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The state of todays games (or why do we bother?)

Thursday, November 28, 2002 by TheDoc

I’ve spent the last week or so trying out some of the new games that have been plaguing us. I thought that the influx of games, some additions to franchises, some rehashes of older games, some even games done of old movies and TV shows. And at this point, I have to admit that I’m pretty much saddened by the state of the game industry.

Let me start out with some older games. My son got a hotwheels car that came with a sampler cd. It contained I think 3 game demo’s. One is Hotwheels Crash, which is a game where you use a truck to crash into things to get points. That was pretty fun (especially for my 3 year old). The sounds were pretty bad, but it looked ok. Next there was Hotwheels Stunt Driver. This game looks pretty dated, although it was pretty fun. It looked as though the full game would keep my son entertained for quite some time, although I looked at it as if the graphics were 3 years old. It was fun enough to play, but looked pretty bad considering the efforts of graphic card companies trying to push the limits. Then there was the last game, Mechanix. I knew about the game, it hasn’t been out that long, so I expected some pretty good things from it. When I loaded it up, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could have sworn that I was playing Doom! The graphics were that bad. I couldn’t even play the game as the graphics were so horrid. Oh, before I forget, there was a forth, something like Mini Racers, that wasn’t too bad.

So now that I get the older games out of the way, you’d think that the newer games would be any better… You’d think wrong. I had the, well, stupid thought to install the new Knightrider game. I enjoyed the show as a kid and thought that the game would be new enough that the game would be up-to-date, even somewhat… Well, what can I say, other than please don’t waste your time? The game itself it pretty bad. I had one major problem that I could not fix no matter what I did, and it wasn’t something that should have happened. Major artifacting and clipping. I had strange polygons extending through the whole game, going from one side of the screen to the other. I first thought that it was maybe due to my drivers. Ok, I know that I usually run one revision behind NVIDIA, so I said, what the heck, I’ll update to the newest ones. So, I download and install the newest drivers, and restart the game, hoping that I can test it out, and low and behold, same problem. Ok, I say, I can still test it out, even though it looks really bad. The first thing you do after you get past all of the test out things, in which you go through all of the abilities that KITT has, is a bank robbery. You have to keep up with the bank robber’s car. Not too hard really. A few jumps and boosts and you can keep up with it easily. After that, I think that the video problem is getting larger, since I can’t seem to get past the first level. I keep up with them, and don’t get blown to pieces but I can’t seem to activate the second level. Oh well, the game really sucks anyway, so I delete it.

Next, on to a JoWood game, Arx Fatalis Not having any idea what this was about, I dive into the game, expecting something good out of a developer that has done some pretty good things in the past. Well, I haven’t gotten too far into the game, and I’ll blame the game’s seemingly dark nature on my monitor that has the creeping darkness in it (it’s as bright as it will go and things are still pretty dark). But the one thing I noticed right off is the interface. Oh my goodness, it sucks. Did anyone actually test this game before they put it out? If so, how in the hell did they play it? It’s got a cheesy point and click type of structure, something in say, the old Kings Quest series. If you put your mouse cursor over the magic spot, it will change so you know you have something to do. If nothing is there, it is the same old mouse cursor. Fighting seems to be simplistic as well, just the same point and click to fight type of thing, however, I can’t really think of a better way to do it for this game.

Next on to one that I was really waiting for, Dragon’s Lair 3D. I enjoyed the original (although I wasn’t very good at it) so I figured, when the new version came around to the PC, I wanted to get my hands on it. So, I installed it and waited to play. Once installed, watched the movies and anticipated playing. However, I noticed on starting it, and the graphics were fuzzy and pretty bad looking. I hoped that it got better after the opening screen, but it didn’t. I also ran into a problem on 2 different Windows 2000 machines (I didn’t bother trying it on any other system) but when you jump you have to press the forward arrow to grab something, and every time I pressed ALT and the forward arrow, it would minimize the screen. On 2 different machines! Now, does anyone else see a problem here? Does anyone see any sort of QA going on? I certainly don’t. I can’t see how someone could miss something like that. I was able to duplicate it on 2 machines at will.

I can’t believe the quality (or lack of) the games out today. I get them hoping that they can meet today’s standards and they bomb miserably. I hope that other game companies take Vivendi’s (Sierra and Blizzard’s parent company) stance on returns and will give gamers back their money if the game sucks. Vivendi gives you 90 days to return the game for a refund if you are not satisfied or any reason at all. If other companies had this same policy, you’d see more game companies out of business because they had to refund millions of dollars to consumers for games that suck.

I guess I’m getting too picky in the games I play, or maybe today’s games are getting worse...

On a side note, Aaron Hall’s Dungeon Odyssey, which is a flashback to the 80’s in the fact that it’s probably 16 colors, and reminds me of a Nintendo game in that the graphics are bad, music is ok, and game play is simplistic, actually kept me busy long after all of the other games were uninstalled. My only bitch, is that the game gives me an error every once in a while, which actually makes the game not save. It’s basically a fatal exception, that doesn’t actually close the game on W2K so you can keep playing, but you can’t save, so the moral of the story is save often in case you get this error. I got pretty far in the game before I stopped playing for Star Fleet Command III, but that’s another game review.

Last note, all references to any games, game systems, etc, are probably copyrighted from their respective companies.

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