In light of the release of the tough-as-nails and often frustrating sequel Dark Souls II, we here at OnlySP have decided to do a small compilation of the moments in gaming that made us sigh with exasperation, throw our controllers and keyboards in aggravation and had our faces flush red with frustration. Four writers and myself have picked out a particular moment or event from the last generation that has made our blood boil, so without further ado, here is our Top 5 frustrating moments in gaming.
5. – Michael Urban’s pick – The level “Cortana” from Halo 3
The Halo series is no stranger to frustration, having spawned the Library level from the first game and the ending to the second one. However, the mission entitled “Cortana” in Halo 3 easily overtook anything seen prior in the franchise. The penultimate level in the game, it tasks you with skulking through a cavernous and infested version of the alien city High Charity. It’s now filled with parasitic Flood enemies, and your goal is to retrieve Cortana’s data chip and then flee the scene with it.
The confusing and repetitive layout of the level would be bad enough, but the game also throws an unrelentingly large amount of enemies at you during this section. Since they’re Flood, they naturally bum-rush you with no remorse, and some of them explode while they’re at it. But the worst of these have to be the spike-shooting snipers, which are stationed on the FRIGGIN’ CEILING of all places! Couple this with the fact that many objects in the oversized rooms are often too short or too thin to properly provide cover, as well as the fact that the scarce weaponry at your disposal includes ineffective short-range flamethrowers, and you have a recipe for a frustrating experience.
To this day, players still groan about their time in this level. We trudged though it and retried it countless times, trying to find the exit while contending with an onslaught of cheap enemies the likes of which we weren’t prepared for, making it a prime choice for this list. This isn’t a recent realization either. Even IGN’s review of the game back in 2007 mentioned this level’s suckiness. When that happens, you know you goofed up big time.
4. Simon Nash’s pick – Mass Effect 3’s ending
BioWare have sent a lot of disappointment my way these past couple of years, but the ending to Mass Effect 3 is really the one that stands out. The first two games had been revolutionary in combining fast-paced combat with RPG-style unlockable skills, and a storyline that promised all of the major decisions you had made would matter in the final reckoning. BioWare said it wouldn’t be a simple matter of just giving us an A, B, or C ending, then gave us an A, B or C ending, and when enough people complained they added in a D ending. All the decisions you had to make, all of the people saved (or killed), all of the crux points that pivoted the story one way or another were boiled down into what colour the sparklers were at the end of the game. To say this was a major disappointment would be the understatement of the century.
The Mass Effect series could have been something that people would still be talking about a decade after the games came out. All that was needed was an ok ending to the trilogy; it didn’t even need to be great (although that would have been nice). It just needed to not suck. Instead, BioWare gave us a sucky ending that reduced any emotional stake we had in the endgame in favor of what colour the explosions were. The truth is that BioWare have been on the decline for some time now, and perhaps the ending to Mass Effect 3 represented their bottoming out. Never have I been as disappointed with a game’s resolution as I have with ME3‘s ending, and it had to be my choice for this list.
3. Nathan Hughes’ pick – The health curse in Dark Souls
Keeping with the spirit of Dark Souls 2’s release date this week, I’ve opted to pick one of my own personal frustrations from one of my favourite games, Dark Souls (Commiserations to Deus Ex: Human Revolution and its shoe-horned boss battles). One of my personal most frustrating anecdotes of Dark Souls occurred when I was venturing into one of my now least favourite areas, The Depths (Yes, it’s on par with Blighttown). When I first entered The Depths, I didn’t think it was overly challenging. Sure, you had to be careful when you walked around corners and the butchers that lurched around were a bit of a hassle but overall, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle after a death or two. I was feeling cocky, as I had killed the Capra Demon and felt like a hardened badass that could take on any ugly demon that tried to cross my path. I was then reduced to a whimpering pup within a matter of minutes.
