The power of polish: How a concise, perfectly executed game with limited scope score well with critics and the average gamer.
Uncharted 4 has finally released and it is now lauded with many positive reviews (except for that one review on Metacritic) from critics and everyday gamers alike. Just look at the accolades poster they made for all the warm reception they are having.
And they deserve it. While I have yet to touch the game (and trying hard to avoid spoilers) just from a few footage that was released as promotional material for both single player and multiplayer stuff, it is perfect. Not many critical flaws in gameplay were pointed out.
But then again, if you’ve played some of the previous games, you can see what essentially is a formulaic third-person action-adventure shooter with some platforming, set pieces and small diversions here and there. It isn’t groundbreaking as say, Gears of War, that redefine how a cover system should work and the active reload system that added some dynamics to reloading a gun.
However, just look at the graphics and sound design. Look at how elegant the control feels. If played as how the developers intended, it just feels good.
That is the power of polish.
What Is Polish In Terms Of Video Games?
Polish is often used to describe video games nowadays and it offers no definite meaning. How do you strictly define a certain game or game mechanics to be “polished”?
But everyone could agree that when everything just works as intended, and produces moments where you feel the developers are two steps ahead of you from breaking the game immersion, then you can say it is polished.
While polished in terms of game mechanics will mostly due to a robust system, a polished structure can be attributed to pacing. Linear games have an advantage in this, as the developers have full control of what the sequences will be and in what order.
Open world games currently have this problem, their games feel like checklists of things to do but none of the tasks feel meaningful or integrated well into the whole game. Look at Ubisoft’s vast open world games that offer a similar set of generic activities. There’s always a tower you need to traverse/find that will unlock a section of the world map. Even in a racing game like The Crew!
And more importantly enough, polish will certainly turn people’s heads and prompt them to buy a game, even if they are a casual fan. Customers have a certain expectation on how a game, especially a current gen game have to look and feel. If it doesn’t look good enough and doesn’t offer something interesting to hook them on for long periods of time, then it isn’t worth buying.
How Overwatch Feels More Polished Than Battleborn
For example, two hero FPS games that have been unfairly been compared (even by myself), Battleborn and Overwatch. Both plays differently yet we can clearly see the hype is more on Overwatch. After playing the open beta of both games, liking both of them, I can see why people gravitate to Blizzard’s new IP.
It’s fast, it’s easy to pick up. The shooting feels good. The gameplay loop encourages you to keep playing, even if you lost a few matches. There’s always a possible way for each hero to dominate if played correctly as the game is balanced with counter picks and mid-game hero-switching in mind. It doesn’t do a lot of things and most of them have been done before, but it feels… good. Basically, it feels polished.
Street Fighter V Wasn’t Polished, Sales Missed Target
Now that Capcom admits that the rushed Street Fighter V could have used a bit more polish for its initial release as it failed to reach its 2 million copy sold target (600,000 away), there’s a business incentive to keep certain games in the oven a bit longer.
While Street Fighter V is a solid fighting game that competitive players have gravitated to, resulting a huge influx of participants on this year’s EVO, the pinnacle of fighting game tournaments, it failed to capture and retain the casual crowd. There’s no arcade mode. The story mode currently is too barebones. Lots of missing features on launch. Is it limited in scope? Yes. But what is there isn’t what casual fans are looking for. They don’t want to get bodied hard by pro players online. They just want to fight with some AIs at their own pace with a decent difficulty, which was missing on launch.
Should Every Game Be “Polished”?