Gears of War 2 was recently patched, and being a fan of the first Gears of War game -even though I played very little of it- I was surprised to find that Gears of War 2 had a lot of bugs and glitches. Now bugs and glitches are common in a game, some are minor annoyances while others make playing the game a chore. Being a famous developer and creator of Video Game Engines, I expect better from Epic, actually I expect a LOT from Epic. Developers like Epic Games and Bungie has set the standards in the past, with their unique style of Gameplay or their solid Multiplayer modes. So as a gamer, it is heartbreaking to find that the final product they shipped needed a lot of patches. I am sure that Epic didn't slack off, I know that they worked hard on this game -I cant understand why they didn't have a beta- and I'm sure that in the end, it hurts them more than it hurts me.
While I may sound like I'm bashing Xbox 360 games, I assure you I am not. I criticize because I care, I have high expectations from these developers, -having only a Playstation 3 at the moment- when I hear about a new shooter-action game announced for the Playstation 3, I hope and pray that they can reach the amount of polish and the level that Epic, Bungie and Infinity Ward has set in the industry. This does raise some interesting questions, we know that the list of bugs on Gears of War 2 is long, then how is it that all the reviewers missed them, and how can a game with so many glitches get near perfect scores from gaming web sites. It is statistically impossible for all of them to have missed these bugs and glitches, I hear many reviewers and critics say how they have "journalistic integrity" and only review the final build of a game, the final build that the customer themselves buy from the store, where was their journalistic integrity when people were waiting 20 minutes to connect to a game?
Now lets pretend that the 85 Video Game reviewers listed on Metacritic missed all the glitches, perhaps they were not paying attention, what do they do when they find out that a game has bugs after it is released? What is their responsibility as video game journalists -that many claim to be-, should they review the entire game again, or do they just add or subtract the scores based on the bugs and glitches? What about the responsibilities of the gamers? What should they do when they find out about these things? Now I don't check the Xbox forums, so I don't know what was going inside there, but in other forums I was surprised to find that people were apathetic to this whole thing, when they found out about the matchmaking problems, they just played Horde Mode and didn't bother with the other Multiplayer modes. I think as gamers and as consumers, we should bitch about games more. By that I don't mean trolling the forums and flaming posts, I mean bitch to the developers, the people whose job is to give you complete product. Sometimes I see people whining about the smallest things, -like Braid being "overpriced"- and other times, they are apathetic. If you don't criticize the developers for messing up, they wont be bothered to improve or support their products, and I'm not talking about random bitching and whining, give constructive criticism. No game is ever "perfect" or "complete", it is our job to make sure the developers don't get too comfortable with our $60 and continue to support their game, whether its Gears of War 2 or Saints Row 2.
This brings us to the next part of this post, the online services provided by Sony and Microsoft for their respective consoles. Now it is common practice to compare the two services, praising PSN for providing a free service and chastising Microsoft for charging people for playing online with their friends. The problem is, you can't objectively compare the two services, they have different goals and different expectations from their service. Let me make this easier for people to understand, if Xbox Live was a Classy and Expensive Restaurant, then the PSN would be a soup kitchen. Both serve food and both are there to satisfy your hunger, but you cant compare the two without looking like an idiot. Xbox Live is a premium service, meaning it is not for everyone, it is an exclusive club and therefore I expect it to set the industry standards and when you compare it to PSN, you actually bring Xbox Live down to a lower level.
I may sound very bitter, but I have my reasons, a couple of days ago I tried to play Super Street Fighter 2 HD with my friend over PSN. Now this was 4 o clock in the morning -and therefore not during peak hours- and we were in the same country and the same time zone. We tried more than twenty times to create a lobby, every time we would get disconnected from the PSN, I was getting annoyed but I still wanted to play Street Fighter, so we shut off our consoles, waited a few seconds and started the game (without voice chat), after one or two games, we would get kicked from the same lobby we were hosting. This isn't something that only happens to me in Street Fighter Turbo HD, this happens in Call of Duty World at War, Grand Theft Auto 4, and also Socom Confrontation. The only thing that stopped me from throwing the controller at the TV that night was the fact that I was pulling off some stylish moves with Vega on my Dualshock 3 D-pad, a small consolation.
Things like this make me look towards Xbox Live in envy, PSN is in no way perfect, I do hope the service gets better and I would gladly pay to play. The only way I can peacefully sleep at night is by bitching and whining in the Playstation forums.
P.S. If I encounter the same problems in Xbox Live I swear I'm going to fucking kill someone, seriously, more than twenty times I tried to create a lobby, every time getting kicked out by PSN, worst half an hour of my life.
I hope the Gears of War 2 becomes more enjoyable for people, I love the fact that it looks muddy and gritty and has "macho" generic manly men characters, that makes it unique and an enjoyable experience, the same as a summer action blockbuster movie. So enjoy it doubly for me.