While I'm a fan of the fresh and innovative, I'm more likely — depending on time and monetary constraints — to run screaming for the safe, the familiar, the ... boring games on my shelf? Well, there's something to be said for the comfort of the familiar, and Tom Cross takes a look at why there's something to celebrate in the less ambitious, safer and more familiar games out there. Cross looks at Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and The Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age. What it is about those well-worn, "uninventive" titles?:
Those games provide gratification without requiring an overwhelming or annoying amount of effort on the part of the gamer: they're fun, accessible, and they have worlds or settings that provide enjoyment on a simple level.
I may be more familiar with the world of The Third Age, and it may produce a bit of nostalgia, but I'm equally amused, enchanted, and engrossed by Fable II's stereotype-ridden Albion. Maybe I'm making the case for less intelligent, less original games, but I think there's a place for such games, especially when "epic" and "deep" are often code words for ponderous, overproduced, and underwritten.
So here's to less ambitious, more accessible games, made with care and passion. To be sure, this is a dangerous path to go down. It's the kind of thinking that might lead us to more Deus Ex: Invisible Wars, or another Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.
There's something to be said for polished competence and gradual tinkering with familiar mechanics and structures; I agree with Cross that it seems somewhat wrong to adore "a game that's really just super-competent plagiarism," but there's certainly plenty to celebrate about the familiar when it's done really, really well — 'super-competent plagiarism' or no.