Things That Bug Me

In The Gaming Community, Video Games on November 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Anti-Materiel Rifles

These rifles have been featured in more than a few games, either named specifically or through its distinctive size and shape. They’re always sniper rifles, meant to be used on people, and laughably ineffective against vehicles or other equipment and hard targets. Make sure to go for the headshot on targets with body armor!

This, despite the name actually stating the intended target for which these weapons are designed. “Materiel” isn’t part of some fancy jargon that makes the bullet special, it means it’s meant to be used against equipment, not people. The rifle’s size and payload is designed to damage and destroy hard targets. Owing to this, firing this from anything other than prone position, with several people supporting its firing process, is cumbersome; merely firing it unsupported is described as “uncomfortable” to say the least.

This didn’t stop it from being featured prominently all over MGS4, and most recently, RE6. Most irritatingly, it was used in a brief sequence to shoot some vehicles, which only made it feel weaker.

Moreover, it’s actually considered a violation of the Geneva convention to use weaponry like this against personnel. Due to its destructive capabilities, it is considered cruel, since you’re firing armor-piercing, incendiary high-explosive rounds that will obliterate whatever soft target it hits.

Yet we continue to see this rifle tossed around, fired from the hip, useless against armor, and treated like some kind of bolt action deal instead of something that will ruin a hummer’s day.

Shaky Sniper Bullshit

I can’t stand games that hamstring my sniping experience by overlaying some bizarre interpretation of realism by shaking my scope and making things ten times harder than they should be.

In truth, I have no idea if this is realistic. Firing from the hip or shoulder, I’m sure it might be, but few games give you the option to brace weapons such as these as they should. So you’re left with someone who waggles their sniper rifle like it’s a Wii remote or something.

MGS may get a pass since it was parceled up with diazapem, so it married to the resource management that was part of the game. Other games, ranging from the first Deus Ex, which required a huge cybernetic investment to not have tons of sniper shake, to Resident Evil, use this at infuriatingly short distances.

This tends to be mutually exclusive with the actual realism of sniping, which would be realistic ballistics. Games that use model ballistics with bullet drop, wind and so on. That doesn’t bug me since it’s another mechanic I can account for, to accommodate. I can’t accommodate someone having a seizure while I’m trying to snipe though.

The Narrow Pathway Through The Random Environment

Why is there one, and only one, path through most maps in modern action games? And why is that one path through a bombed out building, to the second floor of another unrelated building, dropped out the window, slide down the rubble, a panicked run through some alleys, followed by plowing through some random door?

Nothing shatters disbelief quite like that, and nothing makes me feel wistful for a more open, exploration-friendly game like seeing huge swathes of a city I’ll never see beyond that one, random path.

Serendipitous Destruction

Similar to the above, why does the random destruction, wrought with the intent to murder the player and their allies, open up a magical path to wherever it was that you were trying to get to? How many times have trees, poles, water towers, and so on, fallen perfectly to form a bridge over an otherwise impassable gap?

On the flip side, some games use this as a puzzle solving mechanism, which makes it even more annoying. It’s hard enough to buy when it happens randomly, but when your character is depending on it randomly happening, it’s just shouting, “By the way, this is a video game, hope you didn’t forget that.”

You Can’t Be Too Cautious

Games that take place in a rational world should allow you to be an overcautious, paranoid mess that checks every wall and corpse for traps, ambushes and the undead.

Of course, they don’t, since whoever made the game really wanted that surprise attack to go off anyway, so no matter how well you check, stuff appears from nowhere, corpses leap to life, and people arrive in the nick of time despite all of the traps you placed that should argue otherwise.

It’s even worse when a character has an in-game reason to be paranoid about something, yet doesn’t act on it. What character in a zombie game walks past a corpse without checking it? Who in their right mind turns their back on a hard to kill enemy, downed for the Nth time, only to act shocked when it comes up again?

Characters That Poke Fun of the Game They Are In

Written well, this is funny. Most of the time it’s not. If your plot, or gameplay, or writing, or characters are so bad that you felt the need to have your characters point out as much, maybe you should go back to the drawing board on that one.

Owing to the above, if you have a boss encounter with a recurring villain, and you feel the need to write the line, “What does it take make this guy stay dead?” you’ve probably only succeeded in frustrating the gamer as much as your character. An invulnerable enemy is an interesting challenge. One that magically gets back up all the time after you see them die, less so.

Toying with the forth wall is incredibly difficult to do well, especially in dramatic context. Again, you’re reminding us that we’re playing a game, and we all know the answer to the question posed above. The answer is “it takes whatever the developer wants it to take.”

Bosses That Can’t Die Until the Boss Room

I’ve also had it with boss encounters where you waste tons of resources doing nothing because you’re actually in an elaborate scripted sequence, and you’re not allowed to kill the boss yet.

For example, fighting an invisible snake in Resident Evil 6. A great nod to the first boss ever in an RE game, I unloaded on it at every opportunity. It was several encounters in when I realized I was just wasting ammo, because we hadn’t gotten to a point where the game would let me kill it. Once there, it was easily identified as a boss room by video game standards. Kind of depressing, really.

Excessively Negative People

This goes without saying.

