Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mysterious Ways... of 2012

There comes a time in every man's life, when he's got to look at sh@t that he now owns. Can't depend on games to help you in a squeeze, please, they got problems of their own.

Props to those that just got that.

It's a formative experience in the life of every video game enthusiast, when she looks at a certain feature of a certain game, and, quite insistently, yells the following words in her mind: "What.The. F@ck?!" And not even the sight of her own, trim body, slightly covered by nothing but a very tight "Duke Nukem" shirt and "Solid Snake" panties, reflected on the screen of a 70" HDTV, can ease her pain. But it does soothe ours.

We all know that developers work in mysterious ways, but there are certain... call them "creative decisions" that seem a bit... questionable. You know, the things nobody thought they would do, directions nobody can understand they would take, mistakes nobody would believe they could make.

So let's take a look at some of my personal favorites, the "creative mis-decisions" of 2012:

Battlefield 3, Close Quarters:

I got into Battlefield when I got sick of Modern Warfare 2. Commando, Marathon, Lightweight anyone? Those teleporting, backstabbing Jackrabbits on Speed? Totally ruined the game for me. It may be personal taste, but the thing about sprinting as soon as you spawn is that it somewhat discourages a thoughtful, tactical approach to things - unless you count "Let's all go left and kill those motherf@ckers!" as approaching tactical. Killing "those motherf@ckers" incidentally seemed to sum up most of the available game modes, as objectives simply massed all the motherf@ckers to kill in certain areas. Then the glitches, the exploits, the hackers, the boosters, the Tactical Knife, the Akimbo Rangers... Battlefield Bad Company 2 for me was a welcome reprieve. Not only did it actually make long-range combat long range, but the game modes and the level design provided a wonderful variation of scenarios - not to mention the free map packs. I spent about a month of my life on BC2's Multiplayer, and I don't really want it back.

I was consequentially inappropriately aroused when BF3 neared its release, but the Beta already left me with a sour taste in my mouth, feeling like a two-bit whore that got cum-jumped by a John during a 10-buck blowjob. Operation Metro. What were they thinking? Not only was it buggy as hell only a month before release, it was also a very concise demonstration of everything Battlefield was supposed not to be. It felt a lot like COD. It played a lot like COD. But when the first few voices were raised to voice that particular affront, they were flamed like foxholes.

But the voices had been right. In fact, it was the very first step in a treacherous move of DICE and EA to entice the CODites to switch games, to CODify the Battlefield, ruin the experience for a lot of faithful fans, and make lots of extra money.

This trend continued when looking at the on-disc maps available at release - three small, three medium, two big and one too huge to really enjoy on consoles with only 24 people. It felt like a cheap compromise between luring the Fish-heads with the small maps, while still being able to point to the too-huge-to-be-true maps for the franchise faithfuls, with the medium maps somewhere in the middle - and yet not one of these maps came even close to the pretty much perfectly balanced and varied maps of Bad Company 2.
Then there was Team Deathmatch, the single most loathed game mode in Battlefield lore, not least because it is the foundation on which the Call of Duty games are built. Its very existence was an admission of the developers attempt to emulate their rival and present Battlefield as a viable alternative. Already, the list of things that actually made Battlefield different had shortened to the sad stump of an old man's c@ck when seen in ice-cold water.

The sad culmination of their shameless ploy for Modern Warfarers was "Close Quarters", the second Multiplayer DLC released in June of 2012. It actually advertised the kind of hemmed-in, fast-paced, twitchy, trigger happy gameplay that Battlefield players explicitly played Battlefield to avoid. Most BF fans felt their gorge raising when they saw the part in the tailer with the Russian Engineer vaulting a ledge and firing an RPG inside a skyscraper. Nothing is so reminiscent of COD than the gratuitous use of rocket-propelled anti-tank weapons against human targets in telephone-booth sized environments. That just reeks of tactical gameplay.

"Close Quarters" also came with two "new" game modes, that were actually carbon copies of well known COD game modes, right down to the names. And the question that so many people - well, fine, that I (as the only person of note) am asking myself is: why? Why would you do that? You had a good thing going. You were different. Arguably, you were better. You have a faithful following for the very reason of being different from the COD, why would you actively try to emulate the enemy? And why, if you choose to sell out, why in all the seven hells would you sell out in such a terribly obvious way?
Now, imagine how angry it would make you, if, for example, Battlefield introduced a season pass like Call of Duty's Elite Premium Membership. Of course they would call it something completely different (I mean, how obvious can you be?), but the Season Pass principle has been greedily adopted by developers, and swallowed - without even looking at the contents - by members of the non-intelligentsia. So, imagine you're one of these hardcore Battlefield players, the kind that drives pre-school COD kiddies nuts by spreading rumors of huge maps, no quick-scoping, vehicles, no kill-streaks and no One-Shot-Kills on their message boards before every release. Imagine you're one of them. The PC guys. The core of the hardened core of the center of what would be left of the hardcore players should DICE ever decide to make small COD style maps. The guys that made DICE and Battlefield into what it is today. And you pay 50$ for such a season pass, pay that money before they even announced a single detail about the content, expecting the usual quality Battlefield. It's DICE, after all. What could go wrong? And then you get what basically amounts to a "Modern Warfare" game mode. Everything you never wanted was now a part of your most cherished pastime. And you paid for it. No money back for you, mate. No guarantee that the next three pre-paid expansions will be any different. The uncertainty. The torment. The pain. Tough buns.

Boy, would I be pissed...

Anyway. What started with the BF3 Beta and Operation Metro, then found its questionable high-point in Close Quarters, left many a veteran of the Battlefield feeling angry, used and disillusioned. But most of all confused. Because, except for the money, there seems to be no possible reason why DICE would do or agree to such a molestation of everything their flagship franchise stood for. And we all know that the money could not have been the deciding factor, right?

... right?

-- tbc some other time (but preferably before 2013 comes around) --

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