Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Saints Row: Examination of Some Annoying Game Mechanics

So I took a night's break from Rock Band, being that my fingers were starting to form into a balled mass of flesh and bone from playing the guitar. Instead once I had taken care of my nightly household crap, I settled in for some Urban Warfare in Saints Row.

The game's a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, but there are a few pet peeves I have with it. Let this be a warning for any developer coming out with a shooting-heavy game or an "Urban Sandbox" from here on out.

Games like Mass Effect, Gears of War, and Uncharted have changed some things about what we players will accept in our action games, and I think that it goes without saying that a cover mechanic in any kind of shooter is now necessary. The fact that I spend more time crouched behind a car unconvincingly stalking about while in this position is not very believable, nor functional. Nor is the fact that my guy holds his gun tilted to the side as though he were 50 Cent. The dufus won't hit a damned thing like that, but that's a rant for another day.

Also of annoyance, more so than the lack of a cover mechanic, is the fact that to progress in the game's 36 story-based missions I must run all about the city doing odd tasks that at 1st seemed fun enough, and now seem only a deterrence from me doing the truly interesting activities. It IS fun to launch myself in front of speeding cars, and it IS fun to help a hippy deliver drugs in this urban farce, but it's not fun when I HAVE to do these things to advance the story.

"What's that?" my character says to the gang boss. "You're pissed that I killed your brother, and now you want to take it out on me and the rest of my guys? Well, gee whiz, that sounds like a hoot. But first let me go fake some insurance claims so I can get my RESPECT LEVEL up enough that I'll be allowed to take that mission."

I mean, I can kind of see why this mechanic's in place, in order to pace the main story and make sure players don't finish the game too quickly. But wouldn't have adding more than 36 missions also accomplished this feat? Wouldn't make a little more sense to have players capable of completing a whole section of the story, a chapter if you will (say just one of the 3 gangs you're out to destroy), and then have to worry about "respect levels"? As it stands in the game, the fact that I'm deep in the middle of a gang war and find myself stopping to collect hookers for needy pimps does little more than annoy me... much less humor me.

The game's a fun one. The complaints with its mechanics are few as most everything works great control-wise. And the ridiculousness of the setting and themes is like watching a Spike Lee's Airplane! remake (even if its unintentional), but for the love... this whole RESPECT thing is just stupid.

That's my rant for the day. Sorry for all those who wasted their time reading.


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