Monday, 9 December 2013

Things games should not do.

In a recent review, I might have touched upon the idea of games companies doing certain things in certain ways that might make games a little more appealing to the consumer/gamer of today. Or more specifically, where I believe games companies are falling down and, whether rightly or wrongly, doing things that show them up to be lazy or giving the player the feeling that things were rushed before finalising the game and kicking it out the door to die in the cold.

End of game Gauntlets:

Setting: You've played the game, got to the final levels and discovered the dark secret of Person X, you've saved the nearest and dearest, you've fought your way past insurmountable odds towards the inevitable showdown between yourself, the plucky protagonist and the asshat, the evil antagonist, only for them to run off and you're instead facing a horde of enemies. Most of which you've killed already in some fasion.

It feels cheap. So much potential in having a satisfactory big bust up with the final boss and instead you get to fight an army of low level shitheads that you can easily one-shot or insta-kill thanks to either your high level of capability, massively over powered weapons or common-place experience through playing the game to this point and having a fine understanding of the intricacies of the games control system.

Admittedly, sometimes it's hard to shoehorn in a decent boss fight. Most games will take the "giant boss" option instead where something demonic rises up, or a robot suit, or something that gives the final boss a boost to make them worthy of being a final boss. But more on that later.

The biggest grievance is not that there's a gauntlet at the end of the game, but that it IS the end of the game. Nothing wrong with having a mad dash where the last person throws every single remaining grunt and solider at you THEN having themselves stand up and fight you personally. But having the grunts taken down and there being no final payoff other than a cutscene, robs the player of that final great satisfaction and epic beat-down the final boss deserves in a game. Particularly more so in games where there's such conflict built up in the story telling.

Would Star Wars been as impressive if instead of fighting Darth Vader, Darth Maul, The Emperor etc in a one on one epic fight, they just threw a few hundred troopers and robots at you and then either run off or killed themselves? No, of course it wouldn't have.

'Not quite the ending' games:

Setting: You've run the gauntlet (maybe killed the boss - see above), you've placed the magical item in its rightful place, you've hit the power switch and diverted power from the over class to the underdogs, righted the wrongs and emerged triumphant atop the still-charred remnants of your enemies bodies and now you're here to watch and recieve, closure. That last cut scene where you see the fruits of your labors, the pay off after so much hard work and the end to all the strife and struggling those you have fought for, have suffered. Except you're left with an ambiguous little scene that shows that something has happened, but not exactly what and in such little detail that the game COULD be continued or not... For Fuck's Sake.

There's little more annoying than not getting the full story, especially in a video game. If the game designer is FULLY AWARE of the intention of making a game, they can at least put in "Continued in Generic Game #2" or such at the end, but there's a growing number of games being made where the ending is not absolute, there is nothing ultimate about the final scene and there's that idea another game could be made to continue the ending of the story. Usually by this point, nobody will give a ripe shit about it.

Game's makers seem to be in a limbo where a large number of games WON'T end the story as they could milk it for more, and leave it in a state of near-finish so that we could get more out of it. Though just as equally we could have a different storyline in the same universe/world, or a prequel or dare I say it... a DLC add-on (Asuma's Wrath might get away with that one as they allegedly ran out of space on the disc to include the final few chapters... not sure which side of the anger I sit there).

Ending a game completely in plot, stops games makers from being able to milk an up-coming franchise for what it could be worth and instead force closure (or not at all, an even bigger crime to be made there) so that people will know it's the end and that's IT. Publishers likely won't want that so there's the chance of milking it further if the game becomes an unexpected success. For players it will mean games will end and everything tied up neatly and that once a game has ended something NEW will have to come out instead of "Captain BuggerBollocks 6: We thought up a few more shitty plotlines" is forced to be spewed out of whatever orifice the devil is jackhammering at that point.

Various sequels did it well, games that were made that were not so much a continuation of the original story but more a side-line to the original. Prototype managed it by having it as both of these things, a continuation and a different main character to the original. While games like Grand Theft Auto have the name as only the thing that links the similar concepts and games like Final Fantasy are only tied together by the fact they're made under the same company heading and very few have any actual sequels or set in the same universe at all. (Except there's chocobos and Cid... usually). Which takes this point so far in the other extreme that the games could be NAMED properly and would still be effective as stand alone games. The Silent Hill games set around the eponymous town but with different stories happening at different times, all of which can reference each other but remain firm as stand alone stories and the end of the game being the end of THAT story, are another good example of how to do sequels without bullshit endings.

Excessive DLC downloads:

Setting: The game is there, you've paid £40, $60 or however much you normally pay for the price of a game and then left to take it home, slap it into the console (or install it) and then play the game. All is fine however until you realise that there's possibly something missing, so you head over to the game's DLC section or whichever market place there is for the game and realise that the character you've been playing as, could look better in 1 of 47 different outfits and get ups. Now you realise your character WOULD look better dressed up as a cowboy (in a space age game) or a disco diva (in Hell fighting minions... sounds good actually).

It's more common place in beat-em-up games to have this odd abundance of clothing outfits for the all the characters. Particularly the women, particularly the young women, and wearing less clothing than a porn star mid-coitus. Seriously, I've seen naked people with more clothing than some of the outfits in these games. In some DLC sets, the entire cast gets an alternative costume but in the extreme cases, you can buy hundreds of outfits for one character at a time.

Looking at the DoA5 set, I'm going with the assumption that you'll have purchased the game for around $40, as a rough middle-ground figure. And for further assumptions, only to include sets of DLC i.e. A 3 in 1 pack rather than buying 3 packs if all 3 are found in the 3 in 1 pack. So pack 1 is free for now, pack 2 is $12.99 as is pack 3, so another $12.99, swimwear pack as an optional $12.99 depending upon whether you have the collectors edition, costume pack 4 at $7.99, pack 5 at $12.99, $7.99 for the pack 6 christmas set, another $7.99 for a 2nd xmas pack making pack 7, $12.99 for the swimwear set and bonus level (level is free anyway), $4.99 for pack 9, a cheerleader set for $8.99, hotties set for another $12.99 which makes up the 10th named pack. Now... bit of maths... $144.86... add on the total for the game in the first place, $185 roughly.

Some people will argue, pointlessly, "You don't HAVE to have it" which begs the questions, Why would it be there in the first place then? Why couldn't it have been included with the game in the first place, particularly if it's ALREADY on the disc and just being unlocked/accessed and more importantly, why not have something worthwhile on the DLC than just a remapping of textures and a few model changes, when nothing fundamental changes as a result of the installation?

I could understand if there was insufficient room on the disc, or the content being provided was of significant change to the game, such as a map-pack (which can get quite large with some of the more detailed ones out there) or a new High Def texture pack for EVERYTHING, but this is a cheap and shitty attempt to milk money by making people flash cash for flashing flesh back at the player.

Yes, I've turned every player that purchases this, into a punter at a strip bar.