Owning a "next gen" console and a HD TV seems to be a necessity nowadays. Most people seem to think that you can't enjoy new games unless they're in HD, and that's how I've been enjoying the majority the games that I've played on X360 thanks to my brother
being kind enough to let me play his 360 on his (effin huge) TV. Not too long ago though I finally bought myself an Xbox of my own, but as I'm currently trying to save as much cash as possible I've just been too tight to fork over the cash for a shiny new HD TV, SO, my Xbox sits quite happily next to my crappy little CRT TV in my lounge room.
Now I believe that solid gameplay can trump shiny graphics every time and that you can enjoy most games on a SD TV just as much as you can on a HD TV. The only issue I have is when developers let the idea of having such high resolutions to play with go to their heads, and in the process of making everything so sharp, neat and tiny in HD, they completely fuck their game for everyone who hasn't bought a HD TV.
was the first and most notorious culprit of this blatant "Definitionism", with menu text so small that it was near impossible to read what your mission objectives were. Of course, there wasn't much of an objective other than KILL ZOMBIES so it didn't stop me from playing the game, but it was still shitting me. Also, there was a widescreen alignment issue which cut off nearly a 1/4 of the UI on some screens, so those awesome tips that you get during the loading screens meant shit because you'd only get the first or second step. THANK CAPCOM! But it's not just them, there's a lot more games out there who are just as guilty as Capcom and Dead Rising.
Far Cry 2
was a culprit of this, yet not through any negligence or lack of thought by the developers. The menus and UI were all surprisingly very nice and clear, even on a SD TV. My issue was with the environments and graphics being almost TOO good (I know, how fucking picky can I be), as I found it near impossible to spot enemies in the environment, even when standing close enough to them to hear them fart. Running through the African bush only to have the screen start flashing red with gunfire coming from random unknown bush ninjas was how I spent the majority of my time in that game. I really did try to give it a good shot though, Rev Anthony's praise of the game had me inspired to see its beauty, but when I would scan the area to see if there are any enemies all I got was 300 beautiful bullets in the ass from all directions. I raged, and I quit.
Another game worth mentioning is Burnout Paradise
. A game that requires the twitch reflexes of a cokefiend to take corners correctly becomes nearly impossible when you can only make out a corner by the time you've already passed it. You may as well be simulating an 80 year old geriatric behind the wheel of a Lambo. Of course you could just use you MiniMap to help you navigate, but guess what, you can barely make that god damn thing out either! Now, at least Criterion clued onto this as they had apparently made changes to the game in one of their major updates to optimize it for SD TVs, so while I didn't rage quit this one out of frustration in the end, it still gets an mention for being so Definitionist in the first place.
NOW, time to mention the game that I love and fucking hate so much at the same time. It's possibly the worst example of a game just not being designed for SD in any way. That game, is Battlefield: Bad Company.
I effin love the multiplayer in this game. I played the shit out of it on my bro's HD TV and would usually come out on top most games. Then I got my own Xbox, and then things started to suck. Bad. It suffers a bit of what I mentioned with FarCry 2 where you can't make out enemies until they're killing your ass, but it gets so much worse than that when you're dealing with it online. Its one thing to have a dumb-ass AI character you can't see start spraying bullets in your direction, its a whole other story when some 12 yr old kid from Oregon fucks your ass with a single headshot before you even knew there was someone else on the map.
Ok, so itís hard to make out your enemies, you can get used to it right? Yeah sure, but there's also the slight issue of almost all the text in the game being basically unreadable. The score ladder between matches: Almost illegible. The text to log the current kills in the match: Complete blurry garbage. You can be charging through in a tank firing off rounds into a building, then sit there wondering if that blue smudge on the top of your screens meant you hit someone or not, coz god knows you can't actually see if you've hit them!
All these elements made it frustrating to the point of quitting the game completely, BUT what really pissed me off with Bad Company, the one that broke the camels back, was the forced letterbox
. Quite simply, they designed their game and their UI to work only in widescreen, so rather than simply reposition the UI for an SD TV, what do they do? They scale the widescreen down to fit on your small ass SD TV and slap black bar on the top and bottom. It's lazy, itís frustrating, and I'd expect more from two of the top developers and publishers around today.
To sum up my frustration here, the fact is that these weren't bad games, in fact, from what I played of them they all seemed like great games, But thatís the problem. Because I lack the fund to buy the expensive hardware I'd need to enjoy these games at their highest visual quality, the gameplay itself is hampered, and so is my experience and my ability to enjoy the game for what it is. If I wanted to deal with a situation like that, I would've just become a PC gamer again....
P.S. Thankyou EA and thankyou Dice. I wasn't quite aware that my television was so small and inadequate already, so I appreciate not only the kind reminder, but your sterling efforts to give me EVEN LESS SCREEN AREA TO DISPLAY WITH THAN BEFORE! IF I WANTED TO PLAY GAMES ON A FUCKING SCREEN THAT SIZE I'D GO GRAB MY PSP AND HOLD IT AS FAR AWAY FROM MY FACE AS MY ARMS WOULD ALLOW ME!! YOU CHEAP, LAZY BAS.... OH FUCK THIS*
*Dan got so frustrated with trying to access Destructoid on a 15" CRT monitor that he rage quit the internet