Friday, November 30, 2012

Video Games: Most disappointing

I could not think of so many games that were disappointing, but I will concentrate on just some.

Fifa Manager (PC)

EA Sports releases this game every year in a different edition. There is always a new manager on the front picture of the game, but the game itself does not change much. They ask for the full price of a new computer game every year, but experts who analyse the game code found out that the game still has programming codes from earlier versions, even if they are not used any more. That means that the game is being recycled over and over with little effort.

The usual procedure that EA follows is like this: They make a few changes with little time to the release date left. They throw the product into the market. About a week or so later, they release the first patch to repair the worst bugs and glitches that make the game unplayable, for example bugs that make the game crash. However, the result is dissatisfying. On Amazon, I read the reviews every year and there are often 1 star reviews due to the same recurring problems.

The sad thing is that, every year, enough people get fooled. Another bad thing is that EA holds the official football association licences, which not only means that other game companies are not allowed to use the official names of the teams, in some countries other games are not even allowed to be published, so EA has a monopoly on football manager games.

I only bought some versions of the game and I am not going to return to the series any time soon. I even had one game that went well for some time but on a specific date in the calendar (after several seasons of playing!), the game just crashed. Even if I reloaded the game, it would always, always crash on the same date and there was nothing I could do about it. It was not even clear what caused the crash.

A big disappointment.

GTA: San Andreas

This game was a disappointment because of how high the expectations were and how poorly the game worked in the end. I am not saying that this game is bad or that there is no way to make it playable, but I played this game several times, even with years of not playing it in between, and every time I tried playing it, I got reminded why I stopped playing it. The game is better than its predecessor, Vice City, because it has a huge map with lots of places to go to and lots of new skills to learn. The possibilities were great.
The bad thing is that the game crashed a lot or had really bad glitches. At first, I thought that perhaps my computer was at fault, but Vice City was much more reliable and not inferior in terms of graphics (at least not much). Even with a better PC, the game would still crash too often. So what did I do? I saved the game whenever possible. Even after a few minutes of playing, I had to make sure to keep saving again and again. What is the worst thing that can happen to you? You forget to save, think you can trust the game, then it lets you down after 2 hours of playing without having saved the game in between. Well, it can happen when you are totally "in the game".

Then it got worse... after many hours of game progress, there was a glitch that made all save icons disappear. You must walk into these icons to save the game. They suddenly did not show up any more. No save icons, no saving. What a piece of crap!

On the internet there were message boards explaining that if you do this and that and install this patch and that patch, you can avoid this. But please... I am not buying a game to become a computer expert, I am buying a game to play it and I have no interest in fixing stuff other people fucked up. Game over!


The game itself was not a disappointment if you are not aware of the story behind it. This is the sequel to Banjo-Kazooie. That first game had an ending in which the weird skull guy (displayed in the picture) told the player that the next game would enable the player to enter areas of the game that were previously unaccessible. In the first game, you could already notice such places, like a hole in a mountain that was too high up, or an ice wall that had something hidden behind it.

My brother and me were thrilled about the idea we could finally enter these new areas. But when the new game was released, not only were none of these areas in the game, nobody in the game ever game an explanation to why the promises were broken. Even video game magazines did not bother to offer any explanation or excuse. It was just another game.

It took many years until I found out what had happened. When the internet was finally around, people with cheat code devices uncovered game parts in which gamers would have been able to enter a mode in which you are supposed to swap cartridges. The idea was called "stop n swop" or something like that. The only problem was that the process of changing cartridges with a nintendo console switched on was technically dangerous and could have destroyed the console. But that did not seem to be clear to the programmers, which is stupid because until then, everyone knew that you should not touch a cartridge when the system is on.

What makes the whole story even more disappointing is that there already was functioning technology that could have been used. In the video game generation before the Nintendo 64, Sega had used a cartridge for its Mega Drive (or Genesis) which could use another cartridge on top of it (Sonic and Knuckles). That technology was older but it worked. Why did Nintendo not make use of it?

Luigi's Mansion

This game was the opening entry for the Nintendo Gamecube. It was the first game you got when you bought the console, and usually it was also included when you bought the gaming system.

Again, it is not a bad game by itself. Luigi, who is Mario's stupid brother, is a ghostbuster in this game who needs to chase ghosts in an old house and find Mario. The game has nice graphics and a good atmosphere. But it was still kind of bad.

When my brother and me got the console and the game, we started playing on the same afternoon. The same night, my brother almost finished the game but a glitch occured that made the game crash. It was a one time event. The next day, after the frustration had settled down, we played the game again, and had the glitch not occured, the game would have been played through within 24 hours.

To finish a game within 24 hours in today's times is not a big achievement by the programmers. In the 80s and 90s, it was okay to finish a game within a day, because back then, technical possibilities were different and the gaming experience was also different. Back then, playing a game was like watching a movie, you went through many different levels and landscapes and had many different impressions of the game. But in modern games, you are supposed to spend more time in a level, take more time to finish one area and if a game is good, there is some replay value or side tasks to fulfill even when the main story is finished.

Funny thing, even today Luigi's mansion can get you a good amount of money if you sell it on ebay. It's just a brand, you know...