Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Blast from the Past

I've had a few blogs over the years, and while I'm a bit too busy to keep this one regularly updated with new ruminations, I thought I'd share some choice cuts from the golden days... this particular one is about Gears of War 1...

"Why do I dislike this game so much?

Firstly, the game's visuals - generally stunning, but marred by technical deficiencies.

I'm all for the detail, the framerate and the sheer scale of some of the visuals this game presents, but when after every cutscene the textures take a few seconds to load in, it stinks of rushed coding and is particularly noticeable when the rest of the game is so polished. Why, with such an 'important' game, would you let it out to the public with such obvious visual problems? It was the same with Halo 2 and its goddamn flickering normal maps. Hideous, and detracts from the game as a whole.

Secondly, gameplay - solid, entertaining, but nothing new.

The cover system works fine but was seen in kill.Switch, the reloading mini-game is nice but ultimately pretty shallow, and several things niggle at me. The inability to accurately see where your grenades are going to land over larger distances, despite being presented with a handy arc. The stubborn refusal of some seemingly valid bits of scenery to allow the player to shoulder into cover. Overly simplified close combat - with only one option available to these hulking men in armour, they seem crippled by fear whenever a Locust gets near.

The incredible decision to make the vast majority of the enemy characters share a very similar height, shape and therefore silhouette. The abysmal AI, for both enemy and - more frustratingly - ally, which makes a mockery both of the elite unit you are supposed to be fighting with and the fearsome enemy you are supposed to be fighting against. The weaponry sets being shared by aliens and humans alike - eh?

The final boss is unexciting and unthreatening (simply pummel him with bullets until he falls over), and so are the majority of his cronies. Why in this day and age do enemies not react to being hit by goddamn bullets!? It makes no sense to me, as GoldenEye on the N64 managed it, but these morons simply carry on walking/shooting/running into walls despite you filling their ugly faces with hot lead.

Thirdly - inspiration and source material.

Nearly everything 'cool' in this game is ripped directly from another source. Now I've had arguments about the difference between 'ripping off' and 'being inspired by', but I honestly believe that GoW is guilty of the former more than the latter. First of all, the chainsaw-on-the-end-of-the-gun is straight outta Warhammer 40,000. Secondly, the only section where they try to make some interesting twists on the core gameplay is ripped wholesale out of Pitch Black. And I mean wholesale.

Staying in the light is one thing. Doing so because of the threat of hordes of hideous monsters in the dark would be fine too. But when the hordes of monsters are exactly the same as the ones found in Pitch Black, it becomes a crime punishable by me slapping you with my shit-covered hand (and I'm not talking about the main beasties in Pitch Black, I'm talking about the bat-like ones that tear up the poor woman from Farscape early in the film - yeah, those ones).

Fourthly - storyline and characters.

Well, anyone who has played it must know that the characters are all shadows of a cliche (Cole Train being entertaining as he actually has some personality), and the storyline is as vague and thin as the hair on Charlize Theron's navel. Without spoiling anything the manner in which the storyline is conveyed is lazy and sporadic, poorly timed and nonsensical.

Right, so all of that seems quite vitriolic, yes?

Indeed it does. And I'll tell you why - we were promised so much more. Even in the little booklet you get with the special edition Cliffy B goes on and on about how this was the future of gaming and how he had an epiphany playing paintball or somesuch... mate, wake up. This is not the next generation of videogames in any sense except visually, and even there it falls down with technical hurdles."

...and having read this again now, I'm of the same opinion - if a little more chilled out about it now :)

PS: You may also notice some similarities and lines of thought that eventually got properly aired in my Edge-Online piece.

No comments:

Post a Comment