The Curmudgeon

I am planning to rent Red Dead Redemption, and I have kind of been hoping I hate it.

I know! That's a crappy way to approach a video game, but there it is and rather than hiding behind some artificial veneer of objective detachment -- not that anyone would really believe me anyway -- I'll just come out and embrace the fact that I usually wish companies like Rockstar and Activision would wither on the ripe vine.

Is it fair? Is it reasonable? Is it even justifiable? Frankly, I'm not sure.

I tend to be the kind of person who paints colors in broad strokes, and once momentum is carrying me toward a certain preconceived bias I am too often comfortable riding that wave of discontent straight through the breakers and on to shore. But, if I'm practical, realistic and for a rare moment unburdened by my knee-jerk reactionism, I have to wonder if Rockstar has really done anything but have kind of an inflated ego and a tendency to step happily into the mire of cultural controversy.

Maybe they are just the Quentin Tarantino of video games. Shameful self-promoters so wrapped up in the trappings of their own constructed image that they become almost caricatures of themselves, and yet at the same time irritatingly talented. I watched Inglorious Bastards with something very near the same kind of pouty reprehension that I have now, and in the end I was dragged grudgingly to something like a bitter admission that while the star of the film was clearly Tarantino, it was a fine directing job.

Of course, Rockstar isn't an individual. When I speak of the company, what I speak of is the aggregate of how they choose to portray themselves, but let's not pretend like companies don't end up creating identities. Let's also not pretend that Rockstar hasn't embraced controversy, and too often responded in a way designed to inflame and irritate. And, that all comes back to me sitting here kinda hoping Red Dead flops, subverting what I'm sure is the hard work of countless talented and otherwise innocent workers.

I don't necessarily like being this way, but I also don't think that I'm alone. I think a lot of people hide biases exactly like this, and worse try to pretend like they don't even exist. To me, that's actually a bigger problem.

Comments

Pages

I think the game looks pretty good!

Elysium is a blight on the industry!

I approach RDR with a huge dollop of apathy. GTA never appealed to me and since that's the defining Rockstar brand, fairly or not, I have no interest in anything they do until proven otherwise.

It'll take a $5 Steam sale to get me to play RDR, and only then will Rockstar have a chance to change my preconceptions.

Playing GTA III for the first time was one of the singly most revelatory experiences I've ever had in gaming; it was simply amazing. Since then, I really dug the Warriors, but don't think I've really enjoyed other Rockstar games all that much, just because they seem to take themselves more and more seriously as every game comes out. I never even played GTA IV; yes, it dwells into deeper issues of violence and society and all that, but I played Saints Row 2, which basically shined a big light on the crime sandbox genre while screaming, "Look at this, look at how ridiculous all this is, have fun!" I guess the one exception is Bully, which I'm playing now thanks to the recent Steam sale; it's silly enough that I'm not rolling my eyes at the attempts at drama I keep finding in the other Rockstar games.

I guess I don't need heavy-handed quasi-social commentary in my games.

I played Saints Row 2, which basically shined a big light on the crime sandbox genre while screaming, "Look at this, look at how ridiculous all this is, have fun!"

This! Saints Row 2 was phenomenal.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
I guess I don't need heavy-handed quasi-social commentary in my games.

Agreed, especially not in games where you can run over old ladies with your car. Personally, I'm all for controversial games, movies, whatever, as long as it's rated appropriately so parents can decide if their kids can see it. If there's one thing people don't have the right to, it's to go through life without being offended.

IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4007/4618501441_749cbe135b_o.jpg)

I consider Elysium posting a giant emoticon image on his article a personal victory. I win the Internet!

Dear Sean,

Thank you for validating my feelings towards Dragon Age: Origins.

Sincerely,

Nelson

So this is why RDR did headline "May 17 - May 21" games of the week on the front page.

jonnypolite wrote:
IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4007/4618501441_749cbe135b_o.jpg)

Brilliant!

I oftentimes find myself hoping that a game will suck just because I don't want to buy it.

RDR is not one of those games.

I had no desire to play this game, but somehow got sucked in by the hype. Now I want the workday to end so i can go home and play my game (which I preordered!)!

jonnypolite wrote:
IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4007/4618501441_749cbe135b_o.jpg)

Improper use of Venn diagrams. Minus five points.