As I trudged further and further into the Depths, I lost my way and noticed several frozen, spikey figures in the sewer section. Assuming these were merely decorations, I ventured on. Suddenly, I was surrounded by a multitude of lizard-type creatures. Without any warning, a huge billow of smoke engulfed me, turning me into one of the spikey figures I saw before, and then I died. When I spawned, I noticed that something was wrong. I was cursed. I had suffered from a curse and my triumphant health bar had now been slashed into a pathetic sliver. And just like that, my confidence with my character was smashed. Dark Souls giveth and Dark Souls taketh away.
As I wasn’t reading a guide, I had no idea how to reverse this awful spell. I spent the rest of the game attempting to beat the game with half a health bar. Ornstein & Smough? Pure antagonizing hell. The Great Wolf Sif? Morally debilitating. Four Kings? I don’t even want to talk about it. While I did figure out how to reverse the curse, the absolute frustration I suffered because of it made my first ever Dark Souls playthrough a memorable one, but not necessarily for all the right reasons.
2. Chris Penwell’s pick – Werehog levels in Sonic Unleashed
Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Mega Drive is the first video game I have ever played when I was very young and ever since then, I have been on and off the series. Over the past generation, Sonic has had a rough ride from being in the atrocious Sonic the Hedgehog ’06 and other critically panned games, but one inconsistent title I will discuss today is Sonic Unleashed.
Unleashed is split in two segments. The first involves the Sonic many people know and love as he ripped through the gorgeous day-time environments of the world in exhilarating speed. The second is a frustrating beat-em-up and platforming mess that includes an abomination called the Werehog in dull night landscapes. Throughout these Werehog sections, I was frustrated by the platforming as there were plenty of camera issues, a lack of responsiveness and overall uninspired level design that constantly repeated the same elements of play. In between platforming, the combat lacked in depth and did not offer anything more than what you would see in a generic license tie-in seen back in the PS2 era of gaming.
To elaborate further, these Werehog levels frustrated me as these sections took us away from the day time levels of the hedgehog. They were fast paced, colorful, and felt exactly what I would expect from a SONIC game. The Werehog stages actually angered me so much that I stopped playing the game, and waited for Sonic Team to not screw up with the next entry. Thankfully, the next Sonic game for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 stayed true to the formula with Sonic Generations, which consisted of both Classic 2D and 3D Modern Sonics. Personally, Sonic Generations is my favorite entry in the entire series.
1. Matt Bianucci’s pick – Skyrim’s PS3 performance glitch
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was one of my favorite experiences in gaming from the last generation, and, as a PlayStation 3 gamer, I naturally bought it for PS3 assuming there would not be any awful bugs that could not eventually be patched and fixed. The overall Skyrim experience was an amazing one, with tons of places to explore, shouts to learn, and dragons to slay, but that didn’t mean there were no other minor bugs. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Skyrim was riddled with glitches and bugs from top to bottom, which ranged from funny and meaningless to frustrating and sometimes even game-breaking.
The main game-breaking glitch Skyrim suffered from was on the PlayStation 3, and was one that far too many people, including myself, had to experience. After a save file grew too large — around 7 megabytes, which I approached as I neared the end of the main story — the game would start to have an increasingly difficult time running, and, at points, would slow to a single frame per second or even less, making it nearly impossible to enjoy without being withdrawn from the experience. This was extremely frustrating, as I wanted to keep playing the game more and more, even as I had completed the main story and some of the side stories. It was frustrating to have to give up on Skyrim multiple times, then have to come back to it with hope that it would be fixed, only to have it run even worse than it did before.
To go along with that, there are also other miscellaneous bugs that frustrated me with Skyrim, namely one that made it virtually impossible to interact with the Companions guild. This glitch caused the leaders of the Companions to chase me down and engage in a conversation with me, even if I had just completed a conversation with them moments earlier. The only workaround for this was to reload an earlier save and stay out of Whiterun entirely so that there was no chance I would run into the Companions. This frustrated me because it blocked off an entire portion of the game that I would have been very intrigued with and would have wanted to play through. The glitches that plagued Skryim were prevalent and frustrating, causing me to have to stop playing the game entirely, as the game runs extremely poorly on PS3 without a fix combined with other bugs that made me unable to see everything the game had to offer.