Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Disappointing Game Sequel

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and will be writing out entries, hopefully I can get all thirty days without any breaks, and if I manage to do that (since August has 31 days) I will think of an additional entry to write about.  I have done a 30-day challenge before, it for movies, but that was a while back, feel free to read those too if you like.

            Today is day 24 and the topic is “Disappointing Game Sequel”.
            I ended up writing about two disappointing games.  I feel I went above and beyond.
One of the bigger surprises for games I really liked was “Army of Two”.  This was during a time in which my brother and I had enough overlapping free time to co-op games and this made co-op the whole point (we also did “Halo 3” and “Resident Evil 5” and holy shit did RE5 suck, one of the lamest games I have ever played).  The game feature some almost standard mechanics for its time like flanking to hit the weak points on an armored enemy, boosting each other to take advantage of gun emplacements, and using money earned from mercenary work to upgrade weapons and armor to do more damage and look more insane because token RPG elements were really big in 2008 (holy shit that 8 years ago); but the strength of the game came from its emphasis on team work beyond just flanking and boosting someone up a wall, since this team work emphasis occurred constantly the game committed completely to its co-op focus which many games just can’t or won’t do.
The team work of “Army” could be summed up with two mechanics, the first one was when one member of the duo could draw more and more aggression from the enemy units until he became an invincible bullet magnet for a short time and when that happened the other team member would become effectively invisible to the enemy allowing them to run around picking off baddies.  The second mechanic had to do with waves of enemies coming from all sides so the two characters would enter a “back to back” mode in which things slowed down and a shooting gallery phase took place as the players swept to target characters in all directions.  “Army” had smooth controls, a bit of a sense of humor about itself, and had a sort of Michael Bay explosions-are-awesome mindset that kept it from losing energy.  Its sequel sucked.
The change in the voice cast was also unwelcome.  And you couldn't help but notice.
“Army of Two: The 40th Day” was basically unplayable.  My brother and I actually anticipated the game going on sale and planned a weekend to play it.  30 minutes of being unable to see what was going on because the lighting effects had decided to be grimmer and darkly serious rather than bright and silly; unable to move because the controls had somehow become stiffer; and a change in tone that made all the dialogue darker and edgier like the shit lighting but much like the lighting the dialogue was NOT FUN.  We tried to play for a bit, but then quit in frustration.  Once you die several times in the opening level you just don’t hold out hope for the rest of the game.
It is hard to explain the tonal shift.  As if the movie “Bad Boys” had decided to try and be “Sicario” when the time for the sequel rolled around, but with no upgrade in the talent behind the camera.  It is bad because it plays against the established conventions of the first series entry and because it is executed poorly.  (Side note, I didn’t like “Bad Boys II” but for entirely different reasons).
Really, “Army of Two” is a nothing series.  I imagine I am the only person who has thought about it at all in years.  There are other games I could have put here that are of greater note because they tie into larger Franchises.
I could also look to the “Dawn of War” real time strategy series.  I loved the first entry, and found that its expansions added a lot to it by introducing new armies with mechanics that allowed them to play differently from one another in addition to their wide variety of art styles which has made the “Warhammer 40K” license such an enduring geek touchstone.  The sequel to “Dawn of War” sucked.
I do not like the Tyranid in an RTS format and they are the key symptom of what did not work for me about this game.  The Tyranid are a race of giant space bugs that sweep in and devour the biomass of planets, they have bone hard as titanium and can puke acid or fire bone spears that can rip apart tanks, they are also legion WITH SO MANY UNITS.  There are too many units to keep track of with my simple little brain.
Zerg Rush!
Beyond the game having too much to keep track of the speed of the game was adjusted from “casual” to “Korean” and I just do not have the focus to deal with dozens of hot keys.  I do not want a game to be this frantic.  I want to chill out.  The series has roots in a Turn Based system, meaning a human brain can manage dozens and dozens of moves because there is time to contemplate them.
None of that is that important.  I have played the first “Dawn of War” hundreds of hours, and even if #2 is awful the first one holds up for me and I still play it from time to time.  That is kind of the lesson to this blog, that disappointment is very temporary, there are lots and lots of game out in the world and even if a sequel ultimately lets you down you can play something else.

            What video game sequel has left you cold?  I imagine “Skyward Sword” will be this to some people, I never played it… But you could argue it was not a sequel as it is a standalone Zelda game, and thus would not count.  Maybe one of the “Assassin’s Creed” games, I personally did not like the weird “Indians have magic powers” DLC for #3.  If you would like to share, please do in the comments.

If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

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