2013 was a great year for games. Or was it? Over the holiday period that is largely how I felt. I was unsure whether the last 12 months had really been as amazing as when I first sat down to play all of the games I thought were brilliant, innovative, or simply amazing. They always say hindsight is 20/20, but, in retrospect, I have found 2013 to be a little disappointing.
Don’t take me to be a contrarian, I adored both Bioshock Infinite and Grand Theft Auto V when they first arrived. You can even check out my glowing review of GTAV, but after the dust settles and that electrical surge you get from a bit of rampant materialism wears off, you see the game as a whole.
When I first played Grand Theft Auto V, I found it an amazing roller-coaster of sights, sounds and things to do., something that I would come back to like all the GTA games before it. Now, only a handful of months later, I find it slightly disappointing, taking out the sharpness of GTA IV’s bleak satire, and replacing it with a message as dull and as blunt as a sledgehammer.
Subtle Rockstar, Really Subtle
Bioshock Infinite originally amazed me. Elizabeth and Booker’s adventure swept me up and carried me through a theme park of ideas and concepts. Now I can’t go back to that wonderland, ruined by boring shooting and a surprisingly lazy story once you take the gloss off. Sure the twist was amazing, but if you take away the grand reveal, there really isn’t anything interesting going on. It raises ideas of slavery, racism, class warfare and never really goes anywhere with them beyond a basic statement of “that was a thing”.
Oddly the inverse happened with Saints Row IV. I originally picked it up as something to bridge the time until GTA V was released. At first something about it grated on me, but now I see it as a warm hug of a game, comforting and always welcome in my disc drive.
The thing is I don’t think I will be able to go back and play GTA V or Bioshock Infinite for a very long time. One feels like a weak episode of The Wire, while the other is like a very bloody Disney flick. It was as if my mind eventually snapped back to its usual state and chipped away at what I first thought was spectacular.
Disney With Added Sex Appeal
But why? Why must our past-time diminish with age? Great music is still great, and fantastic movies are still captivating? I would lay the blame at our own culture. We criticize, we blame, we poke holes and lay down some harsh truths. Look up any article on a game and the comments will be a sea of opinion. It is impossible to escape, and, for the most part, it is probably a good thing. It makes us more intelligent as a whole, seeing other points of view
Moving into 2014 I am aware that this will happen once again. The Banner Saga is consuming my free time, and I will more than likely look back in a few months and shrug my shoulders at it. Does that invalidate the excellent time I had first time round? No, of course not. Games are ephemeral things, with standards that change as the latest thing comes out. We build up and up, like a skyscraper placed upon the ruins of old cities. What it really means is we need to enjoy what we play when we can, before something happens, be it some well-aimed criticisms or otherwise.