Cross Graznei Bridge? I am sick and tired of crossing Graznei Sodding Bridge

Yeah, I’m moaning again about Black, the first person shooter that’s clearly been designed by sadists.

I’m on the level where my primary objective is to cross Graznei Bridge, which to date I think I’ve successfully done about three and a half billion sodding times. But when I finally get across the bridge, something happens. The phone rings, or the dog barks, or I remember I need to put the spuds on. And in the millisecond during which I’m distracted, I get shot and have to do three-quarters of the bloody level all over again.

It isn’t always because of distractions, though. A few times I’ve spent a cheery half-hour blowing things up and then I have to go out. When I next play the game it’s right back to the beginning of the level again (and the unskippable bloody cutscene).

I don’t mind redoing a level a few times, but when the number reaches the hundreds – which it definitely has in this case – it sucks all the fun out of a game. And the last time I checked, games were supposed to be fun, not endurance tests for masochists.

I’ve seen reviews of Black that suggest the lack of save points is one of the game’s key strengths, to which I can’t reply without swearing. Sure, if you’re the sort of person who buys a game, sits down to play it in an isolation chamber and doesn’t move again until the game is finished, then the lack of save points might make the game an interesting challenge. But for those of us who live in the real world and whose gaming adventures are crammed into the odd half-hour here and there, it turns your shiny new game purchase into an infuriating and irritating waste of money. Despite Black’s real strengths – it’s big dumb fun with superb graphics – it’s annoyed me enough that no matter how good the reviews, I won’t buy Black 2.

There was a nice column in this month’s EDGE magazine, which suggested that games should offer a “maximum fun, minimum faff” mode for casual gamers – people who, like me, have very limited amounts of time available for gaming. I think that’s a superb idea. I wish Black’s developers had thought of it.

[Slightly edited to fix spelling errors]

14 thoughts on “Cross Graznei Bridge? I am sick and tired of crossing Graznei Sodding Bridge

  1. Ms. Mac says:

    I loved Black. Right up until the very end which I cannot finish for the life of me. And it’s on the Easy level. (Easy level being a must for me)

    The lack of save points was something which I bemoaned right up to the very end. I have one final fight to go through to have completed the game but to get to it I have to pass two difficult checkpoints first. Aggravating to say the very least!

    My boys are always telling me I should try Star Wars KOTOR and the like but if I have to do anything to my character before I get to pick up a gun and blow stuff up I lose interest even before the initial game scenes. My limited patience requires games which give a (very) short intro leading into a first person view and the game beginning. Is that so hard?

  2. Gary says:

    KOTOR bored me to tears. I’m definitely an instant gratification gamer – which is why Black’s so frustrating.

    > Is that so hard?

    Not at all. I think Halo / Halo 2 got the balance about right. Half-Life 2 was a bit more irritating – too many bits where you have to learn to use stuff, eg the gravity gun – but the goodness of the game made you forgive that. And forgive the inclusion of the antlions.

  3. david says:

    I bought a new phone I didn’t need on Friday. :-)

    KOTOR, IMHO was really good. Spoiled, perhaps, by the huge amount of running about in areas you’d already fully explored for no reason. Oblivion is much the same (but more interesting) but you and Ms Mac would hate it as it takes about an hour to get started.

  4. Gary says:

    I’ve been dithering over Oblivion – it’s been getting five-star reviews across the board, but then I see the acronym RPG and run away. The only RPG I’m interested in gaming wise is a rocket-propelled grenade launcher :)

    What phone did you get? In the absence of a working XDA I got a cheap black Razr. It’s pretty good.

  5. david says:

    Oblivion is a typical RPG. Less linear than KOTOR but much more structured than Morrowind. I’ve played for about 25 hours so far and only done a fraction of the main quest. If you want to go and randomly kill things you can or you can go and do literally hundreds of side quests. It is really good but I’m not sure if it’s your sort of thing.

    I got the Sony W810i. Really good MP3 player on it (the PDA was OK but really annoying to use (you can’t turn the screen off when using it for example)) The headphones that come with it suck but it sounds excellent with standard headphones. Comes with 512Mb memory stick. £30 for the phone. £32 per month for 500 minutes, 200 texts and unlimited GPRS. (Fair use 3Gb per month) 12 month contract.

  6. Squander Two says:

    > Spoiled, perhaps, by the huge amount of running about in areas you’d already fully explored for no reason.

    That was why I never finished Tomb Raider 4. Once is a challenge. Twice is tricky. Ten times is just a very boring waste of my time. When I progress onto the next level, I don’t want to have to go back again. If I wanted real life, I wouldn’t be playing a computer game.

    One of the big improvemets of Tomb Raider 2 over the first one was being able to save the game anywhere. Then they went back to having bloody save points for the third one. Idiots. Even if you know the game back to front, it’s going to take you a couple of days to get through. Surely that’s enough of a challenge without being forced to do fifteen minutes’ worth of easy bits time and time again before you can get to an insanely hard bit that inevitably kills you. Grr.

    The new one looks so good that I almost want to buy an X-Box, though.

  7. david says:

    I downloaded the demo of the new one on the 360 and it seemed (to me anyway) exactly the same as every other tomb raider game. I never really liked the tomb raider games.

  8. Brad says:

    Gary, I think you are dead on about this game especially the Graznei Bridge level. This level desperately needed a checkpoint right before the final ambush. Most well thought out games would have done that. Instead you are presented with an exercise in frustration that leaves a bad taste in your mouth whenever you think about the game afterwards. It’s too bad, Black could have been a much better game.

  9. Gary says:

    Thanks Brad. It’s one thing that really bugs me about consoles after being used to PC gaming. I’m sure being able to quicksave is anathema to hardcore gamers, but it stops you wanting to kill the designers. Games such as Halo get the checkpoint thing right, I reckon, but you’re right: bad checkpoint design (and ill-considered difficulty spikes) can ruin an otherwise great game.

    I loved Black right up until that level. It’s been gathering dust ever since.

  10. mupwangle says:

    Didn’t Bungie spend ages playtesting the single player of Halo 3 to get rid of this sort of thing? Shame the game ended up being a bit meh.

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