I learned something new over the last week about video games. I already understood the obvious statement that everyone loves great game play with a great story. I understood the idea that not all great games had stories, but they are still fun to play. What finally occurred to me was that an amazing story doesn't make up for mediocre game play.
After years of putting it off, I finally finished Alan Wake last week. The story for this game is pretty intricate. It offers up compelling characters, excellent voice acting, and an interesting narration that hasn't been used before in too many games. With all these things in mind, I found the game play to be really uninteresting and redundant. I would have to make my way from point A to point B. Along the way, I grab a couple weapons and upon arrival, an extended cut scene to tell the story. After the cinematic ended, I would have to travel from point B to point C and the routine of weapons, shooting, and walking would continue. This cycle happened over and over and over.
I reached the point where I was begrudgingly playing the game just so I could find out what happened next in the story. Towards the end, I started to care less and less about the outcome because I was so frustratingly bored with the actually game play. Luckily, I stuck it out just for the sake of seeing it through to the end.
Plenty of people are going to disagree with me and say that they loved the game no matter what. Don't fret, this is far from a review. I realized that as much as we preach about the value of a well told story, there has to be some respectable game play to go with it. I don't know why it took me so long to realize that. With my new found understanding of just how detrimental this can be, I'm going to have a little more appreciation for games with solid game play.