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We all have bad days in our jobs. We all have days where we say “Fuck it” and throw a bunch of crap together and call it work. The same can be said of missions in video games. A great deal of early video games have missions that now seem archaic at best and annoying at worst. I speak, of course, about the time trials, the babysitting, the on-rails turret and more. These missions and levels might just be an example of the writer or programmer saying “Fuck it” and throwing a bunch of overused tools together and calling it a mission. So without further ado here are six of the worst mission types in gaming.
“Mission failed” pops up on the screen in bold, red letters. I shriek through gritted teeth and another controller becomes plastic shards. The time trial should only exist in games with the word ‘Trial’ in the name. Nowhere else. Why on God’s good earth would I want to race from point A to point B as explosions and other obstacles distract me from the perfect route? I don’t know how many years time trial missions took off my life but I know it’s more than all those cigarettes in my early twenties did.
One good example is Red Dead Redemption an otherwise outstanding game. Upon arrival in Mexico player character John Marston gets drafted into aiding the revolution. This involves transporting dynamite from one place to another. Of course not only is the dynamite extremely volatile and liable to explode if you hit a bump but you’re also under time constraints. RockStar, at least, knew that less patient players would not find this fun so after several failed attempts they graciously let you skip the section of a mission that never should have been in there!
“I ain’t no babysitter.”
Ironically two of my favourite games are essentially long escort missions. Of course whether in BioShock: Infinite or The Last of Us both Elizabeth and Ellie, respectively, are more than capable of looking after themselves. This leaves player characters Booker and Joel free to run, shoot and loot to their hearts content. But once we did step outside these games the cracks in the system begin to appear. The incompetent AI, the vulnerable, idiotic bullet sponges you’re meant to babysit. It’s enough to drive a man to a life of solitude.
Controversial opinion but if the characters that are so important to the mission can’t protect themselves maybe they were never that important to begin with. In video games only the strong survive. The weak perish and are crushed underfoot like ants becoming the building blocks so that DOOM guy and B. J Blaskowicz can ascend to even greater heights.
No not the movie. Yes the on-rails sections of video games. This is a personal pet peeve but shooting zombies from a mine cart or locust from a mine cart or necromorphs from a space mine cart was never all that fun. The idea of being on rails was always very limiting and confined. Surely the idea of playing a video game especially a shooter is supposed to invoke the feeling of being powerful not trapped in an uncontrollable, rickety box that’s assailed from all sides. It flies in the face of everything DOOM guy stands for!
Kill This, Collect This, Destroy This.
Yeah I’m looking at you Far Cry. When every objective is the same it essentially means that every mission is the same, Regardless of setting, enemy type or handicap every variant on the kill, collect, destroy mission type eventually becomes rote. It’s a formula that works for maybe the first ten hours after which only the dedicated players are left and and who gives a fuck about them, right?
This is a wider criticism of both the Far Cry games and the open world game as a whole. If you can’t make your objectives or missions interesting within the concept of this vast, sprawling world then maybe the world doesn’t deserve to exist. The worst thing a game can be is boring and what makes them boring is not glitches or bugs but the sense of “I’ve done this countless times before”.
“The Sword of the Stormbringer is broken, fix it.”
Why is every legendary sword, helmet or shield broken? If it’s so legendary how’d it break? Also why do I have to trek across half of Skyrim or Mordor to find the blade before hoofing it back? I’m a reasonable, simple man. I like my coffee hot, my beer cold and my damn swords whole! It’s not too much to ask. Sure “reforging the sacred blade” sounds cool but why do I have to spend a full hour getting to that point?
The answers to the above questions, much like the breaking of Andúril, are lost to the annals of legend. We can’t fix what’s been done (unless it’s a broken sword) but we can prevent it from happening again. If the sword or the mace or the codpiece is the only thing that can save the world and it’s broken I say let the world burn.
“Stand your ground men! Men? Oh no…”
Hold the Line! No I don’t mean the killer Toto track. I mean the insufferable waves of enemies that throw themselves at you while you defend a generator or a gun placement or an ice cream parlour. In fairness some games would make successful modes out of this like Nazi Zombies in Call of Duty or Horde Mode in Gears of War. Others, did not.
One particularly grating mission in the 2005 version of Star Wars Battlefront II. In the campaign you play as a soldier (or many soldiers it’s never clear) in the 501st Clone Legion. Sent to defend the Wookie home planet of Kashyyyk the Clones are pushed back from the tide line to the beach where they must draw a line in the sand against the Trade Federation’s droid army. For as good a game as Battlefront II is that section of that otherwise decent mission is appalling. Little cover combined with endless waves of droids makes for an almost impossible victory. Star Wars has never been worse. OK maybe the Clone Wars movie was worse.