the RTS genre was well founded and that even a Nintendo RTS with cutesy grass people is a frustrating experience for me.
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6. Video Game: Distant Worlds [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:2811]
Video Game: Distant Worlds
Kristopher
United States
Allentown
Pennsylvania
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I jotted it down in my Risk campaign book. I always used to do that so I could replay my moments of glory over a glass of brandy in the sleeping quarters. --Arnold J. Rimmer--
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Pro: It's just incredible. Massively involved as much as you want it to be - you can totally automate everything if that's what you want. Huge maps with thousands of stars.

Con: It's massively huge with thousands of stars and moving parts that every game will take HOURS to play. And bc there's so many moving parts, it's hard to figure out just where you went you wrong, if you lose.


You know, I finally beat a game of this last year, and put it on the list of "Completed" even though it's one of those multiple continuing play games ala Civ or other 4x games that you never really "beat."

But I've found I haven't gotten back to it. I still intend to play it, as its awesome, but I'm back in the "afraid to quit the current empire and restart so I just avoid the game" mood which seems to happen a LOT with this game. I wish it was shorter somehow. But that would diminish it, I think.
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7. Video Game: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:392]
Video Game: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
♬ Stephanie ♩♪♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♪♫♪
United States
In the middle of nowhere
New York
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PROs: It's easy to find a place to leave off because you can save during battle. Game is portable.

CONs: All I really have left to do it grind; I hate grinding. Not as fun as FFT, and there are weapons I seemed to have missed, which means there are skills I've missed.

I had trouble defeating the final boss gauntlet, so now I'm just grinding to try and get assassins, but man do I hate grinding. I did get 2 ninjas and am working on duel wield on the main character, but man the assassin class takes forever to get.
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8. Video Game: Deus Ex: Invisible War [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1762]
Video Game: Deus Ex: Invisible War
Osirus
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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PRO: Deus Ex game, cool abilities and faction choices
CON: I have to restart a lot

I wasn't super-excited about this game, but since I'd played the original and want to play all the new ones, figured I should play this one too for the full series. However, it's really old and Steam kept kicking me to the desktop at every loading screen.

So, installed a bunch of community patches, changed all the settings, running it outside of Steam, and it stopped kicking to desktop at every load screen, but now it still crashes frequently. And this is on top of my own deaths. Tonight I had to sneak past a small strike force and a large rocket-launching robot to break into a lab, had to restart half a dozen times:

* Killed by robot's rocket launcher
* Killed by robot's rocket launcher
* Kill robot, game crashes
* Kill robot, killed by strike force
* Kill strike force, killed by robot's rocket launcher
* Kill robot and strike force, game crashes
* Kill robot and strike force, save game. (and then enter lab, explore a bit, game crashes again.)

Basically I'm saving every 5 minutes which is a dumb and annoying way to play a game, but I've already done everything they recommend to fix it. When it stops crashing, it's not a bad game, but honestly at this point I just want to beat it before I move on to the more modern Deus Ex games and it's becoming more of a slog than a pleasure.
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9. Video Game: Pixel Dungeon [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:4826]
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Chris
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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PRO: It's a solidly made, decent to look at roguelike with good, functional controls, visuals and sound.
CON: There might be a bit too much RNG nonsense to deal with, I'm just not interested in getting "good" at it, and frankly, it can be just kinda boring.

I'm not sure what it is about this game. I keep coming back, largely because a phone game means I can play it anywhere I have a free minute. I'm not sure why I don't find it as engaging as, say, nethack or DCSS, my other played roguelikes, but I just get kind of bored when I play more than a little of it at a time. I feel like a lot of times whether I get very far or not just comes down to RNG. I can probably do better but I don't want to? I guess? But it kills time when I have time and there is a bit of I guess just compulsion to it. I honestly don't even know if I'll ever beat it, but I'll probably not stop playing it.
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10. Video Game: GoldenEye 007 (2010) [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1614]
Video Game: GoldenEye 007 (2010)
Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Full-Motion Video (FMV) games are poised to make a comeback. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.
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Xbox 360

Since this is part of my hardcore list and I am near the game's end, I will not give up, although I have more than had my fill of this game.

