The Fun Factor November 1, 2008Posted by Chris in Articles, Console, Games.
The excellent IGN UK review for Disaster: Day of Crisis prompted me to think about how often we gamers – and, indeed, videogame critics – often lose sight of exactly what games should be. We frequently crow about how important immersion and atmosphere is, we bang on about impressive sound design and how Dead Space sounds amazing through our surround setup. We talk about longevity, about replay value, about the importance of multiplayer modes. We wax lyrical about graphics – about screen tearing, jaggies, textures, pop-up, draw distance.
But we often forget to mention the one thing that’s most important about games, and the one real reason we play them – the fun factor.
The reason that IGN review made me think about this was that it seemed surprised at how enjoyable Disaster: Day of Crisis is, explaining away its flaws with an almost apologetic shrug, telling us how its problems aren’t such a big issue because…well, because it’s just really good fun.
Day of Crisis, by any ordinary critical standards, isn’t really an 8/10 game. It’s never a bad game, but really not one of its constituent parts would really stand up to close scrutiny. But that’s the beauty of the game – it never stays in one place for long enough, moving from third-person rescues through lightgun-shooting sections to waggle-based disaster escapes and brief driving interludes. Its script is hysterical at times, seemingly hell-bent on including every possible disaster movie cliche while robbing lines and themes from 24, Armageddon and Independence Day. Its gratuitous – albeit fairly mild – swearing offers plenty of unintentional laughs. Its graphics vary from the reasonably impressive to the sub-PS2, while its voice acting once again offers accidental amusement. But does any of that really matter?
Arriving in the same month as immersive open-world non-linear epics like Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2, Disaster faced a rough ride from some critics, many feeling it compared unfavourably to many of the big games released this silly season. It’s good to see that some people can recognise it for exactly what it is – a big, dumb, loveable game that has no pretensions towards art but merely wants to entertain.
It’s nice to think that there’s still room for games like that in this curious, transitional period for the industry, and hopefully we can all recognise that a game doesn’t need to be anything other than fun to succeed.