Published on August 22nd, 2013 | by Tony Odett11
Three For Thursday: Most Frustrating Mechanics in Gaming Today
The most recent generation of games has resulting in a proliferation of new mechanics and ideas. It has also been plagued by some bad ideas that just won’t die, or have newly crept into our consciousness, much to my chagrin. Like Snooki or one of those eight million Kardashians, these mechanics simply refuse to go quietly into the night, electing instead to cling to their fifteen minutes of fame like a tick, sucking the lifeblood out of our collective gaming experience. Here are the worst offenders.
1. 1st Person Platforming
I like to leap and jump and climb. In games, I like to do the same. But, I like to be able to see my legs. The problem with first person platforming is that you don’t actually have legs (from your perspective, at least). All you possess is a dis-embodied viewpoint and maybe a gun/hand floating in front of you. This makes it impossible to judge your position on a narrow ledge or platform, without looking straight down (and being reminded that, once again, you don’t have legs). The trouble is, it’s tough to jump across a pit when you’re looking down. There’s a reason Mario is played in 3rd person- first person platforming sucks. Games like Rise of the Triad throw it in as a pace-changer, but what first-person platforming really brings is rage-inducing frustration. Do an image search for Assassin’s Creed 3 and see how long you have to scroll before you see a mention of the first person platforming sequences. It’s a long time. Silly platforming. At least give me a sense that I have legs like in Mirror’s Edge. That’s all I ask.
2. Cover-based Shooting
I understand the Gears of War was the premiere title for the Xbox 360 for a long time. I do: I get it. And I know that it was a cover-based shooter, a relatively simple mechanic that the game applied in many interesting ways. But just because a great game did something well does not mean that: A) you should do it, too and B) you can do it well. Gears of War spawned an entire generation of games lazily using cover-based shooting as their entire gameplay package, as if that was all that you need to achieve satisfaction are a few chest-high walls and some targets popping up and down on the other side. Cover-based shooting is NOT A GAME FOUNDATION. It isn’t even what Gears of War is built around (that franchise is dedicated to making the player feel like an utter bad-ass). But numerous offenders have simply constructed an entire world based around this one mechanic, resulting in bland, robotic gameplay (I see you cowering in the corner over there, Star Trek). Oh, and by the way- no one designs rooms filled with equally high walls, furniture, and other objects. Way to make your world feel canned and ugly. Congrats.
3. Quick Time Events
I love God of War. It’s a fantastic game, and one, again, that has been repeated emulated (or downright copied, right Dante’s Inferno?). It’s most copied feature, sadly, is its proliferation of quick time events. I can push buttons, okay? Am I not proving this already by playing the game? I’m playing on hard: I’m an expert at pushing buttons by now. Why then, at the most interesting point of the battle, as I finish off my enemy in gloriously visceral and blood fashion, am I staring around the screen looking for random button prompts? So many wonderful finishing moves have been ruined throughout the recent history of gaming by huge button prompts flying up into the player’s face in the moment of reckoning. Let us enjoy it. Or, even better, model your mechanics in such a way that finishing moves are a natural part of the gameplay, and don’t require bludgeoning with PRESS X TO BEHEAD. Ryse, you’re up next…