Ten things I hate about games
Games are great, really, they are. They offer us experiences unlike any other entertainment medium out there, while continuing to improve and evolve at a staggering rate. However, they aren't perfect, there's plenty of things about this most rewarding of hobbies that frustrates and annoys even the most seasoned gamer. I'm not talking about specific problems with specific games here, instead I'm talking about those things iwe tend to accept without question because that's just the way games are rather than questioning if they really need to be that way at all.
What follows is by no means a complete or definitive list; instead it's just ten of the things that annoy me, an otherwise enthusiastic gamer, about the state of games today. You may well disagree or have more to add, in which case go for it, that's exactly what the comments thread is for and it'd be good to hear your views.
Fixed save points
I'm a grown up (despite what my wife may say) and as such I think I'm capable of deciding when I want to save my in-game progress. Game designers however clearly disagree as I'm more often than not restricted to saving my game at set points. With storage space now measured in gigabytes there's really no logical excuse for games to be so restrictive about this anymore. Sure such freedom could be abused by those who'd save every five seconds and reload after the smallest mistake but really, if you want to play like that why shouldn't you be able to? JRPG's are by far the worst offenders; the whole genre seems to have decided that save points should be hours apart leaving gamers to decide at each one if they've got the time to risk playing until the next one. It's not only action game and (J)RPGs that could do with taking note though, sports and racing games are as bad. Why can't I save and quit in the middle of a game of FIFA, or half way through a race in DIRT 2? If nothing else such freedom would be better for the environment as it'd stop me leaving consoles on overnight so as not to loose hard won progress.
There's nothing that wrenches me from whatever spell of immersion a game has cast over me than realising the character I'm controlling can't do something he obviously could in real life. There's simply no reason that things like a few trees, a waist high fence or in the worst cases absolutely nothing visible to the eye should be able to stop my walking, talking killing machine of a hero from seeing what lays on the other side. Obviously I know the reason games do this, and to ask for a 100 percent fully explorable world in each game is a tad unrealistic, but it'd be nice to see developers take a bit of time to make the technology required restrictions a little less obviously unrealistic.
Full price digital downloads
With the emergence of the Xbox 360's Games On Demand service and Sony's PSN offering more and more in the way of full price downloadable games, not to mention PC services like Steam and GoD, it's becoming easier and easier to buy your games as downloads rather than physical boxed products. The flaw in this digital utopia is that there's really only one up side, convenience, and that's far outweighed by the nagging sense that gamers are actually the ones being screwed here. While the digital download model works fine for things like XBLA and smaller PSN titles, games that'd never be published the traditional way, it becomes a tad murkier when applied to full price games. Thinking logically these titles should be cheaper to download than buy elsewhere; no cost for producing disks, manuals and boxes, no distribution charges or retailers wanting their cut at the other end. Instead we find digital downloads generally costing the same, if not more, than their boxed equivalents. As if this wasn't enough to turn your smile upside down there's also the realisation that you'll no longer be able to trade in or sell any purchases at your local games shop or on eBay. Do you realistically want to spend 30 GBP upwards on a game you'll be unable to recoup any money on when you've finished with it a few weeks later? There's nothing at all wrong with the idea behind digital downloads, but until they're priced to reflect the limitations of the format I'd much rather have something physical in my hand to show for my money.
Release day patches
It wasn't so long ago, only last console generation in fact, when you'd slip a game into your console on release day safe in the knowledge that it'd work right away. Jump to the present day and a world full of consoles permanently online and all of a sudden most games seem to require you to download and install a patch of some sort before you're able to play even on launch day. Obviously these patches are designed to improve the experience in some way, and for that I'm grateful, but I do wonder what's happened to the idea of actually ensuring the game was as bug free as possible prior to unleashing it into the world. Yes games are bigger now and thus more complex but really, if the developers found and fixed bugs in the few weeks between the game going gold and its launch then perhaps it really should have had a few more weeks polish before they signed it off at all.