Originally Published: 2011
2010 was pretty well regarded as a good year for games. Not great, like 2008 was and 2011 promises to be, but good… like 2009 was. But let’s not get bogged down in all this calendar-based nonsense.
Despite the relative prosperity of a year that produced TheBiggestSellingGameOfAllTime™ there were, as always, a few moments that either infuriated players, or were just so blindingly awful that all you can do is sit back and laugh about it… and then write a blog about it in 2011.
The following collection of moments do not necessarily come from the worst games of 2010 (some come from the best games of the year) but simply provide an insight into those moments that made me a tiny wee bit annoyed.
So whether you disagree with me or not, I’m sure this list has an ulterior purpose – as it’s those infuriating moments that make up part of the reason we play games. Without the annoying moments we cannot enjoy the things games do right. Although we could still do without the following…
10. Looking like some Hentai-obsessed pervert while playing Muramasa: The Demon Blade
We start with a game that was technically from the very end of 2009 (if you want to go by all that ‘release date’ nonsense) but I didn’t play until 2010… so it counts.
Muramasa is a brilliant side-scrolling hack and slash game, with some of the most beautiful cartoon visuals I’ve ever seen. But when I say beautiful… I’m mostly talking about the scenery. Try telling that to your girlfriend after she’s walked in on you playing the game at one of the moments where the female character Momohime enters a mountain spring to regain health.
You can argue the case for the well-structured levelling up system and tight combat all you want, but when you’re controlling a small cartoon girl who is walking around in hot water completely naked save for a very clingy towel – you’re nothing but a super pervert.
The game goes back in the case, excuses are made and previous boasts of how much you were enjoying the game are hastily regretted.
9. The End of Limbo
This moment could well be in here based on the fact that Limbo is such a fantastically enjoyable and unique game that the confusing and abrupt nature of the end simply annoys because it means the experience is over.
It could, however, be in here because it makes absolutely no sense. To be fair, Limbo is a game that, on the whole, barely made a lick of sense from the start, and that was part of the appeal. Your character is clearly in some horrific sub-world with no knowledge or understanding of why he is there – the game contains no narrative aside from ‘everything is trying to kill you so don’t die.’
Who is the mysterious girl at the end? Have we been searching for her all the time? What happens now… oh wait. Is that it? Is it over?!
8. Not being very good at Goldeneye 007 online despite all your CoD experience
Goldeneye 007 online? On the Wii? With all those casual, arm-flailing little girls and old people? Pah! I have 5 years of online CoD experience, I shall rule this land… oh wait, why can’t I aim properly?! Am I DEAD?!
A constant reminder of how you should never take anyone’s skill set for granted. Most likely the majority of opponents playing Goldeneye online are hardcore CoD players, but there’s something in the way Goldeneye is presented that makes it a little too difficult to simply transfer skills across. The online game is definitely CoD lite (it is Activision after all), with the same kind of, albeit much more basic, levelling system, perks and weapon customisation.
The levelling system in particular is incredibly strange. Players finishing top of a winning team with most kills and fewest deaths are no longer rewarded the same way as CoD, and often finish with a pitiful amount of EXP compared to some lower placed players, meaning levelling up is completely random. To add further frustration, the sprint function is mapped to a button rather than a click of the stick, and there’s a distinct lack of jumping.
All this proves that it really is the little things that matter when playing a game, and that’s what makes playing video games such a personal and amazing experience. Those Wii gamers (who are very skilled at Goldeneye) who may never have played Call of Duty online (I play regularly with one of these people) have nothing to go on, nothing to complain about and simply set about enjoying the game and honing their skills. Not complaining about it like I am now. There’s just that nagging feeling that always creeps into the back of your mind: ‘I’d be kicking your ass if this were CoD,’ and you know what, I probably wouldn’t.
7. Pre-patch Nuketown on Call of Duty: Black Ops
Ah, Nuketown – the little online CoD map that could. What a fun map filled with precisely the type of fast paced, close quarters chaos that makes CoD online such a blistering and exhilarating experience. How I used to salute you, Nuketown. Used to.
You see, before Treyarch added a patch to the game, you could quite easily be sucked into a time paradox where time stands still and you are trapped in Nuketown for all eternity. What’s that you say? The map is blown to smithereens at the end of each game? Doesn’t matter, it’s all part of your new hell. It’s blown up, but then it’s back again…and again…and again.
My regular CoD buddy and I were enjoying some quality online gaming when Nuketown showed up as a map choice. “Choose it!” we were imploring people – desperate for a chance to rack up tons of quick kills in the small map. 7 games later, still playing Nuketown, our sentiments were quite the opposite. Never has the phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ been more relevant.
