Do you have to finish a game to appreciate it/make a final call?

FAST6191

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Seen as we are about as far from any reviewer having done this (the usual thing I see kick this debate off) as we have been in years I thought I would ask this now.

The question of what is finishing a game, especially a modern one, is up for a bit of debate as well. Does hard mode count or indeed does hard mode only count? If only hard mode counts could it be said not to if the classic "just double enemy HP" stuff comes into play?
Can I purposely not do something and what is a different run and thus possibly a modded game and what is afforded by the game itself (my example might be we have probably all seen kids use the starter pokemon and steamroll the game where the entire point of the game for some is to build a team)?
If I get to the final boss, decide the final boss is a four hour grind and then just watch the end on the internet does that change anything?
I have never played skyrim where I earned a shout, yet my saves will say over 50 hours and dicking around makes for a lot more. Did I not play skyrim? If not what if I said shouts were basically magic spells with different mana (I never used a two handed axe/proper hand to hand weapon either)? Change the previous sentence so it applies to GTA instead (your call as to whether it applies to the 2d ones, the console/pc ones or the handhelds).

You may say "but personally" and that may be true, however is it possible for others to not be in the same situation as you? What about the situations of the NES "congrauuulations for playong -- back to the title screen" style endings?

Naturally it might apply more for games with a story but if endless multiplayer exists and even NES Tetris 2 had a story of sorts.
On the subject of multiplayer does it count? Achievements?
 

kristianity77

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For me, on the 360 at least, a game is "complete" once ive finished the story (regardless of difficulty level) and I feel ive attained all the achievements that go with it other than the ones that are just plain there for grinding, or just ones that look boring.

Having said that, there are also a lot of games I have that I never got around to finishing but yet still think they are great. I love the GTA series, but have never finished any of them. I will go through the story of each one so far, then it becomes a pick up and play every so often just to cause carnage and see what I can do. So yeah, never finished a GTA game, but GTA5 will probably be a first day purchase for me
 

xist

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For me personally you can only comment about what you've experienced, or if you have a pre-set tolerance for awfulness. I tend to finish every game i start irrespective of how much i'm enjoying it (bad habits formed from milking as much fun from every game as possible) and so if i actually stop playing a game i know that it's probably bad (and i've finished lots of bad games).

A reviewer can experience the gameplay mechanics on any difficulty and see the story but if he plays on easy he can't whine about the lack of challenge. I'd much rather have a reviewer state exactly how much of the game he's played so i can form an idea of what's contributed to his experience. If in your example you got to the final boss and gave up that's an indicator of bad game design (or your weird play style). As long as you discuss that in your review explaining everything then that's fine (so if you avoided all battles in an attempt to reach the conclusion asap it's you ruining the game not necessarily the game being unfair).

A "final call" or opinion/review of a game reflects a personal experience...as a reviewer you have to play to reveal as much information as you expect your audience wants to make their own decisions. If you gave up on Okami after about 20 hours thinking it was amazing you'd have totally missed the fact that the developers forgot they needed to end the game any time soon, and as such your final verdict would neglect the way the game tends to drag on.

A preview, a quick look or a full review are three different things. Reviewers just need to be transparent....perhaps Magna Carta Tears of Blood (PS2) got amazing after the 25 hour mark, but i'll never know because it's one of the few games i've abandoned because it was terrible in every respect. Terrible combat (which i can safely say remained similar for the part of the game i didn't play), terrible VA (again i doubt it changed), terrible art design (ditto), dull plot (this may have improved although i believe i played enough to judge it). So my review would feature the caveat that MAYBE it got amazing, although my experience tends to indicate otherwise.

It's all down to transparency of what you actually experienced to draw your conclusions from (in my own personal view).
 
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Arm73

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Personally, when I used to buy games I felt terribly guilty if I wouldn't finish them.
Piling up dozens of jewel cases gathering dust made me feel sorry for my self.
Like a waste of money, really.

Today, in the digital age, there are 'other means ' to play games, and I collect so many of them, so naturally I have a huge backlog of games to play.
I usually concentrate at one game at the time until I beat it, and normally go for the ending, but I don't get crazy about getting 100% completion, usually I'm happy to get above 80%.

I really don't care about multiplayer, the only fun I had with it was with the original Far Cry, I used to play engineer and build stuff to protect the others while dodging bullets and I got a kick out of it, but just going around shooting people for the so called 'achievement', it aint my thing.

Also, when I'm done with a game I rarely play it again, unless it's an older game that my PC struggled to play back in the day and now I can play in in glorious 1080p at 60fps on my new rig, so I give it shot.
But like I said, too big of a backlog makes you want to speed things up.

The only time I got to youtube to watch and ending, was when my copy of Dead Space 3 froze on me right after I beat the last boss, and I didn't want to do it again, so I watched the ending on youtube to make sure I didn't miss anything, or if there was an alternate scene.
 

