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Moments of brilliance, moments of bleauugh

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Not every game created can be entirely brilliant. In fact, very few games in existence draw anywhere near of that pinnacle of design, form, and function, creating stunning worlds of beauty, fun, and mirror-shine polish. Some games are okay, and some are just plain terrible.

Yet sometimes, a game is created that does a few things with shining perfection... and everything else with appalling, dismal failure. Before you is a tribute to those games with elements, bits and pieces, done better than almost any other creation to date, but somewhere along the line, something fell short, and thus doomed it to meager sales and relative obscurity.

Folklore

One of the early releases during the uncomfortable beginnings of the PS3, Folklore, like many of the early titles, was hotly anticipated and received only a lukewarm ranking. Though it arguably deserved better than a 75 on Metacritic, it was by no means perfect.

The Good

Folklore retains some of the most gorgeous and creative art direction of any game to date. The various Netherworld realms in which the player travels, including the amazing number of denizens found within, are simply stunning. The game embodies the entire notion of unique style and presentation with its light, color, and everything else. Beautifully atmospheric, Folklore also contains a haunting soundtrack perfectly attuned to each situation and a very unique, intriguing tale.

The Not-so Good

Remember that intriguing tale? Well... it's somewhat hard to. The graphic-novel presentation of the story gets a little confusing, and the dialogue does not often convey exactly what's going on. While the tale is by no means bad, the pacing lurches back and forth between incomprehensible vagueness and startling revelation. Simply: the story is good, but it wasn't very well-told. The gameplay itself is a crazed, Pokemon style "Catch 'em all" of the critters found within the Netherworld, though it thankfully isn't really necessary. The two characters, Keats and Ellen, while sporting different play styles, progress individually through the game. While this makes things interesting and provides pieces to an unraveling puzzle, it basically means players are required to go through everything twice. This includes whatever amount of Folk "Karma" (leveling up) grinding the player decides to go through for both characters. It gets unfortunately tedious, which most significantly soured the ratings and attitude towards this beautiful game.

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey

A PC title of 360 title of relative obscurity with a confusing naming scheme where the first game in the series (The Longest Journey) serves as the sub-title for its own sequel. But whatever; Dreamfall continued the most excellent story-telling and creative tradition of the first, which was one of the best non-Lucas Arts adventure games.

The Good

Nothing beats a good story told well, and Dreamfall had it in spades. Several playable characters each with unique personality and development. A very well-realized and actualized split fantasy and science-fiction reality: one of the very best interpretations of the old "one world science/one world magic" story cliches. Spectacular voice-acting, scenery, and music.

The Not-so Good

Pretty much everything else, sad to say. Funcom tried some kind of classic adventure game with a stealth/action hybrid... thing. While picking up items in the real world and patiently rubbing them up against everything and everyone else to continue the plot worked as well as in any other adventure game, combining a quite simplistic and lame fighting mechanic with laughable stealth sequences made for some very dull play. Oh, and worse yet, it ended on a horrible cliffhanger with no resolution in sight.

(continue to part 2)

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