Though this started as a response to a comment about Red Dead Redemption 2, it became a mini essay about a subject that is quite dear to me, and so I made it its own thing.
It honestly surprises me you value the opinion of ppl so much, whether those be reviewers or other random ppl (who might or might not know what they’re talking about and might or might not have their reasons for trashing a game).
You mentioned an almost similar statement when it came to Bioshock Infinite in fact.
I’ve stopped watching/reading reviews years ago, and I dont care what ppl think about a game; I look at it myself and see it for what it is. That’s why some of my favorite games are games I’ve never played and never will. (Even if some of the greatest PS [Naughty Dog, for example] games were to come to PC eventually), I’d never play at least some of them myself because I actually sat through their whole playthrough watching and experiencing it myself, as if I was sitting there while my friend plays it, as we’ve all done when we were younger, taking turns or watching or having friends watch while we played. So I’d only play those I really wanted to experience again.
You shouldn’t value what others say so much; you’ll miss out on a lot. See for yourself. You still haven’t played Bioshock Infinite, for example. I’ve now finally played Bioshock 1, and yes, Bioshock 1 is superior to Infinite in its gameplay, settting, and atmosphere, and it is the superior game for it. It is truly among the greatest games, but it is just a game. It isn’t more than that. Just like HL1+2, which I can finally say I’ve completed, lol, and the same goes, great games, but nothing more than that.
Their narratives are there to drive the gameplay, while Infite’s gameplay is there to drive the story.
Infinite’s story, characters, characters’ interrelationships and how those evolve and what those all contain and reveal completely blow 1’s out of the water. It does not even compare. You cannot compare Jack, Fontaine (and Atlas), Cohen, and Ryan to Infinite’s characters. They are mere tools which duly fulfill their function, as game characters must do, compared to Booker DeWitt, Elizabeth, the Lutece twins, Fitzroy, and Comstock (and his wife).
You cannot compare its rather basic story (including a plot twist you figure out well before it actually comes) to the interwoven intricacies, on sooooo many levels, presented by Infinite’s plot, all the way up to the point that one portal, in that one wall, finally, closes.
And that is how Infinite becomes something more than a game. It transcends it’s ‘being merely a game’ and becomes a superior work of art that can give u sleepless nights, even months or years after having played it.
This is a quality very few games possess. The Last of Us is one of them, just through its story and characters, just through Joel, his backstory, who he already is before he meets Ellie, all the way to the end and the decisions that are made, and how, and why, and what it contains and means and will mean for those characters going forward, after the game is actually over even.
That is how some games transcend the essence and limitations of being a game and elevate themselves to become superior works of art. They combine all forms of art into one and do it so magnificently and coherently, affecting one’s hearing, seeing, and feeling from so many dimensions that they become something far more than any other form of art by itself.
They might not be the best game, far from it, and they do not achieve that in the same way. Infinite does it like I explained. God of War (the last one) does it through it’s superior production values, the combination of its visual art, its music, its characters, its story, etc. The same goes for the Uncharted series. These are not the best games, but they are far superior in the experience that they offer compared to what ‘a game’ normally offers. They become something more than a game. GTA V flirts with it (way less because it is pulled down by its mediocrity in parts of its story and characters but it undoubtedly has superior production value).
And so I’m not saying RDR2 does it too (I don’t know, because I expected it to be coming to PC eventually, so I made sure not to spoil too much of it for myself), but it certainly is a candidate, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t exceed GTA V in that.