At first, I was digging the feel of old-school challenge and item finding with the modern amenities of a Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare clone, which is very much what this is. Sure, the stealth in this game is mediocre and the cover shooting system is beyond horrendous, but so long as the game is not overly long, it is still an enjoyable experience. The last mission in Nigeria, however, is a grueling gauntlet where the challenge on Agent (2/4 difficulty setting) has become more stressful than challenging. It isn't much fun to have to memorize hyper-specific patterns to advance. I am taking on some kind of laser weapon now and I have died about 50 times trying to advance across a walkway in the face of enemy fire. Before that, I had to face several frenetic challenges in a row with no interruption for an equally challenging but different interruption, say a stealth section.

The first five missions are solid, if unspectacular. The last mission just flat out sucks because the difficulty does not stem from clever level design and is not justified by good story-telling. It is just a pure gauntlet down a corridor where you have to take on enemies using twitch reflexes and where there is almost no chance of being able to employ any kind of strategy whatsoever.

So far, I am thinking that this game is about a 5.5/10. I am pretty disappointed in it, to say the least since I was initially very excited by the promise of a game combining cover, stealth, and twitch, a promise that this game fails to deliver in any way.
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11. Video Game: Kalimba [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Kalimba
Krzysztof Zięba
Poland
Kraków
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I've completed a few levels of this one, played a total of around 30 minutes.

PROs: weird and charismatic art design and atmosphere, great attention to detail, controls well, very fair checkpoint placement in levels!

CONs: not feeling it for whatever reason

The good news is that I'll upload a few screenshots to the database.

The bad news is that either something about this game doesn't sit right with me, or maybe I'm just not in the mood for a puzzle platformer. Kalimba is perfectly fine, and pretty impressive in some departments (strong vision for the art and atmosphere, cool small details like different facial expressions of the dudes you control, good sound and music design), but the gameplay... I don't know. Got to think on it some more.

EDIT: reposted so we can get the representative image in the geeklist.
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12. Video Game: Resident Evil 2 (2019) [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:1298]
Video Game: Resident Evil 2 (2019)
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Arlington
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This is at the verge of abandonment, but not quite there yet.

Once you open the goddess statue, this game turns into an absolute shit-show. If you're playing on Hardcore (tip for anyone reading this: DON'T DO THIS, DESPITE THE GAME'S CLAIMS THAT THIS IS THE DIFFICULTY TO PICK IF YOU'RE A FAN OF THE SERIES), the game just suddenly completely starves you on ink ribbons, and then it just starts throwing scene after scene at you that boils down entirely to luck. The game is trying to be Resident Evil 4 and classic Resident Evil at the same time, and it just doesn't work; imagine trying to play Resi 4 and face Resi 4 enemies with a protagonist as incapable as the protagonists in Resident Evil 1 and 2. Yeah, it doesn't work. The game just starts spamming much-too-fast and much-too-tanky enemies at you, and there's exactly nothing you can do about it but get lucky; running is a die-roll as to whether they hit you or not with nothing you can do to influence the odds either way, and fighting is suicide because they all take several shotgun blasts, so they can just charge you and rip you apart in the time it takes to kill them. And when the dice don't go your way? Well, it's been literally close to two hours of walking back and forth and doing inventory box management since you last saw an ink ribbon, so...

Great job, Capcom. Seriously, for as much shit as people gave Resi 6, it was a far more functional videogame than either of their attempts at "getting back to survival horror".
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13. Video Game: Far Cry 2 [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1411]
Video Game: Far Cry 2
Kristopher
United States
Allentown
Pennsylvania
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I jotted it down in my Risk campaign book. I always used to do that so I could replay my moments of glory over a glass of brandy in the sleeping quarters. --Arnold J. Rimmer--
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Platform: Xbox 360
Time So Far: 11 hrs
Why the Ambivalence?: Too samey same same.

