Things That Suck in Video Games (as told by Mike)

by Mike

Josh wrote an article a while back about Things That Do Not Suck in video games. I guess that makes him the positive one in the group. I’m certainly the negative one, so it’s up to me to tell you about things that suck. Here are a few to get things started.

Save Points

Ugh... seriously?

When we were kids, we had all the time in the world to play video games. It was awesome. I miss that. Wait, where was I?

Oh, right. So now that we’ve grown up, we have other responsibilities. Other things are fighting for our attention. Often these things come up when we’re right in the middle of a great game.

“So what’s the problem?” you ask. “Just save the game and keep playing later!” you say. Well, that would be a great idea if the game would fucking LET me save, but most modern games don’t have enough respect for my time to allow that. They have designated places called “save points”. If you’re not at a save point, you can’t save the game. Which means when it’s time to stop playing, you either have to keep going until you find a save point (and listen to an angry wife complaining in the background about how video games are stupid), or you just turn the game off and lose your progress. Either way, you lose.

Would you put up with Microsoft Word if it only let you save every half an hour? Of course not. Oh, you just got invited to a meeting/lunch/quickie? Too bad – you have to find a save point while everyone around you thinks you’re an idiot. And that save point might be just around the corner, or across a fucking desert.

Silent Protagonists

"What's that, Link? You just shat your pants?"

A lot of game designers think it’s a great idea to keep the main character silent so the player can feel like they’re really the hero. If the character had a voice of their own, and that voice said something the player wouldn’t say in real life, it supposedly ruins the immersion. Well… I’m not dead silent in real life, so I think THAT ruins the immersion.

As much as I like the Zelda series, I can’t stand that damn fairy that follows Link around and talks for him. It was OK when Link was silent in the older games, because there wasn’t much interaction with other characters. Like in many games of the NES and even SNES eras, most NPCs just had 1-2 lines of dialogue for you to hear and absorb. Then in Ocarina of Time, Nintendo said “ooooh we should totally have Link participate in the conversation, but we don’t want to give him a voice that might alienate anyone, so we’ll have an annoying fairy speak for him!”

"What's that, Claude? You're gonna cap some bitch?"

Do you remember Grand Theft Auto 3? The lead character’s name was “Claude”. Did you know that? I didn’t. I had to look it up. What I remember is that he didn’t say a word in the whole game. I remember nothing else about him. I don’t remember his motivations for killing 31,541,826 gang members and hookers in the course of the game. I just remember he was a dopey looking guy in a black jacket.

Fast forward to GTA: Vice City. You played as Tommy Vercetti, a pissed-off badass voiced by Ray Liotta. Liotta is a well-known Hollywood actor with experience playing a mobster in Goodfellas. The character was memorable, and as a result the whole game was memorable. The story didn’t just happen around Tommy; it happened as a result of the things he said and did.

Left 4 Dead (especially L4D2)

Fuck this game and its sequel

I think I’ve already made my hate for this game abundantly clear. I just wanted to use that picture.

Locked Content in Multiplayer Games

I’m against locked content in general, but especially in multiplayer games. I don’t mind the later levels of a game being locked; there’s a natural progression there and it makes sense. I’m also fine with certain items or areas being locked when they’re integral to the course of the game. For example, you can’t get to the 4th dungeon in The Legend of Zelda until you get the raft from the 3rd dungeon. That’s fine; the whole point of that game is to adventure and gain items that make you more powerful and able to enter new areas.

What I don’t like is when things are arbitrarily locked to¬†artificially¬†extend the length of the game. And what I really don’t like is when that’s done in a multiplayer game. For example: almost every first-person online shooter since and including Call of Duty 4. CoD4 was one of the first (if not the first) games to introduce the concept of XP, or experience points, to the online FPS genre. A genre which, until that point, rewarded those with skill rather than those with way too much free time on their hands and an affinity for level grinding. Now it’s dominated by people who started playing at 12:01 on launch day, took a few days off work or school, and leveled up good and early. These turds have an unfair advantage over new players because of the extra weapons and perks they have access to. It’s hard to level up when you can’t score kills… and it’s hard to score kills when you’re constantly being murdered by people with better weapons than you.

The Steel Nuts of Teabagging don't unlock until level 47. Yes I know this is a picture of Halo. Yes I know Halo is one of the few FPSes that doesn't have experience levels. Don't judge me.

Offline games suffer from bullshit locked content too. Have you ever had this conversation?

Gamer 1: Hey, I got the new Guitar Hero/Rock Band! I’ll bring it with me when I come to visit you!

Gamer 2: Cool! That sounds awesome! I eagerly look forward to your visit!

(later)

Gamer 1: Oh no, since we haven’t played this game on your system yet, we only have access to the first 5 songs. They all suck. The good songs are later in the game. I guess we can take turns watching each other play so we can grind through and unlock the songs we actually give half a shit about.

Gamer 2: I have never experienced such profound disappointment in a game or a friend. I hate myself and I want to die.

Music games should be tailored to a party/multiplayer environment. If you’re going to lock the content (and you shouldn’t, but if you must) at least let me unlock it in multiplayer mode!

And don’t even get me started on the problems with trying to explain to a non-gamer why they have to create a guest Xbox profile before they can play fake plastic guitar…

Unskippable Videos and Cut Scenes

Again, this this one has to do with the game designers/programmers not letting me do what I want to do with the game I paid for. I’m here to play a game, not watch a movie. And even when I’m watching a movie, I can skip the boring parts. DVDs and Blu-rays don’t stop me from fast-forwarding… well, except at the beginning when they want to show me ads for other movies, and that’s wrong too. But VHS tapes didn’t stop me from fast-forwarding ever. VHS kicked ass.

Your smug face and your shitty remote can't help you

Unskippable videos are the worst when combined with save points. Generally this happens right before boss fights. The save point is just outside the boss’s room, or maybe there’s an auto-save as you walk through the door. Once you get into the room, some asshole comes out of the shadows and tells you all about his evil scheme, how he’s so much better than you, how he’s going to chop your family into little bits and eat them, and so on. There’s a good chance that you’re going to lose the fight the first few times. And every time you die, you have to reload from that last save again – before the cut scene. So you have to hear about his evil scheme all over again. And again. And again.

There’s just no excuse for this. You should always be able to skip the non-interactive parts and get back to playing the damn game. “But my artistic vision will be ruined! You won’t understand the subtext of the conflict!” Fuck your vision, and fuck subtext. If I want to skip that crap and shoot things, get out of my way and let me do it.

9 Responses to “Things That Suck in Video Games (as told by Mike)”

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  2. Axess2084 Says:

    Save Points are ridiculous. I just lost 30 minutes of gameplay while taking an old game out of my gaming shelf: Infinite Undiscovery. I died on my way between save points when the game sent me incredibly overpowered opposition for the hell of it.

    I also can’t stand being led by the nose by games. The game will block out areas of the game or put you into a pathway only the devs want you to go. I bought the frickin’ game. Why do I have to play someone else’s script? I didn’t buy it so I could be babysat through the game so that I would play it the same way everyone else has played it. That’s just lazy, arrogant developing, in my opinion!

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