I have this friend (believe it or not) that is on his fifth playthrough of Infinite Undiscovery. “Can’t afford a new game?” I joked. “I have lots of games,” he said, “but I only buy and play the really good ones.”
Now, I’m not bashing on Infinite Undiscovery (a very capable JRPG, I’ve heard), but at some point, you just need to move on. Don’t replay games; there are too many other games you’ve already missed, and more are being created every day.
People re-watch favorite movies. People re-read favorite books. It’s understandable. You find something you like, and you stick with it. But a movie is two hours of familiarity. A book is a couple quiet nights of reflection. A fifty-hour game is a commitment. Every Mass Effect replay is weeks of living in the past – weeks that could be spent on something new, something innovative, something that uses the lessons learned with excellent older titles and advances the industry to an even higher level.
We can’t always afford plopping down another $60 on the next big thing, especially with the recent dirge of AAA titles. Remember November 2009? Dragon Age, Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed II, Left 4 Dead 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, even “surprise it’s actually good!” Lego Rock Band all dropped within two weeks of each other. Nothing makes your wallet cry quite like a holiday season of that caliber.
And naturally, we want to squeeze every drop of value out of our purchases. Gamer Limit even has a “Longevity” spot on our reviews, and replayability is a huge factor in determining the quality of a game. Despite the sheer awesomeness that oozed from Batman: Arkham Asylum, there was no real reason to replay it. Atmosphere only extends so far. Dead Space had a similar issue, which may be the reason that twice as many people played it than bought it new. Shaky economy + used games are cheaper = lots of reselling.
Developers try to keep us on their games. They extend the replay value by offering multiplayer modes, charging us for DLC that probably could have been included in the original price of admission, or (the most devious method) offering a scant few achievement points to encourage a second play. Mass Effect, with its impossible-to-achieve-in-one-play Extreme Power Gamer achievement, along with the various “Complete the majority of the game with X squad member” achievements meant that Bioware didn’t want you to play anything until Dragon Age came out two years later. And then there’s Ninja Gaiden II, which requires no less than EIGHT completions (many for a paltry 5-point achievement) to acquire all 1000 gamerscore. Sigh…
There’s nothing wrong with being rewarded for your effort; I’m all about rewards. However, the quest for achievements is, and always has been, an ultimately fruitless affair. And this is coming from someone that bought Avatar: TLA: TBE for the five minutes of gamerscore heaven and haven’t touched it since. It isn’t too much to ask for something tangible to show for our efforts.
Best example: Ratchet & Clank. Long before achievements were a common practice, Insomniac employed a system of Skill Points in their R&C games for obscure accomplishments. The difference: the Skill Points gave you in-game rewards, like concept art, big head mode, reversed levels, etc. Further, a full-game replay activated Challenge Mode, where the bolts you picked up were multiplied and the bosses were more difficult. Still, there was nothing you hadn’t seen before. It was nice of Insomniac to include a reason to replay, but without a description of how to actually earn the Skill Points, you were forced to either use a strategy guide or miss most of them completely, as many were just so… SO random.
Don’t replay games. You need to quell your gamerscore addiction for a while; there are plenty of other low-hanging fruit on the achievement tree. You liked Mass Effect? Hey, the sequel is coming out at the end of the month. You liked Ninja Gaiden II? Pick up Bayonetta. Being a slave to the hooks of a certain genre doesn’t mean you need to live in the past. New advancements are being made in the industry every day, and there are so many games already on the market that deserve at least a glance.
Our retro favorites have developed and evolved into the art that is put out today, and today’s games will become unfathomable wonders of the future. Do you think there would be Bioshock without Wolfenstein 3D? Would we have The Sims without the original Sim City? Without Tetris, would there be a Bejeweled? No. Older games have their place, and they can still be incredibly enjoyable, but the innovation is happening here and now. If we don’t reward those developers that push the boundaries of the medium (by buying their games), we will be eventually be shackled with rehashed tripe like Madden 27, Farmville: Zombies, and Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust. Oh, that last one’s a real game? Well, maybe it shouldn’t have sucked so much.
Find a new favorite movie. Read a book you’ve never heard of. Play a game outside your FPS-only comfort zone (try an indie title, they’re not all crap!). There’s an entire world out there waiting for you, as soon as you cease your sixth replay of Final Fantasy VII. Grow up, man! The innovation is happening NOW, and we’re all a part of it.