Guild McCommunist

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I really don't say so, you can determine a game's quality once the mechanics of it are introduced and applied. I shouldn't have to sit through 50 hours of a shit game just so I can say its shit without people saying "WELL YOU DIDN'T FINISH IT."

Really annoys me when anyone is critical of a JRPG and the opposition says "WELL YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED IT." Who gives a fuck, if is bad for this much of the game then it's a bad game. It's like getting a steak but certain parts of it are crawling with maggots. "Well the rest of the steak is good, just ignore the maggoty parts."
 

xist

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Really annoys me when anyone is critical of a JRPG and the opposition says "WELL YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED IT." Who gives a fuck, if is bad for this much of the game then it's a bad game. It's like getting a steak but certain parts of it are crawling with maggots. "Well the rest of the steak is good, just ignore the maggoty parts."

What about the reverse situation though, where a game starts amazing for the part you played but at some point after you quit it all falls apart. Your opinion omits that part of the game you didn't experience and as a result isn't representative of the game as a whole. It's why that notion of "complete" reviews and reviewer transparency are important.
 

Guild McCommunist

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What about the reverse situation though, where a game starts amazing for the part you played but at some point after you quit it all falls apart. Your opinion omits that part of the game you didn't experience and as a result isn't representative of the game as a whole. It's why that notion of "complete" reviews and reviewer transparency are important.

Odds are if a game is awesome you'll play it until it stops being awesome.
 

xist

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Odds are if a game is awesome you'll play it until it stops being awesome.

That's kind of sidestepping the point of the topic - How much do you need to play? You may have a deadline to write a review and only play so much of it before you submit. It's why i'd argue that a lot of the time finishing games prior to review is important (and doing so on the standard difficulty settings too).

Off the top of my head i can't think of any games i've played which started off terribly and became awesome, but i'm sure there are some out there. Or perhaps even games that are unwieldy and complex to start with that you grow into as you learn the mechanics. It feels unrepresentative of the package to write off a game for everyone (as a reviewer) if you've abandoned the game based on your limited experience.

As a reviewer i think that final judgements that are to be disseminated have to be more fleshed out than personal opinions.
 
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EZ-Megaman

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If a game takes multiple hours to get to an entertaining point, it's not a very well-made g ame.

I don't think the first few hours of a game represents the rest of it.

For example, I dragged my way through for the first few hours of Live a Live (I'm using this as an example as I'm pretty sure you played it) and I almost dropped it due to how boring found it. I initially chose the wrestler character, and found the game lacking up to that point. I enjoyed most of the other characters and the second part of the story, though.

Would you think I should be able to call it a bad game, had I dropped it, despite only particularly disliking one out of seven completely different stories, which I started with due to my own choice?
 

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I don't think the first few hours of a game represents the rest of it.

For example, I dragged my way through for the first few hours of Live a Live (I'm using this as an example as I'm pretty sure you played it) and I almost dropped it due to how boring found it. I initially chose the wrestler character, and found the game lacking up to that point. I enjoyed most of the other characters and the second part of the story, though.

Would you think I should be able to call it a bad game, had I dropped it, despite only particularly disliking one out of seven completely different stories, which I started with due to my own choice?
I wouldn't call it a bad game, I'd call it a game that wasn't well-made, which is what I've said. I've played live-a-live and yeah it suffers from this depending on which character you start with, while it should not.

Bad pacing is often a result of the developers not running through the game at the end to make sure that it flows properly, that the player knows where to go, that the final difficulty curve works, to apply touches and techniques they developed later to the earlier content, etc. It's often obvious games games have gotten that final stage of development and which ones have not.
 
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xist

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If a game takes multiple hours to get to an entertaining point, it's not a very well-made game.

But that doesn't stop it being a 8/10 game in the end.

I'd use Final Fantasy Tactics as an example of this. Initially it can be horrible for new players, but once past that initial bump it turns out to be one of the greatest SRPG's around.

If you're reviewing a game that you've dropped because you didn't like it, you're reviewing part of a game and not the whole thing. Equally, if you watch an ending on Youtube because you couldn't reach it on your own you're not experiencing the same thing as someone who beat that boss and finished the game properly - the experience isn't the same. There's no adrenaline rush of completion or sense of satisfaction or reward.

I don't want people who review games to half only played some of the game in question (and i'd really like them to remain as objective as possible). In a similar respect, i don't want to read music reviews of albums by people who've only listened through once...that's an initial impression and not a real listening experience.

Do you have to finish a game to appreciate it? No. Do you have to finish it to be able to post a complete discussion about the game? I think you do, unless you discuss how much of the "experience" you missed.
 
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Another World

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sometimes i have to finish a game to care about. if i like it, i'll finish it regardless. if i have have any issues with it and stop playing part way it takes me years to pick it up again. i have a shelf full of unfinished ps2 stuff. piracy had a lot to do with that though. i stopped appreciating ps1 games after exploiting that console, it wasn't until the ps3 (which i refuse to hack because i fear the same results) that i started to really appreciate my purchases again.

