I have been a loyal war gamer since the first time that I played Romance of the three kingdoms on my 16 bit Sega. I once spent a four day weekend playing Crusade Europe. Most of my lost weekend was spent in bed ,only getting up to get hot dogs and chips and Mountain dew or make a nature call. I have also spent an ungodly amount of time at PTO, Allied General, most of the Close Combat franchise and Just about every Total war incarnation and expansion pack up until Total war Revolution, which brings me to my present point.
When the Total War franchise passed into the hands of Online usurper Steam it became not only increasingly difficult it was difficult for no apparent reason. The game was so unwieldy and full of glitches and frequent crashes that I would quit in disgust. It was twice as annoying as Total War Rome which I replayed many times. When playing the Total war shogun series the ease of arranging the different formations in the battle deployment phase was not only fun but it forced me to think about tactics. I must confess that the medieval Total War 2 frustrated me more than the original because they sacrificed game play for graphics which did not improve the game. It seems like every time that a developer claims improved game play they mean it’s stupider and not as much fun.
I can remember my deep disappointment when I purchased the newest version of Romance of the three Kingdoms. there was no improvement in the battle graphics as I had hoped only a weird change in the attributes of administrators and generals. In the original game there was a clear delineation of the military skills and the administrative skills. In Romance VI it became harder to determine who was a more capable military leader because their abilities were so generic. In the old game an officer’s military skills were clearly defined, in the newer game you were in the dark and some officers despite experience were just bad at there job. The same goes for administrators. if you make the wrong choice and appoint some guy that is better suited for war than agriculture then he fails.
Here is a quote from the manual Does the command compliment his dream? (you can lower an officers discontent level having him execute commands that compliment his dreams. On the other hand forcing officers to execute commands that are contrary to his dreams causes nothing but discontent.) WTF! What does that have to do with the question, can he fight, can he command troops and what troop types is he best suited for? Is he a good infantry office, or is he best at engineering catapults, or commanding cavalry or archers. This is a prime example of meddling with awful results. The saying goes if it aint broke don’t fix it. When developers self sabotage their game they lose customers; So if you are a developer and have a good formula improve the games so that players get maximum enjoyment. This game could have improved on the game’s battle graphics but didn’t. The opposite was true for Medieval Total War II the graphics were already great it didn’t really need a face lift at the expense of game play which suffered for some unknown reason. It was definitely not as good as the first one.
Then there are the hectic manic games like the Command and Conquer Series. I usually ended up just nuking the heck out of the enemy to stop those incessant swarms that materialized out of nowhere. You are always at a critical disadvantage when money and resources are concerned. This was before I discovered cheat codes. I know some people don’t like cheat codes but they are oh so cool! Take that game developers! My biggest beef though, is with games that I’ve spent money on that don’t perform like they’re supposed to. Blitzkrieg comes to mind and B17 Flying fortress and the newest installment of silent hunter, (Wolves of the pacific). Games that need patches don’t get passes. What otherwise could have been enjoyable games with hours of replay time, became annoying, maddening and irritating. constant crashes and freezing are not fun and are inexcusable in a competitive game market. GET IT RIGHT BEFORE YOU RELEASE IT! I have played many other bad or annoying war-games that went straight to my trash bin because I couldn’t get refunds. I refuse to waste space on garbage. the games that are most disappointing however, are the ones with the most potential. B17 could have been an excellent game except for the glitches and crashes; the same could be said about Silent Hunter WOP.
Glitches and changes and wonkey game play aren’t the only thing that can make a game annoying; sometimes the economic model or combat model are counter intuitive. Some war games issue prestige points which do not represent the wealth of the countries involved but are dependent on if you have lost a battle or not. Personally I believe that this is a bad approach because it is historically incorrect in most cases. By making the player dependent on prestige points it is possible to get weaker and weaker as a result of your last engagement. It is better to have an historical based model and leave the outcome dependent on who is the better strategist or tactician.
One game with a particularly bad combat model is The Godfather five families one of those so called free games that ends up costing you hundreds of dollars which I unwittingly did. I am still trying to figure out how fifty guys with Molotov cocktails could beat a veritable army of guys with tommy guns, rifles, shotguns and pistols. I not only wasted hours of my time building up my troops, but I spent money on speed ups and development, only to have it all snatched away from me by one raid. When I complained in the chat room I got the usual online snark about quit complaining newbie and learn how to play the game. The combat made zero sense and it was mostly the people who had been in the game since the beta that knew the actual way to victory. I was so frustrated about the absence of online help and the bad attitude of the so called elite and the wasted money that I abandoned the game. Now that was a super annoying game.
This brings me up to my most recent foray into war games, a game called R.U.S.E. which is annoying for an entirely different reason from everything that I have already mentioned. In logical games like Crusade Europe and Allied General, you follow units from North Africa to Sicily to France, building up their experience as you go. just like the real WWII campaign. I was also hooked on Panzer general. RUSE has the annoying habit of jumping from one theater to another, without any particular reason. Although this is a feature in some of the more recent First Person Shooters not only switching theaters of war but point of view from one character to another. It serves no real purpose. Let me state emphatically that I do not consider FPS’s as war games, I am a purist who believes that only large unit Real time strategy games are war games, so RUSE fits my definition perfectly. My main problem with RUSE is the minor stuff, like attention to detail. Who ever designed the FMV’s didn’t bother to research ranks and other small details that add to the atmosphere of the game. l was scratching my head when one character referred to a guy with Captains bars on his shoulder as General. In another scene a major salutes this same guy who obviously doesn’t outrank him. There is a reason for all of those rank insignia, so there is no doubt as to who is in charge. I can’t become immersed in a game that I can not take seriously. They obviously researched the tanks and artillery so why didn’t they bother to put the same level of attention to detail in the FMV’s, The only other grievance that I have with this game so far is that some levels missions are on a timer which is also quite annoying. I prefer more time to think and plan my tactics rather than just react to one crisis after another, which is very annoying. So far RUSE is not at the top of my list of most annoying war games.
One last thought; if you buy any box game that has to be run online through Steam avoid it like the plague. I had to start three different accounts Mac games, Steam, and UBI. just to play a somewhat mediocre war-game like RUSE. I don’t like jumping through hoops to play a game. I like to down it load or put in a disc and play, not waste 15 or 20 minutes putting in information and creating passwords. If all of the games that are in the mac games site are associated with steam I won’t be doing business with them anymore. Steam is the most annoying online site that I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. They are lax in support and clarity; or in the matter of trying to reset passwords they are a waking nightmare. My first experience with steam they kept dropping my password and blamed it on me. I know how to type a password. I have been doing it for twenty years at work and at home. I write them down as I intend to type them, noting if they are upper case or lower case and if I shift or not, but yet I had to reset my password three times before I said the heck with it . Steam gets my vote for the most useless and most annoying game site ever created.