Remember Me – More forgettable than promised.

I just finished playing Remember Me. I’d heard a lot of really great things about the story and the gameplay and combat, so I was stoked and ready to be blown away. I gotta say, now I’ve finally completed my first run-through, I could only say one thing…

WTF was that crap?

I have to say, I’ve never been more disappointed with a AAA game that I had been that excited to play. WARNING: There might be spoilers to the story. Read ahead at your own risk.

The combat was a great concept on paper, but the implementation ended up being just stupidly boring. There’s supposed to be 4 combo sets of attacks, each with a different number and pattern of punches and kicks, and you get to customize those punches and kicks. But honestly, the customization is pathetic; you only get to chose between 4 kinds of punches and kicks, each with just an extra secondary feature, like regeneration or special ability timer cool-down decreasing. I never used more than the starting 3-punch combo, because most of the time, trying to get ANY of the others off is an exercise in futility, because your combo gets broken by the swarm of other enemies before you can get far into it, forcing you to start again. Also, once I had 2 healing punch attacks to equip on that chain, I pretty much couldn’t really die, and simply spammed punch and dodge repeatedly until everything else was dead. It was neither new, exciting, nor innovative, and that’s what they’d promised us.

Boss battles were, seriously, nothing new at all. I mean AT ALL. It was just the exact same “do this simple and short sequence three times exactly the same, with the boss throwing progressively more cannon-fodder minions at you” style formula from a thousand other games. The only boss fight that I enjoyed the battle itself was the first one, but even that became boring because of the slow, monotonous wrestler-style fanfare and posturing cut-scenes that the boss had to have. Only 2 or 3 of the boss battles were against single, large, badass enemies, but all but 1 of these was against something other than a robot. And the majority of the boss fights with minions (which was most of the boss fights) were just plain annoying because you keep getting swarmed stupidly by so many enemies that you can’t get a single combo off and several bosses were defeated the exact same way.

Neo-Paris was, I admit, rather breathtaking. The visuals, at least, didn’t disappoint. I just wish there’d been more opportunity to wander the up-scale areas of town and to see the vistas; most of the story takes place in areas like slums and sewers or factories. Aside from the lackluster button-spamming dull combat, the whole idea of being able to hack into and alter a person’s memories was a fascinating idea; unfortunately, the implementation was equally boring. The memory hacking became a simple rewind/fast-forward guessing puzzle of which elements that lit up to select and then sitting back and seeing if that got the memory altered the way they wanted you to, and nothing happens if you don’t guess the right elements so you’re stuck rewinding over and over until you get it right. This could have been done so much better and made a much larger impact on gameplay, but the developers just plain dropped the ball. They didn’t break any new ground at all, which is what they’d promised. I would have loved to be able to sneak around and tap into a guard’s memories, planting suggestions or altering their memories just enough to make them attack their buddies or grant me access to places I needed to go.

The story was also, honestly, incredibly half-baked and had plot-holes the size of a football stadium. It had great potential, but so many huge things were brought up then completely ignored for the majority of the game, and left completely not dealt with at the conclusion. Like the Leapers –  why were there so many? How did they become leapers? Was it a plague? some kind of overdose using memories like illicit drugs? had their minds become corrupted like computer programs? Was there any way to reverse the process? Why did they all want to kill everyone? What experiments were going on that were so horrible as to turn Dr. Green into a Leaper and why was he so bent on blowing up La Bastille? None of these are ever explained clearly or satisfactorily. The whole dynamic of the relationship between the main protagonist and the owners of M3MORIZE was shoddy, to be honest, and had enough plot holes to drive a herd of semi trucks through. I mean, seriously? The daughter? These people are allowing their private security forces to hunt down and try to kill their own daughter? Then suddenly one altered memory turns dear old mom from a heartless, selfish bitch bent on the world suffering because her leg isn’t as pretty as it used to be, into this loving, caring humanitarian wanting to save the world from it’s atrocities, and just goes about the rest of her life as if everything is completely normal?

The only time that a character’s turn around from altering their memories made complete sense was in the first memory alteration you do. After that, they just make no sense whatsoever. And they never once explained how, considering your parents f’ing own and run M3MORIZE, the main character got her memories wiped and stolen in the first place. I mean, come on; why would your own mother spend so much of the company resources on hunting down and eradicating the Errorists if her own daughter was one? Why would she allow her daughter to be taken and memory-wiped like every other criminal? The whole “daughters fault my leg is fucking ugly” excuse doesn’t hold up. That’s a psychotic level of maternal detachment. And the father secluding himself in the center of the whole system? Why was he there? Why did he build such a technologically intricate place to hide from the whole world? I don’t buy the whole “research to cure my daughter’s heartache” crap; if that were the case, he’d NEVER have let her leave and become an Errorist in the first place. And his sudden and dramatic change from detached recluse to adoring father happens far too easily for my taste there, too.

