I don’t get a lot of time to play “big” games; sometimes it feels like the only time I can find the time to play these games is late at night when my wife is traveling on business (post “spend the evening with kids, then put in the usual few more hours of work”). As my students are tired of me saying, I almost never finish big AAA games (I’ve finished 2 in recent memory, both during the brief time I tried to play games on the XBox360 while riding an exercise bike). It’s just too hard to justify the time.
The biggest problem is that as “entertainment”, most big AAA games fail for me, due to a combination of cringeworthy stories, and repetitive game mechanics. After a while, the time investment is just not worth it, to see the end of a story that I would not make it through in any other media: heck, I’d rather watch The Avengers again than slog through “Black Ops 2″. But, I keep trying, because I love the idea of a rich story (good enough that I might enjoy it in another form) and interactions that are fun throughout the whole game.
My most recent attempt: the new Tomb Raider. I’ve never gotten into Tomb Raider games, for various reasons. But, since it was getting such good reviews, I decided to give it a go (plus, it might be one of the last big AAA story-based games, as the genre disappears entirely into the all-consuming void of F2P tablet-based game-snacks).
I’ve only put in about 3-4 hours so far, but I’m really happy I did. I can’t think of a movie I would have rather watched during that time, for example! So far, it’s everything most narrative FPS’s aren’t: I’m enjoying the story and Laura’s character development, and the game play isn’t (too) tedious or repetitive. This may change as I get further into the game, but at this point most big games (like Call of Duty, Dragon’s Age, Prototype, etc.) would have reached that horrible stage where the story and characters are making me cringe, and the action sequences are something I’m trying to slog through in the hopes the story might improve.
Suffice to say, I’m pleasantly surprised, and don’t find myself wishing I’d watched a mindless action flick (or tried to catch up on The Walking Dead) instead.