Games that benefit from a second look

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Chopper
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Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Chopper » September 15th, 2018, 1:20 pm

I read a comment on Rock Paper Shotgun this morning about sticking with Metal Gear Solid 5 through the dreadful first hour, because the rest of the game (at least from an engine and mechanics point of view) was great. I can get on board with this comment 100%, though I think actual MGS aficionados quite like the opening hour.

You often see comments like, 'after 8 hours this game really opens up!', and it got me thinking - what games would you recommend that have moribund openings, that really come into their own after a period of time.

I can think of,

MGSV
What that first hour is about, I will never know. It almost sinks the game for newcomers to the franchise.

SOMA
Has a pretty moribund opening half hour, where you listen to messages, open cupboards, and go to a meeting. What a game after that, though!

Skyward Sword
The game that ensures I'll probably never play a Nintendo game again. Overreaction? Not to the most awful two hours in gaming. I never got past that extended tutorial.

Prey
I never really believed that 'it gets better after x hours' was a valid argument, but this is the game, along with Evil Within 2, that convinced me that I should give some games longer looks. The opening is great, but the next hour or two - with mobile, irritating enemies that are a mere annoyance in the game as a whole - is rough. It took me several more hours to work out my relationship with the game's systems, but after that I loved it. Evil Within 2 has an extremely uninspired opening, before developing into something really interesting.

Okami
This could be the poster child for the topic. I never got to that sweet spot myself.

Are there any games you feel people should give a second look based on a misleading/slow opening? Or if I'm wrong about the above, let me know :)

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Flabyo » September 15th, 2018, 1:41 pm

It’s not a game I actually like a lot for mainly plot reasons, but the opening to FF8 is incredibly plodding compared to the games either side of it. For most people in Europe who’d likely only played 7 up to this point it must’ve been quite a shock to the system.

Xenogears is similar actually, though it’s opening isn’t quite as foot dragging as FF8, it does still take a while to get to the point where actually interesting things are happening (and that one has probably my favourite jrpg plot of all time, once it actually gets to it that is).

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by KSubzero1000 » September 15th, 2018, 1:57 pm

Chopper wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 1:20 pm
I think actual MGS aficionados quite like the opening hour.
Speaking only for myself: you're wrong about the above, you should know. ;)

In all seriousness, MGSV's beginning is very impressive presentation-wise, but I found it to be rather mechanically off-putting. Slow uninteractive crawling sections followed by a shooty bang bang turret-y chase sequence isn't my idea of MGS gameplay.

Broadly speaking, Õkami is indeed the poster child for what you're describing. It's one of my favorite games ever made, but there's no defending those blatant pacing issues.

JRPGs in general tend to fall into that trap. Replaying Golden Sun recently, I was surprised at how much expository dialogue there is in the beginning section of the game. I've heard similar comments about FF7 coming into its own after "you get to the world map 6 hours in".

It's not just Skyward Sword, Zelda in general has some excruciating tutorials. Even the sacred cow OoT is a perfect example of that.

Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn has weird pacing / balancing issues and the first act is widely considered to be an infamous difficulty spike. I was actually put off by it enough to give up on the game when playing it for the first time, despite being a massive fan of the franchise. I've since powered through and it has become one of my favorite games in the series after multiple playthroughs. But the beginning is rough.

Metroid Prime 2 skips the fantastic tutorial level of its predecessor and just dumps the players in a boring-looking desert area and lets them deal with its frustrating dark world gimmick instead. But persevering through it might reward you with one of the greatest adventure games and one of the most glorious and exhilarating endgames in the entire medium.

All of Fumito Ueda's games can be notoriously difficult to get into. Well worth it, though.

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Alex79uk » September 15th, 2018, 2:10 pm

Chopper wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 1:20 pm
I read a comment on Rock Paper Shotgun this morning about sticking with Metal Gear Solid 5 through the dreadful first hour...
What?

It has got one of the best, most exciting opening hours of any game I've ever played!

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Chopper » September 15th, 2018, 2:37 pm

Alex79uk wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 2:10 pm
What?

It has got one of the best, most exciting opening hours of any game I've ever played!
Are you being serious? :lol: I'm just laughing at our divergence of views here.

You might be the person I talked to before, who was utterly baffled when I mentioned the terrible first hour!

