Games That Pass You By
Like many gamers I try to keep abreast of new releases and titles that are in development. Because of my personal likes and dislikes, I filter out a lot of material I don't personally care for. For example, I'm not really au fait with the sports genre or real-time strategy games. I read several news websites and follow a few "gaming commentators" on Twitter and that usually keeps me informed about the things I feel I need to know. However, it is not a full proof system and every now and then I become aware of a title that has completely passed me by. In some respects, this can be quite beneficial as it means I have bypassed several months of hype, marketing and general bullshit and can now potentially jump into a new game without any major prejudice or baggage.
A while ago, I bought a 2K gaming Bundle that was packed with quality titles. It featured Mafia 2, Spec Ops: The Line and the Bio Shock series. It also included the original XCOM franchise which I knew was both critically acclaimed and well received by gamers. However, as I'm not that heavily into turn based tactical games with an overhead POV, I didn't install any of them. Also included in this bundle was The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. I paid little heed to it at the time thinking it was more of the same. Then I stumbled across a review of the game and was surprised to see that it was a departure from the established format. This instalment was a third person, squad based cover shooter with some strategic and RPG elements. The review was actually quite indifferent, neither praising nor damning the game, yet my interested was piqued. So, I subsequently installed the game.
Now the point of this post is not to critique the game in question. Let it suffice to say that it was entertaining in an undemanding way. I liked the sixties setting and the storyline. What I am more interested in is the fact that a major release such as this completely escaped my notice. The game had a troubled development and was delayed several times. Originally it was intended to be a first-person shooter but there were several radical changes in design during its development. Retrospectively I can see that this was well covered in the games media. Yet I remained totally oblivious to it all. I don't even recollect seeing any headlines and just filtering them out, which is something that often happens. It would seem that an entire marketing campaign just passed me by. Something I find on reflection to be rather amusing.
With regard to the games promotion, I have subsequently discovered a series of live action trailers that feature the actor Dominic Monaghan, star of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Lost. They are well made and show that a sizeable advertising budget was spent promoting the game. However, it seems that the game ultimately met with mixed reactions and was not as successful as other instalments in the franchise. Perhaps the departure from the established format was the root cause. I find all of this fascinating because I came to the game "cold" and found it to be adequate and acceptable. I had no major preconceptions or baggage to deal with and got a week or so entertainment from a product that cost me very little money.
Since this incident, other examples of game’s that I’ve missed have come to light. Ryse: Son of Rome, Sleeping Dogs more recently Watch Dogs 2 all failed to appear on my radar during the run up to their respective release. All were titles I subsequently discovered through bundles or discount sales. Furthermore, it’s highly likely this will happen again, as I tire of the excessive hype that is now de facto with the launch of so called triple A titles. Personally, I find it a rewarding experience to discover games in this manner, especially if they then prove to be hidden gems or just undemanding entertaining. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified falls into the latter category but was still a pleasant surprise. As a result, I shall be paying closer attention to the various gaming bundles I’ve purchased and have outstanding keys for. I have a suspicion that I may well be sitting on more interesting titles that up until now, I've been unaware of.