One time, about seven or eight years back, I remember having the distinctly unpleasant experience of playing the N64's WWE title No Mercy
in career mode. A fine game in multiplayer, the hair-rending, eyeball-exploding unfairness of its single-player mode caused me to suffer a minor nervous breakdown, fountain optic fluid all over my TV, and incur the wrath of my dear mum for repeatedly shouting at Triple H that he was a "stupid piece of shit motherfucking cunt". Needless to say, various contrivances thrown in by the developers in some sort of misguided, out-of-touch attempt to provide their customers with a "challenge" meant one of the most frustrating, imbalanced gaming experiences I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.
Which leads me onto the crux of any frustrating gaming experience: developer contrivances thrust into the game in an attempt to either shoehorn you into doing exactly what they want you to do, or else in a wholly misguided attempt to provide the gamer with a "challenge". Read on for a (not exhaustive by any means) list of the most annoying contrivances ever implemented (and implemented still) into a number of otherwise-fine games...
Formulaic boss fights
Everyone's been there. A huge boss which dwarfs you in size, which fires some projectile or other periodically. You dodge, you attack at the exact moment that the boss is vulnerable, repeat ad nauseam. Tired, clichéd, boring, no fun whatsoever.
An even more frustrating off-shoot of this practice is that of immediately resurrecting the defeated enemy as soon as you've won- BUT WITH THREE TIMES MORE ENERGY, INSANE NEW POWERS AND GLOWING RED EYES. What the fuck is wrong with these developers? Have they overdosed on 80's slasher films or what? I'm not surprised any more when a boss gets back up, I'm not surprised when he grows horns and huge claws, and I'm not surprised that I now have to fight through this stupidly difficult battle with 1/5 of my original life gauge intact.
How, then, to do a boss battle right? Innovative boss fights that are both a challenge and entertaining. The first fight with 'The Russian' in THQ's 'Punisher' is a perfect example of this: styled exactly like an action film brawl and excellent fun. Lose the tedious pattern repetition and unexplained omnipotence of the boss in question.
Way to do it: 'The Punisher' (only one boss fight from this game qualifies. The rest fall into clichéville.), the 'Hitman' series (With a few exceptions, 'bosses' are normal humans and die like normal humans).
Way not to do it: Every game you've played that features bosses
Ooh, that's a nice little forest over there, I'll go and check it out. Wait, no I won't, because I inexpicably cannot get there due to a magic invisible barrier.
If you're going to restrict freedom in a game, for God's sake use a plausible reason for it. Broken cars, police barriers, ANYTHING as long as you have a damn good reason for having the barrier there. Locked doors need to go as well. 'This door is locked' doesn't cut it when your character has a fucking grenade launcher. Haven't these people seen Terminator 2?
Way to do it: GTA: San Andreas, Morrowind, Splinter Cell series
Way not to do it: Predator: Concrete Jungle, a plethora of others that I can't be bothered to think of.
Unrealistic 'realistic' games
Yeah, I'm talking to you, Splinter Cell. All right, it mostly does a grand job, but when I shoot a guy in the head with a pistol I wanna see an entry an exit wound, and I want to see his brains hit the wall behind him. Want to keep the ESRB rating down? Don't make games where the protagonist is a bad-ass secret agent who routinely opens up terrorists with his combat knife.
Way to do it: the 'Hitman' series, Soldier of Fortune
Way not to do it: the 'Splinter Cell' series
Keep that bollocks in the arcades. When I'm playing a game I don't wanna see a magic floating sparkling shotgun. I want to see a plain old shotgun lying on the floor, and I don't wanna see it stored in the most unlikeliest of places. Who leaves weapons lying on the ground in the middle of a city? Oh, and I want to see my character physically pick the item/weapon up, rather than just running into it and it disappearing. Dull, tired, unimaginative.
Way to do it: Can't think of any off-hand, but there are SOME games that get this right.
Way not to do it: GTA: San Andreas, Doom
Crappy stealth missions:
Is there anything more irritating than a completely misplaced stealth level in an action title? If I want stealth I'll pick up Splinter Cell or MGS, thankyouverymuch. When I'm playing a Hulk game I wanna smash stuff up. Don't be giving me your 'negotiate a laboratory as Bruce Banner' bullshit.
Way to do it: Don't do it if you're an action title.
Way not to do it: the Hulk, Predator: Concrete Jungle
Characters who can't jump or swim for no good reason:
Die already, game developers.
Another 80's coin-op throwback, presumably to preserve memory and ensure the game doesn't slow down. I seriously despise it. Bodies do NOT disappear in real life, nor should they in games that extoll the virtues of their realism. Or any damn game, for that matter.
Way to do it: The Splinter Cell series, the Hitman series
Way not to do it: Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 5(!)
Resident Evil. Silent Hill. The 'Legacy of Kain' series. All feature crap puzzles you have to solve in order to advance and make no sense whatsoever in the context of the story. Why the hell would a group of scientists and researchers install some random picture-based puzzle in their mansion to get a key for another room to get a jewel for ANOTHER puzzle? They wouldn't. It's shite, I don't want it in my game.
Comic or film games that are unfaithful to provide a 'challenge'
One of my biggest beefs. X2: Wolverine's revenge features Wolverine's healing factor, of course, and his famous adamantium claws. However, when your claws are popped, your healing factor stops working. Join me in uttering 'what the HELL?!?'
