I had to buy a new laptop recently, after my old one melted (thanks Dell). After I'd transferred my files to the new one I started looking for what else I wanted to keep, particularly any games I had installed and what progress I'd made in them.
If I finish a game I usually don't care about keeping the save file, because if I ever play it again I'll start from the beginning. But there were a few games that I'd not finished, but also not played for a while. Despite not having any time to play them in the immediate future I still found a strange urge to keep their save game files.
Mass Effect looks great on paper. A sprawling space adventure from the same people who did KOTOR, but free from the creative restraints of the Star Wars universe. The game casts the player as some kind of elite space cop, with a customisable band of associates, a cool ship to fly around in, loads of planets to explore, multiple missions to do, moral quandraries, firefights, aliens, future-y stuff by the boatload and almost total freedom to explore it. Also your ship comes with a buggy to explore worlds with. The internet raved about it, and my anticipation for it was immense.
Almost from the start something was wrong. The mildly interesting opening shooty/explore bit was followed by a lengthy sequence aboard a bland and sterile space station, filled with dull conversations with aliens I had little interest in. The climax of this sequence was a lengthy meeting of some sort, in which I found myself so bored that I skipped most of the dialogue. I gather I got some kind of promotion, but it didn't seem to make a lot of difference. Where was the fun in attending a meeting?
Having persisted through what I'd hoped was just the dull bit at the beginning, I finally got back into my ship and out into space ready to explore. This was it, I thought. Finally the fun stuff - and then I ended up on a planet where the tedium of formulaic adventure games hit hard. Some hapless settlers, with a series of predictable needs... could I just go down the corridor and get their generator started, and then talk to this guy about the defenses, and see a man about getting them some food, and so on, and so on.
I gave up. I'd had enough. Mass Effect became a game that I felt like I wanted to play, yet each time I played it I ended up not wanting to anymore. And yet having invested this much effort in it and knowing that by rights it should be a good game, and a game I'd enjoy playing, I can't give up on it just yet. I know there's a good game in there somewhere. I just have to find it.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl
STALKER (I'm not going to keep typing the periods) is another game that looks great on paper. Lost in a decaying open world of mutants and anomalies and spooky, abandoned areas, trying to survive and explore. STALKER can best be described as challenging and atmospheric. Or possibly really difficult and depressing. I've played a good chunk of it, and I'm still not sure which it is.
It's not a game that helps you very much. When I first started I thought it would be a rich, detailed experience much like Fallout 3 or Oblivion, but it really isn't. I wandered happily off into the wilderness armed with only a small pistol and was very quickly killed by a group of wild dogs. Restarting, I went in search of the same dogs to enact vengence, but before I could find them I was killed by a group of wild pigs. Aaaaand repeat. Eventually, after a lot of hard work and some patience, I managed to find a decent gun and realised that I had to play this game differently in order to survive.
The environment doesn't help to lighten the mood. It seems to be constantly raining and the soundtrack is mostly a series of drawn out sorrowful notes. Most of the people you meet either ignore you or huddle around camp fires and mutter in Russian. It's kind of bleak. One time I got caught up with a bunch of guys trying to defend a warehouse. I found a good spot up in the roof to snipe at the enemy as they came through the gate alongside one of the other defenders, who actually spoke to me. I was just beginning to enjoy myself and feel like I wasn't alone in this radioactive wasteland when he took a bullet to the head. I think the body is still slumped on the stairs up there.
STALKER, in contrast to Mass Effect, is a game that I think I won't enjoy playing and then when I play it I end up enjoying it. It's just that if I leave it too long afterwards all I can remember is how hard it is, how there's no fast travel, very little resources, and how I keep getting killed by well armed soldiers or bands of scavengers or pigs or dogs. When I think about it like that it's depressing. One day I will finish it. I'm fairly determined. I just need to be in a really good mood before I start, otherwise the psychological toll will be too much.
Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
Or, to be more specific, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod. KOTOR 2 was a brilliant but flawed game that I have completed on several occasions, but TSLRCM adds back in a lot of content that was stripped from the original release, resulting in a fuller and more logical game.
I was very much enjoying it until I got to the fabled droid factory section near the end of the game, which was quite enjoyable until a large room filled with an overwhelming number of enemies stopped me in my tracks. Something about the unsubtle nature of the challenge (just kill everything) and the perceived difficulty of doing that put me off, and I've not played it for probably more than a year now.
This game is unusual in this list because throughout playing it I've enjoyed it immensely and was playing it regularly without signs of stopping. I guess sometimes a game has bits that aren't as much fun as the rest of it.
Lego Harry Potter Years 1 to 4
Harry Potter isn't something that interests me particularly. I wanted this game because I liked the other Lego games in this series and I wanted a new one to play. Admittedly that may explain my reticence in completing it, and also my inability to follow or understand the plot. My general understanding is that Harry is a wizard at a wizard school, there's some kind of Darth Vader-esque supervillain antagonist figure, and various predictable elements along the way like dragons and elves and whatnot.
The other reason I never completed it is because it's one of the most bug filled games I've ever played - there's one right in the main menu for starters, which I am baffled passed quality control. I was also unable to get through a particular level owing to a crash that always happened at a certain point - until on a hunch I turned all the graphics settings to low.
This one definitely falls under the investment of time/completer finisher/ocd category of games for me. It's kind of fun, but most of that is because of the Lego, not the Harry Potter.
A note on keeping save files
Transferring save files is usually fairly easy but finding them is not. For example, Mass Effect's saves can be found here:
...whereas STALKER's can be found here:
You can forgive two separate development houses for using two completely different paths, but let's see how a Telltale handles their Lego games.
Lego Harry Potter (1-4):
C:\Users\(User)\AppData\Roaming\WB Games\LEGO Harry Potter
Lego Batman 1:
C:\Users\(User)\AppData\Local\Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment\LEGO Batman
Lego Batman 2:
C:\Users\(User)\AppData\Roaming\Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment\LEGO Batman 2\SavedGames
Lego Star Wars 3:
I appreciate that this isn't an issue worth getting the whole of the videogames industry together to agree a standard on, but can we get just a little consistency here please?