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Are some highly praised games just mediocre games with a lot of polish?

Gamingtodaynews1f - Are some highly praised games just mediocre games with a lot of polish?

I was taking to a co-worker about PS4 Marvel's Spider-Man, and it sort of just dawned on me that you really just swing somewhere, beat up a bunch of guys, watch a cutscene, swing somewhere else, fight more guys etc..

I did enjoy Spider-Man, but as I talk about it more, I realize there's nothing new or special here. Sure, they've uber polished it, the swinging game mechanic is cool, and the fighting is solid, especially with the Spider-Man style special moves. But it got me to thinking, besides the polish and IP, why did this game stand out and win GOY awards?

It's also sort of a carbon copy of the Batman Arkham games with a different IP. That's not a bad thing though, as the Arkham games are excellent (except Origins, that one sucked). But with both sets of games they have the same level up formula adding the ability to learn moves and upgrade equipment etc..

But really, if you remove the polish and the IP, what are you left with? Definitely very good game mechanics, but nothing original. Not enough for me to want to do side quests. And then when DLC came out for Spider-Man, I thought.. Hm… I haven't willingly done too many side-quests, and they're free. Why would I pay for more side-quests. Sure, I suspect the DLC is better than a side-quest, but ultimately it's the same old swing, fight, cutscene formula. That's fine for a 10-20 hour game with a good solid story, but I'm not doing this for 50+ hours.


After Miles Morales, I then started playing Ghost of Tsushima. Again, an incredible game with an incredible level of polish, cool samurai setting etc… But if you switch horse riding with spider-man switing, isn't this the same game I just played with different IP? Ride on a horse, fight, cutscene, ride on horse to next mission, run into NPCs offering side-quests etc.. It's Spider-Man with a different setting/game mechanism.

It the above is all true, it is no wonder Sony has been extremely successful with their single player games? They have the budget and polishing down. All they need to do is think of a cool setting, design fun mechanics for how you travel between missions, build good fighting mechanics, and they're done. With the exception of Days Gone (which I didn't play), Sony basically hasn't missed.

Am I wrong here? Am I simplifying game design/development too much?

Note, I don't game too much these days, and recently that's mostly been the high-budget single player Sony games (Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, Spider-Man, Ghost of Tsushima etc..), and a few others like Jedi Fallen Order and FF7 Remake. Maybe I'm not yet too bored of the formula because I don't game that much (I probably finish 3-4 games a year)

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