The Five Most Annoying Sections of Video Games

I’ve been playing a lot of games the past few years, probably more so than when I was in high school and college now that I don’t have to do things like “study” or “read.” Wow, I sound like a dumbass.

But anyway, I’ve noticed a lot of trends in games, both new and old, over the years, and some mistakes just keep on being made.

This is not a list about SPECIFIC moments in games that were annoying (OMG Water Temple, and all that), but rather the TYPES of moments that often produce frustration in games. You’ll see what I mean.

1. Follow the Ridiculously Fast Thing

This sort of mission has repeated itself in many, many games throughout history, and it only gets more frustrating as the years go by.

Usually, it’s just some speeding car or truck you have to follow and can’t lose, but inevitably do so when you happen to clip that streetlight at the wrong angle and plow into a storefront. Naturally, in the two seconds it takes you to get back on the road, you’ve already lost.

But sometimes it goes to a new level, like in GTA San Andreas where you have to follow a train, which is incredibly damn hard since you’re on a bike with the power and steering capability of a lawnmower. Also, I was recently playing Infamous when I had to follow a damn helicopter on FOOT which resulted in many restarts and much frustration.

2. Escort the Idiot

Who here loves escort missions? Raise your hand.

And naturally I’m staring at an empty room. Despite escort missions being universally despised, there is a propensity for games to keep doing them over and over regardless. There would be no inherent problem with this, but AI programming is still such where more often than not, you fail the mission not because you’re doing something wrong in the protection department, but that your protectee is doing something idiotic like wandering through the open street during an automatic weapons fight instead of, I don’t know, laying down under a car.

These sorts of missions were actually the reason I ended up quitting Dead Rising the first time through, as save points aside, the AI in this missions were the most frustrating thing in the game. People wouldn’t just get eaten by zombies, they would lovingly thrown themselves into the arms of the zombies like they were reuniting with a long lost flame.

3. Fly through the Rings

Yes, I know we’re all thinking of Superman 64 here, as the rings mixed with poor flight controls made this absolutely one of the most maddening games ever played. I have no idea how that game ever came out. It’s like they made it, then didn’t have time to sit down and play it even ONCE before shipping it to stores. Or maybe they did and they all hair karied themselves out of shame for what they created.

But the ring plague isn’t just limited to horrible Superman titles. The rings pop up in a lot of games with flight, and are often some of the most maddening parts of the game. Once again, my mind goes back to San Andreas where the hardest mission in the game had nothing to do with gunfights or car chases, but rather flight school, which I failed about 50 times before correctly getting through all the rings in my Dodo and landing the plane in one piece.

4. Follow Without Being Seen

What’s worse than following something fast, as mentioned in item one? How about following something slowly?

These types of missions are thrown into games for “variety,” as game designers think that the player needs a break from all the action every so often. They usually have you tailing someone in a car where you must keep a certain distance, or worse yet, trailing someone on foot.

Why is this worse? Because I don’t know of any human being alive that walks somewhere and routinely stops and does a complete 360 survey of the entire area every ten seconds. At a certain point I just wanted to run up to them, stick a gun in their mouth and tell me where the hell they were about to go.

5. Where the F*** Do I Go Now?

This is a problem that didn’t used to be an issue in games, because they were so linear, it was almost impossible to not understand where to go next. Right. The answer is keep moving to the right.

But not, today in this landscape of open worlds and complex environments, nothing is more aggravating than a game that sucks about telling you where to go next. It might be Uncharted waiting for you to find the exact ledge that isn’t in fact wallpaper, or it could be Dragon Age Origins only deciding to use objective indicators on questions half the time.

To me a good game is one that challenges a player on finding out what to do or where to go next, without having it take so long that it leads to frustration and a YouTube walkthrough. This is the advantage of extensive playtesting, something you can see in Valve games, which usually have a perfect balance of what I’m talking about.


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  1. I just had flashbacks to the escort gametype in Team Fortress Classic. Haha, with spies being less obvious and snipers being totally efficient and medics letting you make people invulnerable in TF2, I see why they didn’t include it. Nostalgia….

  2. I guess mine would fall under the, Where the F*** Do I Go Now? but it was the first max payne, when you had the dream sequence where you had to follow the blood trail maze, and there was a baby crying in the background the whole time…

  3. I really hope more and more companies understand that gamers want freedom, and now that they have the technology to give us said freedom, these dated concepts should more or less be done away with. Nobody liked them when they were necessary. Now that they represent the opposite of what makes games great, they are rightfully despised.

  4. Though, like you said, now that we are given said freedom, the “Where the f–k do I go now?” thing needs to be handled a little better. A detailed map and some mission markers. That’s all we ask.

  5. I immediately thought of Infamous when you mentioned following fast things. That part of the game game me fits the first time through. Assassin’s Creed came to mind when you talked about following slow people.

