Monday, October 3, 2011

My Beef with Video Games

I want to make something perfectly clear: I do not hate video games. When I was in high school I would come home and play Medal of Honor for two + hours with my brother. Favorite gun? M1 Garand, duh. In college we played Guitar Hero/Rock Band. Sure, we could have been learning to play real instruments, but I would never have gotten to sing Crazy on You and been scored "Perfect" on my performance outside the context of that game.

Even babies like shooting bad guys.

I thought I was pretty cool for a girl, since I knew how to use Playstation and Xbox controllers and could, usually, fend for myself pretty decently in Halo (especially with the war hammer! I was queen of melee). Then I married Tom and I quickly realized the world of video games as I knew it was but the rind, and I hadn't even gotten to the fruit in the middle.

If you have been reading this blog for some time or if you know me in person you will acknowledge that I am apt to disparage video games, but that is not the point of this post. This post is the result of three years of watching dozens of games played from our couch. I've noticed that video game developers and writes seem to be getting pretty lazy as a whole. Here's my beefs:

1. Making the game last longer than is necessary.

Some games do this with lots of little insignificant side quests or, groan, escort missions where you have to get a dumb dumb in a bikini through a hoard of zombies with a rusty pipe or reunite a stupid kid with their elf dad after they went off with some stranger. Basically it seems these just boost your skill points or add to or subtract your popularity in the game's virtual community. Kings of side quests: Oblivion, Mass Effect/2, Dragon Age(s).

I remember shortly after we got married Tom bought Bully for his 360. What I hated the most about that game? I'm pretty sure 75% of it was him riding around on his bike. Because it would be too hard for the developers to just install some kind of teleport function which would save a lot of time getting you from point A to B. But, oh right, then the game would be 75% shorter and the $60 price would be 75% more unreasonable.

2. Obnoxious, tiny foes

The Flood in Halo is the first thing to come to mind. Why do they have to be so small and hard to hit? And why do they have to come 20 at a time? It's totally unsatisfying to kill them and just ends up annoying me. In this category also fall any of the radioactive bugs from Fallout. Pointless. And what was that game with the rats? See, it was so terrible I don't remember it.

3. Lack of save points.

Seriously, I really don't want to watch my frustrated husband cry anymore when he dies just short of the next check point (for the record he has never actually cried, but I know he has a little, on the inside). What is the point of making the player go back to defeat what he's already defeated? Just start him off where he died; I really don't see why that's so hard. It might even make the game, gasp, more enjoyable!

4. Awful Story lines/Voice Actors

The games I've loved the most (read: the games I've loved watching Tom play the most) are those with a good, involving plot and convincing voices. Portal wins. I actually enjoyed sitting on the couch for that one, trying to figure out the puzzles and how the protagonist would escape GlaDOS/Catherine's wrath (oops, spoiler!).

Offenders: Bully (again, sooo boring), Crysis 2 (really, aliens, again?), any sports game (why not just watch a real game?), skateboarding/bmx/winter sports games, Mass Effect (bland, awful voice overs) Splinter Cell or any other Tom Clancy shooter (because each of them is totally original in plot), and Call of Duty/Medal of Honor (we get it, WW2 sucked, killing Nazis is fun, can we move on now?).

I'm not against war shooters, but can we think of a new way to do it? How many wars in the history of earth do developers have to choose from?

I'm still waiting for someone to come out with a game that lets you play as an Hebrew soldier, going around destroying Canaan and trying to keep your people from intermingling with the natives. You'd be stuck with a crappy weapon like a sword, but I seem to be the only one who is bothered by the ineffectiveness of it. I feel like this story could be plugged into the same format used for Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, and Dragon Age very easily. Email me if you would like to purchase my idea.


A. R. Campbell said...

This is what I'm "taking home" from this post: "It's totally unsatisfying to kill them and just ends up annoying me."

Also, I am totally with you on the whole Biblical Hebrew based game. Swords, yes, but there are other possibilities. David used a single stone and a slingshot to kill Goliath. Since "enchanters" and such would be frowned upon with all the "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" business, maybe characters from the Levite class could find/earn/purchase scrolls and abilities that allow them to call upon angels to administer plagues and such.

And eventually there could be a New Testament sequel, where players could equip themselves with the Breastplate of Righteousness, Helm of Salvation, etc. I'm telling you, you're on to something.

(Great post!)

Lizbeth Brown said...

Actually back when we had an oooold Nintendo, we did have a few Jewishy games with Moses and Sampson. And I distinctly remember there being a New Testament one where you did find and put on the battle gear of the Holy Spirit. Those were the first games I ever played!