Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Broken game design that bugs me

So... I picked up Dead Rising2: Case Zero on XBL a little while ago, as it was on sale... for like 200msp and I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't like the first Dead Rising game, for a few reasons and that's why I didn't buy DR2... but I figured I'd give this small download title a chance and see if I could get into the series.

It didn't help. When I started it up and went about killing zombies I was actually having some fun... you know... killin zombies isn't exactly a boring way of life... but I soon ran into some problems that bugged the hell out of me. Invisible walls, time limits, unrealistic time progression and erratic difficulty spikes. Those are some of the biggest issues I have with games at points and this game had them all. WTH? Really? Did Capcom set out to make sure I didn't like the game?

That said, I can't just leave you with a tiny list about stuff I don't like, you need some explanation! :P So, here is some stuff in games that bug the hell out of me and generally ruin the experience for me.

1. Time Limits and Unrealistic time progression

The fact that there's a modeled watch in the game bugs me even more

This is probably the worst thing for me to encounter in games... because I like to play the game at my own pace, which - a lot of the time involves me messing with the game and it's engine, stressing it's limits, seeing what physics are in play, how objects interact with others and the environment and so on. I've played many a game and instead of just powering through the story, I spend hours doing weird, little things that aren't necessarily something the developer would assume you wouldn't do for so long.

Example - I spent like an hour strategically destroying sections of a large bridge in Red Faction: Guerrilla which would allow traveling traffic to fall into and I would enjoy watching them struggle to stay on the bridge. It's a little odd, sure, but I love doing stuff like that in games.... and if I'm restricted by a game which tells me I have 5 minutes to do task X or 20 minutes to complete a day cycle - or something else equally ridiculous which ends up in me failing at what ever they outlined for me... I get mad.

Connecting with my above experience with DR Case 0, I felt that I didn't have enough time to do what I wanted (kill zombies with flare) without being penalized for it. Having staying pretty strict to what I had to do for the tasks at hand, I still barely made it in time to my end task.

Want to give me a time limit to complete a race for a side mission? No prob. I'm fine with that. If you want to include a day/night cycle in a game, I'm fine with that, but make it so it doesn't feel like I'd run out and barely able to complete one thing before the entire day is over... it's just silly. Especially if restrictions are then put on you based on the time of day.

Dead Rising abuses these ideas more than any game should. You can't play the title like you want because of the extremely strict game style and time keeping. For that I hate it.

2. Invisible walls and unrealistic obstacles

Really? It sure looks like I can go that way...

Honestly, I understand the need to section off levels and stop the player from reaching points where they can't go... but please get creative with it. I don't want to run down a road or alley way and have it look like I can continue to go, just to run into an invisible wall preventing me from doing so. Equally aggravating is the idea of putting every day crap in the way and telling us we can't get by it. It IS NOT acceptable to put a trash can in my way and say "Nope, you can't get past that!" it's insane. A dump truck... sure, I can see it being hard to get past a dump truck in the way... but not a trash can.

Another beef I have is locked doors. Especially in a title where I'm packing shotguns, axes and a million other items that could make dust of those flimsy doors and their crappy locks. Making me search for a key, hidden in retarded location X so I can unlock the flimsy door to get that med pack is extremely stupid.

Case 0 features both of these frustrating elements. -_-

3. Erratic Difficulty Spikes 

The image speaks for itself.

It's A-Okay with me to include various levels of difficulty or even an adaptive A.I that ramps up the difficulty the better you play or even a difficulty that ramps up evenly as you play through the title... I don't, however, condone random spikes of difficulty that make you shake your head. Why do games exist, where you can be enjoying yourself for a few hours, thinking "This is actually decently easy" or "The difficulty isn't too bad" and then run into something that causes you to rip your hair out?

Bosses need to be difficult, else they're not really memorable... but there's a limit of difficulty one should face, especially when it's near the first of the game. Many a game I've simply just dropped and never wanted to pick up again because of this.

Dead Rising: Case 0 may be one of those (which I never play again). I was dealing with my time limits and just managed to squeeze by, in time to give my daughter the shot she needed so she didn't turn into a zombie... and then some weird hick with a shotgun-taped-to-a-pitch-fork decides it's time to whoop my ass? WTH? I'm armed with a spiked baseball bat, a hotdog, a crowbar and a flashlight.... which do almost nothing to stop him from splashing my blood around the small area. Bam, time to load a new save, right? FUCK THAT. Back to the 360 dashboard and a "Fuck you" to that game.

This is also a huge problem with a lot of Japanese RPG games in which you can be going along, enjoying a story and then be forced with a boss that is 10gazzilion times strong than you.... but strategy really doesn't mean shit... you need to go back and grind for another 10 hours to get past the part..... FUCK THAT. Life is too short and filled with much better games to bother wasting time on that shit.

4. Partial Voice acting

Cutout pictures? Text boxes? No voice over? Acceptable during the SNES... but not now in 2011.

Why would you put voice acting in your game for some sections but not others? It's lazy. Either you're going all text or you hire them voice actors to do all scenes. Cutscenes, cinematics, conversation in game etc. Don't give me 2 of the 3 and think that's kewl because it's not.

Guess what! Case 0 does it.

5. Lack of control options or bad controls

"Just give me a min, I can't seem to stop aiming at the sky."

I play game with the camera inverted. Up is down and down is up in my world and that's the only way I play. If your game doesn't include an option for this, I won't play your game. It's really that simple... because any game that has camera control... generally needs camera control and if I can't used an inverted style... then I can't control my camera. Silent Hill: Homecoming doesn't have an option for inverted camera - and a patch for the game never came to include such a feature, so I've never played more that 10 frustrating minutes of it. I also remember playing Uncharted 2 for the first time and kept going into the menu to switch the inversion option, thinking it was sticking, but ended up not saving my preferences and spent the first half an hour struggling with it and wondering why - stooped me, I figured out and then instantly was able to run around with ease.

Equally maddening is the idea that I can't may controls to my liking, OR the controls are extremely bad choices for a particular title. 99% of shooters generally either have a scheme where my reload is the left most face button, which I love - some decide it's best on one of the top buttons? *shakes head. No. At least give me the option to change it.


Okay, rant over. Dead Rising sucks. Peace.