Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bad at Games VII – Brick by Boring Brick

Last entry of “Bad at Games” I proclaimed my love of Rock Band. Seriously, I still love Rock Band in all of its incarnations. The sheer gorgeousness of The Beatles: Rock Band has to be seen to be believed, and Green Day: Rock Band is a real blast. But there were dark times on the horizon, and the band split up – it happens to most bands, even the Beatles. I found myself going solo, and that’s when I had the revelation about my gaming.

I was bored.

While I love Rock Band, the DLC stopped, and playing solo (or even singing and playing guitar as two players) wasn’t enough. I returned to the games of the past, at least the newer incarnations, and found them all the same. I bought games second hand, and found the same old formula. It was like a classic D&D dungeon crawl.

For example, I loved Halo. But I still haven’t finished Halo 4. Partly because I’m rubbish, but partly because I became bored of the formulaic way they play – it’s the same with Call of Duty, and dozens of other FPSs. Go into a room, kill all the bad guys, move to the next room. Or maybe they’ll shake it up a bit, and it’ll be – go into a room, shoot all the baddies, throw a switch or find a key to open the door to the next room, more baddies will appear, kill them, open the door, rinse and repeat.

And there was something about the themes of the games too – kill, kill, kill, kill, kill. With Halo, at least, you were shooting aliens, but modern shooters are all about killing people. With the events in my real life I was finding myself valuing life a lot more.

My lovely wife tried to expand my gaming horizons, and knew of my love of all things Lego (especially as I played Lego Rock Band until everyone became sick of playing the Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” over and over again), and she bought me Lego Indiana Jones 2 one Christmas.

The fantastic and peaceful Lego Harry Potter
I enjoyed it, but found it a bit frustrating that I couldn’t do everything on every level, and when I’d completed the game it said 28% complete. I figured that was it, and I couldn’t be bothered doing the whole thing again to find bits I’d missed, so I gave up, and later traded it in…

It wasn’t until I’d discussed this with Alex, one of the Rockathon players, that I’d been approaching the Lego games in completely the wrong way. I’d bought Lego Harry Potter for my Potter-obsessed wife, and inspired by Alex’s advice put the game in knowing what to expect this time around.

The Lego Harry Potter games became a bit of an obsession. Every brick, every character, every secret, every possible part unlocked in a pair of fantastic games. 100%’d them both, and 1000G’d. I’d found gaming again. Mostly because of my love of Lego, and my love of Harry Potter (there’s a whole blog post there, coming soon – “How I learned to stop muggling and love Harry Potter”), the XBox had never seen so much activity.

While Debs was playing “serious” games like the new Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed, I was casting my little Lego patronus charm in Hogwarts.


That just about brings my videogaming history up to date. I’ve been lured back to the non-Lego games by the amazing powerhouse that is Grand Theft Auto V – with Rockstar once again proving they are the masters of storytelling and open world design, but it’s going to be a long time before I try another first person shooter, and even longer before I purchase a new generation console.

I mean, seriously, what is the point of a console that isn’t backwards compatible? All those Rock Band instruments, the DJ Hero turntable, and the downloadable content. All the games you love. Just cast aside for a better processor? Thanks, but no thanks.

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