Of Gladius and guilt

Originally posted at GameSpot on October 29, 2007

Guilty? Me? Does this even make sense? I find it amazing that even after nearly three years, I still have something that can best be described as guilt over returning Gladius to the store.

Where does this come from? Why would I even have these feelings after a decent amount of time has passed? I have a few theories:

-I want to know how it ends! I enjoy a good story – and games are no exception. This explains how I can have as much fun watching a game as well as playing (Metal Gear Solid), or how I can keep playing a game devoid of fun but from good source material (Star Trek: Klingon Academy).Gladius had a great story; slow-building but definitely there.

– I feel likeĀ I wimped out on the game. I started Gladius, and I should finish it. It’s that simple. I can’t stand starting a book or movie and not finishing it, and the same thing applies here.

– When a game garners high critical praise, it seems like I should have enjoyed the experience more. I use GameSpot a lot to help decide what purchases I should make. Gladius received a very respectable score (8.4), and that was important in my decision to pick the game up. I’m not blaming the high score at all, I just feel like I missed out on something.

So there you have it – the reasons for my “guilt.” Are they good enough reasons? I mean, do I deserve to feel like I messed up somehow by not sticking with the game? In the end, I think the answer is no. And here’s why:

First, you have to establish context. The main reason I didn’t stick with the game is being recently married, spending hours a day on a RPG that your wife finds incredibly boring tends to lead to some disagreement. If I want video games to be a part of my life now that I actually do have more important things going on, I need her on board if I’m going to play something for any length of time. Gladius didn’t make her cut, so that’s one huge strike against it.

Second, in keeping with context, I had only just begun to enter the world of RPGs. Some might not consider Knights of the Old Republic a true RPG, but it was the closest thing I had come to the genre so far. Going from the quick pace of that game to the slow walk of Gladius made it easier to let it go.

Third, the game’s high score does not have to reflect my own personal taste. This may seem an obvious fact – but I do put stock in what people in the industry say about a game, and I concede that their experienced opinion holds more weight than mine. That being said, I still don’t have to agree with it. With any game, it comes down to what I like – not what someone else tells me I should like. (I give you Panzar Dragoon Orta – I hated that game!)

To sum it all up, Gladius was a great game. It had a great world map and soundtrack. It had great cut scenes with dramatic flair. It had good combat system, interesting storyline, and fun characters. But, it wasn’t a great game for me. I think it is possible to label a game as great without personally liking it as the same time.

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