So why do trends exist? Because they are familiar, they enable standards, and they just make life easier. In the case of video games, trends help companies maximize sales while reducing costs because gamers will purchase what they are accustomed to. But easier isn't always better. Here are the reasons why: 1. The perfect woman.
She's as pretty as pie and as tough as any of the guys... in fact, she effectively is
one of the guys, never mind the next-gen jiggle physics. Why do so many games depict females as flawless-looking, cleavage-flaunting, Uzi-toting killing machines? This bad trend is nothing much new, really, for an industry that has long marginalized women both real and virtual. The games industry isn't alone, of course -- Hollywood perfected this trend years ago. But it still sucks, and proves that this industry has some maturing to do.Chief offenders
: Nariko (Heavenly Sword), Ada Wong (Resident Evil 4), Lara Croft (Tomb Raider Legend) 2. Bloom effects.
Ico for the PS2 was one of the earliest games to use bloom lighting effects, which creates a soft, glowing appearance to in-game lighting. The technique seemed fresh then, but now it feels more like an overused Barbara Walters camera filter than a way to build atmosphere. Bloom effects and blown-out HDR lighting are the lens flare of twenty-first century video games -- developers should employ them sparingly. Chief offenders
: Halo 2, Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Fable 3. Supersoldiers.
You are an elite supersoldier, perhaps the last of your kind, genetically perfected in a laboratory to kick ass and...blah, blah, blah, you know the drill. The number of games that feature this cliched sci-fi premise is growing at an alarming rate. We blame Halo, which sold like hotcakes and apparently convinced game developers that genetically enhanced supersoldiers were the new black. Chief offenders
: Halo, Crysis, F.E.A.R., Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots 4. Regular soldiers, for that matter.
Grunts, SWAT teams, special forces -- enough already! Perhaps the glut of military-themed games is an artistic reaction to the real-life Middle Eastern conflict, or maybe it's just lazy developers sticking with a formula that works. But there's no law that says players need to star as a tough-as-nails soldier in every action game. Why not a fresh-faced street cop (ala Resident Evil 2)? Or a normal teenage girl (Silent Hill 3)? Soldiers are great and all, but can't we play as someone else for a change?Chief offenders
: Company of Heroes, Battlefield 2142, Medal of Honor, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Rainbow Six: Vegas 5. Using every button on the controller.
We're all for enhanced interactivity, but that doesn't mean developers should max out all 14+ buttons (counting the d-pad and analog sticks) on the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers. Here's a hint for developers: less buttons is almost always
preferable to more. You may have to sacrifice or consolidate a few game actions (such as the jump, crouch, and use buttons found in nearly every shooter). But the payoff, simplicity, is usually worth the effort. And the proof is in the pudding; Nintendo has already made intriguing -- and immensely profitable -- inroads on this front with the easy-to-use Wii and DS. Chief offenders
: Halo 2/3, F.E.A.R., Splinter Cell: Double Agent 6. Licensed soundtracks.
Popularized by 1999's excellent Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, licensed soundtracks caught on quick and never looked back. Sadly, gamers are left with far fewer titles sporting original (and memorable) soundtracks. Pop quiz: from memory, name one of your favorite original game soundtracks. If Zelda and Mario come to mind, remember these scores were written some 20 years ago... by a programmer, no less! We like pop music as much as anyone, but we miss original game scores more. Without them, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Shadow of the Colossus just wouldn't be the same.Chief offenders
: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Burnout series Source: Gamepro.comMoved to Video Gaming.