BAD'S Commentary Page


|| TITLE || If It's Broke Fix It!
  || WRITER ||   Destructonaut
  || DATED ||   04.02.2009


Have you found yourself playing a game recently, a "current-gen" game, and thought, "this shit is broken!" This may even be a game you love very much, but still, there are flaws you can't ignore. If you're like me, you have to ask, "weren’t these glitches, bugs, and other programming issues something that were part of the last generation?" "Wasn't there a reason I shelled out hundreds of dollars for some shiny new systems?" "Isn't there a reason I'm currently spending 60 dollars per game?" Now, I may be ignorant, but apart from better graphics and bigger games, I thought we were supposed to have more polished games with less technical issues. Which brings me to the point. 2008 gave us many great games. I'm going to focus on 3 of them. 3 games, all great games in their own right, but still, while playing through any of them you’ll find yourself at least once saying, "this shit is broken!"



Fallout 3, Fable II, and Far Cry 2. You may ask, "other than starting with the letter F and being sequels, what do they have in common?" Well, they're all open-world games. They all allow you to choose how and when you complete the stories. They all blend the line between action, RPG, and other genres. Above all, they all have components that are inherently broken. I also feel that each game falls into 1 of 3 categories: amazing, overrated, and underrated.

First off, the amazing Fallout 3. It's hard for me to attack this game. It was one of the most celebrated games of 2008, and with good reason. It was the overall winner for game of the year for most magazines and web sites. It was my 2008 game of the year. It was rich, satisfying, beautifully detailed, original, and overall, it was fun. So what is there to complain about? Not much I'll admit, but what is wrong is enough to make me lose my mind. The AI could be agonizing. For example, I was performing a side mission for a small town called the Republic of Dave. There was an achievement for getting everyone in the town to vote in the election for the town overseer. I went around getting people to vote one by one, leaving only Dave's wife. When I told her to vote, she responds, saying she will, then proceeds to stand in the corner. I keep telling her to vote, she keeps saying she will, she keeps standing in the corner! I leave and come back, still in the corner! I download a patch for the game, still in the fucking corner! These were the problems, albeit, few and far between that I ran into while playing Fallout 3.




Secondly, the overrated Fable II. I contemplated writing an article specifically dedicated to how broken and insanely overrated this game is. Don't get me wrong, I own it, I conquered it, I even had fun. However, there is so much wrong with this game it's unforgivable. First off, the game is so easy I believe the average 6 year old could easily beat it. Also, it is incredibly short. Mostly though, it's fucking broken! Broken in the way I thought major games wouldn't be in the current gen. Characters disappearing, AI stuck in loops, AI frozen in place, AI stuck in environments, your character stuck in environments, frame rate slowing to a crawl. I could keep going, I could give specific examples, but I feel my blood pressure rising as I type this and it would take an entire series of articles to properly chronicle the failures I encountered throughout the game. At times the game is downright abysmal. This all from a game that was highly praised and well-received in the gaming community. Even picking up a few "Game of the Year" awards. All this from a game that is riddled with problems that just shouldn't exist in a current-gen game.

Finally, the underrated Far Cry 2. This is possibly the most inventive FPS I've ever played. It gave me something I've always wanted from and FPS, attack your enemies whenever you want from any direction you want, however you want. If you want to set up from a safe distance and pick off enemies with a sniper rifle, do it. If you want to set fire to trees and brush and let the fire do your dirty work, go for it. If you're into "guns-a-blazing, shoot first, ask questions later" tactics, have at it. I also thought about giving this game it's own article, and I still might, because there's just so much ingenuity and refreshing gameplay. Yet, it still has its share of broken. The AI is reminiscent of Charlie from the book "Flowers for Algernon." One minute a brilliant display of human intelligence, the next a monosyllabic drooling idiot chasing reflections from shiny objects. The back and forth was the most frustrating thing. During conflicts I would be out-flanked, and pinned into corners. Enemies would lay down cover fire for their advancing partners, snipers would take cover where I could not locate them. If I injured enemies, they would crawl to safety or a friend would carry them out of the fight. It felt like I was fighting real people. All this to be followed up in the next fight with enemies staring at walls or stuck in environments. Like Fallout 3, the good far outweighed the bad in this game.

Why is it that even with more money, longer times for development, more powerful systems, and hundreds of hours of testing, games still get released with significant programming flaws? I don't feel that I'm asking too much. I shell out 60 dollars for a game; I deserve a better product. Fallout 3 has had several patches to correct many of the problems it suffered from. As far as I know, Far Cry has had at least one patch for corrections. Fable II has charged for additional hours of content, yet there has only been one patch (and that didn't seem to change much). Bringing me to my final point. Why do some games do more and receive less? Bethesda has worked tirelessly to make Fallout 3 as flawless as possible, and they’ve been rewarded for it. Lionhead Studios could have done a lot more than they did, yet they receive rewards. Ubisoft took a chance and made an unconventional game to the best of their abilities, and unfortunately haven't seen much reward (meaning less of a chance at a third installment).



I believe that similar to movies and music, reviews and advertising sway the public far too much. Microsoft heavily backed Fable II, helping to boost its sales. No one really backed Far Cry 2 and the reviews weren't bad, but not good enough to generate "buzz." This caused an amazing game to slip through the cracks. The end result to all of this is developers spending more time generating "buzz," making sure they get the reviews they want, swaying the system makers to back the product, and less time giving you an original, inspired, polished game worth your money. This is the way things will be until we let developers know that it's not okay. Next time you buy a game and it's "broken," let the developer know. Send them e-mails or letters. Call their hotlines. Believe me, when enough of us talk, developers listen. So do your part and speak up!