So, I have reached the point in the game where I am greatly aware of the grind, with no noticeable differences coming any time soon.

I've done Main Story Missions, Cell Tower Missions, Ammo Store Missions. And they are all pretty much the same same same the whole time:

Get mission at point A;
Travel the entire way across the map to point B (while having to kill every one in between or they just keep coming after you);
Kill everyone at point B,
Rinse and repeat.

I've been trying to collect all the hidden Rough Diamond briefcases as well. And it's the same - travel to X area while having to kill entirely everyone else in between, find case. Rinse and repeat.

I mean, the game's beautiful. I like the African veldt nature to it versus tropical jungle. But I'm just noticing it's a grind with no apparent differences coming.

I'm only 8% into the story. But unless something drastic in the mechanics is coming up that I'm not aware of, I'm thinking everything is going to be the same to come: I'll spend hours running around killing everyone again and again and again (even places I've already cleared out respawn mobs), collect everything I can.... and then open up an entire brand new map and have to do it all over again.

and I couldn't care less about the story.
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14. Video Game: Ori and The Blind Forest: Definitive Edition [Average Rating:8.36 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.36 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.36 Unranked]
Video Game: Ori and The Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
Krzysztof Zięba
Poland
Kraków
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I've played this one for about 90 minutes at this point.

PROs: beautiful art style, excellent animations, superb soundtrack.

CONs: even at this stage I already find it frustrating, and it's a metroidvania... I strongly dislike metroidvanias.

I seem to be in a heart-breaky mood recently, as I keep finding games that I hoped to love, but instead feel ambivalent about at best.

I'm in awe of Ori's presentation, love the artistic side of it to bits. The gameplay is somewhat of an issue to me, however. Not only do I find the basic platforming weirdly off - I'm having trouble judging the jump distance and wall jumping/sliding is a huge pain in the ass - I also feel like the game's difficulty curve is pretty brutal, with plenty of insta-kill obstacles and Ori being very squishy against enemies.

Those problems wouldn't have been such an issue for me if not for the fact that my frustration is exacerbated by the game's overall metroidvania structure, which, for example, had me hitting my head against a wall in one section of the map, feeling like I'm just apparently not doing something right, only to find that actually, I lack a particular skill I need to solve that puzzle. The game didn't bother telling me. Plus, in true metroidvania fashion, Ori also has respawning enemies, which is a feature I positively hate in exploration-heavy games.

I breaks my heart to even consider abandoning this one, but none of the above bodes well for my enjoyment of this game
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15. Video Game: Mass Effect 3 [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:68]
Video Game: Mass Effect 3
Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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I am not considering abandoning this game and it is still better than most of the games that I've ever played, but I am really disappointed in the degree of dropoff between ME2 and ME3. I find that as someone who is deeply invested in the story, many of my complaints center around the storytelling decisions that BioWare made. However, on a mechanical level I also find that things are choppier and rougher than in ME2.

For a while, I have heard people complain about the game's ending. I'm still at least 10 game hours away from the end and I have already experienced story choices that I thought were fairly sub-optimal. Most of the side quest stories and team member dialogue is completely unremarkable. So far, the only returning character who has had an appropriate story is Mordin Solus. Granted, I was unhappy with not getting to have him or another Salarian in my party, since I enjoyed using his abilities in ME2, but the way that his story is handled is satisfactory.

When it comes to Jacob Taylor, however, he was a character who I liked a great deal in ME2 and now he has been reduced into the most boring NPC of the entire trilogy. What makes the storytelling around Jacob frustrating is that he was essentially replaced with James Vega, the least interesting ME character that I have ever encountered.

Thane's progression makes perfect sense, however, I was hoping for a little more or for him to play a larger role.

