Posted on Dec 24th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under gaming, collecting

I planned to make this post a review of the original Xbox version of Dead to Rights. I picked up a copy after I saw it was part of Xbox One's backwards compatibility list. I started to playing the game and immediately was blown away by how good it looked on a modern television. When you put a compatible original Xbox or Xbox 360 game in your Xbox One, it doesn't play the game off the disc but rather downloads the game to your hard drive and uses the disc itself as a form of DRM. Sure, it's just an up-rezed game from the sixth generation, but Dead to Rights looked so clean and sharp it made me really excited to play it. Not to mention, the main gimmick of the game is the main character's dog Shadow, who can be used in certain sequences to rip the throats out of the hapless thugs who were stupid enough to mess with you.

Immediately, I was having a good time and was pumped up to write a review of the game. It's not that the game is great. Rather it is a great mix of good and terrible elements, but overall I was having a blast. That is, until I got to chapter three. In chapter three, your character finds himself in prison, and there is a mission where you have to collect twenty packs of cigarettes by beating your fellow inmates in 'friendly' competitions in the prison gymnasium. Each activity has an associated minigame, and this is where my playthrough of Dead to Rights came to a screeching halt.

It took me two attempts each on a boxing game where I had to alternate pressing the A and B buttons in a rhythm that I just couldn't get right and a weightlifting game where I had to power up a meter to a 'sweet spot' by mashing the A button and lifting the barbell with the B button to make a quick and certain decision that I was done with this game. I was sad for about a minute, not only because I wouldn't get to insta-kill enemies with the dog anymore, but my plan to review the game for the site had been dashed.

By now you can see that I have refashioned an intended review of Dead to Rights into a reflection on what makes me quit games. Back in the year 2012, I made a gaming resolution to finish every game I started. I've written about this before, but I managed to achieve my goal despite some major roadblocks. It felt good at the time, but at what cost? Aren't games supposed to bring us joy? Isn't life too short to suffer through something that is unenjoyable when there are thousands of other games you could be spending your precious time on?

It can be hard to quit something that you're not enjoying because of the sunken cost fallacy. Until recently, I always fell victim to this fallacy with books. I finished every single book I started because if I had put hours into getting halfway through it before I realized I wasn't enjoying it, then quitting would be a waste of time. I have to see it through to the finish! It's easy to see, however, that if you're five hours into a book that you hate, then spending another five hours on it is clearly an even bigger waste of time.

With video games, it's different as far as making the decision to quit. A game can be enjoyable in general, as was Dead to Rights, until it hits you with some kind of task you cannot overcome, or is simply so cumbersome that it is not worth your time. In most cases you can persevere with practice. Sometimes though, something tells you to quit the game and not look back. Is it because this might not be the last time the game throws something like this at you?

I have also quit games and come back to them. I recently recounted my experience with Watch Dogs 2 on the Playcast. For some reason, I really wasn't enjoying the game for the first five or so hours. I stopped playing, and thought I wouldn't pick it up again. However, I brought my Xbox One a short vacation and decided to try the game again rather than starting something new on the trip. It turns out, taking a break was all it took because I really loved the game by the time I finished it.

I know there are games I quit that I may go back to again, and there are games that I will never touch again. It is difficult to quantify why. Do you force yourself to finish every game you start? If not, what are your criteria for quitting a game forever?

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Haha, I rented Dead To Rights back when it first came out and enjoyed it. I think I actually finished it since I have it listed on my overall 'Beaten Games' list, but I don't remember the end of the game or even the prison section you mentioned.

I'm not as adamant about finishing every game I start as I used to be. Like you said, games are meant to be enjoyed, so if you're not enjoying it, then what's the point? Although, if I'm playing a game that I don't really love or hate and am just going through the motions with, I try to stick it out because sometimes at a certain point it will all click and I end up loving the game. This has happened with the original Trails in the Sky and more recently with Dragon Quest XI.
Like Disposed Hero I'm pretty sure I also finished this game on the Gamecube at a friends house back in the day, but I have no memory of the ending or the prison part you mentioned either. Only really remember flying to the side in slow mo unloading pistol clips at enemies as a faux Frank Castle. Not the type of game I usually enjoy, but because it was social with friends I do have fond feelings for it.

I'm still very much in the mindset to finish each game I play. I've been able to curb myself with other forms of media and stop reading/watching/listening to something when I'm not enjoying it. But with games I feel like I can find joy or at least wisdom out of the experience regardless of how much "fun" I may be having at the time. I like being able to reflect on the game afterwards and compare it to other games I've played to see what went wrong with my time, or how some parts are great and others are not. I guess I feel like it just adds to my overall gaming knowledge which I feel is valuable even when the game itself may not be very fun to play.

I have however been able to break my habit of 100% every game that I play even when I'm not enjoying it. I used to feel compelled to 100% everything and now I really have to love my time with a game to do that. Recent games that I feel were good enough to warrant that dedication were Super Mario Odyssey, Octopath Traveller and Spider-Man (PS4). As much as I enjoyed my time with Nioh, which I recently beat, I feel like if I tried to continue playing even the New Game Plus I would have liked it a less the further I went. I am quite happy to leave that one as simply beaten, but not mastered.

Thanks for the insight into your gaming habits!!
@Crabmaster2000: This is an interesting perspective, because I would tend to agree that, with games, it's much more experiential than other forms of media. I think there's insight to be gained by playing the occasional stinker, because it makes you appreciate a good game even more. I went through some of this recently, by playing through the 1st 2 Syphon Filter games again. They're quality titles that have some really difficult parts in them, especially toward the end, that require a level of proficiency that one would normally reach by that point. Me being the less skilled gamer that I am, often hit a wall with these sections, and get frustrated easily when I can't get through them quickly. That's on me, though. But I do think it's important to occasionally play a bad game, to better appreciate the design decisions that make up a good one.

But I have quit games before, and am happy to do so when I'm deriving little enjoyment from them. Case in point: I traded away Ninja: Shadow of Darkness on the original PlayStation back in the day, because I was trying to play through it, and it just pissed me off relentlessly. No reason to keep going back to something that only makes me mad, with no real enjoyment with it. Same with Glover on PS1.

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