Plot holes this big f’ing piss me off.

“OMG it’s big and ugly and it’s gonna eat us!!”
“Don’t worry, I saw this in Starfox when I was 12! We’ll kill it with a barrel roll!”

All in all, I found this game was a mediocre game and huge letdown. I can’t recommend it to anyone. If you can get your hands on it for free, it might be an okay way to waste a few hours, but that’s all. And here’s where I really begin to go off on a tangent – too large a majority of so-called AAA games are no different than this. They’re just re-hashes of the same stuff over and over and over, all insisting they’ve got innovation and not a single one actually does. Some, at least, have decent stories (The Dead Space series comes to mind); but the gameplay of many of these, especially many of the shooter or action/adventure genres, are getting incredibly repetitive in the way they design important features like combat and encounters and bosses. I remember watching a buddy playing Gears of War 2 after it released, and he was at a level later in the game where he’s on some kind of flying vehicle being chased by some big bad flying monster, and all he could do was man a machine gun and shoot it in the right glowy place the right way the right number of times. I remember thinking to myself, “Isn’t that the same gameplay I saw in Super Nintendo games like Starfox 15 years ago?”

The AAA games industry is slowly dying, but the big boys at the top want to blame developers for this when the truth is they refuse to let developwrs make anything truly interesting; meanwhile, the indie games industry is growing purely because indie games are doing something f’ing new and different, and people really are sick to death of the big boy’s re-hashing of the same old thing. Indie games aren’t re-hashing the same tired old mechanics with just prettier icons; they’re really exploring new ways of doing things in games. Some of these indie games would make absolutely kick-ass AAA games with just more budget, better visuals, and more options for developers to utilize. No, I don’t for a second buy the excuse that it’s too expensive to do anything new in games, not when indie games are flourishing like wildfire and doing it on a mere fraction of the cost of an AAA game. Not all AAA games use these same tired old formulas and mechanics, but enough do that this is becoming a problem.

~sigh~ “Gawd damn, I’m so f’ing bored with this campaign. Forget this, let’s just hit a multiplayer map and go to Wendy’s”

As an amateur game designer, I have tons of ideas for gameplay that would rejuvenate AAA games, without them being too difficult to actually create; if I can come up with these kinds of things, I don’t see why we should be okay with the big boys at places like Capcom or EA Games or etc. not coming up with new mechanics. Valve did it, more than once; with Half-Life 2’s gravity gun, and Portal/Portal 2.s portal gun, they proved that you can think outside the box in a AAA game and make it a huge success. So why are we putting up with so much less from their competitors? That’s why I really just can’t stand the Battlefield and Call of Duty games; there’s nothing exceptional about any of them, and they all play relatively identically for the most part, even different editions of the same series. I’ve seen no major or substantial difference between Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 in general gameplay, only slight tweaks and improvements. I could live with this, in and of itself; the gameplay is solid and smooth and well defined. But without any decent story to keep me enthralled, which I don’t feel any of those games have, I get bored super easily with them and can’t be bothered. These games are just over-glorified FPS online multiplayer shooters, and frankly, Quake 3 Arena was more interesting to me than these. I don’t know why they even keep bothering with a single-player campaign, or how they keep insisting these games are better than previously, aside from the usual things like improved graphics and more people in multiplayer matches. Improved graphics and more players in online matches can only carry a game so far; if you can’t back up any claims you make of new and innovating gameplay, don’t even try.

Single-player action/adventure games are even worse for this; I mean, look at Darksiders. Rip out the good story and flashy grafics, and you’ve got mediocre gameplay done a thousand times already. Don’t get me wrong – I have no problems with games having good story and average but solid gameplay. What I do have a problem with is game devs making broad claims of new ideas and new mechanics then falling far from that mark due to lackluster unimaginative gameplay or spectacularly dumbed-down and wasted potential of supposedly new kinds of mechanics. If you’re going to boast that a game is new and groundbreaking, damn well make it new and groundbreaking. If you’re just re-hashing old mechanics with a new face, then just be honest about what it is.

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