Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image | January 20, 2018

Scroll to top



Next-Gen Games still have Problems |

As a gamer, I view the next generation of game platforms as a chance for developers to strut their stuff. Show us some great new graphics. Show us some great new gameplay not possible before. But I also expect developers to have learned some from previous mistakes and make the whole usability thing work better as well. And I also want the developers to give us more options, not fewer.

And I don’t think developers are giving us all these things in the Xbox 360 games I’ve played so far. I’ve only played on my friend Todd’s machine, so I am limited in my experience to the multiplayer games that he has, though I have to say he seems to have a good selection. In particular, I’m talking about Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3) in large degree, but Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) suffers a bit too. I’ll take these one at a time.


First off, GRAW. Now, I have to say that this is one great game, and my quibbles are few. But I have to wonder how many people actually play-tested this thing in multiplayer offline mode. As I’ve complained before, setting the options before gameplay begins is a pain. The use of the ‘B’ button is inconsistent and frustrating. But that’s not the worst of it. Why can’t the players change their names? We haven’t found any way to do this. So the people that are playing the game are Todd, Player 2, Player 3, and Player 4. Which is really annoying. I’d like to know if I killed Viper (unlikely, if you know Viper), or if Scae potshotted me. None of this Player 3 killed you nonsense (or whatever the wording is). And if you can change the names, and we haven’t found it yet, that’s just as bad! The UI should be easy to understand and manipulate! This mars what is otherwise quite a great game. (Pssst! Anyone know how to change the names? Is it possible?)

Pugger 3

Second, I’ll look at the larger offender, PGR3. What are some important things in a racing game? Great graphics. Yup, sure. PGR3 has that alright – it looks great. Great gameplay mechanics. Yup, it sure is fun racing around those tracks, but frankly the experience isn’t much (any?) better than PGR2 was. What about a large variety of cars to race? Well, here they fall down. They’ve got a bunch of fast cars, sure. But where’s the Mini? The Beetle? A BMW? I wanted to drive that Audi again – crap, it’s not there. The decision to go with the over-170MPH club was an extremely bad one, IMHO. As well, they way they organized the cars in PGR3 was confusing as heck. In PGR3 you chose “Compact Sports” or “American Muscle” or somesuch. It was easy to know what kind of cars you’d get in each class. No longer. Now each class of cars is virtually indisinguishable from any other. How are you supposed to remember what class your favourite cars are in? A real disappointment.

But it gets worse. What about the fact that they only give you five cities with a few tracks each to play? PGR2 had a much wider selection of locales for your racing pleasure. It feels like they ripped out all the best tracks.

What else? Oh yeah – getting into multiplayer mode is more complicated. You don’t just select multiplayer. No! That would be too easy. You also have to go into the blade and add players there. What the heck? It’s messed us up a couple times already. But that’s not the worst of it. No no no no. Two-player? Two-player? What happened to our beloved four-player mode???? GGGGaaaaaargh!

Frankly, when you put all these problems together, you come up with one conclusion: PGR2 is better than PGR3. I eagerly await the day PGR2 is added to the Xbox 360’s compatibility list, because then we’ll play a real racer at Todd’s place. Sure, it won’t be as pretty, but it’ll be a lot more fun.


Don’t get me wrong. This is not a knock against the Xbox 360. It’s a great platform, and we’ve seen some good stuff on it. It’s the developers that still have something to learn. When they charge us that next-gen premium for a game, I want to get a premium product.

I know two games is a small sampling, but so far these problems have been quite annoying, especially the deficiencies in PGR3. Let’s hope that as developers get used to the Xbox 360 that they polish their games more and try to at least match the previous generation games in functionality, playability, and enjoyability. After that, ratchet it up a notch or two. This is next-gen, after all.

  • Steve

    Henning makes some good points on the shortcomings of these next-gen games. These shortcomings are not limited to next-gen games – Champions of Norrath II suffered some substantial usability problems compared to its predecessor, as well, and these have been discussed elsewhere.

    I would add that multiplayer (offline) games in general, of all generations, seem to get short shrift when compared to single-player or online multiplayer games. This probably reflects the fact that it’s much more common for people to play games by themselves than to get together with their friends. Many games have substantial issues that make them a lot less fun than they could be in multiplayer mode. My pet peeve in this category is in X-Men: Legends, which we played on my GameCube, and which lacks a feature common to every other multiplayer (and single-player, for that matter) RPG: health regeneration! This makes it very common to die, and it is very expensive to get revived. The multiplayer attractiveness of this arrangement is quite low.

  • I don’t understand why you would want to type in your names during multiplayer offline. I don’t remember the last game that let you do that (I do pretty much all of my multiplayer gaming online).