-another world
 

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There aren't many games which were crap after having playing half the game which had been great... They generally keep the same quality. However there are some games which feel half finished. *caugh* Bionic Commando *caugh*
 

FAST6191

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One year on I thought I would see if anything has changed or someone else wants to add something.

The later conversation of introductions vs game got me slightly curious. In recent times I had seen two videos that were relevant
It is a breakdown of why NES mario level 1.1 works. At points I was having flashbacks to high school language classes and finding "yes shakespeare was a genius and every reference we have told you was completely intentional, always was" a less than satisfactory answer.
The second was when IGN got John Romero to play co-op doom and talk people through it
The comment that stuck with me was "you design the first level last". Ignoring aspects of what I am about to say that is some sound advice.

My mighty time wasting powers, having now been honed over decades, have also granted me the ability to play most games. As such I may not need an introduction.
 

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I've seen those video's too. Great examples of how things that look so simple to the end user took such work.

And it's true. The last level - assuming there IS a last level in your game - will be remembered, but the first one is the one EVERYONE will play. And if it's designed properly, nobody will even noticed it's done correctly.


I'm currently playing through hard reset. On the outset, it has everything I should look for in a simple shooter. Good weapons, lots of enemies, blade runner-ish theme, minimal (campy) storyline, slight upgradeable stats, many secrets...but why do I not feel satisfied? Because those little design things are completely out of whack. All the enemies are the same. The weapons need to be upgraded on terminals rather than found. Secrets are stupidly easy to find and everything looks samey (I'm in level 5, 6 or 7 now and everything still looks exactly the same). If the first level was designed brilliantly, I would be more excited about things and would have appreciated the hard work they've put in the game more. Now I'm getting through it just to get through it. If it gets better or worse at the end, it will still have an influence, but not that much. My opinion is pretty much set, and I doubt I'll change it just because the end may be the best ever seen in the history of video games.
 

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Absolutely.

Are you playing a FPS? You get the word when credits roll. Endless game like Pac-man? Once you played enough.
If the game is shit from the start then, as a game reviewer, you have a big opportunity to go where no one wants to go. If you don't want to do that, then you should change hobby: reviewing only good games and calling yourself a game reviewer is like looking at porn and calling yourself a gynecologist.
Are there any exceptions? No. Once you got the full experience of shitness, once you go through every unbearable thing you see on your path, THEN you can complain all you want. That's the way I think it should be.
Except for Chiller. Everyone hates Chiller. Fuck Chiller.
 

FAST6191

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Absolutely.

Are you playing a FPS? You get the word when credits roll. Endless game like Pac-man? Once you played enough.
If the game is shit from the start then, as a game reviewer, you have a big opportunity to go where no one wants to go. If you don't want to do that, then you should change hobby: reviewing only good games and calling yourself a game reviewer is like looking at porn and calling yourself a gynecologist.
Are there any exceptions? No. Once you got the full experience of shitness, once you go through every unbearable thing you see on your path, THEN you can complain all you want. That's the way I think it should be.
Except for Chiller. Everyone hates Chiller. Fuck Chiller.

Technically pac man has a kill screen at level 256.

I am not seeing it though -- very very few things have ever made up for being drivel in the last few minutes, likewise nothing has really killed my enjoyment in the last few minutes (possibly aside from the ending of land of the dead). When it comes to games it gets even worse for if I can call an 8 hour campaign value for money then if a 40 hour game goes off the rails after 24 hours then have I got three times the value? Maybe not if I am not told a complete story but what if it is one of those "haha at 24 hours there was a hidden boss behind the big bad".

"only playing good games"... to me that is rather too close to the "well you do not make [music/games/books/video/food/play professionally]" line of logic. I have experienced bad ones of all of those, even if I might not have made them, and I do not especially feel the need to have my memory refreshed. As such I fail to see why only playing good games or saying "forget this" can not be done.
 

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I think if you were reviewing a game, you need to finish it to justify making a valid opinion of it. The only possible exception to this is if the game is unplayable, like literally unplayable to the point that there is game-breaking glitches or it is so buggy that you cant play it.

With that said, general opinion of a game can be placed at any time. I think the arguement that you need to play a game to the end to have an opinion of it is nonesense. Im not going to keep playing a game that is awful because there might be a cool final level or a cool bit coming up. If you're playing an RPG game or a long adventure game such as zelda then it needs to have good pacing from start to finish. The start especially needs to be good, it needs to hook gamers and make them want to keep playing for the 30+ hours or it is not doing its job.
 
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Taleweaver

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Even when (professionally) reviewing a game, this is a tough call. The time your review is relevant is at launch day or the days afterward. If a game has 50+ hours worth of fun in it and you don't get it pre-release, there is almost no other option than cutting corners. And who is going to complain? Your boss knows that if you spend 25 hours on it instead, the review won't look that different (but you could spend that other 25 hours to review another such game). And I really don't think many gamers would be able to tell the difference either.
 
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