5 Terrible Features In Great Games
May you find what you are looking for.
The above line is an old Chinese curse. The disparity between Western and Eastern culture is never more evident than in their way of insulting each other.
Our insults start with something like “your momma so fat…” Eastern insults start more along the lines of “venerable sir, may I have a moment of your time?”
This barbaric line might then be followed with “may you find what you are looking for”. If you are a douche you might interpret anything anybody says ever as an insult. In which case you’d throw your arms back and scream “Come at me bro!” while arching your shoulders and trying not to pee yourself.
If you were more reasonable you’d probably think it’s a sweet thing to say. Yes, I do hope I find what I’m looking for. You have yourself a nice day mister Miyagi (or Jackie Chan depending on your specific level of Asian racism).
In reality, the man has indeed insulted you so I guess the douche was actually more accurate this time. Then again, the douche challenged his own reflection to come at him, and lost.
It is an amazing piece of philosophical manoeuvring to think that actually finding what you want would be a bad thing. Yet it’s true. Not always, and certainly not with the small material things. My life is indeed better with that cool shirt or those kickass speakers but it becomes easier to understand when you think about it more abstractly.
If I actually achieved world dominance I’d be happy for a while, sure, but what happens after I finish recreating gladiatorial battles and making it illegal to say “mine”?
I’d be empty. Without purpose. As much as I want many things, I want them more as ideas.
The funny thing is that this should never stop us from trying to achieve success. Anything artistic, gaming included, is the ultimate frontier. With unlimited time and money we could still never achieve perfection.
Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s a good thing. It leaves us free to try as hard as we can. Knowing failure is certain means you don’t have to worry about it.
We can objectively assess any product, great or small, good or bad and assess it without emotion getting in the way. Nothing is perfect. So criticism is always allowed.
This is possibly the greatest modern societal achievement. We’ve maybe lost some of the sacredness that used to pervade society, but we’ve gained openness, humbleness in our artists and the expectation that we must always strive to improve ourselves and what we do.
These are five games which were great in many ways. Not so much in others. Gaming is collaborative. The nature of this means that we can get the excellent mixed in with the average. More so than in other mediums we can forgive some areas to experience transcendence in others.
These games pushed the limit.
They’re not bad, they just did a bad thing.
We love them but we want to change them.
5. Story In Modern Warfare 2 and 3
Some will say story is not the point. Some will say that the multiplayer is all that matters. Some should crawl back into their mother’s wombs and un-conceive themselves.
There are many great things about the Modern Warfare series. The original Modern Warfare is, was and will always be a turning point for the Call of Duty series and the gaming industry as a whole.
That does not excuse the level of nonsense in the following two games.
At the top of the drawing boards, written in huge neon letters with its own back generator should be coherency. A story is worthless if it’s not easy to follow, at least on its most fundamental level.
Boring, lacklustre, incomprehensible – the story managed to be all of these things. We just needed a bad guy and a reason to chase; maybe some nice subplots or side characters.
What we got was the conspiracy ravings of a homeless man wearing a tinfoil hat who blinks his eyes independently.
4. Everything New in Assassin’s Creed Revelations
…except the story.
I loved the original Assassin’s Creed. Warts and all. Then the sequel came along and tightened all the soft bits and accentuated the pretty bits. I loved it too.
Then we had Brotherhood. More great story but ultimately a lot of fluff. There was still enough new, interesting content to warrant the purchase, but it was a weary purchase and I found myself often thinking “Yeah, there really is a lot of stuff here. It was worth buying”. I shouldn’t be having those thoughts.
The quality and quantity of what is added to a series to warrant a full price tag should be self-evident. It shouldn’t keep crossing my mind.
Then we have Revelations. The storyline was great and added a lot more. Given that Ubisoft have said that Assassin’s Creed 3 will feature a new protagonist, this is the final game in the Assassin’s Creed 2 trilogy. I know. It makes no sense.
Apart from the story and character, every new feature actually detracted from the core experience. A good core experience, which should be obvious – it’s untouched since Assassin’s Creed 2. The hook blade is a fun gimmick but everything else is just so much salad obscuring the steak underneath.
There was a time when a hook blade would have been cheap DLC. Now it’s a core feature on a sequel. Who cares about bombs? You have a gun, throwing knives, smoke bombs, poison blades, a cross bow, a sword, a smaller sword, two hidden blades and an army of other similarly equipped lackeys at your disposal, who gives a tinker’s cuss about bombs.
This is a stealth based assassination game. BOMBS?
Assassin’s Creed 3 better blow my hair into a Super Saiyan.
3. Kratos’ Character Arc in God Of War 3
Did the graphics melt my face?
Into a puddle.
Did the epicness divert blood flow from my brain?
Pants tighteningly so.
Then what the hell happened to Kratos? He went from lovable badass who is filled with pain we understand to just being a douche. He was like an angsty petulant child who happens to be able to smash things.
It’s not often that I see things that really capture my feelings completely. These guys did. Watch what they have to say and you’ll understand fully why I actually wish God of War 3 had been cancelled.
2. Lip Syncing in Kingodms of Amalur
This is more of a gripe than anything else but seriously; it’s like watching a fish talk while sounds come from somewhere.
The rest of the games is really very good and the writing is even excellent as is the voice acting, which is why this is such a shame.
I’m not sure if this is the kind of thing that can be patched but I just wonder how this got past the QA team. It feels like the first thing you’d jot down when you pick up the game to test it.
The funny thing is that it gets less noticeable since you end up reading the dialogue subtitles most of the time. There is no way to turn them off and it’s really hard to ignore onscreen text.
Maybe they did that on purpose…
1. Combat in Skyrim Just So Poor
This follows directly from playing Kingdoms of Amalur. I haven’t finished Skyrim, I don’t think it’s possible to finish Skyrim but net result is that both games are sitting on my hard drive.
Picking up Skyrim, the awesomeness of the world and storyline is evident. Distracting even.
It took me several hours of playing Skyrim (as a mage\one handed weapons guy) before I paused the game and realised the combat was just not fun.
There is no feedback, enemies barely react and I don’t feel smart, powerful or skilled.
It fails in every category of RPG gameplay.
Given what else is on display I forgave the combat as a necessary evil to get a world as big and alive as Skyrims.
Then I played Kingdoms of Amalur. Lip syncing problems aside, the world is big, beautiful and alive. There is more location variety than in Skyrim. A lot of the locations are just more epic in scope than Skyrims and there is actually colour and vibrancy to the world.
The side quests are more interesting and the storyline is more unique. All this and I haven’t even mentioned the combat.
From within the first couple of hours I was already spoilt for choice, felt awesomely powerful while still needing to fight hard to survive. I also felt tactically in control.
Dodging around attacks, firing spells, secondary weapons, and swinging a huge fiery hammer I felt great.
I tried to play Skyrim again. I don’t think I can.