|EA, I hate you so much I wish I could hate you to death by painful stabbing in the face.
||[Jan. 4th, 2010|10:25 pm]
Seriously, EA, what's the deal? You guys seem to hate the player as well as the game. Not to mention what I've heard about how you run the little dev houses you snap up and dredge through your joyless mill of disheartenment.
I heard about this game, see. It's called "Dead Space". The console chaps rave about it. And there's a PC port! Huzzah! Hooray! Jubilation and all that. Except the PC port sucks, blows, whatever the kids say these days when they mean it's just a plain old let-down.
Let's break it down. In case you don't know (don't feel ashamed, I'm not sure that EA knows either), "Dead Space" is a space-themed horror/thriller game. Yes, kinda like that one we knew from when we were kids, which got that mean engine that made PCs cry and now is kind of the minimum bar for eye-candy: the Doom franchise. But with the difference that it's missing whatever fairy dust makes Id games (and their offspring handled by other studios) just generally good to great. If anyone can find that dust (I think Carmack left it lying around somewhere -- he's not using it), find a way to duplicate it a thousand times over and pound it into EA. Or don't, and give it to a company that actually cares about its clients (the gamers!). Perhaps Gearbox? Not that they need it -- Borderlands was (IS!) pure gold. But I digress (how else do you know me?)
Back to "Dead Space". The game's storyline seems intriguing -- kinda "wtf?" mixed with "aaargh!" and just generally enough of the scary stuff and missing info to keep you wanting more. The graphics are OK for the era they came from -- I wasn't expecting Far Cry 2, and I didn't get it -- but that's all OK. The sounds are marvelous and really add to the whole ambiance, really adding a little to the skidmarks in your undies. The voice acting doesn't suck, but I'm not about to put it on par with, say, BioShock. But it's Good Enough (tm). Instead of a HUD for game info, there are some novel ways to figure out your character's health (lights on the spine of his suit) and other stats and info ("holograms" projected out from the character).
But EA just couldn't resist making sure that they reminded us just who they are. These are the same people who have difficulty producing anything new -- just re-hash the same old tired sports games and terrible racers with new skins. Looking at the potential that "Dead Space" had, someone obviously piped up "Sir! We can still fuck it up, sir! Give us a chance, sir! We'll show you!".
Boy, did they.
Issues start from the very beginning. I had to coax the game to start. I think that the shortcut still doesn't work, for some reason. Browsing to the game's .exe and trying that works (mostly). I think this is an omen. Perhaps it's my PC trying to save me some hair.
Once the game is up, the player finds that the mouse lags. Not a little. No. A lot. It's like someone left an open beef sandwich with extra mustard where your mousepad used to be and you just didn't notice because you were too busy wondering why...
Why EA, in all their wisdom, decided to retard the hell out of the key and mouse binding interface. Allegedly it's to give the PC gamer the "same experience as the console gamer". So, let me understand this: I choose to use a system where I can customise how I play my games, partly BECAUSE I'm not a fan of console controllers and their stick-in-the-mud ways and partly because I'm deranged enough to strafe with my mouse buttons (yes, strafe left on left-click, strafe right on right-click -- it's a left/right hand hangover from days with a keyboard and Descent... Now there was a good game! Well, until they wrecked it in revision 3...) but EA has decided that I Shall Only Be Allowed To Bind Mouse Buttons To Holy Actions. Like shoot, or push a button or throw my faeces at an unsuspecting alien. God forbid that I could *strafe* with a mouse button. The middle button (Number Three!) is equally biased against: you can also only use it for a select few actions. And don't be thinking that you can use buttons 4 to however-many-you-have (10 for me). You can't. Deal with it. Tough shit if you were, say, missing a hand and wanted to game with one hand and a spiffy mouse. "Dead Space" isn't for you.
I've also read that there are a number of keyboard buttons which are hated just as much by EA. I read of people who can't use arrow keys (damn blasphemous arrow keys, forever pointing at everyone else!), for example.
Then there's the 3rd person view. Personally, I'm more of a fan of 1st person -- but I can deal with a 3rd person view that is done with consideration for the rest of the game. EA, let's get it straight: the reason I'm playing the game is to do things in the game, interact with the world, frag some aliens, and so on, and so forth. I didn't buy "Dead Space" to look at the back end of a robotic-looking engineer. So, how about he plays a role, say, well less that 1/3 of my screen. Not 1/2, or more! Turns out you can sorta get around that by selecting a wide-screen resolution -- so it looks like it's just that no-one bothered to check the game on one of them old 4:3 monitors (my 19" just won't die!). Of course, then you get stretched graphics, unless you play in windowed mode. Yay! I love watching my desktop icons hump whilst I'm trying to run the frak away from a freakish alien monster.
And I just realised something else: EA published "Mass Effect" too! Damnit! Burned twice in such a short timeframe! "Mass Effect" suffers from much of the same bad camera and controls malarky that "Dead Space" does. I think these pesky software pirates are on to something: I could have saved myself about 300 bucks (that's about 30 beers dude!) by just having avoided these two titles. "Mass Effect" gives me a serious case of anal cramps when I just think about it. "Dead Space" is just disappointing because it didn't have to suck. It's like a mommy super-model and a daddy football-star had a wonderful, beautiful baby and then pounded it with an old Suzuki crankshaft that was just lying about, reducing it to being the little retard kid that no-one wants to play with, even though, after plastic surgery, she's quite pretty. You just don't want the snot and spit on your side of the playground.