Hacked Off: Timed Games

What will my victim be this week, I hear you say? Well if you don’t know, apparently you don’t read headlines before reading articles. For those who take this blind leap of faith I shall lay that pile of hay for you, this week it’s the time limited games. Now, I’m not talking about timed missions. Oh no. That beauty will gets its own article in the future, I’m sure. This is about the whole game that has a certain time frame for you to complete it.

The main example of this are the Dead Rising games, but another that really annoyed me was Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns. These games want to kick those wonderful people who enjoy taking their time with a game in the groin, all in the name of ‘fun’.

If you have yet to play a game in this delightful style, then let me inform you of its quirks. Basically there is an internal clock and you have to finish the game before the time runs out. This may sound like a really cool gimmick, but you’re wrong. I’m sorry, you just are. This brings an intense amount of pressure and doubt. Constantly there is this feeling in the back of your mind that you’re not using the time efficiently, and thus you will fail the game.

This game style stops people taking their time with a game, forcing them to constantly progress with the story, rather than mess about. Game developers are stopping people getting the most from the game and racking up game time. There are enough deadlines and pressures on time in the real world for me to start seeking more in the games I play.

The Dead Rising games clearly want you to waste hours just mindlessly killing hordes of zombies with cool gadgets. Well, that’s what I thought. Instead, you have to run past everything to go to the side quests, and still miss like 80% of them. Is that just part of the experience? In a focus group did people say “sure, killing zombies in fun ways is good, but I’d rather have the option to do so but just run past them instead.” Sometimes there are slow NPCs which you have to escort back, and those who read this feature last week will know they also annoy me. Now I have to waste my valuable time waiting for some chump who’s clearly got all the time in the world.

In Dead Rising 2 the main thing I wanted to do was get the sweet gifts you can give to your daughter, as I cared for her happiness. I was told by my friends you can get her a tiger. I thought if there was anything that would get me the father of the year award, it’s a tiger with the taste for human flesh. The only trouble was, it could only be done before 10 A.M. on the second day. As you can assume, I was close to this deadline and had to hightail it across the whole map. Well, I managed to get there, after five attempts – apparently zombies don’t care if you’ve got places to be, and will take it upon themselves to get in your way.

I think one reason I can’t stand this in games, is the fact I’m usually late in the real world. Therefore, having a game which won’t wait for you like real people will makes me terrified I’m going to miss it. Even if I know I’ve got twenty minutes to spare, I’ll still be thinking I’m going to miss it. So I end up being more punctual in games than real life. I just stand there waiting, not straying too far off in case the clock speeds up for no real reason.

Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns is a game that I enjoyed. Shocking, I know. But honestly, there was nothing inherently wrong with it, and besides the outfits and accessories were great additions, I always made sure Lightning looked fabulous. The one thing that annoyed the hell out of me was this time management. Instead of taking my time and exploring, I was worried that there was a better use of the virtual time. It made me terrified I would fail the game if I spent much time exploring. I was so uncomfortable I pre-planned my days, like people do in real life. I got a guide of what missions were available, what times they were, and what they entailed. This removed all exploration as I knew where I was going, but I couldn’t do it any other way.

These games just stress me out so much. I don’t want to have to worry about missing out on cool quests developers put into the game just because I got preoccupied enjoying myself.

One game that does this style justice is The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. This does have the time limit of three days, but you can got back to the first day whenever you wish. So it has the illusion of having a set time, when in fact you can spend however many days you wish just cutting the grass and smashing pots.

Even in this wonderful system the timed days still find a way to annoy me. For example, the Kafei quest line. A wonderful emotive quest that spans all three days. Let’s just imagine you are at the final area where you have to get the Sun Mask with Kafei and accidentally leave the cave – the cave locks and you have to do the whole thing again. I’m sure you’d be a tad frustrated at your own incompetence but things happen. Then when you’re doing the quest for a second time, let’s say you miss a step that didn’t seem too important, until you wait for Kafei at the last area and he is a no show. It was safe to say after that I put Zelda down for a while, and proceeded to try and not cry. The third time worked like a treat – even if I wished I could slaughter both of them on their wedding day.

No doubt there are those of you who think this style is a breath of fresh air in a world of games that are all similar to one another. It’s just I don’t like fresh air, I prefer to breath the same stuff over and over again until it kills me.


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