Video game characters who suck at their job part 2comments powered by Disqus
Posted on Sunday, July 13 2008 @ 15:40:10 Eastern
CPU race car drivers
I like racing games, not lots, but I can play them without breaking out in a rash. I've played a few racers in my time including a few GTs, a couple of McRaes and Forza 2 and, despite being different games, I've noticed one startling similarity: the CPU drivers suck. In some games they suck in the most obvious sense; they crash into walls, oncoming traffic and pebbles which send them careering into the nearest unfortunate cardboard bystander whose sole purpose in life is to get crushed by two tonnes of wildly spinning metal. These guys at least suck in a way one could expect a human opponent to suck: they drive badly. Sure, the outcome is multiplied several billion times by the "emphasis lens" many game designers shine their ideas through but it's not too much of a stretch of the imagination in an environment where the starchiest of the couch potatoes can become one with the art of racing and join the ranks of racing gods. In truth the worst sort of CPU driver is the sort that drops behind you and your awesomeness only to begin travelling at a speed beyond the capabilities of any car, ever. Once it's caught up with you it slows down again. Yes, this car has quite clearly demonstrated its ability to beat you into the tarmac but has refused to do it. Worse, though, is its refusal to let you lap it, instead opting to use its kryptonite infused engine only enough to piss you off. It denies you the sheer pleasure that comes from overtaking a rival... twice. I could go into the guys who follow a set course and don't change it for any bugger but that would be too obvious.
This one really depends on how you look at it. We could say that the pedestrians lining the streets of Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City are awesome at their job but in the same breath I'm going to argue that they blow, it all depends on what we consider the job to actually be. If GTA peds exist solely to provide the protagonist with a continuous flow of cannon fodder, gore and blood curdling screams then they do a bang up job and should continue to be paid their wage, maybe even receive a raise so their frequent trips to the hospital don't leave such a dent on their finances and maybe they could afford to have a kid or two with their high school sweetheart. If on the other hand we assume that desperately clinging to the enormous grill of a runaway truck isn't their full time job and they need to find some form of employment which doesn't involve regularly snapping bones and absorbing bullets then the GTA cities surely feature long lines at the dole office as one of their attractions because the majority of pedestrians do precisely bollock all. Every other character I have previously discussed at least try to do their job, GTA peds can't even be arsed to turn up to their place of work! I suppose it could be argued that since we never see them actually working we don't know if they're good at their job or not but would you employ someone who pisses about getting killed by the same maniac day after day instead of turning up to work? Didn't think so.
Skate. is one of those games that drove me to continue playing until I had uncovered everything. The only thing I didn't bother with was online and that was due to some unfavourable first experiences. There were two aspects of the single player game that were infuriating to me though and both were rendered less than enjoyable because of my opponents. The first area is the 'death race' challenge where several skateboarders try to latch themselves onto their board in defiance of gravity as they hurtle down hills at speeds far too quick and protection far too non-existent in an attempt to be the first to reach an arbitrary point on the map that happens to be lower than the starting point since that's the way gravity works. This is frustrating as it is since the mechanics of a plank of wood on wheels don't really allow much grip between the board and the masochist atop it but the true difficulty lies in avoiding the mentalists who seem to thrive on ****ing you up. These guys succeed in two things: justifying the moniker 'death race' and making your life difficult so while they don't technically suck at their job they go about it in a particularly homicidal manner. The guys who truly suck at their job are the ones who face you during the games of S.K.A.T.E. In this game it's the second player who must replicate the trick performed by the first. Clearly the most advantangeous position to be in is first where you can choose the trick and that is where I endeavour to be. Usually I'll do relatively complicated tricks in the misguided belief that they will be harder for the computer character to mimic but the truth is it matters not what I do, the only importance is on which side the simulated coin lands. I swear I've fluffed a trick and ended up just doing an ollie only for the computer character to successfully land the jump and then bail as if he ran over a discarded ironic badge. A professional skateboarder who trips over an ollie? Pure, unadulterated suck right there.
Lara is very much a staple memory of many gamers with her tomb raiding and gravity defying boobs. Except one of those things doesn't hold up to scrutiny and let's face it, the other is pretty obvious for all to see. Lara is certainly no Indiana Jones and not just because she's carrying a pair of ever expanding sweater puppies and all he's got is a whip. She doesn't raid tombs and she certainly doesn't explore them, she's simply too busy killing the local wild life and the mercenaries hoping for a peek. Ms Croft is single handedly responsible for the destruction of more tombs than you could shake a stick at. I'm sure this makes for a more entertaining game than methodically exploring tombs in the hopes of recovering some ancient artifact but couldn't the title be a bit less misleading? Lara Croft in Tomb Destroyer. No? How about Relic Obliterator? Ancestral Burial Ground Desecrator? Maybe it needs work.