Monday, November 13, 2006

The Endless Legions

I hate games where enemies endlessly respawn.

Well, okay, that's a lie. In the context of an RPG it's not only acceptable, it's desirable. If the enemies don't respawn, then where will you harvest your precious, precious XP?

And in survival horror games, used intelligently and in moderation, it puts a little bite of desperation into the proceedings, and forces the player to keep moving, instead of just vegetating in their comfort zone.

But why in the holy name of Miyamoto would you include unstoppable rampaging respawning armies in what is allegedly an all-ages exploration-based platformer? And I'm talking here, of course, about Lego Star Wars II.

I've got a post mortem of this game coming. Short version: it's great, but it bollockses up everything that was clever about the first one. High on my list of criticisms will be the fact that almost every screen of the damn game, and particularly the early levels, is filled with an endless onslaught of stormtroopers. Forget exploration, puzzle solving, and free-roaming goodness - you'll be too bogged down clearing white-helmeted nazis off your back every three seconds to enjoy any of those things. It's a mark of shame that the game only really becomes fun once you've unlocked the invincibility power-up.

Can I just put a fervent plea out there, to all those game designers who might be reading? Please, please don't add unlimited supplies of enemies to your game unless you have a really, really good reason for it. There's no shame in your game being too easy. There is shame in your game being stupidly annoying.

9 comments:

Corvus said...

There are a few points in particular where it's extraordinarily frustrating in LSW2.

Phrancq said...

Hear hear! I think at times infinite enemies is used by Game developers to cover other holes in the game. It usually just makes the game worse, though.

GregT said...

Corvus - Rescue The Princess, in the lift room, where you have to get the stormtrooper helmet to the stormtrooper door, is a particularly un-favourite. Also, pretty much any sequence involving using a snowspeeder to tow a bomb to a target.

Phrancq - Lego Star Wars II was quite clearly using the infinite enemies as a lazy way of making the game harder and longer, as the difficulty and length were two of the criticisms of the original.

Christopher Phillips said...

One of the three places I've thus far resorted to consulting a walkthrough to progress further in Ico, I'd already solved the puzzle, I just didn't realise the interminable number of demons I was failing to fight off while performing the requisite actions was in fact not infinite, and all I had to do was sit there battling them for sufficiently long, then I'd be able to carry on at leisure. Grr.

(Oh, and another of the two, I'd also attempted and them dismissed what turned out the be the correct course of action. I just didn't realise how fiddly the timing was on the requisite control sequence).

Michael said...

Call of Duty 2 had respawning enemies, but it felt within the realms of sanity, almost as re-inforcements were arriving, since those that respawned came running in from outside the battlefield, or were inside a building...
However CoD 3 puts it to horrible use. It's like the come out of the walls!

GregT said...

Michael - Infinite enemies isn't quite so bad when killing them off is inherently satisfying. (It's not in Lego Star Wars.) But it can still be a pain.

Chris - I've discussed my problems with Ico previously, but yes, the pacing and quantity of the combat was definitely one of its weaknesses. From memory, I can't recall if there were actually infinite enemies in any spot, other than when you leave Yorda alone - I think they're otherwise all finite - but they certainly don't feel like it.

GregT said...

Oops, got my Chrises mixed up with Christophers. Read my last comment as being directed at Christopher.

Christopher Phillips said...

Yes, I now suspect there are no places at all with infinites; it just occasionally seemed that way.

I'll place further comments on Ico in a more relevent location - thanks for the link, you've saved me hunting back for the entry. Oh, and ta for the name correction.

Jey said...

Note to self: Don't by said game for brother for stinkymas.