09 August, 2009

CC16: Game developers.....helping make file-sharing the easy choice

I decided to write this blog, when, after finishing off the latest batch of "big" games released by "hotshot" developers I realised a curious thing. I hadn't enjoyed any of them, not one of them had been an enjoyable experience. In fact the experience was more akin to shitting sandpaper.

First off was the latest "alone in the dark" which sweeps the grand prize for biggest letdown. I could not believe how bad this game was. There should be a law against charging people fifty quid for games like this. The plot was ridiculous and laden with inconsistencies and the acting and dialogue was so wooden I had to dive for cover for fear of getting splinters in my face. Also (and i say this with no exaggeration) driving sections are the worst in gaming history. What kind of fucking shit-heap cars are the developers driving? I thought it was some form of social protest at first (you don't buy our games so we must drive shit cars and now so must you mwhahaha!)....ahem. Of course this is all assuming you actually get as far as them because this game couldn't any more bug-ridden even if it released clouds of fucking wasps every time you opened the case.

Following up Atari's' horribly repetitive monster-fest is THQ's horribly repetitive smash-fest Red faction: Guerrilla. Where you play an angry miner with a magical hammer smashing down every building that dares to stand in your way. Or at least you would be smashing them were you not being shot to death every fifteen minutes. My idea of Guerrilla fighters is a tight-knit bunch of crusader-like soldiers on dangerous stealthy missions. So imagine my surprise when the game sent me alone to take on a vast evil army through missions where the closest you'll come to stealth is driving an APC through a building. Oh and it's always a building. ALWAYS. Every main mission has a building you've to destroy, most of the side missions have a building for you to destroy and all of the bonus missions are simply buildings you've to destroy ( but in a certain amount of time with a certain weapon as that makes all the difference.) Oh and I hope you like them because the missions are all the fucking same.

Being a game with such an emphasis on destruction I was surprised at how hard it was to actually destroy things. The evil army are rather efficient at call-outs and at the first hint of your glowing hammer they swiftly turn up in massive numbers to swiss cheese your ass. And you can fucking forget about shooting back as while your character can handle a sledgehammer like a Katana he appears completely unable to grasp the concept of recoil making shooting straight impossible. Not that it would matter as he also seems unable to grasp the concept of ammo with most guns not making it past their second reload. This could be forgiven had the story been good and then we fall down the main chasm of this game: there isn't one. The story can be summarised as: YOUR BROTHER IS DEAD SO LET'S WRECK THE PLACE! Most people I know who lasted till the end of the game still couldn't tell me what it was about.

Which brings me to quite possibly the worst, most disappointing game I've ever played: Farcry 2. In Farcry 2 you, one of twelve gnarled mercenaries, are hired to kill 'the jackal' an arms dealer with such an absurdly inflated sense of self that were he an actual person he could challenge Simon cowell. And that's pretty much as far as the story goes. It seems Ubisoft decided that the best way to counter the complaints about the tacked-on and, quite frankly, fucking useless story in Farcry 1 was to completely dispense with it. The 'kill the dealer' plot-line in Farcry 2 is so hollow it practically fucking whistles when the wind blows.

Now this isn't to say that the characters are underdeveloped. They aren't developed at all. Every single one is an arsehole and acts so two-dimensional it feels like they got Keanu Reeves to do the Motion capture (get it? Motion capture being used to capture the expressions of a man with a face like a block of wood?). Anyway facial expressions are the least of your worries with this piece of shit game as the only one you'll have on will be one of pain and regret. The regret of having spent the money you earned on shit.

The principle gimmick of Farcry2 is the expansive landscapes which are free for you to enjoy. As long as you follow the roads. And don't go into the center of the desert sections. And somehow manage to survive. Apparently Ubisoft think gunfire is a natural accompaniment to exploration. It's impossible to drive more than fifty feet without being ambushed everywhere you go. It's you versus the entire population. In the course of driving from one identical mission to another (a task you will find yourself performing with alarming regularity in this game) you can be shot at by up to eleven different groups of people! Even the fuckers you're doing the missions for are shooting at you! You're told it's because the missions are "secret" but it's really because the designers weren't fucking arsed to program the AI any further than "spawn in then shoot you".

Putting these games side-by-side and viewing them from a distance (a couple of miles should do) it's easy to see their flaws: Insulting level design, Lack of a compelling story and retarded AI. It's also easy to see that the flaws all spring from the same well: Lack of proper development. Designers now have an annoying tendency to focus more on how a game looks than plays and even if they do any play-testing it's rarely past the hour-mark. Then they slap the obligatory "up to 60 hours of gameplay!" tag and wonder why everyone gets pissy.

It's not for a lack of ideas, all three showcase a array of quite good design ideas that could have made their games sparkle. Unfortunately they were put into practice so badly I'm almost convinced the whole point was to infuriate and annoy the player. Alone in the dark could have been great had they simply stuck to the title and driven some actual cars for the driving sections. Red faction could be improved by making the plot clearer and Farcry2 could be improved by actually including one.

I, for one, have had enough. These lazy fucks are not getting another fucking penny of my money until I see some improvement. Thankfully, in the age of broadband, I've other ways of getting my games that doesn't amount to me being mugged. File-sharing is the ultimate recourse of the spurned consumer. I can still participate by getting the game but I'm not submitting by handing my money to the lethargic, corporate fuckwits.

People will still pay money for good games. But they hate paying for hype. And it's only a matter of time before the developers shit their companies into obscurity.

I say good riddance.................................


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