Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Litany Of Gaming Failures, Mine and Theirs

I've owned an XBox 360 for about six months now. I've stuck to a rotation, playing one game per day, if I play. I like to think it reduces the effect of certain repetitive aspects of some of the games. It also means I haven't beaten many of them, because I'm making incremental progress once every two weeks. I completed a couple of games, and four others were able to sufficiently disappoint me that I've decided to trade them in.

Gameplay has been the issue. Most games, to the extent they have stories, are able to make them seem suitably interesting in the beginning that I want to see more. Failing that, they make the world the game inhabits interesting enough I want to explore.

You could reasonably argue the problem with Dark Souls was me. I thought I understood what the reviews meant about the 'punishing difficulty'. I really did not. At a certain point, when I've played for two hours, and have made no appreciable progress, I don't care any longer. Whatever might wait ahead is only going to kick my teeth in even harder than what I'm currently fighting already is.

I've never been any good at Street Fighter games, but for some reason I attributed this to a lack of effort. Surely if I sat down and really tried on Super Street Fighter 4, things would be different.

Nope. Second verse, same as the first.

Resonance of Fate had a couple of issues. There were certain aspects of the combat I couldn't figure out, even in the tutorial (the Tri-Attack, for example), and I could never shake the sense I was screwing up, even in the simple fights. There was a real-time strategy bent to it I didn't enjoy. I prefer the RPG style where you decide at the start what everyone in the party will do, then the game shows how it all plays out. There are limitations - you can't adjust to surprising results within a turn - but I'll accept it in exchange for not having one more thing to keep track of during a fight.

Also, the game had a curious set-up where they had the typical "job board", but after selecting a job, you still had to find the person in question to receive more details. The game was not very good about telling you where to find people, or else it gave you useless directions because nothing relevant is marked on the flipping map.

I probably shouldn't have had high hopes for DragonBall Z: Burst Limit, not with the questionable track record adaptation games have, but I did. Budokai 3 had been very good, so I figured they at least had that as a baseline to start with. Didn't really work out that way.

They kept it to just the basic storyline, and they dictate what character you play as. I had the impression of an elastic A.I., but I'm not sure. What I noticed was, in fights where the CPU had more health than I to start, I could pummel it easily - right up to the point where we became roughly equal in health. At which point the computer seemed to come awake, and might suddenly begin kicking me around. It's likely the reason I won any number of fights, but it seems like a curious way for a fighting game to operate.

My primary irritation was the "Drama Pieces", things designed to improve a character's stats, triggered by certain occurrences. In some ways, it isn't a new things. The Budokai games had capsules you could equip. Some of them activated their effect at the start of the battle, or when your health reached a certain point, and others you had to activate yourself. The difference is the "Drama Pieces" are accompanied by an actual cut scene. So you're in the middle of this fight, and it abruptly stops for a little movie that tells you one of your characters is about to increase their attack, because they aren't fooling around any longer.

I have no idea why they thought cut scenes in the middle of a fighting game were a good idea. It may be accurate to the series, but it also completely disrupts the flow, and you can't skip it or speed through it. In some cases, two different ones will kick in simultaneously, so you have to sit through both cut scenes before the fight can resume. Did they think I needed a breaking after all my button mashing? That's what the pause button is for.

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