I've read quite a few Wolverine comics, and his healing factor does not stop working when his claws are unsheathed. Clearly, the developers sat down at their brainstorming session and said to themselves "Gee, if we let them have Wolvie's healing factor throughout the entire game, it'll be too easy and not as enjoyable. We should limit that."
Wrong, you idiots. You should keep your filthy hands off a much-loved character's powers and keep them in the game AS THEY ARE IN THE COMICS. People are playing a Wolverine game because they want to be Wolverine. I WANT to be incredibly difficult to kill and able to shred hundreds of men to pieces. I don't know about anyone else, but I'll take fun gameplay over a contrived 'challenge' anytime.
The list goes on. The Hulk loses energy in his game, even off basic things like small arms fire. Last time I checked, NOTHING stops the Hulk. So put it in the game. Afraid it'll make it too easy? I don't care about easy or hard, I care about fun. Make the game longer. Add more features. But don't put contrived values on the character to try to prolong the lifespan of your shitty title.
The same goes for Predator: Concrete Jungle (yes, this one keeps popping up, because it gave me a life-threating aneurysm with its fucking awful gameplay a few years back). You can cloak, but even with a full energy metre, your cloak will deplete in less than five minutes. Does anyone remember that happening in the films?
Few games get this right, Spider-man 1 and 2 being the ones that spring to mind. The recent Hulk games have done something to redress the balance. Also, although a thoroughly mediocre game, the 'Superman Returns' movie tie-in had the boldness to make the Man of Steel actually indestructible.
Game developers dictating player 'morals':
Ok, so there's been a (completely unfounded) backlash against the video games industry in recent years for its supposedly negative influence on kids. However, when I'm playing an otherwise incredibly violent FPS (I refer to the recent western 'Call of Juarez' here, but other games have done it as well) I expect to be able to shoot whomever I wish, innocent or not, dead wolf or not.
It's just the lamest thing in the world when you point and shoot only for your character to lower the weapon and say 'I can't do that' or 'that's not an enemy'. Who's the player here, bitch? Games that force a 'game over' when you kill an innocent are just plain gay, too. If you want to punish me for it, punish me in-game like GTA does- send the cops after me. Don't foist your morals on me in a contrived method which interrupts the flow of the game.
News flash, devs: this isn't the mid-nineties, I'm not playing on a 16-meg cartridge, and my console has a hard drive. With this in mind, I'd love it if I got to choose where I can save my game. Making your friends wait half an hour to go out because you've 'just to finish this level' pisses them off, and it pisses me off.
Movie license cash-ins
I doubt these'll ever go away, and it upsets me considerably. Half-assed, poorly produced cash cows designed to coincide with summer blockbusters which are mediocre at best or just plain terrible at worst. The devs keep cranking 'em out because they know little Timmy's mum and dad will buy it in a heartbeat, and little Timmy will think that it's the best thing EVAH even though the rest of the videogaming community recognises it for the poorly realised sack of turd that it is.
These games commit most of the cardinal sins I've already mentioned. Floaty objects, invisible walls, stupid and unimaginative bosses, contrived puzzles, dumbed-down characters- gah.
Bomberman was good. In fact, it was damned good. I enjoyed playing it. I still do enjoy the original on multiplayer; it's simple, easily accessible, and a hell of a lot of fun.
Stupid, turdy 3D remakes are not fun. They take the original concept, suck all the innovativeness and originality out of them, and force it on unwilling gamers of old and the 'untapped' market of younger, newer gamers. Younger gamers play it and wonder what all the fuss was about, older gamers try to strangle themselves with their joypad wire until they realise that this is 2009 and the pads are wireless now.
Some old games I just don't wanna play anymore, and I'd rather they sit in the rose-tinted world of my memory. Whenever I get my hands on a game that I loved as a kid, I'm sorely disappointed because it's nowhere near as good as I remember it and, with the likes of Gears of War and Oblivion, damn straight it's not gonna be as good as I remember it.
I love how much the video games industry has evolved and continues to do so. Playing video games is, sadly, one of the most important things in my life, and I wouldn't be without it. I was born right near the start of the industry's birth, and I feel that it's matured whilst I've matured (physically, if not mentally). We've gone from Space Invaders to Metal Gear Solid, from Pong to GTA. It's now a multi-million dollar industry with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson providing voices for characters.
I appreciate where all of this came from and what made it possible- I just don't want to play it anymore. And I certainly don't wanna play a badly executed rehash which, despite its pretty graphics and interface, fails to honour the legacy of the original. Leave the past where it is and concentrate and making original titles which add to the legacy of videogaming, rather than detracting from it.
I swear to God, if I see another game that's randomly thrown giant spiders in as an enemy, I'm going to hunt down and kill the developers. It's so tired and clichéd. Fighting giant goddamn spiders is BORING and yet people still feel the need to put them in games. They're even in games in which they have no place, such as Call of Juarez, which is a Western. I mean, seriously. A goddamn Western. What the hell is wrong with these people?
And there you have it. A lengthy, but still not exhaustive, list of everything wrong in video games. And I've not even touched on DLC. The legend of how much most DLC sucks beyond all recognition is a story that, sadly, will probably fill another equally lengthy article. read