Monday, January 30, 2017

Unfavorable comparisons

I've been patient beyond what is normal for me, focusing on the good parts and glossing over the bad. The time for mincing words has passed. Mafia III is about to get whacked. To do so with any sort of coherence I will need to briefly revisit two things that Watch Dogs 2 did very well.

First, fast travel to any location was unlocked immediately. No parts of the map were arbitrarily locked out for plot reasons and you were not forced to walk or drive to a location first before being able to jump there (like every Elder Scrolls game ever). Every landmark was accessible from the first time you step onto the map. You don't even have to climb a tower and jump head first into a wagon full of hay. The tedium this saves is amazing.

Interestingly, I still drove to most places a few times because that is how collectibles are found. Once a path had been cleared out fast travel took over. Open world games tend to settle into the same pattern around mid game: pick up new side quest, travel for fuck all time, do side mission, repeat. Watch Dogs 2 eliminated the fuck all time in the middle, allowing the player to jump from activity to activity with no down time.

Second, the collectibles in Watch Dogs 2, and there were a lot of them, focused more on doing things than picking things up off of the ground. There were races and side missions with interesting content and a selfie minigame that I spent more time on then I care to admit. The point is each of these was active, not just walking to a location on a map and opening a chest. I am willing to call Watch Dogs 2 an evolution of the Ubi-game.

Mafia III, on the other hand, is everything that the Ubi-game used to be. It is tedious on the same level as the old Assassin's Creeds. Each neighborhood has a telephone junction box that needs to be hacked for collectibles to appear on the map. One of those collectibles being items required to tap into the junction boxes so you are collecting things to unlock collecting more things. The other collectibles are literally collectibles: things laying on the ground or a shelf to pick up.

One of those things are classic issues of Playboy, some with fully reprinted articles. Playboy was actually pretty conservative in the last 60s, at least compared to now. Who knew.

And there is no fast travel. None. You want to do that mission down in the bayou, a barren place that you have been three times already? Fuck you, drive there. And then drive back, usually in a slow ass semi filled with weed.

It's a grind; a grind made worse by how good everything not involved with playing the game is. Between missions the story is advanced or explained by documentary style interviews or grainy senate interrogations, none of which include Lincoln, the main character. You know what is going to happen, that none of it is going to be good, and you want to see it play out, but damnit, you have to play the game to get there.

...

Receiving a code for Resident Evil 7 last night is not going to help me focus. Shout outs to old friends.

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