Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jump and shimmy

I've been playing Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory recently. It's the third game in the series; I played the second one a while back and it was tasty, and this one features the music of Amon Tobin, which makes it even more excellent. But the one thing that drives me bonkers about the game is a problem I have with many games in many genres: at some point you just get stuck. You just can't figure out what to do next, so you either spend ten minutes backtracking and looking for things you missed, or you open up a web browser and find someone else who already figured out what to do next. Even open-ended games like Far Cry and less story-oriented games like Doom 3 suffer from this.

I guess they think it sells those Prima Official Strategy Guides. I've played a few games with built-in hints and cheats, like The Seventh Guest, and they're always appreciated. There's a line between an interestingly challenging little puzzle and an annoying waste of my time. I'd love it if some game developer would invest in building a game system where you wouldn't get stuck, or if you did, you could immediately become unstuck. Then everyone else would just rip it off, and I'd be a happier gamer.

Of course, games are getting better at eliminating these sorts of player annoyances all the time, and for that I'm thankful. King's Quest V (1990), I'm looking in your direction, Mr. making the game impossible to complete because you forgot to buy the pie at the very beginning of the game like twenty hours ago.

The post title is in reference to the particularly annoying room I was stuck on. Oh, of course you have to climb up on the truck, face the opposite wall, jump, hang onto the pipe on the ceiling, and then shimmy across to the opposite wall. How silly of me to not have noticed.

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