Games We Cannot Play
I have written in the past about how certain games can be very appealing conceptually but the reality is quite different. Often the fundamental disappointment doesn't lie with the game itself but with our inability to play them. For me the Battlefield franchise is a prime example of this and more recently For Honor. The trailers for these games are frenetic, focusing on action and spectacle. The associated marketing certainly sells the idea of “awesome action”. Sadly, my personal experience of Battlefield has usually been running across an inordinately large map, only to arrive at the hot spot to get one-shotted. As for the planes, helicopters and vehicles; I can't fly them or drive them effectively so team mates tend to abandon me. I can only describe my experience in For Honor as being a flesh piñata for other players. The fun experience depicted in the advertising was as elusive as a good, odd numbered Star Trek movie.
This is one of the reasons I gave up on EVE Online after a fortnight free trial. I simply could not progress in the game through a lack of skill and a chronic tolerance and patience deficit. With other game genres such as first person shooters or massive online battle arenas, I broadly have the same lack of success. Often with titles such as Overwatch and Guardians of Middle-earth it boils down to twitch gaming. Sadly, this is the prerogative of youth. For someone my age, by the time I’ve adjusted my Pince-nez, taken a sip of Madeira and pondered on the matter in hand, I find that I’ve been defeated. And don’t even get me started on flight simulators. What could possibly be cooler than flying a classic warplane or an iconic commercial airliner? Yet the complexity of such titles is beyond me. Nope, with the best will in the world, these sorts of games are not for me. As Harry Callahan said in Magnum Force, "A man's got to know his limitations".
I think most gamers of sound mind eventually arrive at a similar conclusion. Through trial and error, we establish what we can and cannot play. There are a few alleged renaissance men and women that claim otherwise, although most of these are delusional. As for those who genuinely can succeed with all game genres, well they deserve nothing more than a slap for making the rest of us look bad. Yet despite this reality, as humans we like to occasionally take leave of our senses and buy a game that’s sale that we have no hope in hell of succeeding at. I did this several years ago when I bought Ace Combat Assault Horizon Enhanced Edition for the PC. In my defense one of the first reviews that I skimmed through described it as "Call of Duty takes to the skies". At the time my first play through was a dismal failure and I didn’t reach the end. This weekend, I dusted off Ace Combat Assault Horizon Enhanced Edition for round two.
In many respects the CoD analogy is quite accurate. The game has a scaled back control system for the various planes and helicopters and is designed to be used with a game controller. The central campaign storyline is like Modern Warfare in so far as it has a generic World War III narrative filled with caricatures. There's then co-op and multiplayer online missions to be played in various permutations. The thing is, even with the game difficulty dropped to the lowest setting, I still found controlling the planes exceptionally taxing. At one point, I felt I may gain better results if I put a bag over my head and trusted to luck. It took hours before I realised that the on-screen messages that I was berating for blocking my view, were giving me hints. Upon taking the advice there was a significant improvement. However, I still found myself struggling with such things as orientation and situational awareness. For a second time, I have abandoned Ace Combat Assault Horizon Enhanced Edition only half completed.
It's an odd thing, coming to terms with the fact that there are some games that just aren't for you. We quickly learn while growing up that we can't be good at everything in life. Music, art, academia or sport are not for everyone. By and large we get over these things. Well, most of us do. Furthermore, we adapt. If you can't hold a tune, it’s no big deal. If you find yourself in a situation that requires you to sing, just mime. Half your church congregation does this regularly. Not especially good at sports? No worries; you can still enjoy them on TV and your lack of ability certainly is no impediment to being an armchair expert. But the notion that you can't be good at a game is troubling to some. I wonder exactly how many titles fill the average gamer's library that remain uncompleted, abandoned and forgotten; due to the realisation that they were crap at playing them? I’d hazard a guess it’s far more common place than you think.