WARNING : This blog contains massive spoilers of Dead Space 2.
This blog is about numerous design flaws in video games and I'm taking the game, Dead Space 2 as the primary example of my theme. I just finished Dead Space 2 the day before yesterday. Despite this game succeeding in making me jump more than in Dead Space 1, this game was an utter disappointment. Why? Because of what I think are glaring design flaws :
1) Minimalistic story telling : I am not a fan of minimalistic story telling. The game has audio logs, video logs and barely any proper cutscenes. This is a shame because the entire premise of the necromorphs and the Marker is very interesting. I had no idea what the CEC was and the villain had to be the least threatening guy in the game. There were instances where I literally facepalmed at the sheer amount of wasted potential. There are numerous areas which could have served for proper storytelling via cutscenes so that we can know more about the story and characters but sadly, such opportunities were wasted. I do not like checking out static filled video logs or brief audio and text logs to "know" more about the story. Why? Because the game could have easily done all this via proper cutscenes.
Towards the end of the game, Isaac gets into the Government Sector. He gets a video message from Tieddman saying that he has 200 armed guards after Isaac and that Isaac will never succeed. Cool. It's just that, we don't actually see any of them Well, we do see their bodies but come on! This could have made for one of the best segments in the game! Imagine, Isaac has to fight through guards and not necromorphs. That would have been a challenging section. Or imagine a scenario where even the armed guards have doubts about Tieddman's order. During an encounter, Isaac manages to convince them that they are fighting the wrong person. The leader of the armed guards could order his men to stand down and help Isaac get to the Marker while fighting off the Necromorph horde. Just think how awesome such a section could have been! But no, they had to go with the one-man army approach.
Cutscenes take too much time and money to make. Let's give the players text logs to know about the story!!
2) Lack of boss battles : I can't recall a boss fight other than the one in the end. WTFudge?!?! NO BOSS FIGHTS? Now folks, we all know that boss fights are the highlights of any game. Dead Space had boss fights. How come its sequel, Dead Space 2, does not have any other than the craptastic "boss" in the end? Criminal. A criminal waste of a good premise.
I have multiple saves in games like Resident Evil 4, Ninja Gaiden Black, God of War etc just before the boss fights because replaying them again is always fun because they were just sooo damn good! If you think Dead Space had a terrible last boss, you better think again because the last (and sole) boss of Dead Space 2 has to be one of the worst in my 16 years of gaming.
Necromorph huh? fend_oblivion is an ECTOMORPH! BEAT THAT!
3) Lack of set piece moments that make you want to play the game again : That's right folks. There are barely any set piece moments that make you want to play the game again. The story is underdeveloped, characters are empty and one-sided, and the game lacks set piece moments. Instead, the game has you walk around in the dark while following a blue light (the locator) to the next save point Did I mention the game lacks bosses? The few segments that I thought were cool were the ones where you control Isaac through the Zero grav segments and the eye-poke segment. Other than these segments, the game is still the same. Dead Space 2 starts off with a bang but loses steam irregularly during the course of the game. Starting the game with Isaac in a straight jacket while Necromorphs attack? Genius! But the game does not follow up on that amazing start.
4) No enemy variety : We have exploding babies (lame), the Pack (even more lame), Spitters (annoying), Pukers (ultra annoying), Chargers (**** you), Tripods (I think that's what they are called) and the remaining are from the first game. Excuse me? The game takes 15 or so hours to complete and we have no variety in the enemies? Ughh... why guys? Come on... There are birds in this game. It would have been interesting to see an animal version of a necromorph that fuses
with other necromorphs to form a deadly combination. And yes, this game also has the regenerating necro like in Dead Space that chases you towards the end of the game... sigh.
The reason why I called the exploding enemies and the Pack lame is because to me, it really doesn't make much of a difference. The pack dies in one hit. Even with a melee hit. You can kill them all using the melee button with little to no trouble. The exploding babies can be taken out in groups easily too. What's the point in fighting such weak enemies?
Didn't I like, kill you in the first game??
5) Lack of re-playability : When you check out the above 4 points, you realize that the game will have little replay value. It's true. There is a hardcore mode but honestly, what's the point? The game just isn't fun. I've done No Upgrade Runs on the hardest difficulty in the God of War games, RE 4, finished Master Ninja Mode in Ninja Gaiden/Ninja Gaiden Black, Dante Must Die! mode in DMC 3. Why? Because those games drew me in such a way that I felt I had to master these games. Those games were fun. Dead Space 2 was a chore to complete... I really tried to like this game but I couldn't.
What about multiplayer?
I replay games for the single player campaign, not for multi-player. Besides, my super crappy net connection, lack of friends with consoles/gaming PCs make it even harder for me to play multiplayer.
Well, that about wraps what I have to say. It's kinda shameful for devs who made such a great IP to take a huge step backward with numerous design flaws. They said that The Sprawl would be open ended unlike the linear USG Ishimura. Is The Sprawl open ended? Hell no. It's linear just like the first game. I have been disappointed by most next gen games. I just hope the games I'm waiting for (Deus Ex Human Revolution, inFAMOUs 2 etc) don't disappoint me too.