ROBOTIC GAMING MONTHLY – No Skipping On The Battlefield

Artwork by Citrus King

Artwork by Citrus King

Welcome to another edition of Robotic Gaming Monthly, TRV’s latest look into what’s been happening recently in the world of video games! And to start things off…well, I kind of warned you all that I would rant about this when we reported on it earlier, but yes, it’s time to talk about Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Treyarch’s decision to just let the player immediately skip to any part of the campaign.

So yes, Black Ops III will have all campaign missions unlocked from the beginning, boasting that players can skip to the final mission from the very start if they want to. Some weren’t exactly shocked that a series that has been constantly shifting focus to multiplayer would do this, but I swear to god I was pissed the second I heard about this. Still, there were more than a few people in support of such an idea in various comment sections, and to be honest, they definitely had their valid points.

I mean, let’s admit it, we’ve all had to face off against “that one boss” or “that one level” in all of our gaming histories. Some parts even so aggravating that they cause us to outright stop playing. But certain video games in recent years have been implementing more and more anti-frustration features to combat these hindrances. The most prominent one that always comes to mind for me is L.A. Noire, which would allow you to skip past the gunfighting and driving bits in order for the player to skip to the case investigations, interrogations, and narrative that made up the majority of the game. More recent examples have been games like Danganronpa Another Episode and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with difficulty modes specifically mentioned as being for players who just want to experience the story. Even Metal Gear Solid V and its Chicken Hat could be seen as a minor example of this.

So in cases like that, I can definitely understand why such a feature would be needed. Unfortunately, that’s not why Black Ops III is doing this.

Treyarch can throw around words like “mature” and “flexibility” all they want, but in the end, all this comes off as is freedom for the sake of freedom: giving dunces who demand instant gratification exactly what they want because they didn’t have the patience to sit through a seven-hour campaign, but still want to say that they beat it. To be fair, they do point out players will still need to play every campaign level to get the full experience, but then why bother with such a feature? Why not just demand that the players gut it out like the soldiers they’re supposed to be playing as? And don’t try to bow to the YouTube and Netflix crowds by drawing comparisons to them, you’re just coming across like you’re pandering to those crowds and cashing in on them. As pointed out by Luke, how is just going straight to the end “mature?”

But really, what I hate the most is the whole “The unlocking level system is an archaic mentality” comment. Are you frigging serious, guys? Are you seriously going to say that those who choose to actually play a game and experience a story from start to finish are being “archaic?” Are you seriously going to piss on countless games, past and present, just because they actually decide to save their best moments for when they’re properly earned instead of giving them up ASAP? When you make statement like that, you basically come across as trying to cover your own asses by pretending that a franchise constantly criticized for having no innovation is the “mature” one simply for letting players skip all the way to the end, and that it’s all of the other games that are the “archaic” ones.

I could go on for a while (heck, I had a whole Billy Madison-style speech prepared for Kotaku’s hilariously pitiful defense of this), but I’ll just end things by pointing out that if Black Ops III has any piss-poor level design or a lousy story, then Treyarch will wind up biting themselves in the ass as we all learn why they really wanted players to be allowed to skip over things. And finally, to those of you saying “Well, it’s just Call of Duty, story doesn’t matter,” instead of letting them get away with half-assing $30 worth of the $60 game you just bought, why not demand that that they fix the story? If their goal is to release annual updates to a really good multiplayer shooter, then they should stop wasting resources, theirs and ours, on an obviously unimportant single-player mechanic. But if they’re going to put it in there and charge us full price for it, we should actually insist that these games be more than just a a bunch of setpieces and a deathmatch mode…because then we wouldn’t have to put up with “innovations” like these that only cover up the actual archaic stuff.

Burning Question time! And I’ll make this one simple. Since we’re talking about story-related matters this month, what video game game would you say has the best story? You know, the one that made you play from start to finish because of how captivating it was? Because why not show them how it’s still done?

As for last month’s Burning Question, David Oxford wins the Mystery Prize this time around…of course, he was the only one who answered the question. We sadly do not have a lot of Pokémon fans here, apparently. David, I think we already have your contact info on file, so we’ll deliver your prize to you. Congrats (I guess)!

Finally, as a little experiment, I’d to share some of Dartigan’s Game Sins videos with you, which he’s been doing for the past year or so after having been inspired by Cinema Sins. Really, I’ve always wanted to showcase his stuff here, and this month he tackled the first two Uncharted games:

…I just really love his work and feel that it deserves more exposure, so I figured maybe sharing it here would be a good idea. Any thoughts? Do you think I should highlight some other potential sites or YouTube programs that deserve more? Maybe do this regularly? Sound off in the comments, then!

But enough about my ramblings. On to…well, more of my ramblings. But in review form!