We love video games, and games have advanced to an incredible degree. On a sheer technical level, games are better than ever. Open world games, new mechanics and ideas, all of them combine to make some great, immersive experiences.
But that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. While reviewing our Game of the Year contenders, certain problems popped out at us over and over and over again, moments that are incredibly frustrating because they’re so simple to solve and so obvious to anybody playing the game you wonder what’s going on.
So, here are five problems we found, and a few suggestions on how to fix them.
#5) Forced Tutorials
We get that you need to go over with us how the controls work, and a tutorial level is a nice thing to do. It lets even experienced gamers get a feel for the engine. But for the love of God, do we really have to go through an entire mission where the entire goal is to get us used to something that we probably won’t use?
The worst offender this year was “Batman: Arkham City”. Didn’t have practice using the glide function? Enjoy slamming into walls during one level. Haven’t used a lot of Takedowns? That’s OK, here’s a boss fight where you have to use five different ones to get on with the story! To be fair, “Arkham City” isn’t nearly as frustrating as the games of yesteryear; you don’t have to commit five minutes of twists and turns to muscle memory. Still, hasn’t the art form gotten beyond this?
#4) Unnecessary Mechanics
Here’s a question for you: how many times have you been introduced to a mechanic in a game, had to learn how to use it, and then never bothered with it again or only used it when the game absolutely forced you to?
A lot, right? This is painfully common, even today. A great example is the by-now absolutely bog-standard bullet time mechanic. Lots of games have this even when it’s absolutely unnecessary to actually finish the game. Yes, it’s cool, and it can even be useful, but most of the time, it’s optional at best and an active annoyance at worst.
#3) Mechanic Overdose
If you ever want to flash back to the painful, unresponsive controls of the ’90s, it’s easy: fire up “Saints Row the Third”, jump in a helicopter, and try to fly with any sort of real precision. There’s the sludgy response and difficult physics we tried to forget from the PSone era!
Flight mechanics in general are a mess outside of flight simulators: it’s an abject lesson in what happens when you try to transfer joystick controls to gamepads. But more often than not these days, developers bite off more than they can chew. Part of the problem with “Saints Row the Third” is that the graphics engine goes crazy. Maybe you just shouldn’t have had the helicopters, guys?