Shameful self-promoters so wrapped up in the trappings of their own constructed image that they become almost caricatures of themselves, and yet at the same time irritatingly talented.

Is Rockstar really unique in this, though? I see a lot of this from Epic too, not to mention Apple. I'm sure we could come up with more if we tried. I don't think what Rockstar does is that unique in the videogame industry, so while I understand the point of view of not liking this attitude, I'm still not entirely sure what's unique about Rockstar's particular brand of gaming shock-jockery.

edosan wrote:
jonnypolite wrote:
IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4007/4618501441_749cbe135b_o.jpg)

Improper use of Venn diagrams. Minus five points.

But it's ROY, so plus 5 points.

Dysplastic wrote:
Shameful self-promoters so wrapped up in the trappings of their own constructed image that they become almost caricatures of themselves, and yet at the same time irritatingly talented.

Is Rockstar really unique in this, though? I see a lot of this from Epic too, not to mention Apple. I'm sure we could come up with more if we tried. I don't think what Rockstar does is that unique in the videogame industry, so while I understand the point of view of not liking this attitude, I'm still not entirely sure what's unique about Rockstar's particular brand of gaming shock-jockery.


I guess I don't think of Epic having a "thing". Only a few game companies really wind up being instantly associated in my head with certain things--Bioware's is "deep, dialogue-heavy RPGs with morality systems". Valve's is "inventive first-person shooters". Rockstar's is "pretentious sandbox games that take themselves too seriously."

And yes, I'd throw Apple in here as well, except I don't think the forums here support a large enough font size for how I'd describe their approach to "pretentious".

I consider Elysium posting a giant emoticon image on his article a personal victory. I win the Internet!

That, sir, is Mr. Yuk, who has been around since before I was born and who most definitely predates emoticons.

nel e nel wrote:
Dear Sean,

Thank you for validating my feelings towards Dragon Age: Origins.

Sincerely,

Nelson

In that case, I don't think I was sick of hearing from Bioware so much as I was simply sick of hearing about them. Rockstar does a lot to insert themselves into the conversation; Bioware, like Valve, gets a lot of hero worship in the press and on these forums. I find myself itching for their games to tank just so I can get a break from hearing about Gabe Newell and the Doctors.

Dysplastic wrote:
Shameful self-promoters so wrapped up in the trappings of their own constructed image that they become almost caricatures of themselves, and yet at the same time irritatingly talented.

Is Rockstar really unique in this, though? I see a lot of this from Epic too, not to mention Apple. I'm sure we could come up with more if we tried. I don't think what Rockstar does is that unique in the videogame industry, so while I understand the point of view of not liking this attitude, I'm still not entirely sure what's unique about Rockstar's particular brand of gaming shock-jockery.

But with some companies and people it's more irritating than it is for others. Some people are really bothered by Apple's corporate image but aren't bothered by Google's, which isn't that much different. Typically, it's a question of the hype about the product versus the quality of the product delivered. I'll admit that at least part of my issue with Bioware is the fact that I think they make lousy games. Elysium, historically, hasn't been that fond of Rockstar's games, so you'd think that'd make their swagger that much more irritating.

Elysium wrote:
I played Saints Row 2, which basically shined a big light on the crime sandbox genre while screaming, "Look at this, look at how ridiculous all this is, have fun!"

This! Saints Row 2 was phenomenal.

SR 2 had me laughing from the character creation screen onwards. I loved my character, with his suit and his mock-cockney pronunciation - "Faaack Off"

I played GTA IV for about 10 hours and then just couldn't take it anymore. Meanwhile I put 70 hours into SR2 and will probably play it again someday.

nel e nel wrote:
Dear Sean,

Thank you for validating my feelings towards Dragon Age: Origins.

Sincerely,

Nelson

Really? Why?

Dysplastic wrote:

Is Rockstar really unique in this, though? I see a lot of this from Epic too

Have to admit, ever since they started with this kind of rubbish..
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/05/17/epic-fa-oh-you-know/

...I can't say I'd shed a tear if GoW3 was a flop and everyone suddenly decided to switch to CryEngine for their next round of next gen games.

Good points. I believe the modern journalist should be transparent about their biases, but not use that transparency as an excuse to not even attempt objectivity. It's a fine line.

