6 Examples Of Awful Design In Great Games
Gears Of War 3
What: The forced walk
Why: Needlessly frustrating
It’s become something of a cliche post-Gears. Marcus Fenix takes down a huge boss, roadie runs towards the area that’s just opened up, then he’s suddenly walking with two fingers by his ear as the next bit of story is relayed to the player.
To be fair, it’s not the only game that does this – Resident Evil 6 is the most recent example. But in a game that’s ultimately about momentum and forcing your way through enemy lines, having a game mechanic that deliberately slows you down just so you can listen to some exposition is awkward and clumsy.
Design director Cliff Bleszinski, who has left Epic, tweeted that he was “trying to get ’em out of Gears as much as possible.”
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
What: Forced boss battles
Why: Contradicts game’s design
If you haven’t played Deus Ex: Human Revolution yet, just remember Typhoon. That’s essentially your skip-boss-battle button and will save you a needless headache.
If you have played Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you’ve already gone through the pain. Through hacking, conversations and stealth, the idea behind Human Revolution is that you could pick your way through the game without leaving a massive trail of bodies behind. There’s even an achievement/Trophy for completing it without setting off alarms.
Yet the boss battles are unavoidable confrontations, pitting you against bullet-sponge foes in tiny arenas until one of you falls.
What: The final boss
Why: It doesn’t fit with BioShock
The Andrew Ryan reveal is brilliant and arguably the moment BioShock peaks, although not the moment BioShock ends. You’re given time for the “would you kindly” revelation to sink in while Irrational is given time to crowbar in a boss that is… not BioShock.
There’s no other way of describing it. BioShock’s appeal is that it dares to be different and creative, the strength of Irrational’s unique vision flowing through everything from the aesthetics to the gameplay design.
Then Frank Fontaine appears and he’s just… a glowing man. A big glowing man with none of the spark or creativity shown elsewhere. Even his attacks are brutally simple – he runs at you and tries to smash you with his fists. An awful way to end a stunning game.
Why: Makes game too trial and error
Mirror’s Edge was a fresh, brave new IP from Battlefield developers DICE. It was part of EA’s new charge for innovation alongside Skate and Dead Space, with Mirror’s Edge mixing a first-person view with platforming.
There was more to it than that. The dazzling, clean world was a perfect counterpoint to first-person games becoming grungier and grimier, with the emphasis on style and speed over brutal confrontations and mowing down endless enemies.
Which is what made the introduction of guns to the mix so disappointing. Some didn’t mind guns as it added an element of urgency and danger but it tipped the platforming into trial and error territory, leaving you no room to explore or play with the unique platforming mechanics DICE had worked so hard to create.
What: The map
Why: It’s a nightmare to use
There’s a lot to love about Borderlands 2. The co-op angle is refreshing, the loot mechanic is addictive and everything from the bosses to the characters to the world is stuffed with personality.
It’s the only game that makes feel a pang of guilt when upgrading your weapons – trading your trusty Jakobs pistol that bailed you out for the past few hours for a new pistol with better stats shouldn’t even be a decision, let alone one you agonise over.
And yet that map is hideous. Having glowing icons at the side of your mini-map is standard fare for games but the dips and counters of the terrain in Borderlands 2 makes getting around unusually tricky.
The map is no help at all, especially when you have greyed out areas you have yet to explore. It’s a mess of spaghetti vomit and glowing icons that’s at its least helpful when you need it most – at the start of Borderlands 2 when you’re unfamiliar with the terrain and structure of the game.
Red Dead Redemption
What: Generous auto-aim
Why: Makes the game far too easy
Most console games have auto-aim to compensate for the fact that a controller will never be as fast or accurate as a mouse. In games like Call Of Duty, you can aim your gun near an enemy, quickly aim and then see the barrel of your gun immediately hover over your target.
It’s not the presence of auto-aim in Red Dead Redemption that’s the problem but rather, how generous it is. Aim anywhere in the vicinity of an enemy and the reticle will snap over their head, giving you an easy kill with any rifle or pistol. It even works as an extra radar of sorts, as quickly raising and lowering your weapon will let you ‘check’ if there are any threats nearby.
The Expert mode in Red Dead Redemption turns this off and gives gun battles an air of menace again, while Max Payne 3 and its multiple aiming options shows Rockstar is aware of the problem. It’s just a shame this was the default way to play Red Dead rather than an option reserved for the lower difficulties.