  1. AMR: I mostly agree on this one, though I want to toss out a few clarifications. An AMR is primarily a snipers weapon and intended for objects over people. It does get used on people though sometimes simply for the distance it provides. Carlos Hathcock is partially credited for adapting a .50 cal round as a viable and effective sniper round.
    Its called an anti-material rifle because it’s designed to fire a caliber used to make anti-material rounds, of which people are not a primary target. They can still fire a basic .50 cal round which is just fine for using on people.
    That said, yeah videogames mess this up, putting it in a game specifically because it looks cool (the same reason the Desert Eagle is so popular) but usually failing to incorporate it properly. I have to admit that Halo Reach did this well since it worked wonders on tanks.
    This is not a new problem,

    Shaky sniper: This also pisses me off. Especially when you are playing the role of some elite badass who is super qualified with a sniper rifle. The game designers make it shake so you get to feel what it’s really like…except you don’t. The dude i’m playing as has years of training and experience; he is also holding a gun and aiming like a normal person. I’m sitting in my comfy front room while aiming with a little plastic controller.
    If i’m playing a badass, let me be a badass.

    Narrow path and destruction: I feel the answer to this is open world with destructible terrain. Let me go where I want and if a door is locked and I have a large hammer…well you know. Also known as “suck it Skyrim”
    That said, in a well designed game a single path can be good. It lets the developers focus the narrative and tell a better story. They just need to do so. I thought “CoD: World at War” did this pretty well, setting you on a path and establishing some good character building scenes.

    Caution: With you here too. Surprisingly “Doom 3” had a good bit with this. Early on there was one of the corpses, possibly meant to still be alive, who would talk to you when you opened a door. Not me though, since i’d put a round in his head the moment I seen him. I didn’t find out about it until I saw someone else play it.

    Negative people: As long as they amuse me i’m cool with em. See Hudson in “Aliens”

  2. I suppose I could have summed up the AM Rifle as a rifle designed to fire AM rounds and only incidentally used as such in games. It looks really cool, but in my opinion there are alot of cool sniper rifles out there (the AW/M and the barrett 50 cal. Always had a fond spot for MGS1’s choice in weaponry with, among other neat looking guns, the PSG-1. But all except the PSG actually look quite powerful, so I don’t know why they don’t just use them instead.

    The Deagle thing is just a matter of preference, and one I can understand since it’s a (potentially) high caliber magazine-fed semi-auto instead of a revolver. But what I would really love is an actual discussion about gun choice in games; one of my more favored moments in Gunsmith Cats (the manga!) was when a guy got called out on using the deagle, admitted its shortcomings, but used it in a way that took advantage of its strengths (I think he used hotloaded AP rounds to shoot through bulletproof glass …through several sheets on several cars in a row).

    And, thanks for reminding me about Doom 3. My brother and I are going to load that up on the PC with mods, co-op the shit out of it soon. I remember the civvies you met early on became enemies, and even had interesting reactions if one died (in the case where one guy was in a vent, the other was chatting with him but out of sight).

  3. I sorta agree with you on the sniper rifle matter- I tolerate shakiness to a point since it is a thing one would have to deal with, but the amount of it games proffer is often uncanny, especially considering how far they tend to let you shoot versus how far a trained sniper might normally deal with things.

    To that point, I don’t mind if the game provides one way (or several) to offset the shakiness- Metal Gear Solid as a whole has been good about differentiating posture (an important thing to consider) as well as providing an excellent array of drugs to temporarily alleviate the problem, as you mentioned. I believe it was Splinter Cell that allowed you to hold your breath for a few seconds to steady a shot, which also worked pretty well.

    Conversely, I loved playing Infiltrator in Mass Effect 2 in part because it granted me a few seconds of slowdown to line up a shot before time returned to normal. I was irked, therefore, when ME3 removed that trait with nothing to make up for it.

    Mentioning Resident Evil 6, I played as Piers during the Chris campaign, and was floored by how awful sniping could be with him. I concur with Jack that if my character is supposed to be a badass, just let him be that, yet sniping in this game especially felt more like hovering over a target and waiting for that window when your dot landed over its head. While you’re being fired at. Using the perk that enhancing the scope does nothing to help with this since zooming in further only leads to an even more unsteady shot, making the ability essentially useless.

    In the breath of that same game, I agree with the general idea that being in a zombie laden environment and not being able to dispatch a seemingly harmless corpse in advance is incredibly stupid. Per the boss thing you mention, and again re: RE6, I felt like a number of bosses were bullet sinks rather than genuine fight, since it’s hard to tell the difference between the actual clash and a scripted event.

  4. I’ll leave a short late comment to this. I agree pretty much with everything here and will add that I really agree with Caution part. I do not see how COD is so popular (of Battlefield) when in multiplayer, when all you do is run around and shoot. The game to me has no skill and really is only for those that have a quick trigger finger or best Ping Rate to be able to shoot kill the next guy the fastest. Games like Arma II: Day Z where is you get killed, you lose everything you have found, saved, stored or fought for. Day Z makes you have to tread carefully and not just run around the map or into a room with the door closed. This is how I wish COD and BF actually were… where if you die, you lose your special gold gun until you earn it again.

    Art of Sniping is gone… Finding a sniping hole to support you squad is useless since as soon as you fire your gun, the little Red Arrow pops up revealing your position. Heck, even the above paragraph applies to this cause how do you support a squad when they are running right into the middle of a fire fight? With the play of caution, Snipers are that extra eye that can signal the ‘All Clear’ or open a pathway to the objective.

    Sad how it is all about running and firing.

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