What Ever Happened To Quality Gaming?

Gaming

Anyone who knows me knows I enjoy gaming quite a bit, and have for many years. Unfortunately all that gaming can hit the wallet pretty hard at $60+ a game – and pretty quickly depending on the time of year. I was one to purchase games based on what franchise it was or who the developer was – because there used to be a time when you could count on quality gaming. But now that my local library has started loaning out games I now have an outlet to try before I buy. Thank the gaming gods because I have to be honest – I haven’t been very impressed with a lot of recent Xbox One offerings, and as a result the library has saved me a ton of money.

Don’t get me wrong, I still buy games, but now I only buy games that have high replayability for me (Forza Horizon 2), or have great story lines and I wouldn’t mind playing through them a time or two. I impulse purchased Destiny because of all the hype leading up to the game in the weeks before release – not to mention the pre-order enticements. I have to admit, that impulse purchase only solidified my need to try before buying. Which brings me to the meat of this rant article…

What’s starting to really get me these days in regards to the quality of games are three things in particular:

  1. Games released while still buggy and not getting patched for weeks after launch.
  2. Poor storytelling.
  3. Games trying too hard to be “edgy” or “over the top”.

The first is self explanatory. I just don’t even know where to start with the second, and the third… all I can say is I’ve had my share of “WTF” moments in a couple recent games. Whatever happened to quality game programming and story telling?

Buggy Games

I know studios have to make money, and I can live with a release day patch – IF that patch fixes everything that is wrong with the game, and doesn’t introduce more issues. I’m glad that the Halo Master Chief Collection is under the tree for me, because maybe by the time I unwrap it and get to play with it, all the issues that have been plaguing it will be fixed. I haven’t had a chance to try Assassin’s Creed Unity yet, but I’ve seen some of the bugs in that game as well.

You’d think with the massive budgets some of these games have, they’d get the quality control and testing right. I hate game delays as much as the next gamer, but I’d rather have a game delayed and launch working properly instead of a half-assed launch with weeks of patches after the fact.

Poor Storytelling

I’m not a big multiplayer gamer. What I do enjoy and love most about games is the story. Mass Effect remains one of my all time favourites for story line. The first couple Halo games were great as well. The Assassin’s Creed franchise had some great stories as well. So what happened? I picked up Destiny in part because of the story and fact that Bungie was looking at a trilogy type release, à la Mass Effect (I know, different studio, but hey – the first couple Halo games had decent story lines as well). We’ve already covered Destiny‘s story woes, so if you want to read up about it, head on over to that article.

Destiny-Grimoire-Card

Sure, make the gamer figure out the story by using Destiny‘s Grimoire Cards which are found – but not readable – in game.

Call of Duty has some great stories as well – from time to time, and those are getting few and far between. Not only that, with the focus on CoD multiplayer, the single player story lines are getting shorter and shorter – and not worth the price of admission to buy the game for full retail if you have little or no intention of playing the multiplayer portion of the game. I’m only partway through Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but so far the story feels better than the last couple of outings. I suspect enlisting Kevin Spacey for a major role as well has helped.

Trying too Hard

Bugs I can deal with, poor storytelling, sure. But what really “grinds my gears” – to put it in the words of Peter Griffin – is games that just try too hard, and fail as a result. I love the fact that over the past few years games have started to push the edge and become more “colorful” – both in on screen visuals and language. I don’t mind the occasional f-bomb or a-hole here or there, or the cross-dressing options for outfits, or even the “more blood, the better” in some games – I mean, we’re all adults here (unless your parents bought you that game, but that’s for a whole other rant on another day). I understand the need to make your game stand out from the rest, but there is such a thing as trying too hard.

I played Sunset Overdrive for a few hours. Colorful – check… fun – check… over the top – check… way over the top? Double check. I like it when games can poke fun at gaming, heck The Simpsons: Tapped Out does a great job of poking fun at mobile gaming, and micro-transaction gaming in general. Sunset Overdrive on the other hand just felt too strained, and it didn’t really fit into the story. Comments like (paraphrased) “if this was a game then some help option would appear” only to have a “voice from above” give you a hint on what to do. I can’t exactly place my finger on it, but as a whole, Sunset Overdrive just had that trying too hard feeling.

Far Cry 4. It’s Far Cry 3 just in a different location and story. But hey, it works and I don’t mind – I really enjoyed Far Cry 3. But here you are running around in a Nepalese setting killing bad guys, hunting for skins, and looting… maxi-pads? Condoms? Birth control? Really Ubisoft?!? I understand the story slanted loot like conflict diamonds, or even village porn magazines, but throwing in non-story related lootable items that no one would ever find in a loot crate is just ridiculous.

Far-Cry-4-Loot

Well I suppose a maxi-pad could be used as a tourniquet… but why am I looting condoms?!?

Last up (for this installment anyways), we have Grand Theft Auto V. The last GTA I truly played was GTAIII. I loaded up IV at one point but didn’t get very far into it, not sure why… but at an rate I digress. I popped in the library borrowed disc of Grand Theft Auto V on the weekend and BAM! Straight into a shoot first, leave no witnesses bank robbery. As I mentioned above, it’s a mature rated game so I have no issues with that. It’s a game – shoot up a bank, shoot a few cops during your escape, all in a day’s work (for a gamer). Fast forward to the actual start of the game where you take over playing Franklin Clinton, an African-American car thief. During the first 5 or 10 minutes of playing Franklin, alongside his buddy Lamar Davis, it became apparent that Rockstar was trying to hard to be shocking. It’s 2014, maybe I’m just getting old, but how many times do you have to hear the n-word in 10 minutes of gameplay? I swear it was used in almost every sentence at one point… there’s over the top, but when it becomes so repetitive and starts to be the only thing you hear, it’s just plain too much.

If you’re still reading, you’ll either agree or disagree with the points I’ve made. Like I mentioned, maybe I’m just getting old, but I used to have a lot of respect for studios like Ubisoft and Rockstar. Between games being released full of glitches, to bad story lines, and trying too hard to be “over the top”, I seriously think the gaming industry is more worried with making money hand over first and releasing quantity over quality.

Let me know if you agree that quality gaming has taken a nose dive in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook… now excuse me, I’m off to see what other useful loot I can find in Far Cry 4 ;).

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