The Problem with Being too Polished

The first half of 2013 has delivered two of the absolute best games of this generation: The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite. These games come late into the console cycle when developers have a firm grasp of system hardware to push their creative vision to its limits. Both games have some of the biggest budgets in gaming and show an exemplary level of polish. They both immerse the player in their world with their unprecedented atmosphere. Unfortunately, this level of polish comes at a cost.

Scrutiny.

Even though both of these games are critically acclaimed, the internet finds ways to nitpick. Whether it’s an effort to stand out or to get page hits, they will frame the headlines saying that the game would be better without this one minor minute detail. Sure they might have valid criticism, but both developers poured their heart and soul into each of these games. They worked hard to bring out a fantastic product that we as consumers whine about. These games are enjoyable in their own right, but it’s the high level of shine that brings out the minor flaws in each.

There is always a.... Hey look a penny!

There is always a…. Hey look a penny!

One of the best moments in Bioshock Infinite is the times when your companion, Elizabeth, is distressed. She spouts off a long monologue after something terrible happens in game about how alone she feels and how everything she knew and believed is a lie. As soon as this section ends, the game takes dramatic turn as her emotion turns from distraught to chipper as she exclaims to Booker that she has found some money on the ground. It’s a bit jarring, but it’s interesting to think that in any other game, it wouldn’t be marked as a criticism, just something that happens.

The Last of Us has a problem like this too. A similar game immersion breaking experience happened when the clickers, zombies who can’t see but can only detect with sound, aren’t agitated by Ellie’s exclamations. In theory, when any character makes a noise they will be slaughtered instantly by these zombies. When Ellie mills around and makes lots of noise, it is expected for her to be killed, but, to make the game less frustrating due to an AI counterpart, this does not occur.

Oh, you stepped on a twig?

Oh, you stepped on a twig?

These games are leaps and bounds above many other games released this year, so it’s bizarre to criticize them for the odd missed detail. I’m fine with having little flaws in the game’s atmosphere if the rest of it is so captivating. I just don’t find it amusing when people continuously bring up these same little nitpicks about each game. What happened to the days when people just focused on the good in games?