It seems I missed the point when shelling out £40+ to play Black Ops. I didn’t realise £40 gets you the same one multiplayer map OVER and OVER again. Now I know what you’re thinking ‘just quit the game and search for a new one,’ but that’s the problem with Nuketown. It’s a drug. We all love it and we all think we can easily get 20 odd kills on it. So in the end you can’t draw yourself away from it, and simply succumb to one more go.
Kudos goes to Treyarch for being the only developer to actually fix a problem listed here. A recent patch means that you cannot play the level more than twice in a row and because of that my Nuketown rehabilitation can begin.
6. Getting killed picking flowers in Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is a fantastic game with an excellent cast of characters, a great story, and a host of high-octane action sequences. It also contains certain challenges, and even a quest, that require you to pick certain different types of flowers from the dusty trails of the landscape.
Perhaps it is a credit to Red Dead that even this rather mundane task has an element of danger about it. I speak, of course, of the wandering cougars.
One minute you’re quietly showing your feminine cowgirl side by picking a lovely prickly pear, the next you’re being brutally murderised by a cougar roaring and slashing at you until you’re a mess of blood, guts and… woolly blue curls?
Now, Red Dead is a game full of great action moments where getting killed is part and parcel of life in the ol’ West. But a flower death is just a kick in the pants. You die – not in a blaze of glory speeding alongside a moving train on horseback firing shotguns at the passengers and chasing lawmen… but picking flowers.
Embarrassing and annoying it may be, but what a man John Marston is. He dices with death even when he’s getting his green fingers on. Hey, you’ll never see Alan Titchmarsh blow the head off a savage, bloodthirsty cougar in between arranging posies, now will you?
5. Fly Me to the Moon in Bayonetta
I didn’t realise how much the royalties for ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ actually were, but based on Bayonetta it must be a hell of a lot, as it seems the developers could only afford that one song for the soundtrack.
The first time you hear it, it’s amusingly quirky and gives a pretty strong indication of just how batshit the rest of the game is going to be. But when you’re several hours into the game and you’ve heard that same song in almost every battle sequence then enough is enough.
Suddenly Bayonetta stops becoming quirky and starts to become downright unbearable. The rapid shift in difficulty causes enough frustration, but hearing a classic crooner anthem weakly bleated out by what sounds like a small Japanese girl stops being amusing and becomes downright maddening.
The shrill tones suddenly sound like siren songs, mocking you as you struggle to land a combo and trying to entice you to play on despite all the crazy on-screen action becoming far too much for your feeble brain to comprehend. Fortunately for me I was able to stay the course, not being drawn in by the siren song but staying true first to the mute button, and eventually to the power switch.
4. Downloading Doritos Crash Course purely for Achievements
We all know the drill. We all did it for Doritos’ last game ‘Dash of Destruction’: Download free, yet rubbish, game, persevere through it for 10 minutes, get all the achievements and see your gamer score go up by 200G, never play the game again, and eventually deny all knowledge of ever having played it.
Imagine the thrill, then, of seeing a new free Doritos achievement present: ‘Crash Course.’ Except this time… it’s hard. Really hard. The worst thing is, it’s still not very fun either. Oh yeah, it also takes a really long time to get any achievements.
The beauty of DoD was that you could quickly sneak through it and get all the achievements before any of your online mates even knew what was going on. This time, you have to complete a large amount of extremely punishing, poor collision detection-filled levels of pain and torture that take so long to get through that all your mates can see you playing some pithy free pile of achievement fodder whilst they pWn n00bs at CoD.
You’ve been rumbled, son, and the worst thing is that you don’t even have that many achievements to show for it. I mean, you’re not going to actually perfect the game to get the harder ones are you? And you’ve unfortunately got the first achievement so you can’t even delete the history, leaving it sat smugly on your profile mocking you for being so naïve. You look cheap, you look foolish, and worst of all you look like you suck at games. Free games. Games made by crisp companies. So the next time you see your next free, quick and easy achievement meal ticket you might want to go offline before you ‘dedicate’ several hours of your time into it, because once you’re caught there’s no going back.
3. Trying to bypass the bugs in Fallout: New Vegas because you want to love it
Fallout: New Vegas was one of my most anticipated games of the year in 2010. Fallout 3 ranks very highly in amongst my most treasured games of all time, but New Vegas was the one game that gave me the truest indication that sometimes more of the same just isn’t enough any more.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed more of the same excellent storytelling, great side quests, the VATs system, and, of course, roaming the wastes. I did not, however, enjoy more of the same bugs, graphical glitches and ridiculous loading times that were equally as prevalent in Fallout 3.
We all have to face facts (Bethesda especially) – this game was broken on day of release. Game-ending bugs ruined the enjoyment for many players and I personally had to sit through an almost 10 minute long loading screen to simply walk through a door. Once these bugs start to kick in and the graphical ugliness becomes too much to bare, the rest of the game starts to grind the gears even more.