In the first ME, I romanced Liara. In the second game, I pursued Miranda. Going into this game, I wasn't sure which of them I would choose or if I would be presented with a third option, like Ashley or Tali. In the event, there were no new choices and only Miranda retained the character traits that I found appealing about her in the first place. Liara's character changed since ME1, which makes sense, but these changes have stripped her of all of her charm.

When it comes to the game's mechanics, the best way that I can describe it is that it feels like the kind of degradation that occurs over time when companies do roster updates on old games and release them on older generation consoles. Things slowly get a little more glitchy, the controls feel a touch less responsive and while it can be hard to nail down exactly what is wrong, you intuitively know that it just doesn't feel right. The characters in this game move more jerkily than in even the original ME especially when Shepherd stands up after having a conversation with someone.

There are a lot of side quests here, but they are not as fun as the ones in earlier games and they don't illuminate a lived-in Milky Way to the same extent since most of the missions are just scanning various star systems to retrieve objects which mildly boost your war readiness. Main missions and major side quests are reasonably well-designed and fun, but I can't help but feel that the missions here are the weakest of the trilogy. The mission inside of the Geth network where you had to destroy Reaper viruses started off cool and somewhat novel but quickly devolved into drudgery as you had to search hard to find little segments of code barely within your reach to blast. I finished that mission on Thursday night and it was enough of an unnecessary pain that it caused me to take a weekend long ME3 hiatus.

In the interest of fairness, I do have to point out that the cover mechanics and navigation have improved some and that I prefer the new upgrade system over the one in the first two games. The game is far from bad. However, while I rated the first two games at around a 9 or 9.5 out of 10, I am currently predicting that I will end up rating ME3 at around a 7.

Update:


I just finished the game on March 21 at around 4:00 in the afternoon and I have been processing my experience for the last 8-9 hours. The ending was as confusing and unsatisfying as I had expected. That being said, the second to last mission at the Illusive Man's base was quite a bit cooler than what I had expected. If Kai Leng had been developed a little more, then it would have been absolutely epic. The last few hours of the game and the final mission in London had some good character moments, at least for Garrus, Miranda, and Tali. Even Liara, who was criminally mishandled in this game, got a nice final moment with Shepherd. My thoughts on the game as a whole haven't changed much, but I am now curious about whether the game was rushed to be available for the 2012 holiday season. I can't help but feel that with just a few more months of refinements to the mechanics and some tightening of the dialogue, this game could have been on par with its illustrious predecessors.
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16. Video Game: Sublevel Zero [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked]
Video Game: Sublevel Zero
Aaron Tubb
United States
Fuquay Varina
NC
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Sublevel Zero Redux (in VR)

PROS: Very tight controls, nice-looking pixel art, perfect VR implimentation, graphics in VR are very sharp and crisp, unlike many more realistic looking VR games
CONS: A bit repetitive, no saving mid-level, final level is kind of difficult, and when you die you start all over

This is a six-degrees-of-freedom shooter heavily inspired/influenced by the old Descent games (which I absolutely love). The controls and feel of movement is done nicely, it feels good to fly around. The art style features pixel art architecture that looks nice. The game itself is actually a roguelike, with procedurally generated levels, random loot, and a simple crafting system, and new ships and stuff to unlock for future runs. You have to make it through the game's 4 levels, destroying the reactor at the end of each one, all without dying (Redux changed the amount of levels from 6 to 4 for the lower difficulty). It's all pretty cool, and the 'Redux' version of the game is a lot better than the original in terms of variety in level architechture and enemies, though the levels also seem a lot more linear with only a handful of branching paths from what I played so far.

The VR implimentation is amazing. The text and graphics are very sharp and easy to discern. And the VR/3D aspect actually improves the gameplay by making enemies and projectiles a lot easier to notice in areas that have busy or colorful environments.

I decided to add this game to this list because I just died and got GAME OVER, right after destroying the reactor/boss of the final level, but before I could exit the level. The final reactor room was a cramped cavern full of lava pools and streams of lava pouring from the ceiling, and when the reactor was damaged enough, it spawned many powerful gun turrets all around the room and started shooting at me with huge waves of energy projectiles while firing huge lasers in all directions while spinning, like a deadly disco party laser ball. I think I'll take a break and come back to it after playing Overload.


