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Gamer vs Critic, the Battle for our Souls

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It's been a few days since I've reviewed Crackdown somewhat harshly, deeming it a clone of its predecessor with an incomplete story and shittier art direction. And while my hard, chiseled and blackened critic exterior consistently tells me that Crackdown 2 is a waste of $60.00 when I could play Crackdown 1 while high and wearing sunglasses, a little part of me said otherwise.

"It was fun though, wasn't it?"

I was jolted by a small, shriveled part of me that I once thought dead: my inner gamer. And as I ignored the insidious whispering of the critic that attempted to contain me, I acknowledged a simple fact: I had fun playing Crackdown 2. Yes it was a clone and kind of repetitive but I didn't notice that while playing the game at all. 

All I did was drive a Lexus look alike through a crowd of mutants and then finish them off by stepping out of my luxury transport and heaving it at them akin to Donkey Kong chucking a barrel.

With the curse of the critic quickly fading, I can boldly make the following statements that I wouldn't dare have made a few days ago. Heck, I was about to write scathing reviews about some of these games.

Yes, Nintendo has basically been remaking Ocarina of Time but it's hard to give a damn when you're sailing through a vast ocean killing gigantic octopi with a boomerang.

Yes, I know Force Unleashed was an unpolished hack-n-slash game that critics bashed but I've played through it twice on different difficulties and I have yet to regret dropping full price on it.

Yes, Modern Warfare 2's story may be hackneyed and overall kind of ludicrous but when I was actually playing it I didn't give a DAMN; I just wanted to know why Shepard shot my ass in the first place!

And yes, I know Grand Theft Auto IV got a perfect 10/10 on like every site, but am I the only one that didn't have fun with the finicky vehicle controls, tank like movement and tap "A" to sprint that haven't been improved after almost a decade?

I feel like critics, instead of determining how much fun can be had with a game, must instead judge it against other games in the same genre or the same gameplay elements. This is by no means a bad thing; measuring games up to the standards already set by the industry ensures that gaming slowly evolves instead of stagnating. But translating that analysis into a score out of 10 doesn't necessarily correlate with how much fun the consumer will have.

Taking off points for a game being repetitive? If a game is fun, I don't mind repeating the same gameplay over and over again. If you think about it, sports games are incredibly repetitive and we still play them.

Saying a game doesn't have the best graphics? Every game can't be Gears of War you know . . . and it's not as much of a deal breaker as people may think.

Penalizing a game for having a "bad" story? Look at how different people like different books. Gamers prefer different stories and prefer having them told in different ways. There is no set medium!

The sad part is, I still want to be a critic, and typing scathing reviews for games that I still loved playing does hurt the gamer inside me. So I'm still standing by my review that Crackdown 2 looks ugly, it's a clone, and the developer really didn't put in as much time as it should have.

But despite that statement, I'm going to my friend's house again and I intend to enjoy Crackdown 2 and all of its cloned glory. 

Long live the gamer.


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