Saturday, November 15, 2008

Games and Self-Selection

Last weekend I played a couple of PS2 games that I borrowed from a friend. Actually, my older son played most of one of them. The two games were Teen Titans and Metal Gear Solid 3. If you look on Metacritic for their respective scores, Teen Titans got a 56 and Metal Gear Solid 3 (Snake Eater, to be specific) got a 91 out of 100. Oddly enough, both of the user ratings for this game were around 9 out of 10. So, is Teen Titans a bad game or not?

Teen Titans was finished in a day. We started Saturday night and finished by Sunday afternoon. It used the five main characters from the cartoon, and all of the same voice actors as the show. Mostly it's a 3D brawler - it felt like Gauntlet Dark Legacy to me a little. SPOILERS! The game's plot was a touch on the contrived side, but the fact that they had actually been crammed into a video game on the show once before kept it from being too lame. Right before the last boss battle, they manage to re-engineer the game to play pong and Space Invaders. (Heh. It's a two year old game. I should have seen it before now.)

It was a bit repetitive, and I did most of the boss battles since my son didn't quite get the 'move every character to their designated spot to do a team attack' part. Once we had finished the game, we looked at the 4-player battle mode and noticed that there were a lot of characters and stages from the cartoon show that weren't even in the game very long or at all and didn't have to be there, but they were. That was a nice touch, and would add to the replay value if we didn't have a game like Super Smash Brothers in the house.

We had a lot of fun playing it, even if it was short - and this is where the self-selection comes in. We talk about self-selelection in statistics to refer to a group within a sample that selects itself instead of being randomly selected. Usually the data only tells you something about the self-selection process and not the whole group. Since no one would doubt a bad review of a TV show licensed game, people that bought it, played it, and liked it would be more likely to submit a good review if for no other reason to justify their purchase to themselves and refute the low review score in some way. Real fans of the show probably like all of the fan service touches and might give it a good rating, too.

On the other hand, MGS3 is a little daunting. Clearly it's a game for people who played the other MGS games. People that play other action games like God of War, Ninja Gaiden, or even Zelda aren't really the target audience for this game. MGS is won by being sneaky and doing little. It's not even like Tenchu since in Tenchu if you successfully sneak up on someone you can eliminate them and don't have to worry about hiding from them any more. In MGS the best you can do is knock someone out for a little while and hope you're out of there before they get up.

Since I flunked out of MGS1 after a couple of Boss battles, I figured that I might make it to the first one. Of course it's hard to say how you're going to do, since there's a good half-hour between selecting 'NEW GAME' and actually playing. Since this game is primarily an outside game as opposed to MGS1 and 2 that take place in more urban settings, it's harder to gague how to play since you don't have reliable methods like building corners or storage rooms to hide in. I thought about using the in-game radar more - to make it a little more like MGS1 which has a radar system by default - but since it uses virtual battery power and I haven't figured out how I get that back, I haven't tried that yet.

The nice thing about MGS3 for me so far is the Snake vs. Monkey minigame since it's not quite as demanding as the regular game and it uses the cute mokeys from Ape Escape. Capture monkeys quickly is all you have to do.

So, for me, other than the monkey thing, it's not so fun. Would I post a bad user review on Metacritic? Probably not. With all of the critical acclaim the MGS series has gotten, I assume that the fault lies with me. After all, I'm not that hardcore a gamer( or at least that's what the 20-year-olds at Gamestop tell me).

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