Okay, so I finally gave in and bought Need for Speed: Rivals, a game I was highly anticipating after last year’s great Most Wanted and its predecessor The Run (which was completely underrated in my opinion). I was going to wait until next year and get a next-gen machine before making the investment…but oh well, my Xbox 360 can give me what I’m essentially looking for.
My question to the developers of this game is: Why did you strip down the navigation/wayfinding?
The mini map is a horrible excuse for a proper navigation element in a game that is all about adrenaline-pumping speed and cataclysmic crashes that can sabotage any advantage you may have had during a race. Looking away from your vehicle and the route you’re on and towards the mini map tucked away into the bottom-left corner for even a second is enough to find yourself destroyed. What kills me even more is the unpredictable and low-to-the-ground checkpoint indicators…seriously, as if finding your way during a race wasn’t already hard enough. So many times I’ve driven completely off-course and been force-abandoned from events because of the poor UI. To add insult to injury, the game shows light green arrows towards your destination in times when it is completely unnecessary to do so! I would much rather prefer these arrows to be visible during the entire run of a race.
If the developers were aiming to make the game environment look as realistic as possible then they have already failed with the entire premise of the game. Stop detracting from good UX by inappropriately stripping down the UI as much as possible! Please and thank you.
Two more quick UX/UI gaming-related rants: Tomb Raider & BioShock Infinite
Tomb Raider: Jeez, talk about taking an iconic and simple game to the level of unnecessary confusion and ornamentation. The game is okay and straight-forward when you play through it, not exciting by any means and certainly not on par with its superior sister-series Uncharted. It’s the overly complicated UI that takes away from the game. Note to developers: please don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. The UI is clunky and super-confusing, taking hours to drink in and this happens almost every time you take a week’s break from the game and jump back in. Some of the text is largely unreadable, even at 1080p, and once you understand what you can use the different menu options to do, you realize that the UI has complicated tasks that are otherwise quite easily understood and performed. This is an example of a FAIL in an attempt to streamline aesthetics with the overall look and feel of a game. Usability and Aesthetics go hand-in-hand folks!
BioShock Infinite: Ugh, where do I start with this game? I honestly believe this game would have made a better movie or interactive film than a game. While the series’ diehard fans would likely disagree, in my opinion the game is severely OVERRATED! The story is definitely exceptional and beautifully complex in many ways, but alas a story does not a good game make. The FPS shooter concealed in the game is mediocre at best and pales in comparison to other big shooters out there. But the one thing that really irks me is the outdated controls that these games so obliviously continue to employ. Why must I search and collect important items by moving my eyes (using my right thumb, no less) madly all around the screen with every inch that my character moves?! This is outdated. This should be illegal by now.
Here’s to hoping that next-gen gaming offers something more intuitive…I would have completely redesigned this approach to item foraging altogether, but I think that next-gen has hot-ticket items like the Oculus Rift to compete with, at least where virtual viewing is concerned…so let’s wait and see how all of this pans out.