(This is another edition of , a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more)
Before we crack on, let me just acknowledge right off the bat that I know how reactionary and judgmental this entire rant is. But then, this column series is called RANT!
I recently crossed off a long-standing item on my to-do list when I beat Metro 2033 this past weekend. Despite some very noticeable balancing issues with regards to enemy AI and damage ratios, 4A Games’ dismal and depressing survival-shooter is one of the most immersive, atmospheric and rewardingly stressful games I’ve played in very long time. Needless to say, I have begun to look forward to Metro: Last Light immensely. All they needed to do was delve deeper into the story and provide challenge that cheated a little less in order to provide a near perfect experience.
Oh, and apparently it needed multiplayer, because of no good f**king reason.
News broke this morning that the Metro 2033 sequel would bring a multiplayer mode, and I can’t for the life of me fathom why that was necessary. Just like BioShock and Dead Space, it seems that yet another perfect single-player experience, where atmosphere and isolation are the central focus, is going to shoehorn in some pointless online frag-fest that people will play for three days before getting bored and going back to Call of Duty. It’s not like I’m angry or anything like that. I just can’t stop rolling my eyes every time I think about it. Seriously, what was the point of this?
Was this so THQ could force its shitty online pass scam into yet another game? Was it because multiplayer is what gets Call of Duty its sales, and thus has become the only way a shooter is allowed to become popular? F**k off with both those attitudes. The less said about Online Passes the better, but as far this idea that multiplayer = sales goes, I have to say that’s total bunk. Yes, multiplayer has become a big part of gaming, but it’s not necessary for sales. The original BioShock was a considerable success without it. L.A. Noire has become a smash hit in spite of being a single-player game. The fact Metro 2033 is even getting a sequel seems to indicate it performed well enough without any online mode. Would it not be better to concentrate on enhancing what made the original successful, rather than split your money, time and energy creating some extra mode in a cynical attempt to draw more people in?
As much as multiplayer dominates the industry, there’s still only room in the yard for a few big dogs. Halo and Call of Duty are the undisputed champions, and it seems to me that all these shoehorned multiplayer modes fail to even start competing. Does anybody reading this play Dark Sector’s online mode? Or Overlord’s? What was the point of either of those? Not to mention, you can tell when an online mode has been phoned in just to trick fragheads into buying a game. Dead Space 2′s online mode is pretty sloppy and not compelling in the least, while BioShock 2′s was a buggy and fairly shallow experience. I feel a cheap and shoddy multiplayer experience is worse than none at all, since it does a disservice to the entire package. Better, in my mind, to concentrate on the single-player exclusively than waste time on something people will barely play before returning to games that offer better online experiences.
If multiplayer was such a guaranteed seller, we’d all be playing Shadowgrounds 3 by now. But we’re not, are we?
I think publishers fail to realize exactly how people play online games. We only have a limited amount of time in any given day, and most online gamers aren’t going to waste it with multiple games. People like to be good at online games, they like to compete, and you cannot compete if you’re spreading your training thin between several titles. People only have time to dedicate themselves to one or maybe two online games, at least if they want to get intimate with their experience and seriously get good at it. I would bet money that a huge portion of Call of Duty players only play Call of Duty, and spend their gaming time practicing, exploring, and getting to grips with everything the game offers. Do they have time to dip into Halo 3, Killzone 2, Wolfenstein, F.E.A.R 2, Saints Row 2, Dead Space 2, BioShock 2, and any other sequel you can dream up?
I’m certainly not saying developers shouldn’t ever focus on multiplayer, but at least make sure it’s worth trying to make. If you became famous for creating an atmospheric single-player experience, are you honestly going to benefit from cynically throwing in some online functionality? I can’t say it seems worth it. It’s not why I liked Metro 2033 and I can’t say the idea of its inclusion in Last Light does a thing for me. I don’t give a flying sh*t about such a thing. I want to know if the stuff I liked about Metro 2033 is going to be enhanced. I want to know if the single-player narrative will be longer, richer and deeper. Once you announce multiplayer, you automatically make me think that the story campaign will be compromised as a result.
And that’s why I roll my eyes upon hearing the news of Last Light’s online offering. I can’t help but see an insincere and rather desperate attempt to gain more attention in a world where other, more dedicated experiences have a stranglehold on the market. Developers are intent on creating carbon-copy, “me too” games that offer exactly what the competition offers, then they wonder why the f**k their game didn’t stand out.
How the f**k can a game stand out when it looks and plays like everything else?
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