As promised, I now present the second half of my series attempting to bring a nuanced view to my passions. Previously, I looked at the terrible flaws of things I otherwise enjoy. Today, we’ll be looking at unexpected strengths of things I otherwise dislike.
To be fair, not all of these are things I actually hate. Some are just things I’m indifferent to or underwhelmed by.
Deep Space Nine: Sisko and Dax
Yet even this debacle of a series has its strengths. Namely, Sisko and Dax.
Even despite my dislike for the series as a whole, I would rate Sisko as my second favourite Trek captain, only narrowly behind Picard and significantly ahead of Archer. He has nearly the same level of strength, dignity, and grandeur as Picard while also embodying a great deal of warmth and humanity.
Dax, meanwhile, stands as a breath of fresh air compared to how bland Star Trek’s aliens usually are. Too often Trek treated aliens as either humans with bumpy foreheads or else bland, one-dimensional archetypes with no real personality.
Dax stands as a rare case of a character who feels convincingly non-human yet also like a complete and multifaceted person. I find the blending of personalities found in joined Trill endlessly fascinating, and I deeply regret that the only way for me to learn more about them is to wade through the misery that is Deep Space Nine.
To be fair, Bashir ain’t half bad, either.
Star Wars: The universe
The setting of Star Wars is fascinating. It’s a mythic story, essentially a fairytale, transplanted into a gritty sci-fi setting. That’s a very odd idea, yet it works incredibly well. Everything about Star Wars has this wonderful, exotic grandiosity, and there’s incredible potential in the depth and scale of the universe that has been built for it.
In fact, much of my gripes about Star Wars stem from how poorly they make use of that potential. It could be so much more than repetitive, shallow conflicts between one-dimensional hero archetypes and even more one-dimensional caricatures of evil.
And lightsabers are just about the coolest thing ever. Well, next to Elves.
Marvel Heroes: The voice-overs
Marvel Heroes has the dubious distinction of being one of the very few MMOs I’ve tried that I found genuinely unpleasant to play. Just slogging through enough of it to be able to write an informed article was a horrid chore.
But credit where credit is due: That game has great voice-acting. Much like Heroes of the Storm, it’s full of incidental dialogue, and it adds a lot of fun and flavour to the game. I particularly liked Storm and Thor trash-talking each other over who could command thunder better.
And the voice-overs are of a pretty high quality. All of the actors nail their parts quite well.
My feelings toward player-housing in MMOs are at best lukewarm, but if every MMO with player housing treated it like WildStar does, I might change my tune.
To my view, there are two fatal flaws that tend to afflict most player housing systems. One is that they’re too much work, being limited to endgame characters and/or requiring a lot of effort to build the house you want, and the other is that they rarely provide any significant practical benefit. What’s the point of spending hours designing your virtual dream home if you never have a reason to visit it?
WildStar neatly solves both those problems. It allows players to earn their own homes very early on, and it doesn’t take much effort to get enough items to give your home your own flair. It also makes housing useful by offering crafting nodes and other bonuses for having an in-game abode.
Mine was full of books. Whoda thunkit?
Orphan Black: Felix
Orphan Black is one of the things on this list that I definitely don’t hate, but the fact remains it wasn’t interesting enough to keep me watching past the first season.
I do miss Felix, though. Man, Felix was the best. I still often think back on many of his scenes and smile. Particularly that time he was bumming drugs off Alison in the bathroom.
Abramsverse Trek: Zachary Quinto’s Spock
But there was one saving grace to the experience: Zachary Quinto.
I’ve never been fond of the image of Vulcans as soulless automatons. I much prefer Enterprise’s take: a simmering cauldron of furious passion barely held in check.
Zachary Quinto captured this masterfully. Much as I disliked that movie as a whole, the scene where he finally snaps and tries to strangle Kirk was absolutely brilliant.
And I’m not just saying that because I spent the whole movie wanting to strangle Kirk.
Diablo II: Ambiance
Diablo II is the source of a lot of my long-running gripes with the RPG genre, but if there’s one thing that game nailed, it was ambiance.
From the music to the sound effects to the voice acting, everything about the game was just so eerie and spooky. It was a game where venturing forth into the wilds took a genuine degree of courage.
I really wish more games could offer this level of creepiness. It allows the player to feel so much more heroic.
Well, there’s always The Secret World.