I agree with your thoughts about Rockstar (and Quentin Tatantino), but my irritation currently has less to do with manufactured controversy (maybe they are the Marilyn Manson of video games?) and more to do with their alleged working conditions. Maybe they are the Wal-Mart of video games, offering a great service but (by the view of some) a cultural and moral price.

I do certainly agree that they are hardly unique in their aggressive branding. I think most companies strive for a memorable corporate identity; Rockstar has just been more successful than others.

GTA4 was my first foray into the franchise.

I never cussed at a game in a three hour time span as much as I had GTA4. The controls were awkward, clunky and irritable. The combat was abysmal. It was so bad that I preferred driving a sh*tty car in a chase scene that I kept failing than having to fight. Then every time I lost track of the car I was supposed to chase I had to restart way back, needing to rescue my cousin, then drive his sh*tty car instead of the awesome one I already had...

So finally I said "screw you cousin" and went on a date with hottie-bo-botty instead. Except the game decided "NO! YOU CAN'T SKIP OUR PRECIOUS TUTORIAL" and forced me through it again.

Lame physics, lame A.I., god awful mechanics, and so many crimes against common-sense usability and design.

Rockstar? Have talent? If their largest franchise was that bad, I don't want to play anything else by them (which I know for a fact games like Manhunt were even worse).

Also, I was excited about L.A. Noire. Then I discovered Rockstar was making it. The only other game announcement to twist my heart in such a manner was Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (taking a game whose design was exemplary and whose story was literature and turning it into a simple, gimmicky variation of Never-Ending Story: The Video Game).

Now that I think about it, my vile distaste for Rockstar is the only thing that can compete with my divine loathing for Squenix.

I'll be an outlier here and say that what I've seen about RDR actually has me pretty excited for it.

GTA IV overstayed its welcome pretty quickly, I'll agree, but the first 4 or 5 hours you spend in Liberty City are still absolutely amazing. Rockstar creates a huge, believable environment and populates it with interesting (if reprehensible) characters better than pretty much any other game developer I've ever seen. Hell, just driving around Liberty City and watching stuff happen - traffic accidents causing people to get into fights, cops chasing criminals, apprehending them and putting them in squad cars to drive them away (or, if you choose to intervene, those criminals getting away) - there's just a ton of work put into making the place feel lived in and fun to inhabit. I watched the fake TV stations in GTA IV for at least an hour and had a good time doing it.

Did I play all the way through? Nope. Would I have been happy with my purchase at $60? Maybe not. But I waited until it came out on the PC and then for it to go on sale, and got it for $25 - at that price, it's an experience I think everybody should have. Rockstar might not be as good as they think they are, but they are good.

Gamestop is running a promotion now where you can trade in 2 old Wii games to get $40 off Red Dead Redemption. In exchange for Call of Duty: World at War (which I have on the PC and would rather play there) and Mario Strikers (which I never play anymore), I'll get RDR new for $20. I expect that to absolutely be worth it. As Dan Houser pointed out and Seth Schiesel quoted in his arguably over-the-top NY Times review, Westerns are about place, and Rockstar makes places very, very well. And there are precious few Western video games of any flavor.

I'm really looking forward to it.

EDIT: Apparently if you're ccesarano, everything I said there is a lie. Is it because I played it on the PC? I found the controls in GTA IV to be very easy to handle, and never had a problem with the driving physics or the on-foot action.

Welcome to how I feel about every Activision game that comes down the pike. And yes, this even applies to Blizzard games.

[size=5]I like love GTA IV.[/size]

Wouldn't hating on a game before you even play it ruin some of the expierence?
I hated bioshock 2 before I played it and for some reason I didn't enjoy the game even though it was basicly the same as the first game.

Wouldn't hating on a game before you even play it ruin some of the expierence?
I hated bioshock 2 before I played it and for some reason I didn't enjoy the game even though it was basicly the same as the first game.

Rockstar games are the closest experience in my adult life to the stories I used to make up in my head on behalf of my action figures while passing long road trips with the family. Bang! Pyew! You're dead! No, you're dead! Now I'm going to hop in my sports car and drive across the ceiling!

As such, I will defend their awkwardness and mawkishness to the death.

I'm the same way.

Looks like a fun open world game though, with points for a refreshing setting.

Pages