Holiday Gaming Annoyances

January 1st, 2010 by Potato

I’ve been taking advantage of a little bit of time off to catch up on some gaming here. I have had surprisingly little time to game over the last year or two, so I’ve got a fair number of games on the pile already, in addition to all the games I don’t own that I haven’t played.

For the Wii, I got Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Zelda: Twilight Princess shortly after getting the console itself. Although I’ve picked up (and finished) new games since then, like Force Unleashed and Mario Galaxy, I never finished those two, which I had such high hopes for. So I put them back in to see if I could finish them off.

Unfortunately, I’m just stuck at a point in both games where I’m frustrated and sick of them, and I have to say it’s due to poor game design in both. Zelda is the lesser of the two evils in terms of brick wall of difficulty: I was just getting frustrated at one point (actually, many points) where you’re running around and these bat-like things would come down from the sky to attack you. But, you couldn’t look up to take them out until the scary music was playing and they were almost on you. It was annoying, and I just wasn’t finding the plot or the rest of the gameplay for this Wii entry to Zelda to be engaging enough to put up with it, so I shelved the game. Metroid I found (to my surprise, since I was expecting to love Zelda) was a pretty fun game, one of my favourite “serious” games for the Wii (Sports and Play and Fit are fun toys that are characteristic of the Wii, but not “serious” games) and I got used to having to point the Wiimote at the screen to play. However, I got to one point where what was a “casual” FPS suddenly turned into an impossible, frustrating challenge. It was the second AA gun on Bryyo — you can Google it to see that I’m not the only one who thought that spot was ridiculous. You have to flip these 4 levers in the game, and enemies will spawn to attack you and flip the levers back. However, they respawn in pairs virtually instantly after you defeat the last pair. And, they’ll prioritize flipping the levers you just flipped back over staying in your vicinity. It was just too annoying to try to shoot these guys down from across the area to keep them from undoing the work I’d done to continue with the game. I just spent another hour or so trying to pass this stage and I just can’t do it. Really poor level design, IMHO. Even a 5-10 second delay in the respawn would give you enough time to flip a lever while they were dead if you were quick, then it would still be challenging (but doable) to kill the next pair before they undid your work.

Speaking of respawn, it’s one element of Borderlands that I am not digging. It’s a single player (or small group) game. There really isn’t a call for respawn, and certainly not the amount of respawn that we’re seeing. I’m loving the fact that it’s a co-op “post apocalyptic” RPG/shooter. I’m thrilled that Wayfare likes it too so we have a game to play together, but the ~10 minute respawn is really ruining it for me. Much of the time the game feels like playing a MMO without all the other people as there’s been a fair bit of just grinding going on to clear an area to finish a quest, and then clearing it again to get back out.

Ghostbusters is cute and light-hearted, and features the voicework of the original cast. However, I’ve been getting annoyed at its game design as well, since there are a lot of points where the ghosts you’re hunting/zapping disappear. I know, that’s what ghosts do, but what’s the point of wrangling them with the proton pack if they’re just scripted to run into the wall and disappear into another part of the building on you? The game just feels too much like they couldn’t decide whether to make a Ghostbusters 3 movie or a game where the player actually has control. When the ghosts are behaving themselves, it’s not particularly challenging.

I finally managed to finish Batman: Arkham Asylum, which was a good bit of fun. Just as I was getting fed up with the trippy Scarecrow sequences, Batman finally did him in, which worked well. I’ve also been trying to work my way through some of the challenges, which is a good way to extend some of the better points of the gameplay (the sneaky assaults on armed thugs, and the giant slow-motion melees). I think that speaks volumes as to the quality of the experience.

Netbug’s Xbox Live account expired this month. Mine will expire in February. I have no plans to renew it — I’ve had trouble enough finding time on my own to game, let alone coordinating a multiplayer session over Live. The last time I actually played online was in October when Borderlands first came out; before that, April-ish. I also can’t understand how microsoft can get away with charging what it does for access to the multiplayer gaming service when pretty much all competitors (most PC games, as well as PS3 and Wii) are free.

I suppose they did sucker me into paying $60 for a one-year membership, but now I clearly see that the value proposition isn’t there…

Anyway, I hope everyone has a happy new year, and that StarCraft 2 makes the year an awesome one!

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