Waiting 5 minutes to fast track somewhere (almost eliminating the very point of it in the first place) only to find the textures haven’t loaded properly when you get there – and by the time they do you’ve been mauled by a Deathclaw – becomes one annoyance too many. From then on, New Vegas goes from being highly anticipated to completely shunned as you move on to other games, promising yourself that you will get back into it next but are eventually put off by what lies in wait. Such a shame as the game itself is totally brilliant; it’s just a very, very flawed masterpiece.
2. Playing Dead Rising 2 and realising you’re not having any fun
I remember my joy whilst playing the first Dead Rising demo. I love zombie movies and so this was a dream come true. You could put stupid stuff on their heads! You could knock them over with a bowling ball! You could run them over with a lawnmower! The list was almost endless, but when the final game came around you felt somewhat limited in the amount of time you could actually spend killing zombies, instead having to dedicate your time to running from one mission to the next due to the game’s strict time frame.
So, the sequel surely fixed this right? Wrong. It was exactly the same, and with the added carnage promised from being able to create new and crazier weapons, it is totally criminal that we are forced not to enjoy any of them.
I wanted to enjoy Dead Rising 2, I wanted to cause chaos and kill zombies in the most ridiculous ways imaginable. But I couldn’t. I was simply running back and forth on silly fetch quests and missions; not killing zombies at all any more but simply dodging out of their way. The zombies are meant to be a toy to play with, an element of the game that makes it fun. But forcing the player to be at several locations at once reduces the zombies to nothing more than an object to be sidestepped, a mere annoyance rather than fodder for your sick and twisted fun.
It was upon finishing the game with a kill count barely touching five thousand that I realised that the soul reason why I bought the game had not even be achieved, and I’d not had any fun. It was simply an arduous trawl through a game that has a boring story and unimpressive boss fights.
I know that you can save your game and go off and kill zombies like there’s no tomorrow (pretty much because if you don’t do the missions then the game ends and there is no tomorrow), but what’s the point? Your kill count and experience gained is gone the next time you try to play the game ‘properly.’
Having fun in a game should be part of the core mechanic, not some kind of taboo you indulge yourself in when you’ve given up on actually completing the game. It should not have been this hard to balance the two out.
1. EA not fixing the rage quitter problem in FIFA 11
I honestly didn’t know I was this good at FIFA. I didn’t realise that my apparent unbeatable prowess shown in attaining a 2-0 lead after twenty in-game minutes was so evident that most opponents simply give up a full twenty five minutes before half time. Or perhaps there are far too many childish and pathetic players out there who cannot enjoy a game without winning and rage quit the minute things get even a little challenging.
It’s pretty easy to spot these potential dummy-throwers straight away with two easy telltale signs. Firstly, do they instantly pick either Barcelona, Real Madrid or AC Milan? If so: you have a rage quitter! Secondly, do they completely forego any type of team management, relying purely on the strength of said teams’ default line-ups and tactics (possibly as they have no knowledge of who even plays for these teams)? If so: you have a rage quitter!
With alarm bells already ringing, I naturally ignore any attempts to match big gun for big gun and go with my heart to the mighty Tottenham Hotspur even against the Brazils or Spains of the world; confident in my ability through years of practise that I can give anyone a game with the team I know best.
What follows is usually a shot from kick off, followed by numerous tricks that get the opposition player nowhere and cynical red card tackles from behind whenever Jermain Defoe races through on goal, eventually helping me towards to a reasonable lead. Then comes the message ‘the connection to the game has been lost.’
Whatever happened to sticking it out and trying to get back in the game? I know I’ve been 2-0 down in the second half before and won 4-2, and surely someone playing as the best team in the game against (probably not that) lowly Spurs has a chance too? We will never know; they never stick it out, they never try their hardest to gain back pride or push everyone forward to claw a result back. They just give up.
I’ve had a 9-2 victory taken off me before by someone who quit in the last minute of stoppage time, and with FIFA simply offering you a cheap 3-0 victory as compensation, what is the point in pushing yourself beyond that if the other person will simply quit? Should I play badly on purpose to make the opponent stick around? Even then, if I sneak a win at the end they will just turn off the Xbox at full time anyway.
In the end I’ve simply given up. There’s an achievement for 5 ranked wins in a row. I’ve had 11 before and because 8 of them quit before the end I never got the achievement (a condemnation against online achievements if there ever was one). There’s just no deterrent in forcing a 3-0 defeat on a player who quits whilst losing by a larger margin. Hey, Barcelona players! Are you 5-1 down to someone with a lower level team? Quit now and reduce it to 3-0!
The time has come for a change. EA MUST ban anyone who quits from playing in ranked matches for the next 24 hours. Or have a search engine that only finds players with a 10% quit percentage or lower. There must be steps taken to stop people from rage quitting, not simply pathetic punishments that do not deter them from re-offending again and again.