Good game, though. I can recommed it to anyone who likes the sound of a Descent-like roguelike 6DoF shooter.
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17. Video Game: Duck Game [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:2236]
Video Game: Duck Game
Aaron Tubb
United States
Fuquay Varina
NC
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First, thank you to
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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PRO: Funny, fun, and straightforward multiplayer fighting game.
CON: I have so many fun local co-op or local fighting games already.

I'm keeping it installed for now, but my kids and I prefer BattleBlock Theater or Stick Fight: The Game for this kind of multiplayer gameplay. There is a single-player side to the game, but it's mostly just a bunch of challenge maps reminiscent of the "break the targets" challenges from Smash Bros.
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18. Video Game: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:1316]
Video Game: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Chris
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Pros: From has created an intriguing, large, cool world with lots of neat concepts and flavor text background.
Cons: I'm just not that interested in the fighting mechanics.

When I saw the first videos of Sekiro my first thought was, "I probably wouldn't buy this game if it wasn't From," and how accurate that sentiment proved to be. There are lots of neat things: environment, style and tone are all things that From definitely gets, and I can't deny that flinging myself around with the grappling hook is pretty fun, but beyond that I just don't feel thrilled about it. I find myself slowing down to both determine the proper way to engage enemies, but also to figure out if I can just stealth past. It kinda makes the game even slower than the other souls games, and it doesn't feel as satisfying.

Also, and this is totally minor, but the wall-hug, cliff-hang and grapple point aspects make certain specific environment pieces become repeated several times, leading to some environments looking repetitive (not as noticeable in an area full of pagodas of similar structure, but very noticeable when a cliff wall is perfectly square, or when you see the same tree branch a dozen times). It's not a huge deal but given the unique design of the other Souls games, these explicitly repeated motifs really stand out.

I'll still plug away at it every so often, but I'm really mostly just aesthetically excited about it. We'll see if it goes in the abandoned pile over time or not.
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19. Video Game: RimWorld [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:1692]
Video Game: RimWorld
Kristopher
United States
Allentown
Pennsylvania
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Ok. I know I had Rimworld on the Abandoned list, but I hadn't updated the game so didn't know there was an actual tutorial they walk you thru now. So I'll at least give this another shot or two, just for so.
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20. Video Game: The Saboteur [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:1037]
Video Game: The Saboteur
Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Xbox 360
Current time: 12:00

When I first fired this up a few nights ago, I really enjoyed the film noire aesthetic, but I was low-key horrified at the primitive state of the graphics, which could have been easily handled on the PlayStation 2, where gray palettes were so common. Since I am not too worried about graphics, I forged ahead. The next thing that irked me were the driving controls, which are miserable. Only in the last few years, at least in my experience, have shooters featured vehicle controls which are anything other than pure torture for the player. I was not exactly blown away by the controls, camera angles, story, or characters and I was far from hooked after my first evening.

The main reason that I didn't abandon this game after the first couple of hours is because of the sorry state of my 2019 Hardcore list. I can only afford to drop two more titles from the list and this game seems is crucial to my completion. This is one of four games that I wish that I had not included on the list. Sadly, while I will do my utmost to play it through to completion, I doubt that I will be able to get my Saturn hard drive's battery to give me enough saves to finish Shining Force III, which is the game that I am most excited about and that I have wanted to play for at least a decade.

Returning to the game about three times since, I find that the game is entertaining and enjoyable, but I am still lukewarm on the experience as a whole. While playing this game, I can't help but think about all of the ways in which this game could be better. The main character is implausible (an Irish race car driver in occupied France) and unlikable. The side characters are all flat and nearly lifeless. That being said, there are some good features here. There is some mission variety and there are a lot of cool collectible cars. The climbing and jumping mechanics are very solid and I genuinely enjoy running across rooftops, which is not something that I expected given how much I hate platform games of all kinds.

