The Game Mechanic – The People Who Make Games May Think We’re A Bit Stupid

As I feverishly perused my games collection from the safety of my office chair for a hint at what my next blog should be about, my eyes met with the case for Republic Commando.  That game.  Every time I think of that game I think about how amazing it made me feel when I first got it.  How powerful, smart and, above all, responsible it made me feel telling my sniper to cover our flank while the explosives guy sets charges on the objective and the computers dude plays solitaire or something.  Giving the ‘rally on me’ command and having them all form up on my position, ready to move to the next target. Stacking up on the door and watching as they flood in and lay waste to our enemies.  Ordering them to take cover in good firing spots when shit got real.

Tactical squad-based shootery done right!

Thinking back to another time I felt like that: when GRAW 2 came into my life. That feeling of everyone’s well-being being directly linked to your every decision.  Fond memories of commanding multiple squads with brain-straining attention to detail are still lodged in the squidgy grey thing in my head, probably being solely responsible for my inability to enjoy the series’ latest: Future Soldier.  I just couldn’t get past the fact that I wasn’t in charge.  Obviously it’s cool to be able to mark targets and do the whole synchronised kill thing, but that’s just a fancy way of effortlessly deleting enemies.  There’s no strategy, or risk.  Future Soldier was so easy I got bored before I was even halfway through and playing became an exercise in putting up with boring characters, a dull narrative, and visual glitches that made my squaddies glow fluorescent white for some reason.

It was borderline offensive to be treated like this after I’d been so excited at the prospect of another Ghost Recon game.  To simply remove any real tactical edge from a game that’s supposed to be a tactical shooter.  What irks me most is that they probably did it to widen the game’s market to people who are somewhere between “casual” and “hardcore” gamers as opposed to any real thought of improving the quality of the game.

I’m not going to blame that on the casual market, because it’s not their fault.  It’s Ubisoft’s fault.  The people in charge seem to think that gamers these days get cold feet at the mere thought of doing something more than pointing a thing at a thing and pressing a thing.  Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Crysis, Splinter Cell.  Well loved franchises that are becoming more and more watered down with every installment, to match our levels of intelligence.

I like to think we’re a bit smarter than that.

All is not lost, however.  XCOM: Enemy Unknown may be the very thing to scratch this itch of mine in a funny kind of way.  I may not be taking part in the action but I’ll sure as hell direct it.  XCOM is a great example of how gamers DON’T want watered down experiences, landing itself  in 7th place in the UK top 20 on the week of release and spending its first two weeks enjoying the comfy number 1 spot on Steam’s top sellers list.

If you, like me, want deeper and more involving experiences over being drip-fed prearranged action scenes then do us both a favour and go grab XCOM: Enemy Unknown.  Vote with your wallet.

Me?  Oh, well, no I don’t have XCOM… it’s been a rough couple of months.  In my hand?  Erm, ignore that it’s just… a copy of Halo 4.

Shut up.

Quit questioning my priorities.







2 responses to “The Game Mechanic – The People Who Make Games May Think We’re A Bit Stupid”

  1. Mark P avatar

    Republic Commando WAS ace, wasn’t it? I wish they’d made a second one.

  2. Johnny avatar

    There was a set of books written by Karen Traviss (she wrote Gears 3 and the Gears novels). Who knows, maybe now Disney have control over Lucasarts franchises they’ll be like “Hey people thought that game was awesome, let’s make another.”

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