Unskipable cutscenes.


Now I’m the kind of gamer that enjoys the storytelling and characters of a game. I enjoy watching cutscenes (even those overtly long Metal Gear Solid ones) and taking in the atmosphere and the unfolding plot of a game…as long as it’s a well conceived and executed story.

I often find the cutscenes of games to be very engaging and can convey a wide range of emotions. From making my jaw drop, asking: “WTF was that all about?”, get me scratching my head as I put the pieces together or even making me shed a tear.
A good cutscene can be a powerful tool to use, when done right and can really get the player invested in the game, it’s plot and characters.

So why would I be annoyed when I can’t skip a cutscene then?
Well there can be various reasons as to why…

1) Some games have great stories that are worth investing time in…some games do not. There are really good games out there that are worth playing, but have dull plots, badly put together cutscenes. These games are certainly ones I’d rather just play and ignore the story but can’t due to unskippable cutscenes.

2) Checkpoint saves are something in gaming I both like and loathe at the same time. They can help and hinder a player, they can make harder games more tolerable or make easier games way too easy. But even worse is having a checkpoint save before an unskippable cutscene. Meaning every time you retry from that checkpoint, you are forced to sit through the same cutscene over and over and over and over again.

3) Replaying through a game more than once is something I often do if it’s a great game I enjoy playing. Like rewatching a good film, replaying a good game can be just as enjoyable several times over. But sometimes on another playthrough I just do not want to watch the cutscenes again and just want to play the game.

4) Some long running franchises use the same tutorials to explain things you already know as you had already played the previous game in the series and know what is being explained to you via cutscenes you can’t skip. But I already know what you are trying to tell me, I don’t want to sit here having the same thing explained to me…again.

Cutscenes are great and a powerful storytelling tool when done right. But sometimes I just do not want to sit through them.


Quick Time(r) Events.


The “quick time(r) event” (QTE) is most probably my personal biggest gaming grievance.
For those that are not aware what a QTE is, please allow me to explain…

The QTE is an element of gaming where an animation/cutscene is interrupted by button/direction icons on screen while playing, then the player would have to press the corresponding button/direction for the animation/cutscene to advance. Failure to press the right button/direction in time or pressing the incorrect button/direction as to what is displayed on screen could result in a loss of life or even game over.

The QTE is the bane of gaming. It’s lazy, unimaginative, needless and superfluous.
The QTE is a poor excuse for lazy developers to pad out a game when they have run out of ideas. I quite enjoy watching cutscenes, I enjoy a developing story and interesting characters. What I do not like is when watching a cutscene and taking in the story…suddenly having a prompt appear on screen telling me to press a specific button which then allows me to see the next part of the story if I am quick enough. Just let me watch the cutscene.

Most people will (erroneously) attribute the creation of the QTE to Yu Suzuki, director of the game Shenmue (1999). Shenmue most definitely featured QTEs, but it far from the first game to have them. Back in 1983 came Dragon’s Lair which was arguably the very first game to feature the concept. Dragon’s Lair opened the doors to several other games that utilized the QTEs like: Cliff Hanger (1983), Space Ace (1984), Road Blaster (1985) and many other titles including sequels to both Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace.
There was also an influx of the QTE based games for the home market in the early 90’s due to the introduction of CD-ROM technology in gaming making it easier to display video quality images and animations.

The fad began to die off in the mid 90’s with people seeing the shallowness of the concept and just not buying into the idea, paying for a newly released game at full price with little/zero interaction. We gamers were finally seeing the laziness of the developers and the QTE looked like it was going to die.
Then SEGA released Yu Suzuki’s game Shenmue (1999) and the QTE was back, only used in a more narrative/action based way. Since then the QTE had been popping up in gaming on and off for the last 15 years. Sometimes used in small amounts, sometimes used for a whole game.

While I really dislike the QTE as a game mechanic I can admit that used sparingly they can add some tension to a game or scene within a game…but they are most definitely not “needed” or even welcome. I’d much rather not have them at all thank you very much.
I can even just about put up with the even more pointless QTEs like in the infamous: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. When during a cutscene, you the player attends the funeral of a fallen fellow soldier and you are given the chance to press a button to mourn the soldier…why? I put up with it yes, but why is it there? It makes zero difference to the game and is 100% utterly pointless.