However, there are a few things that irk me to no end and that I can't adapt to. As I mentioned above, the driving controls are atrocious and this is compounded by the extraordinary stupidity of pedestrians. At this point, I have run over or otherwise accidentally killed around 100 Parisians. This game typically gets a lot of praise for its stealth mechanics. Having played 12 hours of this game, I cannot imagine why this is the case as the stealth mechanics here are abysmal to the point of only rarely providing a viable approach to any mission. Navigation can be a real beast at times, since the map is huge. I like the huge map, but there need to be better navigation tools. Despite giving you open world options, the game does not facilitate, encourage, or reward open world accomplishment in any meaningful sense. The main reason for this issue is the bizarre saving system, where you can save anywhere you want but this will almost never result in you respawning where you saved if you load after a death or when starting a new session. Even more obnoxious is that some of your accomplishments, which are necessary for advancing your abilities and affording new equipment, are undone for no apparent reason. It is also obnoxious to seed occupation towers in place that you destroyed earlier.

I was initially excited to play this one and I know it has some dedicated fans. Unfortunately, I cannot count myself among them. That being said, I see a lot of potential here and I really wish that someone would take this game up or make something comparable to it. With a better story and better mechanics, this game could have been great.
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21. Video Game: Forza Horizon 2 [Average Rating:8.50 Overall Rank:2600]
Video Game: Forza Horizon 2
Kristopher
United States
Allentown
Pennsylvania
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So, I think this is moving to the Ambivalently Continued list. Once I've seen the wizard behind the curtain of the game, with the Adaptive Algorithm of the drivers, I"m just not having any fun. and don't seem to care anymore.

Maybe I've been playing it too much and need to move to something totally different for a bit and come back to it. Maybe I should just look at the Later renditions of the game.... idk.
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22. Video Game: LittleBIGPlanet 3 [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:2391]
Video Game: LittleBIGPlanet 3
Chris
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Pro: Creative, new levels with neat new ideas and mechanics (compared to LBP 1, which is the only one I've played so far)

Con: Why are there so many cutscenes, why are any of them unskippable, why do I have to talk to these terrible characters, why are you doing this to meeeeeeee

I was really hoping to have a similar experience to LBP1 with 3, where maybe a guy talks to me briefly about imagination and then has some witty cut ins during a tutorial, then I just play a million levels. But no, there are characters that follow you around and say things at you, and they are very bad. And even the narrator talks way too much, and I liked him in the first one!

And while some cutscenes are skippable, there are a few that aren't. Too much. And when doing the ostensible tutorial level, the flow of it was so far off. The guy would talk and stop and it jumped around. It felt poorly designed.

I really want more LBP but I gotta steel myself for the garbage I'm going to get here.
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23. Video Game: Shining Force III [Average Rating:8.50 Overall Rank:3130]
Video Game: Shining Force III
Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Platform: SEGA Saturn
Time Lost: 4:15
Pro: This is a great tactical RPG
Con: Severe Technical Difficulties

Tactical RPGs are one of my favorite genres and since I originally got interested in the genre due to experiencing the original Shining Force on the Genesis, this game has been at the top of my "want to play" list since around 2011. Last fall, I finally gained access to this title and I was able to experience this gem on my original Saturn hardware, which I rarely play for more than a few hours a year. At that time, I was also thrilled to learn that with a common watch battery, I could restore my system's ability to save games. So, I installed the battery and had a save game file for the first time that I can remember. However, a few days after my initial foray and after using this new save game superpower on other titles, when I tried to load my SF3 data, the file was missing.

Deterred but undefeated, I decided to put some distance between myself and the problem since I have very little patience for technical difficulties. Reading more about the battery swaps for the Saturn hard drive, I read posts by other people complaining that their Saturn's battery only lasted for a year, while other people were saying that they had had batteries run for four years. Thinking that surely my awful experience was a mere fluke, I bought a new battery, popped it in, and put in over four hours of my time into the game last night. My plan was to spend several hours a night on this one so that I could beat it before the battery died. Well, tonight I fired up the console and I was greeted by the screen asking me to set my language preferences and set the date. So, I began to read even more about this issue...

