Recently, I’ve begun to notice that every game is slowly becoming the same. Surely it’s not just me, but I’m having a genuine problem telling some games apart these days. It’s more than just following a trend like what happened with racing games post-2000 where everything was a street racer. It’s a set of points starting with Halo: Combat Evolved and going all the way to modern day.
Point 1: The two weapon rule.
I’m pretty sure this one came in with Halo the first. In an effort to simulate some kind of realism, the game did away with hammerspace, that magical place where all your weapons are stored, and limited the player to only carrying two weapons at once. Which usually meant you took an assault rifle and either… actually no I’m going to classify that ridiculous pistol as a heavy weapon. Now I’m a collector, I love hoarding things on games. I like finding things, so making me choose between weapons isn’t going to go down well. They even added this into Duke Nukem Forever (yes, it was later patched out) but come on, Duke is the epitome of manliness in video gaming. If he can only carry two guns there’s a real issue.
Point 2: Cover
Seriously, I’m fully aware that real soldiers don’t circle strafe but dammit I want to! Ever since Gears of War most games have become a corridor full of chest high walls for us to play ranged whack-a-mole in. Although I do feel like Gears actually designed a cover system that worked well in a game, rather than just hiding behind map geometry. It just seems that every single game is trying to do the same.
I tried to find a picture of chest high walls but the only results were from that other fast-talking, hat wearing games reviewer…
Point 3: XP based multiplayer
Having grown up on the fine pedigree of deathmatch that was Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament, nothing annoys me more than being forced to play the game more to use a weapon I like. The main culprit is Call of Duty and it’s various modern iterations that insist on giving me awesome weapons in campaign mode and letting me get nice and familiar with them only to go “Oh you wanted the .50 calibre rifle? Better get to earning that XP son” as opposed to the good old days of “You want a railgun? Better get there fast!”.
Point 4: Storylines
Now, I’m a big fan of a strong storyline and modern Triple A titles have truly shown us new ways to convey an emotive narrative. But what happened to all the nice simple games where story was a non-issue? As you might have read, I recently reviewed Orcs Must Die!, which was really refreshing. It’s nice to have a simple game making no demands on a narrative front. We need more games like this, more Serious Sam, more Painkiller… Ok, maybe not Painkiller that was a bit ropey in parts.
Point 5: The inevitable co-op waves mode
Seriously, Nazi Zombies, Horde mode, whatever flavour you like, does every game have to have this ‘us against the world’ mode? It’s really getting tiresome. Maybe it’s just the zombies that annoy me. Left 4 Dead was awesome, but if I buy Call of Duty I’m not looking to shoot zombies. Then again, I haven’t bought one since MW2. Yes, I genuinely only bought that for the story, seeing as I don’t maintain a gold account with Xbox Live.
So that’s why I haven’t played anything that could really constitute an FPS (aside from a misguided purchase of Crysis 2) in a good while. There is one more thing I haven’t really covered that stops me from playing a lot of these games to the full extent.
Point 6: Xbox live is full of complete idiots
There, I said it. When I did keep a gold account, that was another stopping point right there. Why would I pay to play a game on an inferior platform when I can play for free on the king of platforms, the PC? Anyway, this was back around when Halo 3 came out. I clearly remember going on multiplayer and getting a metric tonne of abuse from some high-pitched little fiend on the other end of the microphone who spared no expense in telling me that I sucked at the game and how he’d slept with my mum last night.
This wasn’t even a one off occurrence, it became oddly apparent to me that Live was full of the kind of people who describe themselves as ‘leet’. The 12 year old kid with a voice that shared more features with nails running down a chalkboard than it did with that of a human or the frat boy who punctuates his sentences with only ‘bro’ or ‘dude’.
It might sound like I’m clutching at straws here because the people who buy the game and play it shouldn’t impact the quality of it. Unfortunately for me, they do and until developers stop putting such a huge emphasis on multiplayer I’m going to be an anti-social campaign only FPS player.
Until next time fair readership, have a good weekend!