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I have been having an incredible streak of bad luck lately with computer games, about a game design choice that really pisses me off.
There are many games, especially on the consoles, which do not allow the player to save wherever they want, but instead have specific places inside the game where saving is possible. Sometimes in addition to this there might also be "checkpoints" which are not save points, but which act as respawn points if you die.
This isn't a bad game design choice per se, when it's competently done. After all, being able to save whenever one wants has an inherent small danger: You could be overwriting your save file with a new one which you inadvertently made in a hopeless situation, and you may well end up in a no-win scenario where it's impossible to proceed (eg. because of a boss fight that's too difficult or other reasons). Savvy gamers know to make several different saves in order to avoid this exact thing, but not all gamers are that savvy. (Also many games use autosaves at the beginning of levels etc, to alleviate this possibility.)
Regardless, as said, having only certain spots inside the level where you can save is not a bad thing when it's competently and well done. However, it can be a real game breaker if they are not.
The worst possible mistake such a game can do is to put save/check points too far apart, and not putting them right before difficult parts. In other words, creating situations where you have to play a long time after the last checkpoint only to end up in a very difficult situation where you are very likely to die, forcing you to play that long sequence over and over. This can get pretty frustrating pretty fast, especially since usually there's no rational reason why there couldn't be a checkpoint right before the difficult portion. (Another annoying variant of this is putting a long unskippable cutscene between the checkpoint and the difficult part, forcing you to watch it over and over.)
So how have I been having an incredible streak of bad luck lately regarding this? Believe it or not, the last three games I have played were like this, and I had to quit playing all three of them out of frustration! What are the odds of this happening?
It started with Condemned 2. The game is significantly more boring (and extremely dark; you can't see anything at times) than its predecessor, but it was barely playable. Up until some time in the earlier parts of the game when I stumbled accross this problem: After a checkpoint there was a very long stretch of a level that took several minutes to play through, after which came a very difficult battle where you are very underhanded and with no obvious solution or escape (if there is a way to escape the battle, it's not obvious at all, and it's difficult to find a way out when enemies are constantly attacking you). I played that long stretch about a dozen times before giving up on the game completely. What a waste of money.
The very next game that I started playing was Resident Evil 5. This is an ok game, and I could play it almost to the end. However, somewhere by the end parts of the game I stumbled accross the exact same problem: Long stretch requiring several minutes to play through, after which an extremely difficult enemy appears. This enemy kills you in one shot if it catches you, and is extremely difficult to kill. Ok, so at one point I manage to kill it and continue. I go to a room with a lever on it, I pull it, and there's no other way than to go back. When I go back, another enemy of the same type appears and kills me. And you guessed it: No checkpoint in between these two enemies. I gave up.
Ok, maybe the third time would be the charm? No dice. The next game I played was Dead Rising 2. This is a bit different because it's more of an open sandbox game, and savepoints are scattered at fixed locations where you can go almost whenever you want. However, they are really far apart from each other, and often very difficult to get to. This can be especially frustrating when you have one life bar left, no food anywhere in sight, and you are surrounded by a horde of zombies right after a long and difficult battle that you just barely survived. No checkpoints, of course. If you don't manage to get to the nearest save point, you'll have to do the long and difficult fight all over again (not to talk about getting to the fight in the first place could take a long time from the nearest save point). I gave up in frustration with this one as well, somewhere by the end parts of the game. It was just too annoying.
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