I also discussed it with my brother, who was big into the earlier games (pre-IV) and he looked at me very quizzically when I mentioned 'supernatural elements'. So maybe these weren't present in the earlier games or I've got it all very badly wrong :D

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by countstex » September 15th, 2018, 4:26 pm

I'm not sure if this counts as it's not quite the same thing, but I had to attempt to play Dwarf Fortress several times before it finally clicked and I could see all the wonderful things that game has to offer. I think a good 4 years past between my first attempt and me finally cracking it. But when you do it's like finally being able to see The Matrix.

Since then hundreds of hours have dissapeared into the mountains. Deep, deep, into the mountains. Some would say... too deep.

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Alex79uk » September 15th, 2018, 8:13 pm

Chopper wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 2:37 pm
Alex79uk wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 2:10 pm
What?

It has got one of the best, most exciting opening hours of any game I've ever played!
Are you being serious? :lol: I'm just laughing at our divergence of views here.

You might be the person I talked to before, who was utterly baffled when I mentioned the terrible first hour!

I also discussed it with my brother, who was big into the earlier games (pre-IV) and he looked at me very quizzically when I mentioned 'supernatural elements'. So maybe these weren't present in the earlier games or I've got it all very badly wrong :D
I've not played the original Metal Gear (2D) games to completion, but Metal Gear Solid one to four all had very supernatural elements. Number 2, probably least so, but they're there.

Yeah it may have been me. When I started 5 I posted on here how much I loved the opening section, so you may be remembering that!

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Simonsloth » September 15th, 2018, 10:41 pm

I flipping loved the opening to MGS V. My heart was pounding and almost jumping out of my chest. On second playthrough I echo KSub as it’s plodding and heavily scripted which is at odds with the rest of the game. It was however utterly fantastic first time around. Also the Midge Ure cover of the man who sold the world is amazing.

I would second Soma. I think the game is absolutely incredible but the opening is very lacklustre and without all the word of mouth positivity I would have probably put it to one side.

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by KSubzero1000 » September 15th, 2018, 11:23 pm

...Actually now that I think about it, Chopper didn't clarify which MGSV he was referring to, and if we're talking Ground Zeroes, then that introductory cutscene has to be one of the all-time greatest cutscenes and long take tracking shots in general. Superb scripting and cinematography. That moment when the XOF patch falls and Snake just full-on channels The Guns of Navarone with his badass climbing... daaaaamn. Pure goosebumps just thinking about it! :P

...I'm completely off-topic, aren't I? Why, yes I am.

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Simonsloth » September 15th, 2018, 11:44 pm

KSubzero1000 wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 11:23 pm
...Actually now that I think about it, Chopper didn't clarify which MGSV he was referring to, and if we're talking Ground Zeroes, then that introductory cutscene has to be one of the all-time greatest cutscenes and long take tracking shots in general. Superb scripting and cinematography. That moment when the XOF patch falls and Snake just full-on channels The Guns of Navarone with his badass climbing... daaaaamn. Pure goosebumps just thinking about it! :P

...I'm completely off-topic, aren't I? Why, yes I am.
To pigeon hole myself I am definitely a metal gear fanboy so all of it is brilliant (except when it’s not). I find it difficult to see any negativity when it comes to the series and am one big goosebump when I think about the iconic moments.

I think it’s better with each playthrough although the cutscenes obviously can be a little long and in the way of the “game” but are quintessentially part of the “experience”

I can’t be objective about it at all unfortunately as it’s in my bones...I remember that punch.

I’m even more off topic. Sorry!!

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Simonsloth » September 15th, 2018, 11:53 pm

Back on topic:

Final fantasy 13 would be an obvious one although I’m not sure whether it’s actually good or not. In fact I stopped playing it once it opened up but it was critically panned for being too linear for the first few hours.

Binary domain would be my top pick. It comes across like a terrible gears of war clone which could put off so many people but give it a few hours of your time and you will be rewarded!

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by KSubzero1000 » September 15th, 2018, 11:55 pm

Simonsloth wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 11:44 pm
...I remember that punch.
Ah, so you remember, Simon? The feel of battle? The clashing of bone and sinew?

Yeah welcome to the club, mate. :lol: I get irrationally passionate about MGS as well and the entire series gets my blood pumping in a way that few other things can, although I am highly critical of MGSV and not a fan whatsoever of Peace Walker. But 1, 2, 3 & 4 are just gold-tier works of entertainment that I absolutely adore, warts and all.


Sorry for the derail, Choppy!