    I didn’t find the use of the B button inconsistent, it’s that way in nearly every xbox, 360 and ps2 game for that mattter. Back or cancel is always b or circle. I honestly don’t remember a game that is different in this respect either.

    THere is no way that pgr2 is better than pgr3. If you disagree with the designers decision to make a highly detailed model of a lot of cities instead less detailed models of a few citiies, then thats your opinion.

    Personally I like the fact that when I looked at the car list for PGR3, I wanted to drive all of thme because they were all my dream cars. Not just cars I see around. No 4 player on one console? It’s a launch title, they are going to cut some corner, they obviously decided to focus on online.

    I’ll take the additioin of the incredibly in car caemera (online modes, course creator and overall incredibly detailed cities totally notwithstanding) over offline 4 player any day.

  • Black Guy

    Henning – U nailed it all except:

    “Oh yeah – getting into multiplayer mode is more complicated. You don’t just select multiplayer. No! That would be too easy. You also have to go into the blade and add players there. What the heck?”

    That is not so. One of the many functions of the blade is to invite friends or others that u have played w/ at some point in the past, not to ADD players. This method is universal throughtout all X360 games which is so to maintain a familiar model for the gamer. In games that have a specific option to add players: whenever this option is selected, the blade will become active just as if one had pressed the guide button. Unlike the OG Xbox where one did all this in game, the X360 OS now handles things like this and w/ more experience on the X360, u’ll find this method works wonderfully. For me, its 2nd nature, don’t even think about… iWant to invite Merdon? Hit the guide button, select his tag, send invite, he accepts and he’s in the lobby. Done.

    Other than that though, u made some great points. In PGR3’s defense, the game was rushed (which is never good). The team set forth w/ some very ambitious objectives like modeling each city in as much detail as time permitted. This alone was a massive undertaking. Just art assets took 18mo to create. Each car now has as much polygons as an entire level in PGR2. The spectator mode, the audio, a new hardware… there was a great deal of work to do for a title that was scheduled for a launch. I’m disappointed as well at the losses compared to PGR2, but overall its still a solid title. One thing u 4got to mention was the music in PGR3 is garbage compared to PGR2… Its sound like Japanese punk and soft rock or something like that. iCan’t stand it, iPlay back my own music off a flash drive is made possible through options of the blade.

  • There’s a big difference between using ‘B’ for cancel and using ‘B’ for back. Cancel doesn’t save. Back does. Sometimes it was used as one, other times it was the other. Very confusing.

    The tracks in PGR3 were a lot more detailed, but I have to say there were more fun ones in PGR2.

    And for me and my friends, who played 4 player PGR2 offline all the time, it’s a sorely missed feature.

  • Black Guy

    The “B” thing is matter w/ how GRAW was developed. iUnderstand u’r frustration there too. iWas trying to set the # of respawns in a game iWas hosting. It took myself and room full of other players almost 10 minutes to find the appropriate option. Ridiculous! Now that iThink about it, the online & offline components seem like two different exclusive games. The online feels like it was an afterthought; its missing so many obvious things.

    Yeah, the tracks in PG3 look great, especially in HD, but they lack those special traits that made PGR2 so addicting. They were tracks in PGR2 that made 4 some intense online racing w/ the upperclass cars. Those were the days. Another thing iHate about PGR3 is that unlike in PGR2, u can’t tell who’s talking when racing online. Eventually u learn the voices but still….

    iDidn’t even know u could play 4 players on PGR2 and iPlayed the hell out of that game. PGR4 is in development, so hopefully the team won’t b rushed and they can address these issues.

  • Steve

    Hey Black Guy,

    Have you been spending too much time with iTunes on your iMac and your iPod???

  • Gary

    Yeah I’ve been wondering the same thing. Black Guy sure loves his iNtelligent debates with iMmaculate spelling & iRrefutable evidence!!! 😉

  • Black Guy

    Steve – How’d u know?

    Gary – I’ll do spell check just 4 u next time. iBet that just made u’r day.

  • Matt

    Problems like these are expected in the first 3-6 months after launch. PS3 and Revo will have them also. I don’t know. I have been around for so many generation shifts that going in I have these expectations (bad ones) about new console launch games. I appeciate the games for their beauty and minor improvements not possible on “current gen” systems. It is the 6-18 months after a launch when I start to get excited about next gen games. After developers figure out faster and better ways to develop for a new system the quality of games goes up.

    Outside of the studios who can dump tons of money into new games they all suck in the beginning.

  • As far as the naming of players in GRAW, I cannot say. But, on other 360 games (e.g. DOA4) 1st player has a name (their gamer tag) and the other players do not. (unless they sign in with another gamer tag.) These additional gamer tags can be brought over on a memory stick, so it’s not strictly per console.