The first installment in Electronic Arts’ Burnout series was way back in 2001 for the PS2 and original XBox. While a lot has changed over the years, the takeaway of the franchise remains the same: drive fast and blow stuff up, a lot. In the latest iteration, Burnout CRASH! distills this formula to an incredibly simple form, and racing is nowhere to be found – just blowing stuff up. I was super excited to see the game released on iOS because it’s exactly the type of quick and simple game I want to play on my iPad.
Earning in-game achievements (represented here by stars) allows players to unlock more content. Each track in the game features five different stars, and when a player meets a specified number of stars, more content appears. So collecting stars is definitely the driving force for players to progress. Here’s the rub: considering how important they are, Burnout CRASH! doesn’t do enough to show players what stars they have left to achieve.
In a recent blog post, I talked about how MLB 2K12 takes way too long due to some very realistic ballpark animations. The best way to shorten your game is to turn on “hurry up mode” – basically, it’s like the game is constantly pressing the A button for you to skip the animations (think of the wear and tear on your controller!)
I could think of less awkward ways for the game to speed things along, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is, the menu option where you pick hurry up mode acts really strangely if you aren’t paying close attention to what’s going on. It’s not ever a good idea to break the laws of physics, and I’d say that’s especially true in a game’s menu system.
In the last article, I talked about how the realistic use of animations in MLB 2K12 makes the game take way too long to play. While the animations are pretty, after you see them once or twice it’s easy to realize that they don’t offer the player any lasting benefit. This time, I’m here to tell you that in another case, the lack of animation causes a serious usability problem in MLB 2K12.
When creating a player, there are all kinds of things you can customize – the equipment they use, what color socks they wear, and all manner of things about your pro-to-be’s body shape. As I was building the San Diego Padres’ next superstar closer, I was excited to see the detailed controls for customizing the player’s face – there are two two-dimensional sliders that you control with both of your controller’s thumbsticks. That’s a serious control for some seriously detailed customization. But take a look at what happens when you’re adjusting these sliders: Continue reading →
The weapon system has gone through a number of changes in the Mass Effect series. In the first game, there were just so many weapons that you picked up along the way, managing them all was ridiculous. Not to mention trying to make a well informed decision about what you should be using. The disaster of that game’s inventory is well documented elsewhere (my favorite is at gamedesignreviews.com), but suffice to say it wasn’t good.
In Mass Effect 2, they solved the problems from the first game by essentially getting rid of the whole thing. I’m not sure I ever changed my weapons in the entirety of Mass Effect 2 – that’s how much they got rid of the system. Fair enough.
So in Mass Effect 3, BioWare got back into the swing of things a little bit with a small amount of weapon customization and upgrading. Continue reading →
Ah, fetch quests. The bane of RPG enthusiasts everywhere. Basically, a fetch quest is a device in a game where a character tells you “hey, go get me this thing”. So you go get the thing and bring it back to them, probably with some amount of drama along the way. It’s usually annoying, and usually unfulfilling for the gamer. The good news is that most of the time, fetch quests are only optional diversions as side quests to the main story.
While sometimes you can do your best to dress up a fetch quest so the player thinks they are doing something worthwhile, Mass Effect 3 doesn’t even try. But really, that’s not even why we’re talking about them here on that game’s ux. The problem is that Mass Effect 3 gives the player a huge number of fetch quests at once, then doesn’t offer much of a way to keep track of the quest’s progress. Continue reading →