I recently finished Spec Ops: The Line. The game is very good. It does a lot of things with the psychology of the main character that most other games wouldn’t dare to go near. However, that’s not why I’m talking about it. Along with being a great story with overall fun gameplay, the game brought out a few of my biggest pet peeves in gaming. The difficulty spike that happens in the last two missions is incomprehensible. The game throws wave after wave of enemies after you and you have to somehow kill each and every one of them. This happens in a lot of games nowadays and it needs to stop. It shows a certain laziness by a developer just to add a final “boss” battle or just add some time on to the game’s length. This is just one of the few things that really bug me about recent games. These things are tacked on for no reason and shouldn’t be a part of any game as they take away from the total experience.
First and foremost is the problem I have already mentioned- insanely difficult combat sections. Games seem to have fallen into a pit where the last few combat sections in the game have a huge difficulty spike and are there just to add on to the game’s length. These combat sections sends waves of enemies at you with a few “heavies” and you can die nearly instantly if you are not careful. As I mentioned, this happened in Spec Ops: The Line’s final 2 missions. I died over and over again and when I finally beat it, I realized it had been almost three hours since I first started the missions. Granted, I was playing on hard, but either way, two combat sections should not equate to three gameplay hours. Furthermore, these hours were not filled with fun. I found myself becoming more and more frustrated with every death. Then, when I finally finished these missions, I didn’t feel a sense of satisfaction for my victory. Instead, I let out a sigh of relief and a bit of excitement that the past three miserable hours were finished.
Spec Ops: The Line isn’t the only game in recent memory that has done this. God of War: Ascension did this as well. One of the final combat sequences, called the Trial of Archimedes, left a myriad of gamers frustrated to the point of anger and rage. While it was eventually patched, the game still showed a huge difficulty spike at the end of the game just to add to the game’s length. Even some of the best had trouble with this sequence because of its intense difficulty and overall feeling of helplessness when you die almost instantly.
Finally, BioShock Infinite had one of these kind of sequences near the end of the game as well. The final mission, once again, sends wave after wave of enemies after you and, without spoiling anything, things get really intense really quickly with many enemies shooting at you while you must take every single one of them out. You also must protect a central objective that can be taken out fairly easily if one enemy gets a few shots on it. Then, you must risk your safety to kill that person then probably die to a different enemy. This mission again had me restarting it over and over again. It wasn’t nearly as many times as Spec Ops thanks to some tips from a friend, but the few times that I had to start it over were frustrating as I would work for sometimes twenty to thirty minutes on the area strategically taking out the enemies so I wouldn’t die, then dying to a random enemy and having to do it all over again.
This brings up another reason why this recent commonplace in gaming frustrates me so much. The missions don’t have checkpoints within themselves. There should be frequent checkpoints within the missions or at least every few waves. I found myself defeating one of the final waves then dying and having to start all over again. The game should reward getting halfway through and only make you restart from there. You should not have to restart the whole thing and spend another half hour doing it again just to rinse and repeat until before you know it, it has been three hours and you are about to throw your controller through the TV, but I digress.
My second pet peeve in gaming is quick time events. This (and my next one) is a very common one, I realize, but it is for good reason. When a game takes control out of the player’s hands and makes you press a button in order to do something that could have been done when the player had full control. A game like the Tomb Raider reboot comes to mind. Tomb Raider was a fantastic game overall, but the first hour or so consisted of only cutscenes and quicktime events. There was little to no player control in the whole first hour. It does eventually open up, but an hour without control is way too much.
Another game that comes to mind for quicktime events is Heavy Rain. Actually, Heavy Rain was only quicktime events for action sequences. There was basically no player control except for walking around looking at things. Plus, just to add on to that, the clunky controls and overall clunky gameplay didn’t help. The quicktime events in this game, however, can be overlooked to an extent. The game relies mainly on story and so it didn’t matter if the action sequences let the player be in control because they all related to the story, and could get a character killed.
Finally on the subject of quicktime events, boss fights that use quicktime events also frustrate me. Even in a game like Saints Row: The Third, which I have gone on the record to say was my favorite game of all time, uses this throughout the game. You never get the satisfaction of actually killing the boss and instead just have to press a series of buttons to kill them. Luckily, this is overshadowed by the rest of the game, but it is still a frustration.
Next is Far Cry 3. Again, Far Cry 3 is a fantastic game. However, the two main villains have boss fights without much player control. All you have to do is press a series of buttons and you defeat the bosses. Otherwise, you just start over. This is frustrating because there are ways that these bosses could have had boss fights with the player being in control. There could have been a big shootout instead of just a quicktime fight.
My final pet peeve is another common one that you have undoubtedly heard of- escort missions. While these have been getting better with the recent releases of Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us having a companion throughout the game that doesn’t feel like an escort, these missions still exist in gaming and never fail to frustrate due to the common stupid AI. Many times, the AI of the person you are escorting runs into gunfire or gets killed very easily and you have to restart due to their stupidity. There is no match to the frustration that comes from a failure of a mission that isn’t your fault. Games like Amy and Dead Island have escort missions and the AI never fail to disappoint. They always manage to somehow die and make you start over. Also, there is a trend now where you must cover someone as they hack some kind of computer and the waves of enemies come in right as the hacking begins and doesn’t stop until it ends, which, in many cases, takes a very long time. I hate escort missions in general. As a matter of fact, they are hated by most gamers. They never fail to frustrate. If the AI can get to a point where the escorts are smart and don’t run out in the middle of gunfire, these missions might be acceptable, but at this point, they should be taken out of games overall.
Games can frustrate. They can glitch, freeze, or otherwise not work. These things happen. However, the things that frustrate me the most in games are the things that are put in on purpose by the developers. No game should have an impossible final battle or a quicktime event boss fight. A few QTEs here or there are okay, but we should try to avoid them altogether. The final battle issue should be addressed because all it does is add a few miserable hours on to a game’s length, but it takes away from the total package. Finally, escort missions are awful, enough said. No game should have it whatsoever until we have AI that is smart enough to handle it. However, we are not at that point yet and they should be taken out. Overall, I have a number of things in games that frustrate me. I have been mad at numerous amounts of games. They all had something that should be addressed. From insane difficulty spikes to stupid AI, something was always wrong. However, most of these games are fun. Spec Ops: The Line is a game I would recommend to most people. These things are overall fairly small things in games that should be fixed. They can take away from the total package, but rarely enough to ruin it entirely.
So how was it? What are your gaming pet peeves? Let me know in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading and PI!