Just because a game has problems doesn't mean I won't love it.


Saying a game is ‘flawed’ is obviously very subjective, but what I mean in this particular post is games that I adore despite the fact that they’re not the most perfect examples of any given field. So, without further ado:

BioShock [2007]

The lore and themes it portrayed, coupled with the intricate attention to detail absolutely blew me away.

This might be a slightly controversial choice, given that BioShock graced several game of the year lists. That’s not something I’ll deny it either, as it is one of my favourite games of all time. Having said that, the gameplay itself was somewhat lacking: the gunplay did not have a pleasurable weight and feel (like, for instance, Rage, where guns feel powerful and meaty), and the repetitive nature of the hacking mini-game became incredibly grating over the length of the game. BioShock’s strength came from the world it imagined, the wonderful implementation of an underhanded companion, and a semi-realistic view on the effects of isolation and psychosis. The lore and themes it portrayed, coupled with the intricate attention to detail absolutely blew me away. I loved the sequel as well, purely because it was a chance to step back into Rapture and extend the story. With any luck, BioShock Infinite will conjure up the same feelings I have for Rapture for Columbia as well, but with the added appeal of rock solid gameplay. Hopefully.

Prince of Persia [2008]

Having a companion rescue you from death makes more logical sense than simply dying and reloading.

Prince of Persia came under fire from fans of the previous instalments who lambasted the lack of player death and the distinct contrast in tone and character of the Prince himself. Having only played the original Prince of Persia, the reboot was my first modern look at the character and I enjoyed it immensely. The lack of death in the game (side note: any time the Prince was in mortal peril, his partner, Elika, would swoop in and rescue him) did not bother me: death in video games is incredibly arbitrary, as the end result is a restart of the section you failed. This is essentially exactly what Prince of Persia did, only without a literal death. In fact, I’d argue that this particular implementation kept it within the confines of the story as well, as having a companion rescue you from death makes more logical sense than simply dying and reloading.

Coupled with a gorgeous art style and entertaining characterisation, I’m disappointed that this was a one-off deal. Sure, there wasn’t a lot of variation in the gameplay (linear parkour routines capped off with basic combat sections), but it had flair and spark: qualities that are lacking in subsequent instalments.

Mirror’s Edge [2008]

There is a lot of Internet murmuring going on with regards to a sequel to Mirror’s Edge and I could not be more aboard that train. Mirror’s Edge was one of the most unique games I played in 2008 (a year that a lot of developers demonstrated a love for parkour, it would seem). Doing as fantastic a job as BioShock at immersing and completely embracing a rich, breathing world, Mirror’s Edge truly captured an overall feeling of oppression, but also the struggles of the individuals within it. Too many games create a powerful hero out of the player, one that all of humanity must rely on to get them through whatever trouble is at hand. Faith did not have that same feeling, which helped ground the experience. She was not someone who blatantly played the hero for the good of everyone: she pursued her own, rather noble agenda, like any person would in her situation. As well as this, the feeling of mortality that she had did not feel weak as it does in a lot of other games (Battlefield, Call of Duty, etc); it simply accentuated the exhilaration in deftly pulling off a life-saving, intricate manoeuvre.

She was not someone who blatantly played the hero for the good of everyone: she pursued her own, rather noble agenda.

Mirror’s Edge had a quiet elegance to it, despite its action. What it needed though is a tune-up overall: the parkour did get repetitive, and the combat was flimsy and tacked on. In all, the two components felt disparate, but it’s rather difficult to think of any other games that utilise them in this way, which is another point in its favour.

Words such as 'favourite' and 'flawed' mean different things to different people.

By Logic & Trick

It’s a bit difficult to pick out a ‘favourite flawed’ game – I mean, if they’re in your list of favourite games, you probably don’t think that they’re very flawed. It took me a while to find an example – unlike my neighbour over there, I didn’t have any particular examples in mind going into this article.

Some of my favourite games are considered ‘flawed’ by many people. For example, Final Fantasy XIII, which many fans thought was far too linear for a Final Fantasy game. Many had issues with the plot and English voice acting, too. Personally, the linearity is one of the reasons why I enjoyed the game, and I didn’t really have any issues with the plot or voice acting. I don’t think it’s a ‘flawed’ game.

Going back the other way, I see flaws in places where others might not, like in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on the Nintendo GameCube. Paper Mario is an excellent series of RPG-like games set in the Mario universe. The problem I have with it is that it’s extremely repetitive at times – but many people don’t see it as a flaw in the game.

Another example would be The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I absolutely love the world, the characters, the graphical style and the majority of the gameplay – but the complete lack of direction and linearity in the game means that I absolutely cannot bring myself to finish it. One thing could easily fix this problem for me: a marker on the world map to show me where my next destination is. I do realise that I’m in quite a minority here. I struggle to enjoy non-linear games, and a lack of direction will destroy a game for me entirely.

I can’t even agree with the choices of my sinister friend. I assume he’ll bring up Mirror’s Edge, but I cannot pick out a problem big enough for it to be considered a ‘flawed’ game. Sure, it has a bit of trial-and-error gameplay, but that’s hardly a big enough reason for it to be ‘flawed’. And Prince of Persia? Well, it’s not what I would consider a great game in the first place.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that defining a ‘flawed’ game is very subjective. And with that, I present my ‘favourite flawed game’: Fahrenheit, aka Indigo Prophecy in the US and on Steam.

Indigo Prophecy is not your typical type of game – it’s described by designer David Cage as an Interactive drama. The gameplay mostly involves pressing a combination of buttons (quick time events) to help your characters through action scenes – you don’t have any control over the action. This alternates between low-action segments where you do have control over your character. It might not sound great, but it’s extremely compelling.

The problem is that it all goes to shit about halfway through. The plot, which is the most important part of a game like this, starts spiralling out of control. It seems like there are multiple hours of missing story that should be in there – and even then, it’d still be quite a stretch to get to where the game ended up. It’s still quite interesting to play, but you do lose all the engagement with the game that was built up over the first 4 or 5 hours of the game.

It sabotages itself at its very core, and that’s why I would consider it to be a ‘flawed’ game. It’s still in my list of favourite games, simply because of how engaging the first half of the game is. Indigo Prophecy’s spiritual successor, Heavy Rain, improves on all elements of the original, making it a far more satisfying game.