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Would you rather play a flawed game with lots of originality or a polished game that’s mostly derivative? The question popped into my head after reading several reviews of The Last Story and Darksiders II. Many writers praised the former’s original battle mechanics, but also criticized them for not feeling quite done. Many writers praised the latter for being an incredibly polished experienced, but also criticized it for mimicking numerous gameplay elements from other action-adventure games. It’s almost like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t with videogame critics, but forget those guys and gals for a second. Do you value originality or polish more?
As for me, I much rather play a game that attempts to do something different, even it falls short. Keep in mind that I’m in an unusual situation; I’ve played hundreds of games, including many mediocre and bad ones. Most people get to stick to games they enjoy. When they come across the occasional stinker, they can just stop playing. I certainly appreciate and admire games that are highly polished, but considering all the cookie-cutter garbage I’ve had to play for work, originality is always refreshing.
Now it’s your turn! Please tell me which characteristic you value more in a videogame, originality or polish?
4 thoughts on “Coffee Talk #510: Originality vs. Polish”
Originality, then hope that the sequel is more polished.
I appreciate originality more. Even if the game isn’t very well polished, the potential sequels may be more successful. Plus, if the original parts of one game are well received, other games may borrow from its originality. For instance, we would not have Minecraft if Infiniminer and Dwarf Fortress were not created first.
Polish, man, polish. No game or work of art is original. I would rather have a turd that plays well and looks nice (even if it is a cookie-cutter of something else). There is a reason why we all liked that “something else” in the fist place, right?
If I get a game with good gameplay and tight controls but with a retarded story that makes you roll your eyes every five minutes (*glares at Gears of War*) I’d be a lot more likely to play and finish that game over a game like NeverDead which is a very original game, but lacked a lot of polish (graphics and gameplay-wise).
I’m also going to claim majority favoritism on this topic since Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield and Madden games are the ones that come out on regular intervals and set sales records year after year. This tells me that the overwhelming majority of console gamers want polish over originality and I don’t blame them. I don’t want to play that dumb music/rhythmic/artsy/deep/pastel-palleted poetic game that game critics keep putting on the “Citizen Kane of Gaming” pedestal. Give me my Counter-Strike, a case of Killian’s Irish Red and a Bullet for my Valentine CD and I’m good.
Yes, I will play the occasional Shadow of the Colossus and Limbo between Halo 6 and 7, but those games do not come around often and are usually short affairs, so after I’m done with it, it’s back to mindless alien killing to save the universe for the 17,000th time.
It depends on the nature of the title. I don’t buy Madden anymore (6 years sober) due to what I feel is a lack of polish. Something like Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom however was original and not as polished as other rpgs but I loved it. I expect polish of a yearly release and will let some issues pass if the title is done on a lower budget or is mostly original.
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