In a video game, the smallest details can have the biggest impact on the experience as a whole. Sometimes this works to a game’s favor. The shrieks that come from distant enemy splicers in BioShock subtly make the game’s atmosphere far more memorable than it would have been if the enemies had not been so loud. It’s a small detail, but it really makes the entire game resonate with players long after the controller is put down. Unfortunately, these small details don’t always work to a game’s favor. When these details are overlooked, the entire game can greatly suffer. Sometimes, a game just “missed it by that much.”
XCOM: Enemy Unknown has many great features that make it a compelling and fun strategy game. Ever since it appeared on PlayStation Plus, I have been slowly trekking away in the game. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble building up much momentum in my playthrough. Although the game is magnificent in many areas, a minor detail is keeping me from thoroughly enjoying it. When players enter combat, the enemies are not fully shown until the player sends a soldier within a certain range. This might not sound like a big deal, and it really shouldn’t be, but it’s led to mass annoyances and frustrations for me.
Nearly every time a solider gets within the needed range to fully reveal the enemies, he will have already used up his turn. This leads to almost always having one soldier either terribly wounded or worse at the beginning of each fight. This isn’t even exactly a flaw, but it is keeping me from wanting to finish the game. As much as I love the way the game forces players to make tough, strategic decisions on a global scale, this small element is stopping me from enjoying that. This annoyance could have been easily fixed if the enemies were simply shown at the beginning of each fight. No matter how great all of the other strategic elements in the game are, this frustration keeps the game from reaching its full potential.
While Call of Duty: Black Ops isn’t exactly a showcase of gaming at its finest, it can be a fun game [Editor’s Note: Oh, is it not?! – NC]. The multiplayer matches are sometimes a blast to play and are great in many ways, but it’s a small detail that keeps it from being memorable. Although the game’s fast-paced action can provide hours of entertainment, the Second Chance perk can ruin the whole game. Second Chance allows players to remain alive after they would have normally been killed to shoot enemies and even be healed by a teammate. A similar perk was in previous Call of Duty games, but Second Chance works much more efficiently than any other perk like it. Players can practically start shooting at the person that shot them as soon as they go down, so instead of getting another kill, a player is robbed of his kill and dies immediately. This is a very small aspect of the game. After all, it’s just one perk, but this one perk can be the difference between having a great time and throwing your controller in frustration.
In Dead Space, players are treated to a dark setting filled with endless scares. The game does a great job of making players feel vulnerable. It can be a survival-horror nut’s dream, but that dream quickly becomes a nightmare due to one simple part of the game. Throughout the near entirety of the game, Dead Space sticks to relatively traditional survival-horror action. That is, until the game decides to throw you into a random mini-game that requires you to protect the ship from asteroids by shooting down as many as you can. This may sound simple enough, but it is actually incredibly hard. Maybe I’m just horrible at it, but no matter how many times I tried, I could not get past that part. I even looked at videos to help me (which is embarrassing in its own right), but no matter what I did, I could not get past that section. Unfortunately, I had to stop playing Dead Space because of a small detail that shouldn’t even have been in the game.
Small details can ruin even the most promising of games. When developing a game, studios have to be extra careful to avoid these kinds of potential game-breaking problems. These aspects of games frequently seem small and insignificant, but they impact the entire experience in either a positive or negative way. Developers need to make sure that the impact is positive.