Lame End-Games

Tangent 1

About a month ago, Yahtzee published his criticism of L.A. Noire. Though I have little interest in playing detective, I’m curious enough to have watched his little yellow-backgrounded comic. At its end, Yahtzee notes that while the game’s principle mechanic is interrogation, the game ends not with a tense interrogation scene, but with rampant flamethrowing.

I’ll grant that it looks really cool, but I can see the gaming story snobs being annoyed by it. Personally, I wouldn’t mind. My constant stream of internal MST3K-style monologue governs every cutscene, with few exceptions. I might as well torch the bad guys at the end. Let’s see them lie their way out of that.

Tangent 2

In a recent episode of Chatterbox, (caller) Penn noted that he enjoyed playing Torchlight, in spite of its simple tactics. So did I. But I lost interest, where Penn kept playing. At the very end of a pretty breezy Diablo-dungeon-crawl, every enemy could kill him with a hit. The difficulty didn’t exactly ramp upward; it shot into the sky.

Both cases are different, but they have something in common. Maybe it’s the dev-cycle equivalent of a shrug in the face of time constraints or maybe a concession to what gamers will tolerate. Who wants to take a chance on an arty, but anti-climactic ending? I dunno. All I know is that I’d rather break the tone of the story than the tone of the gameplay.

They used advanced interrogation tactics before it was cool.

Why not end L.A. Noire with a tense, ten-point interrogation, followed by a pointed, quicktime bitch-slap?

Torchlight’s easier to lay blame with though: while fun, it’s an incredibly easy game. Why not have that game end by walking up to the baddest boss in the dungeon, find out it’s Glass Joe from Punch Out!, and kill him in a single click.

Anticlimactic? Yes. Funny as hell? Yes.

As it stands, the endgame is little more than “move next to enemy and then click until you contract carpal-tunnel syndrome.”

To hell with your story

True, L.A. Noire is trying to be all story-story. I’m not into it, but it’s not as though it’s poorly done (for a game). But Torchlight? Nobody’d be breaking any important stories there.

As we all know, Torchlight tells the story of Prince Everysword and his magical Dog of Haggling, who leaves mid-battle to get the best deals on Dire-Axe four-packs before teleporting back to ancient temple of mystery #5 with the green & brown pallet swap.

On second thought, let’s not fuck up that epic tale.

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