Lol, I had you in mind when I said “I realize I’m probably the only one thinking this way” :D.
When I say that SS2 doesn’t belong on this sort of list, I mean that I think it doesn’t belong on a “influential” list since it’s more or less a return to UW’s style. I think that UW would make more sense in its place (for that matter I also think that calling Arx influential is dubious, that Dishonored’s influence isn’t a positive one, that the summer car game is probably too new to have influenced anything, and that Thief’s influence is more for stealth games than “immersive sims”, but I guess I didn’t feel like writing out all the details on that stuff in the first post). I don’t mean to imply that SS2 doesn’t deserve to be counted among the rest of LGS’s games/“immersive sims” at all.
Maybe I was wrong to say that SS2 missed the point. It’s hard for me to comment on that seriously since I wasn’t there. But it seems more than coincidental that after Underworld, LGS made a very similar game but without the stats, and then Terra Nova and Thief were also non-RPGs, and that RPG parts only resurfaced in the game which was co-developed by another company altogether. I see that as LGS consciously refining their style over time, not some weird mutation that was finally stemmed by SS2.
For what it’s worth, Paul Neurath called Thief a more pure experience than Underworld and said that things like character stats weren’t really part of the Underworld experience, and that they were essentially included because that’s what was expected of games of the time (https://youtu.be/6sh_DY28wl4?t=45m1s , 45:00 - 47:40). Maybe he’s wrong about that from the standpoint of what’s good for the games, but at least as far as questions of vision and intent go I think it’s noteworthy. With that in mind, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that UW1 and 2 were the purest forms of LGS’s style even though they were the originals.
"oh noes muh gamey stats and skill requirements! It missed da point! Realism supersedes gameplay in any context!"
Realism isn't the thing. Maybe consistency is a better word. I found it jarring when I tried to equip a pistol the first time and I got this little voice in the back of my mind asking, "Why could I use a pistol in training but not here?" It's not a huge deal and it's not like I'm some kind of hard line anti-RPG weirdo, it's to be expected in that kind of game. But it also seems incongruous with the direction that LGS games were going along up to that point.
I think we both agree that immersive sim is a bad term. My idea of it boils down to “What Looking Glass did” (barring stuff like British Open Championship Gold). That includes what LG established with Underworld, and includes their subsequent games as well. Beyond that I don’t care because I don’t think “immersive sim” should be used in the first place. Even your first definition is broad enough that it can be stretched to count something like GTA (perhaps unless we also discount System Shock 1 and Terra Nova and Thief. Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t).
Come to think of it my original comment was misguided, the real problem with this article and every one like it is that it propagates the use of “immersive sim”.