It turns out that the battery and hard drive on my Saturn has never worked at any point. When the memory is working, the system boots without making you set the date or choose a language. I must have some kind of bizarre defect in my console where the battery is irrelevant because something is either draining it at light speed or else there is some other defective component somewhere.

Now, I find myself in the horns of a dilemma when it comes to dealing with this crap. I don't know whether to invest in a memory card or to just get another Saturn and pop a battery into it. I also don't know if there is just some kind of obscure problem with Energizer 2032 batteries that causes them to be oddly inferior to Sunbeam and the other random brands that I have seen in the online tutorials. Both of these solutions would probably cost about $80.

Adding to my ambivalence is that while this game is certainly very good, it is not as good as I had hoped based on both the years of hype that I had built up in my head over the years and my initial impressions from dallying around last year. In fact, at this point, I can already state with full confidence that SF3 is a full step down from its illustrious Genesis predecessors. This still leaves it ahead of the vast majority of tactical RPGs, but given the amount of hassle that I have had to go through to play this game, I guess I was hoping for more.

Oh, did I mention that I am trying to complete my Hardcore list for the first time this year and that SF3 is most likely going to be an indispensable part of that since I had to abandon one game (Homefront: The Revolution) and there are two others (Warsong and Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen) that I would like to abandon but can't unless I can find a way to finish SF3?
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24. Video Game: Mad Max (2015) [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:847]
Video Game: Mad Max (2015)
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United States
Indiana
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I was really enjoying this game, but I've hit a main mission that is just awful.

The game enters you in a 7 minute race where you have to try to keep pace with an armored leader and hit him 6 or so times with missiles.

Everything about the mission is fake and illegitimate. First, he's driving a big tank-like vehicle but seems to have perfect stats - handling, speed, etc. Second, you can't use any of your actual upgrades - they want to make sure your missiles barely do any damage to him. Third, there are infinitely respawning cars that are just there to get in your way & prevent you from keeping pace with your target - but they can interfere with you, and never with him. It doesn't matter how many of them you destroy. It doesn't matter that at the start of the race, there are only four or five of them. They just infinitely populate the race track. Fourth, I'm not playing Mad Max for a test of my racing skills. In any way, at all. Fifth, you can be driving along and if you clip a wall or obstacle to even the tiniest degree, your car will massively spin out and probably be facing the wrong direction when you regain control. This should constitute an instant loss, but it doesn't. Because of this, it is possible to be way behind less than 15 seconds into 7 minutes of absolute bullshit.

It's also pretty clear that there's some kind of Mario Kart rubber-banding going on, which makes the whole thing infinitely more insulting. There's no way to gauge how badly you are losing, no way to gauge when you will catch up, and no way to restart the mission short of dying on purpose.

This mission sucks. It's horribly unfair, uninteresting, and wastes a ton of time. It has absolutely no common ground with the game up to this point. Nothing I have done so far built up to this. No experience I've gained so far is being tested by this.

Because you have to hold down the "accelerate" button for ages and ages, after retrying a mere 2-3 times, your hand will start to cramp.

It may honestly have been years since I've seen something so thoughtless and out of place in a game. Derailed my enjoyment pretty hard.
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25. Video Game: Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube
Chris
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God messed up and here I am!
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It is my firm belief that little puppy dogs named Mr. Poopytime will bring our country together!
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So I really like this game, but I'm sort of not in the mood for it. The exploration is neat, and seeking out the hidden stuff is really interesting to me, but I'm in world three and levels take a long time to beat, and there's no lore at all, and the newness of excitement of exploring a new, unknown universe has faded a bit. I need to find a time when I'm not crazy busy to have the relaxing, meditative experience this game wants to offer.
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