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Too much freedom, a bad thing?


Let me begin by saying this is simply me having a rant about something that has come to my attention during my recent gaming outings that I wish to share and hear the opinion of my fellow D-toiders on so if your looking for something insightful, random or a numbered list of reasons to hate something then your not in the right place.

Recently I have been collecting some of my favourite games from previous generations and a few treasures that I hadn't picked up at the time, within doing so I have been noticing a trend with a lot of games where at some point a game falls into one of two categories.

(Note this is generally only in story based games like RPGs)

The first category: "We've started you off, now it's up to you"

In most games if I'm not instantly pulled in I'm tapping all buttons on my pad to skip through the dialogue and tutorial intros where I'm taken by the hand and babysat by the game until it lets me play, but what I found in a lot of games is that once they've gotten you to know what you doing they literally drop you into the game to sort the rest out for yourself.

Now at first I thought "Great let's go explore/kill stuff/carry on with the story etc" but then I found that if I'd just gone from one extreme to the other I lost my sense of goals. One of my old favourite games that did this to me was The elder scrolls (Morrowind and/or Oblivion). The game would give me a rough background to where I was what I was doing and where I should be heading and then let me to it, but as soon as it let me off my leash I wanted it all at once! I'd run around the town like an idiotic taking up every quest, learning every craft and eyed up old biddies I was going to kill for their loaf of bread and clothes. In a way I'd kind of burn myself out and find that now I just wanted to get on with "it" only there was no "it" now because I was supposed to make my own out of all the choices the game has given me. Since there was so much to customise and explore to this day I haven't done everything and only completed around 60% of the quests because I would just try so many different characters and styles and see what they were like. Even when I would get really into the story and be wondering what was going to happen next while heroically forcing my paint horse off cliffs and across dangerous lands (seriously those horses had ankles made of sponge) I would get side tracked and lose my drive for what I was doing completely.

For me freedom in a game is great because after the ancient retro games of only been able to move side on I had always wanted more but then found if I had more than one game on the go I would stick to something that game me goals that I had to accomplish. Perhaps this is just me and I like to be dominated who knows, but the second category would seem to negate that argument.

Second category: "There is only what you see here"

These are the kind of Shadow of the Colossus games where your given your task it all seems simple enough and all that's left is to do it. This is one of my preferred kind of scenarios if there is something about the game causing me to spend most of my time when I'm not playing it thinking about playing it! Be it the engrossing story, the action packed gameplay, the wondering of what will happen next? All of these make me want to push on with a game and when it's straight to the point and doesn't mess me around that's great.

But not without it's problems. The first game that came to my mind when thinking of this was Kingdom hearts, that game even though it gives you the choice of where you want to go when still makes it abundantly clear that you have to do the next world to proceed. "Fine by me" is the reaction your expecting, but no that's too cut and clear because in games too linear and so to the point that I start to lose my choice and individuality I begin to feel almost pressured in. In games that give you what you need to do and wait for it to happen there can be a mass of troubles awaiting; having to pass through a particularly annoying section, long drawn out sections, a different play mechanic and so on.

If for example you felt like you were about to uncover the secret of X or almost rescued Z but then had to fly a space ship through Legoland on ecstasy then your bound to lose your drive for a game.


What it boils down to though is simply the game, if you get say a final fantasy and you know you've got somewhere to go but are given a choice of mini games, side quests and locations to visit at your leisure your onto a winning plan of action. I like having the choice of how I play my games, it's why I've never enjoyed Sim games too much because I get bored of having to make my own fun but at the same time need my experienced to be catered for me. Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, these are the kind of games I can play start to finish and play through multiple times because of how there set out.

Do you guys ever find yourself in a similar predicament? Finding that you've got too much of a good thing or even too much of a strict set of rules? It may turn out it's just me and because I've been playing so many different game types at the moment I'm just sorting them out in my mind into which I enjoy the most but hopefully someone will read this and think "Dear god I hate paint horses too" or something will equal meaning.
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About Harukaione of us since 5:37 AM on 02.21.2008

I'm 21 and from the UK, I love all games and own most consoles that came from the SNES era and forward apart from a few I am still wanting to collect.

My favourite game series are the Final Fantasy's closely followed by Metal Gear.

My owned consoles:-

Super Nintendo
Sega MegaDrive
Playstation 2
Playstation 3
Sega Dreamcast
Nintendo Wii
Xbox 360
Nnintendo DS Lite
Gameboy colour
Gameboy Advance
Pc (It isn't technically a console, but I game on it)
PSN ID:Harukai


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