Believe it or not, we’re not always right about everything. Here are some of Brenna and Pat’s most famous errors about games. Who knew Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Destiny would be any fun? Not us.
Did you know Pat and I are old? It’s true. The average age of gamers, judging by the way they’re marketed, is about six – although to be generous let’s say somewhere in the 20’s. We’re not in our 20’s. I stopped being in my 20’s (somewhat) recently and Pat can’t even remember what they were like.
You don’t get to be our age(s) and work in video games for the majority of your adult career without getting a bit cynical about the whole thing. I myself exhibit a cheerful demeanour, but it’s a clever front for the dripping darkness of my soul. And Pat’s Welsh, which explains a lot.
So when new games get announced, or revealed, or teased, or leaked, or whatever, we no longer do that thing new games journos do where they hop up and down a little bit in excitement. “It’s got tits and guns and explosions!” we do not cry, happily. “It’s so quirky and innovative and interesting!” we do not yelp. “Games are amazing and we love them!” is the farthest thing from our lips.
Let me paint you a word picture of what it’s actually like, by which I mean judiciously copy paste from the VG247 chat room.
Brenna: Morning boss
Pat: What’s happening in the fast-paced world of video game news today, make me excited
Brenna: Here’s a great cat video I found last night
Pat: Ha ha
Pat: No really
Brenna: Oh well some games were announced or something
Pat: Good ones?
Brenna: What do you think
Brenna: Oh shit! [Publisher] has literally just announced [major blockbuster]!
Pat: Go on then, let’s have a look
[we watch the trailer]
Pat: Looks shit
Brenna: I have seen better trailers for programming conferences
Pat: Nobody is going to play that rubbish
Pat: It’s dead in the water
Brenna: It’s just the same thing, over and over again
Brenna: What are we going to do Pat? The industry is destroying itself, we’ll be out of a job by the end of the year
Brenna: [Publisher] has lost the plot
Brenna: Completely bonkers
Pat: ‘S pulling traffic though
Pat: Headline it
This scorn and lack of appreciation continues from tease, through announce, through reveal, through previews and review round-up, and lasts right up to the point when we both have whatever game it is in our actual hands.
Brenna: HAVE YOU PLAYED [blockbuster] YET
Brenna: IT’S FUCKING BRILLIANT
Pat: That bit with the [usually someone getting murdered]
Pat: The [action gameplay] is fucking tight
Pat: It’s just a really compelling loop
Brenna: PAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND
Brenna: LAST NIGHT I [something quite unlikely like dropping off a house onto a man’s head, bouncing off, blowing up three other men, and stabbing a tiger in the face]
Brenna: THIS IS THE FUTURE
Pat: Ha ha
Pat: I’ve put 47 hours in already, it’s eating my life
Brenna: I resent your fascist employment of me when I could be [usually blowing something up]
Here, in no particular order, are a couple of games that Pat and I agreed would be absolute bollocks, and then they turned out to consume our lives utterly for weeks on end.
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
After the disappointing bug-fest that was Assassin’s Creed 3, Pat and I were sadly convinced the series had done its day. “Does anybody even care about Assassin’s Creed any more?” we moaned to each other. I held out hope, obviously, because Ubisoft was saying a lot of good things and I am (was, have been) a tragic franchise fan, but although I clapped my hands as hard as I could, in the back of mind a voice kept quietly pointing out how good Assassin’s Creed 3 had sounded, and look where that left us. Meanwhile, Pat wrote it off as “man runs around killing things and there’s stuff on fire”.
Well, we were wrong. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is the tits. Mainly what we loved about it was the sailing. Yes, the much more varied environments and improved traversal made it great fun, and there was content for years. But what we couldn’t shut up about, what we greeted each other with every morning for a month, what we PSN messaged each other about, was the glorious, beautiful ocean. “That’s proper next-gen,” Pat said. And he was right.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 2 was a divisive title, and although Pat wasn’t in that school of fan who raves about systemic open world gameplay, it had a certain nihilistic, fatalistic feel that appeals to a man who writes fiction about grisly murders for fun. I am in the aforementioned systemic-open-world fan group. So both of us ought, by all considerations, to have been super psyched – and yet we were not.
The whole thing just seemed so “modern video game”, you know? bright colours, ultra-violence. Pat wanted that simple, dark core he had fallen in love with. I just can’t be bothered with shooters unless they’re doing something you can’t get anywhere else. And Ubisoft was selling it with sex, for heaven’s sake.
But how quickly the worm turned when we had it in our hands and it turned out to be frankly mental, full of weird drug references, a blissfully un-self aware “commentary” on game design, and fabulously flexible core gameplay. Pat praised its bold risk taking. For the first time ever, I fell in love with balls-out shooter action rather than some additional feature of a game. We’re both looking forward to Far Cry 4, which we expect to up the ante.
Next: four more games that took Pat and Brenna by surprise.