Friday, August 19, 2011

I want to play MY game MY way!

It would seem to me to be a fairly elementary concept to grasp, and yet it clearly isn't. I don't think that I think too differently to everyone else, because I have the ability to read, and there are a lot of people like me all over the internet who all say a lot of the same things. So, it frankly baffles me that games developers, who are supposed to rely on pleasing people with their products, fail to see the obvious and continue to make such moronic decisions.

Before I break into full-on rant mode, I should probably fill you in with some context. This morning, I put Test Drive Unlimited 2 back into the disc tray for the first time in months. I rather foolishly allowed myself to believe that the latest free DLC would go some way to fixing the many problems that the game itself has. Naturally, my hopes proved completely unfounded as usual. One day, I will learn that optimism is wasted currency when it comes to games developers in general. Sometimes, I question if they ever even play the games they spent the last few years making, such is the immenseness of the stupidity inherent in some of the decisions made.

See, Test Drive Unlimited 2 is a game that has the potential to be quite brilliant indeed. The concept of a fully-realised open-world environment with complete freedom is wonderful. Where it falls apart is in its realisation. The very thing that makes the concept sound so exciting is the very thing that holds the game back from greatness. The simple fact is that to get anywhere in TDU2, you have to go there. That might sound silly, so I shall rephrase; you are unable to fast travel to locations you have not already visited. This in itself would be no problem if you didn't have a full map of the island at your disposal, replete with locations and events, but the game rather annoyingly furnishes you with this from the start. It does not take long before you find yourself needing to make a journey of some 15 or so miles in order to progress your career. And, because there is a career progression, the car in which you are making this journey is one of the "not very good" ones that you get at the start of any game.

Even more antagonising is the layout of this early game. Everything you are told to go to is fucking miles away! Obviously, this is to give more scope to the fast-travel system, the theory being that you soon have a good selection of locations that you have already been to allowing you to get anywhere else more easily. To me, though, a better solution would have been to either just allow fast-travel to anywhere from the start, or to just put things near to each other in the first fucking place!

What all this basically means that rather than the promised car porn fantasy lifestyle, I instead have a fairly accurate simulation of driving as a job. (Great... there is a reason I don't already do that in real life.) The early part of the game is spent in chunks of up to 30 minutes at a time just trying to get to the next challenge. What makes it even worse is that the game is set on a virtual recreation of the island of Ibiza. Now, I may be mistaken, but I don't think that planet Earth had games design in mind when it shifted the relevant tectonic plates around that formed the island. Nor do I think that the Spanish government had electronic entertainment at the front of their thinking when they decided just where the roads were going to be laid. There was an opportunity to design something conducive to the players enjoyment, and the opportunity was not taken. A real island, with real roads, and no way to bypass it to get to the fun stuff. Or, to put it another way - an enforced slog through the early levels of the game in order to get to anything even remotely fun. Seriously, I did not find a single thing to enjoy about trundling along dirt tracks in the dark with no sign of any other traffic or civilisation of any kind, and I am lost when trying to understand how anyone thought I might do.

TDU2 is obviosuly not the only game guilty of this particular crime. Far from it, games are rife with this bullshit. There are times when restrcting the player makes sense. In terms of story, for example, or as an extension for players looking to get replayability from a title. That is acceptable. What is not acceptable is when a game refuses to take the training wheels off you until IT has made the decision that you can finally ride solo.

Dear games developers everywhere - Your games should not be telling me "Oh no, you can't do that, we don't trust you yet." They should not be slapping me on the wrist, and locking all the cool toys away from me. I'm not Buzz Lightyear, so don't be Lotso! Just let me go, allow me to have fun in the game that I paid for. I already can't get a Lamborghini, it is massively unfair of you to deny me a pretend one as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment