Oh for crying out loud you gangly cretin, stop giving me things to find! This is among the sentences you would have heard coming from my apartment during the last few days. The victim of my tirades: The Riddler. The source of my anguish: Arkham City. As I sat there bleary eyed and hopped up on Dr Pepper at one in the morning, screaming at a character that clearly could not hear me, or at least had no interest in my torment, I had an epiphany. Perched just feet from my TV screen, close to full on spaz out, I reached the conclusion that some modern games are just too brilliant to merely play until campaign completion - gaming has become too demanding. You see, in the latter part of 2011, I was in the enviable position of having some extra DeNiros in my sky-rocket. Being a man-child in my late-20s, it made perfect sense to go out and buy a handful of the latest and most beguiling games available; after all, thats what the modern man does, right? Being something of, what many seasoned gamers might refer to as, a casual player; my most recent game previous was a copy of Lego Pirates of the Caribbean which I had received as an anniversary gift, from my very patient and slightly bewildered wife. The last game I had purchased before that was Red Dead Redemption, and a free copy of Little Big Planet (thanks PSN hackers).
The month was October. I had only just got 88% on Lego Pirates, was 70% through Red Dead Redemption and had barely touch LBP. Yet I had a craving, an unmitigated urge to spend my humble yet advantageous monitory funds. Being a massive nerd, and easily influenced by marketing strategies, my first purchase was Arkham City. I fell right in. I was hooked. It was like crystal meth for my fingertips. Every just 30 minutes, darling turned into sorry, I didnt realise the time. Or that mission went on for a bit longer than I thought. I was enjoying every single minute of it, but I had a problem. I had a job to keep, a wife to please, a blog to write, a film project to make, and I still hadnt finished Lego Pirates, Red Dead Redemption or LBP; plus Driver San Francisco had just arrived - purchase number two. After two weeks of being sidetracked by face snatching killers, phone ringing nut jobs and near impossible flying challenges, I decided to cut bait and just complete the core storyline. When all was said and done, and the Joker had serenaded me with a posthumous rendition of The Platters Only You, I was devastated to see a measly 72% completion on my title screen; I was going to need my very own Lazarus Pit, one lifetime would not be enough to finish all of this. Finally able to sideline my disquiet, I skipped Driver: San Francisco and headed straight for purchase three, Uncharted 3. After a slow start, I initially went back to finish Lego Pirates and clock up 86% completion on Red Dead Redemption. I even had time to fall back in love with Call of Duty: Black Ops, before reigniting an interest in Nathan Drake and his Indiana Jones flavoured adventures. That was me gone for another three weeks. Coming out the other side, extremely in awe of Drakes cinematic grace and completely in love with yet another gaming franchise, I realised that I hadnt even touched on the muted trophy collection, nor had I looked at the multiplayer feature. My head was spinning, and I became increasingly frustrated with my inability to balance my questionable gaming O.C.D with apathetic recreation. I still loved my older titles - yet to be completed - and I wasnt really quite over Batman yetoh, and I still hadnt opened Driver: San Francisco.
Christmas came and went. January was devoted to Modern Warfare 3 (purchase four); yet another highly addictive outing. Single player complete, I had no time to attempt multiplayer, Driver needed opening. Ten minutes later, Driver was back in its case and I was playing MW3 multiplayer.
So what is my point? Well, I may be a laughing stock to many. Too rubbish to finish games quickly, too geeky not to get involved at all. My conundrum escapade led me to my previously stated conclusion; modern games are just too fun. They are too expansive, and there is too much great addictive entertainment for a casual gamer like I. Remember the good old days when Silent Hill or Resident Evil 2 was enough to keep you going for a solid four months? Times when the likes of Goldeneye, Tekken or Mario Kart would be just the right amount of distraction, without demanding your soul. When getting Tomb Raider was your only demand, free from competition, head and shoulders above the rest. Those were simpler days, a time when there was crème de la crème and the rest was hogwash. Even now, when I play the odd bit of Sonic or Moonwalker on my smart phone emulator; 20 minutes is more than enough playtime. Those games may have been classics, but they were a limited type of brilliance.
After my brief and fatal flirtation with pursuing the lustre of modern gaming, I have come to an understanding of why the likes of Call of Duty and FIFA are so popular; they demand so little, yet offer so much. I could easily live the rest of my gaming life through the talents of Infinity Ward or EA Sports, and never be left out - these games will always be popular, cutting edge and enjoyable. I can commit to one product and play it to death until my heart is content. Games such as L.A Noir and Hard Rain will never again enter onto my radar - to me, these are amusement harpies, intent on tormenting me with their richness and depth. Im done with choice, its party games, sports or FPS all the wayThat is of course, until I start tweaking and stare into the abyss of pending releases. Even as I sit here, I am breaking a sweat. Max Payne 3, Hitman: Absolution, Black Ops 2, Resident Evil 6, etc, etc, etc. But for now, I must return to Gotham. I have a date with some tall drink of villain called Edward Nygma. I know once Ive found all his question mark statues, I will feel empty and regretful - hours of time frittered away. But for a fleeting moment, when I see that 100% completion on my TV screen, there will be a huge sigh of relief and achievementand I might finally get around to playing Driver: San Francisco.