Why Rage And Final Fantasy XIII Were Bad Games
Is bad the right word to use? Perhaps. It’s definitely the easiest in a pinch, especially when you’re finding difficulty placing such games. It certainly isn’t too harsh of a criticism while remaining on the side of judgement that you’d like to place the games in question, wherein you are in fact saying the following: They’re shit.
Having recently played Rage, I can at least speak for one of these games with headstrong assurance, where the other would rely more on what little exposure I’ve had as well as word of mouth from those friends of mine whose opinions I trust, who have in fact played it. It being Final Fantasy XIII. But let’s talk about Rage for a moment, shall we?
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I hate it.
Rage honestly depresses me. It’s got good production values and you can see that a decent amount of work has been put into it, but at the end of the day the flaws are too glaringly apparent and they’re not even justifiable from a developer of iD Sofware’s calibre. I can definitely see what they were going for with Rage. I see what they did there, if I may say it like that. The game is a mix of Borderlands and Fallout 3, and on paper that should be a great thing but in execution it falls flat on its face in a big way.
It’s boring, unimaginative and generic. And from the guys who brought us Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein.
The one redeeming quality of the game according to many I’ve spoken to is the character animation and how the game treats the player as if they are an actual physical entity in the game, bobbing the camera as the player walks and so on. But even then that’s not saying much and after a few hours, I saw that those amazing character animations with regards to the ways enemies reacted to getting shot were repeating. So there weren’t even that many in the first place.
Nothing in the game excited me. Not the story, nor the weapons, nor the enemies, nor the open world. The races were almost a welcome distraction when they were being fair and not forcing you to restart them for a billionth fucking time because some douche shot a lucky rocket at you as you approached a rally point.
In any case, while playing through Rage I was trying to figure out why the game released in as buggy a state as it was (a good few missions forced reloads because the game would glitch out entirely) and was so difficult to enjoy, and the realisation came to me like a bullet to the head. If you remember trailers leading up to the game, most of them were developer diaries or demonstrations of such things as the game’s lighting system, the character animations and the open world. From day one iD marketed this game’s engine, the iD Tech 5, more than they ever marketed the game.
Rage is in fact a glorified tech demo. Not a game. It doesn’t have enough fun factor to be a game. It’s just a bunch of benchmarks developed in order to demonstrate the game’s engine, which isn’t even a good engine in the first place.
Let’s disregard all the invisible barriers that blocked progression and forced reloads for a moment. The game had the most obscene texture pop-in you have ever seen, and this in a time when Unreal Engine 3 is everywhere. Stop your character for a moment, then spin the camera around and back to where you were facing. Watch everything suddenly lose all clarity before becoming detailed again many seconds later. How is such horrid texture pop-in even allowed in a game from 2011? Then there were the other issues, such as the delayed audio which played sounds moments after I witnessed them in-game, as if I was Skype-calling someone on a laggy internet connection. Extremely jarring when you’ve fired a weapon and not heard it go off until a few seconds later. And why, praytell, were there just three characters in the game, with the rest mere copies of those? Was it really so difficult to draw up a few more character models for the game on their brand new ridiculously shit engine?
That’s the problem with Rage, and according to what friends have told me, Final Fantasy XIII as well. The games exist in their current guise only to show off their respective engines. Basically they’re there for developers to get themselves off to the graphics while everything else falls by the wayside. And while they’re masturbating over how good their game looks, they forget that a game must be entertaining and fun and not a chore to play.
Rage made me depressed to play. I was never quite so happy to finish a game just so I could be done with it, as I was when I finished Rage. And what a horrid anti-conclusion that ending was, yes, people who’ve played Rage?
Easily my most disappointing game of 2011.
Final Fantasy XIII certainly wasn’t as bad, although the twenty hour linear path it initially followed was heavily criticised as well as the verbose nature of the story, but it was pretty much universally agreed that the game looked amazing for all that it lacked in other areas. Same concept, isn’t it?
One other game that must bear mention is Crysis 2, which was basically Crytek’s console debut and how they stamped their graphical prowess on the once ‘next-gen’ machines where other games had tried and failed. I’m not sure whether CryEngine 3, CD Projekt’s RED Engine or DICE’s Frostbite 2 takes the cake for most beautiful and I don’t particularly care, the point is that Crysis 2 was itself developed as an exhibition of the developer’s ability to create graphical powerhouses on consoles. To assert their dominance as a developer of really good looking games. And I can’t fault them for that because I kind of enjoyed what parts of Crysis 2 I’ve played — and I do plan to finish it eventually so maybe expect more words if I end up hating it.
Bad games exist for a myriad reasons. They could be rushed, badly planned, badly implemented, badly designed or just a result of developers choking on their own hubris. Sometimes though, they could be the result of developers trying not to make games in the first place, but to sell their engines. And why not? Epic must make a lot of money from just licensing their Unreal Engine 3 for all and sundry to develop on. Unfortunately when you fail this hard at showing off an engine, it only works to harm you. What happened to the days of Doom 3, iD?