This thread is inspired, indirectly, from this thread.
What I want to discuss is what aspects of a game cause you to (dis)like a game? There are things like repetition, plot, depth, art, control mechanics, gimicks, and other things that go into a game, but what hooks you in? What makes you wish you rented the game first?
I enjoy some repetition in games, but when it becomes too much a part of the games concept (FFXI or EQ, or most MMOs) I can't play the game very long. Speaking of FFXI, I could never get used to using a controller and macros to control my character. I'm a wizard with a keyboard and mouse, but a controller? I'll play 360 or PS3, or even ROMs if I want to use a controller.
I enjoy games with almost random growth. Many MMOs just were way too grindy to be fun (I never got to the level cap in WoW) because I didn't feel like I was improving. Borderlands was interesting, even if it was boring and repetitive, because it was almost a fun grind. It was about getting better loot (awesome guns, like a mini-rocket launching shotgun or a rocket launcher). The added mechanic of having your ability with guns to improve the more you use it added to the feeling of getting better without relying on loot like WoW does. In WoW I would gain a level and think, boredly, 'Oh yay, I got a talent point...' Or even on levels where the skills you got are ones I would never use: 'Oh Chain Heal? I solo.'
Oblivion's leveling method would have been great for me if it wasn't counter-intuitive to make an effective character. You would have to mod the game to get the maximum amount of growth per level-up without having to micromanage what skills you levelled up. If I wanted to micromanage I would play an RTS. Yuck.
I find that, artistically, I like well-done environments that really set a good mood for the area. Bioshock's underwater city-gone-fucked feel with characters that clicked with the environment was love at first sight. I enjoyed the environments in WoW because they didn't use 'busy' textures and still made it interesting. I LOVED Grizzly Hills in Northrend because it reminded me of northern Minnesota. The music in the background was great too.
FFXI was just yuck in that way, the textures were kind of too simple unless you had a great computer to put everything on max graphics (I didn't) and even then the maps felt flat and synthetic.
City of Heroes had some of my most favorite environments. When I got an HD graphics card and played the game on max graphics I couldn't do anything for a good 10-15 minutes while I stared at how much of the district I could see. Who needs a helicopter in New York when you can fly around Steel Canyon?
Enough of my ramblings (for now ) What kind of things do you folks find awesome/yuck about certain games you've enjoyed or disliked?