The gaming industry has gotten bigger and better with each passing year, but sometimes they just don’t do things right. Whether it’s game play, story, pricing, or business practice, sometimes the industry needs a little friendly fire from the gamers to keep it in line.
Other times, developers look down their sight and fire off a well placed bullet right into our unexpected head. This is Josh & Cameron, and this is Headshots & Friendly Fire.
A Bit of Friendly Fire
Friendly NPC’s that die too quickly
There are tons of these in games. If I am presented with a friendly NPC, it’s always wise to just assume they have as much health as Level 1 pup skag. (I’ve been playing a lot of borderlands, lately) Of course, when I am presented with these NPC’s, I’m going to either have to protect them or they will be vital to my mission in some other way. During certain missions of Killzone 2, you will need your teammates to either draw fire for you or help you kill enemies. This isn’t a problem on the lower difficulties, but on elite difficulty some missions could be replayed for hours due to the total ineptitude of your teammates in battle. In Clive Barker’s Jericho, my entire group of teammates can we wiped out with a single blast from an enemy, even on easy difficulty. (see H&F Round 4 for my rant on exploding enemies) If developers need to make an NPC that is vital to a mission, then give that NPC unlimited health. I don’t want to fail a mission because my ally screwed up, and allowed the enemy to flank me. If an ally is going to have limited health then he must be as smart as me, and no dev has been able to pull that off yet.
Tacked on Combat
There have been a couple of recent games that have really been guilty of just tacking on a combat for the sack of having one or not fleshing out the combat that they should have, leaving it as the weakest link in the game. The first one to come to mind is Mirror’s Edge, which despite one of the worst control schemes in history had a lot going for it. The one thing however that was a sore spot during the entire game was the tacked on and forced combat. The developer spent the whole development cycle fleshing out a pretty fluid system of free running through the world and then forced a funky and terrible combat system on the player when it was not needed. I am sure they did this to hopefully appease and bring over the FPS fans. Another example would be a game I am currently reviewing and that is SAW. The developer spent so much time fleshing out the environment and making sure it had that edge to it that the movies carried, then just hurried the combat to the scene it feels like. If you are going to put combat in your game and the player is going to have to use it more than a few times then you should at least put a good amount of time and effort into it, especially enough to match the rest of the game.
Grey Death Screen
If you have decided to ditch the healthbar in your videogame, then you are going to need some way of letting the player know he has more lead in him than a 1940’s paint can, and is about to die. The newest trend has to been to put either red blurs or bloodstains around the edge of the screen. Some developers have also decided that the screen should go completely black and white as well. The color palette in most games doesn’t vary much, so when your screen does go all Noir on you, it means you can’t see a damn thing. So, in a situation when you need to pay the most attention and be the most alert, the game has put this handicap on you. This leads to you dying a lot more than you should under normal circumstances. The worst offender, by far, is Modern Warfare 2. When you take any amount of damage, the game splatters translucent red water on the screen. Were the terrorists in the middle of painting Easter Eggs? Are the terrorists throwing Kool-Aid at me? This definitely isn’t more realistic, and it hinders gameplay so much. How could anyone at Infinity Ward think this was a good idea? As for other games, people often claim the grey death screen is more realistic than a health bar, and we always have to do whatever is the most realistic, but I’m sure these people have never seen a gun, let alone been in a near death experience, so their opinion still remains just an opinion and not the almighty word of God, as they would have you believe.
Your a boss, really??
So when I usually think of boss battles, I think of the end of a tough level where now i must use all I have learned during that level to tackle a tough boss. Yet in some games developers must think that they need to spare us gamers because the level was a bit tough or long, so they throw in the weakest boss or the most pathetic boss battle they can think of. A big culprit of this was the game WET, which saw you in the epic end battle of the game playing the QTE’s game with the end boss. I mean was this really the best they could come up with to end the game with? Under no circumstance should you end a pretty entertaining game with a cheap boss battle. I mean really as great as Batman AA was, the end fight was a joke. Too many times are we getting to end bosses only to be treated to the work fight sequences in the game. An end boss should be there to test us, not give us an easy trophy.