Now, while I can tolerate the sparingly use of the QTE (even if it’s pointless), if there is one aspect of the QTE I really despise then it is when an ENTIRE game is nothing but a QTE.
I bring to the witness stand: Heavy Rain (2010).
If Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue can be credited with re-introducing and popularizing the QTE in modern gaming from 1999 onwards. Then Heavy Rain by David Cage has to be blamed for overdoing the QTE and taking a great story and characters (Heavy Rain does have a great story and amazing characters too), then putting them into one of the dullest, most uninteresting games ever created…”press X to JASON!”


These QTE lead games were bland and pointless in the 80’s with Dragon’s Lair and they still are today. Stop making these lazy cash-ins.
At least other games offer alternate gameplay options and mechanics so even with pointless QTEs, there’s still something else to enjoy.
But when a game is nothing but QTEs…

The QTE needs to die out again as it did in the mid 90’s and the sooner, the better. Only this time with no resurgence.


Escort Missions

Escort missions

One of the worst aspects of a game is the dreaded “escort mission”. Whether it be tainted with bad AI (and they usually are) or if they just slow down the pace and break up the narrative of the game. Escort missions are a lazy way to pad out a game and are utterly pointless and annoying overall.

Now, not all escort missions are bad, but some of the very worst offenders are:

Dead Island: All of the escort missions in this revolve around every single NPC that asks for your help to be escorted just running into the undead with no weapons and getting chomped on each and every time. If they intend to just run into zombies all the time…why did they ask for your help to begin with?
Let’s be honest, these people deserve a slow, zombie food death.

Perfect Dark: Having that little, annoying alien: Elvis following you around was bad enough on certain missions. But Rare managed to trump even this with the mission where you have to escort The President off Air Force One via an escape pod.
Does The President you are protecting stay out of sight until it’s clear, moving stealthy towards your goal? No, he runs into walls continually and will even stand right in front of you in direct line of fire while you are trying to take out the enemy.
I’m sure The President in this game has an even lower IQ than George W. Bush Jnr.

Resident Evil 5: This is only a problem in single player as the game forces you to have a badly programmed AI in the shape of Shiva making the entire game one big escort mission. Shiva can not fire a weapon properly with aim worse than bad guys from a Cannon produced 80’s action flick, she’ll also use up your items even if you do not want her to and she’ll run into walls and just get in your way 99% of the time.
The only way around this is to get someone to play Co-Op with you…but good luck finding anyone that wants to play Resident Evil 5 without being bribed.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: Now I love me some GTA, my favourite game in the franchise is Vice City and my favorite NPC is Lance Vance. Yet it is this game and this character that provides probably one of the worst escort missions in the franchise that is full of them. The one mission that is possibly the worst is the “Death Row” mission where you have to save Lance (after messing up…again) and rush him to hospital before he bleeds out. Seriously, just try it for yourself.
As Tommy Vercetti himself once said about Lance Vance: “He always keeps screwing things up.”. Yes Tommy, yes he does.

Red Dead Redemption: Another from Rockstar and the best none GTA, GTA game they have made. However there is one mission later in the game called “My Sister’s Keeper” where you have to get Miranda Fortuna away from the incoming Mexican revolution. OK no problem, just jump on my special speedy horse and we will race away and get her to safety in no time….but no! The game forces you to take Miranda’s wagon which is slow and handles worse than Reliant Robin with three flat tires. Then on top of that you have Miranda screaming in your ear to go faster…a lot, throw in some road blocks and enemies shooting at you and that’s still not all of it. Finally add a timer in too and you have not only an escort, but also a timed mission too.

Bioshock: What a beautifully crafted game. More than just a FPS. Bioshock was amazing to look at with it’s 1950’s style aesthetic in an underwater city. Plus a sublime plot with a great twist. This game is almost flawless…almost.
Near the end of the game there is a scene where you have to slowly guide a Little Sister through a winding corridor while being attacked by splicers, turrets and even flying turrets. All while the Little Sister just slowly and casually walks along soaking up bullets and dying…a lot. Forcing you to go back and summon another Little Sister who walks just as slowly and soaks up just as many bullets. Would you kindly stop making bad escort missions.

There are many, many, many other bad escort missions out there and I’m sure you have or will stumble on a few yourselves.