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Adventure Games and Me


Last night, after I had finished a review of CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder for IGN, I decided to read through some of the other reviews that have been done on that title. Something bothered me in doing so. I rarely agree with other industry professionals in my adventure game reviews.

I started thinking about why that might be. I genuinely enjoyed the newest CSI game. Yes, it brought almost nothing new to the table and even took away a couple things I did like from previous games, but it was fun. My score reflects how much fun I had with it (scoring systems are a whole different blog entry, so I won't go there now).

I've played... well more adventure games than I can count. Most of them are bad. Some of them are mediocre. Few of them are great. I believe the CSI franchise falls under the great category because of how it really does give you the essence of the TV show on your computer to interact with, and that is what it is supposed to do. Other great adventure titles have included anything by Roberta Williams, Myst, 7th Guest and 11th Hour, the Tex Murphy games and Funcom's acclaimed The Longest Journey (can't wait to play the sequel). Most of the titles I just mentioned we haven't seen in years.

In recent memory, there have been very few adventure games that I have played that I thought were amazing in any regard. So when one does come across my desk that either doesn't bore me to sleep or annoy me in any numerous ways, it's a good game. I recently reviewed Crime Stories for IGN as well. This one I'm more in-line with what others are saying about it, but that games was sort of a no-brainer.

Crime Stories suffered incredibly in the presentation department. Adventure games have two basic areas of focus -- story and presentation. If either of these areas are bad, the game is going to be bad. The only reason to play adventure games these days is to immerse yourself in a story, so a good adventure title has to hit both presentation and story out of the park. I wish a company would just decide to do that.

Adventure games are not dead. There's still a huge market for good games. Heck, there's one for barely passable games -- everyone raved about Syberia and I was less than enthused. So, let's have someone take up Roberta Williams legacy and make great adventure games with great production values and great stories -- and we can watch the reinvigoration of the genre. All it needs is one good designer with the resources to put together good games and adventure games can be back on top. Join me in encouraging companies to get behind this idea.

So why is it I disagree with other writers so often about adventure game reviews? Maybe it is because of perspective. For games like Syberia, I had great expectations for it to bring me back to the days of old, when great adventure games were par for the course. And it didn't, it bored me. For CSI, I expected that game to feel like CSI, and it did. So, do I just have different expectations when playing these games and that is reflected in my score? Probably so.

RE: Adventure Games and Me - I feel for you...

I am in the same boat. I am a long time old adventure player. The days of Tex Murphy and Grim Fandango are long gone. They don't sell very well anymore...because most of the buying public wants more 'flash' and 'eye-candy' for their games. Oh, and let's not forget the T & A factor that has invaded every game genre these days. Remember the Leisure Suit Larry games? T & A in there was for laughs, not a requirement to sell the game...as it still had good puzzle-solving adventure.

There are companies that DO make adventure games. Dreamcatcher Interactive (http://www.dreamcatchergames.com) comes to mind. But they don't come close to imagination of the Sierra Online genre of graphical adventure games.

We old-timers have to face it. We were very happy with the early adventure games...because that was all we had back then. I doubt that a 386SX computer could run ANY game produced these days..but the games we loved back then ran fine. Heck, I still enjoy a good text-only adventure game these days...as long as the narrative is well written and the puzzles are logical.

I also know there are a few fan-based games that are being produced to either mimic the old adventure style or resurrect a dead game line. ( Kings Quest IX - http://www.kqix.com/home.php Max and Sam http://www.telltalegames.com/sam_and_max) I am hopeful that they do well and inspire existing game companies into trying the well-written, less eye-candy adventure game models from the past.


aka Noldor

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