  6. Oh the flight school, goddamnit … and then the guy that calls you ALL THE TIME if you’re not doing the mission. Urgh.

    Very good points … or maybe good is the wrong word. A great list with terrifying points ^^

  7. #5 goes straigh to Dark souls currently there are so many hidden passages to go to it isnt funny nothing beats a pathway thats right in front of your face but you dismiss it entirely. and to make it worse is going somehwere where the monsters are over 40+ levels stronger than you if you go the wrong way oh the fun

  8. Usually the annoying thing in the game is “that one special level where you don’t use you usual game play tactics”. Motorcycle level in Tomb Raider for example. Of course escort missions fall under this category. Oh, and time limits, damn those to hell. SWAT4 is a sweet game, but those exploding time bomb suitcases are annoying. You can clearly hear the ticking but can’t find the case because sometimes it’s under opaque water or has fell through the floor.

  9. Oh god. The ring mission in San Andreas. I tried and failed like 50 times too on that one, and ended up just putting the game down for 6 months. Of course as usual, when I gave it another go I did it first try. Arrrrgh!

    Didn’t you start right back in the flight tower too? So you had to reload, exit the tower, run quite a distance over to the hanger, hop in the plane, taxi out, then fail and do it all over again…

  10. I find GTA SA had heaps of those frustrating moments. I spent ages on the missions for Zero. Like the one where you had to kill the couriers with the RC plane and then had to shoot down the RC planes with the Mini gun… Drove me crazy. Admittedly I didnt have too much trouble chasing the train, but in saying that I spent the better part of the game on a motorbike.

  11. That part in infamous is not that hard, you can use induction grind almost the entire way and it gives you a pretty wide berth to “lose” the chopper.

  12. Escort Missions are a great idea… well they will be in 5-10 years time when goddamn AI technology is actually good enough to not make the toon you are escorting more suicidal than a depressed lemming.

  13. How about Turret Sequences?Im so incredibly sick of these in any game. Its ok when the turret isnt required, and mostly an extra aid in the event its needed (the Halo games, for example), but certain games have pointless sequences that just throw a shit ton of enemy grunts just for the sake of being mowed down. And they usually go on for far too long (Duke Nukem Forever being the most recent offender I can recall. Black Ops did this almost enough that it seemed like it was mocking the player)

  14. Yeah, I’d say character-sized platforms. I hated those parts in the new Ninja Gaiden games where you had to make a series leaps. Controls and camera were clunky as hell, and your ninja (otherwise able to wall-jump his ass off) was incapable of hanging on to the ledge, so you had to start over and over again.

    Oh and as somebody said, fuck turret sequences.

  15. 1. Present in Amored Core where you have to chase some guy early on in a mission and you have had no time to build your character to get that amount of speed.

    2. Shadows of Rome. Being a gladiator is hard enough, but rescuing a victim who apparently falls down at the sight of a weapon and readys to be pummelled is a little far fetched.

    3. For my sanity, someone kill those rings. I remeber my first encounter with this playing Starfox, and the worst was a recent Star Trek game.

    4. Back to Shadows of Rome and a point at Manhunt. Once I’m seen shouldn’t they take about 3 seconds to assess the threat? I don’t immediately jump on people when I see them behind me in the checkout line.

    5. Holy Crap! How shoud I know the building across the street has a back stairway that allows me access to a broken window two rooms down from the terrorist leader. I exagerate to clarify.

  16. The follow without being seen missions are pretty fun to me.

    And I should mention that Mario frequently has the fly through the rings parts (usually underwater, same thing) AND THEY GET AWAY WITH IT!!!!

    Good article.

  17. OMG. Silent Hill 4. Granted, at least that time the escortee is armed … with a cloth purse. Seriously. By that point in the game I’ve got a few spare bats and golf clubs I could lend her. 🙂

    The two best timed missions I’ve done are the escape from the Sabbat warehouse in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines (I can usually get out with at least 45 seconds to spare – out of 3 mins.) and the “Drive Michael to the ship under gunfire” car chase/escort mission (granted the only real timer is the health of the vehicle) from Godfather 1.

    The hardest I can recall doing is the finale from Godfather 1 – doing the entirety of the Christening hits in the allotted time frame while driving all over the map to do them.

  18. I agree with everything except the last one. I’m playing the ambassador Zelda II and, man! that game sucks in telling you what to do next. So that’s not a new problem I guess…

  19. If you don’t like games that don’t tell you where to go then you’ll HATE the Mount & Blade series. I personally love games that give you that kind of freedom. Yeah the learning curve is steep while you learn your way about the world, but once you get used to it, it’s immersive as hell!

  20. yeah when i have to follow somebody without being seen in ac i always end up getting caught. i eventually complete it but yeah always annoying

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