We’ve all had that moment where you just want to scream at your screen “THAT’S NOT FAIR”, the computer has moved the goal posts, tipped the odds in its favour or just flat-out cheated for its own agenda. Here at PixelBedlam we’ve been putting up with these tactics for years, but not any more, we’re calling you out games! Here’s our list of the 6 Biggest Dick Moves by Games.
There’s various levels of dick move with game cut-scenes, there’s the mild “Unskippable” to the aggravating “Things will keep happening whilst you watch this”. The former of the two is just annoying, there’s no two ways about it, but there is justification in the madness. I have in my youth at one point or another accidentally skipped an integral part of a story through a sub conscious twitch and pressing of a button. Making sure that the cut-scene is unskippable does provide assurance that many a person will see the art director’s hard work. Is this justification enough? Of course not because we, as humans, are flawed and prone to mistakes, mistakes like dying in video games. What happens then? We return to the start of the video showing us an end of level boss enter the room and gain super powers or knock over a wall, something which at first gives context, but after 10 failed attempts at murder becomes tortuous.
The second aspect of Cut-scenes being a dick move is the “You’ve pulled a switch, now the camera shows you the door opening”, which is fine, it shows the player where to head to, the flaw however is the fact that the player is glued to the floor like a pixel statue whilst enemies can run up and shank you like a snitch in prison. Resident Evil 6 recently excelled at this wonderful annoyance. Many a time I was shown my success of opening a door, and many times the camera would pan back to me getting chewed up like Steve Buscemi in a woodchipper. Generally, when a game is pulling a dick move it comes down to “this is unfair”; almost like a one rule applies to the player, another applies to the game.
- Stealth Quick-time Events
“Oh thank god, that section of the game was a nightmare, cut-scene sweet, I’ll just have a sip of my drink and *PRESS X NOT TO DIE* Wha….? *Game Over* hpmh”. We’ve all been there, you foolishly think you’re not playing the game for a moment, you think this might be the time to take in some story and let your clammy hands rest, then from nowhere a button command arrives on screen sending you into a slow motion dive for your controller to meet its request. The problem with this is that we’ve been trained over the years to expect exposition and story in our cut-scenes (As I talk about here, it breaks immersion) so I can see to an extent why developers want to keep us involved. However, if there is an over reliance it can ruin a game. Resident Evil 6 – a game I’m not intending to crap all over – and Wet both fell victim to this: a quick time event to open a door is not interesting, and to that matter, it’s not acceptable to allow all the cool things to happen in cut-scenes and pretend the player is involved by throwing together quick time events.
- The Checkpoint Trauma
This one has been the death of many a game to me, including everyone’s beloved Mass Effect. If I play a game, and inevitably die, I should not have to replay more the 2 to 5 minutes of the game – even 5 minutes could kill it for me. With PC gaming this isn’t as much of an issue; the quick save button has made many a game workable for me, though I do remember Postal 2 saying something like “My Grandmother could complete this game if she used quick save as much as you”. On consoles and some PC games, however, this isn’t always an option, and you are at the mercy of the game. If the game decides that you need to repeat a long segment of the game… well you better do it or stop playing. The latter of the two is my go-to choice, but it’s not even the annoyance of having to kill the same enemies again or redo a puzzle. Sometimes this is a dick move because it’s just boring. GTA IV and many other open world games are a nightmare for this: you get a mission, you are told to drive across town, you get there and die, then you must repeat this journey. This isn’t real gaming, this is a simulator of rush hour traffic.
- Escort Missions with Idiots
To me this comes down to bad developing; I know it’s easy for me to sit in my ivory tower of vitriol and spew down on all the poor coders, but sometimes they must acknowledge they’ve done a bad job. Escort missions are nearly universally hated by gamers. This could be for many reasons – perhaps we just don’t like other people, or perhaps it’s because these plebs are out of our control. We must sit back and just hope that they move when they should, they don’t run out into open gun fire, and they don’t get stuck on a wall and start humping it like a dog on heat.
There are many games which have done this, generally it’s the non-AAA titles which fall prey to it, but there are top tier examples as well: World of Warcraft, Gears of War, Unchartered, GTA IV. All of these have had badly implemented AI and escort missions, and all should hang their heads in shame at the misguiding of smaller developers, that escort missions are acceptable in this day and age.
- Lose All Weapons
A tactic in far too many games is the “oh you seem to be getting quite good at this game, how would you fair if you didn’t have any of your awesome weapons?” Often this is story related; generally your character has been taken to a prison and must escape and recollect their items of destruction. But there’s another way this is done in games, a more sly and evil way: certain enemies having certain weaknesses.
I have played a number of games recently where enemies are more susceptible to different damage. A prime example is in Borderlands 2 where you are asked to set fire to a number of bandits. Easy, you think – long trek to bandits and… crap, I haven’t got any fire weapons. After killing many of the bandits (normally) you are greeted with money drops – not fire drops – and eventually you realise you’ll have to walk back to the nearest town and buy something a little bit more flamey. Resident Evil 6, my unintentional poster child for this list, also provides occasions where you are low on ammo, as it should be, and you are required to kill some heavily armoured goons. But when that inevitable click click of no ammo comes, your fists are the only fall back you have; lo and behold, the enemies don’t take melee damage and you have to top yourself just to get more ammo.
- Instakills In Co-Op
Co-Op is something I look for most in a game. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always felt that co-op brings together players in an amazing way. There’s always a time for competitive multiplayer: the trash talking and the anger leads to fun, but it’s a finite experience one race track or one split-screen map. Co-op allows the gamer to enjoy it with a friend – the story, the true game design and all the ups and downs in-between.
The issue comes with games like Kane and Lynch or Gears of War where they – on more levels than they should – take the two players down separate routes on a level, taking away the revival chance. Most co-op games these days will have the downed before death experience, where you’re given a few moments to race over to your heavily injured partner and, more often than not, inject them with something that seems to work like the adrenaline stabbed into Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction. When separated, however, this isn’t an option – as one player goes lone wolf or does a stupid manoeuvre in co-op, you are left to watch as they get torn piece by piece by the enemy as the game over screen comes up.