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Chopper » September 16th, 2018, 7:18 am

KSubzero1000 wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 11:23 pm
...Actually now that I think about it, Chopper didn't clarify which MGSV he was referring to, and if we're talking Ground Zeroes, then that introductory cutscene has to be one of the all-time greatest cutscenes and long take tracking shots in general. Superb scripting and cinematography. That moment when the XOF patch falls and Snake just full-on channels The Guns of Navarone with his badass climbing... daaaaamn. Pure goosebumps just thinking about it! :P

...I'm completely off-topic, aren't I? Why, yes I am.
And the award for shoehorning in an unrelated topic he wanted to talk about goes to... :D

It's all good!

Binary Domain is a good one, Simon! (I haven't played any of the others mentioned, apart from Ground Zeroes).

Re: MSGV - I was expecting a military simulator I guess. The appearance of the man on fire put me right off.

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Chopper
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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Chopper » September 16th, 2018, 7:25 am

countstex wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 4:26 pm
I'm not sure if this counts as it's not quite the same thing, but I had to attempt to play Dwarf Fortress several times before it finally clicked and I could see all the wonderful things that game has to offer. I think a good 4 years past between my first attempt and me finally cracking it. But when you do it's like finally being able to see The Matrix.

Since then hundreds of hours have dissapeared into the mountains. Deep, deep, into the mountains. Some would say... too deep.
Oh! This is good. I have started it a few times myself. How long do you think it took you to get into it the time it actually clicked for you?

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Alex79uk » September 16th, 2018, 8:48 am

I remember bouncing hard off the first Mass Effect. Played about three hours and thought it was so boring I hated it. Went back a few months later and it turned in to possibly my overall favorite series of all time.

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Simonsloth » September 16th, 2018, 10:48 am

Alex79uk wrote:
September 16th, 2018, 8:48 am
I remember bouncing hard off the first Mass Effect. Played about three hours and thought it was so boring I hated it. Went back a few months later and it turned in to possibly my overall favorite series of all time.
Mass effect is a good one in that it takes some time to get going but I actually quite liked it straight away.

What about Deadly premonition? I’m playing it again at the moment and it’s definitely better this time around. Not sure if that has to do with the improvements in the directors cut version. I suspect that most people will bounce off this still and a few more hours is unlikely to change their opinion.

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by hazeredmist » September 16th, 2018, 12:06 pm

Simonsloth wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 11:53 pm
Back on topic:

Final fantasy 13 would be an obvious one although I’m not sure whether it’s actually good or not. In fact I stopped playing it once it opened up but it was critically panned for being too linear for the first few hours.
This mirrors my experience perfectly - I played through the literal 9-10 hours of walking in a straight line and a couple of chapters beyond and in the vast area where it finally opened up I realised I couldn't be arsed with the game anymore and sacked it off. It's probably the worst example of pacing misjudgement I can think of, though Danganronpa v3 is coming close with me being 12 hours in and only now getting to the core gameplay mechanic.

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by hazeredmist » September 16th, 2018, 12:08 pm

Alex79uk wrote:
September 16th, 2018, 8:48 am
I remember bouncing hard off the first Mass Effect. Played about three hours and thought it was so boring I hated it. Went back a few months later and it turned in to possibly my overall favorite series of all time.
This x100000000 dude. So glad I didn't give up on that game. The Mass Effect trilogy is incredible.

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by Alex79uk » September 16th, 2018, 12:33 pm

Simonsloth wrote:
September 16th, 2018, 10:48 am
What about Deadly premonition? I’m playing it again at the moment and it’s definitely better this time around. Not sure if that has to do with the improvements in the directors cut version. I suspect that most people will bounce off this still and a few more hours is unlikely to change their opinion.
I really liked that first time, but if there was ever a game that needed way points and a mini map... Most the time was spent frustratingly trying to drive around the town!

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Re: Games that benefit from a second look

Post by JaySevenZero » September 16th, 2018, 2:18 pm

KSubzero1000 wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 1:57 pm
Chopper wrote:
September 15th, 2018, 1:20 pm
I think actual MGS aficionados quite like the opening hour.
Speaking only for myself: you're wrong about the above, you should know. ;)

In all seriousness, MGSV's beginning is very impressive presentation-wise, but I found it to be rather mechanically off-putting. Slow uninteractive crawling sections followed by a shooty bang bang turret-y chase sequence isn't my idea of MGS gameplay.

Well, I did enjoy the opening hour of MGSV the first time I played it, mostly because it was all shiny and new (apart from what I'd already seen via promo vids). Admittedly though, on the second, third and fourth playthroughs I started to wish it would get a bloody move on.

That being said, I'm definitely gonna be putting both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain forward as my picks for volume 8.

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