Welcome to VideoGamer.com's Monday Morning Rant, our regular feature where one of the team gets to vent their spleen on anything that annoys them about the wonderful world of gaming. No subject, no matter how taboo, will be free from our cutting comment and vicious vitriol. Got that Monday morning feeling? Read on, and brace yourself for a wake-up call.
I'd forgotten about this bug bear, since most game developers have now realised what a horrible, annoying thing it is. But I was reminded about it over the Christmas break when playing the otherwise solid Silent Hill Origins for the PSP.
Save points. Disgusting, infuriating, inexplicable save points. And not in the Mass Effect, Halo checkpoint style save point way either. I'm talking about save points stuck in some god-awful place you'll only see once every hour. I'm talking Resident Evil ribbon/typewriter style save points. A method of saving that has no place in modern gaming. But for some reason it still, inexplicably, turns up.
Silent Hill Origins is your typical Silent Hill game. I won't go into massive detail (you can check out the review here) but what I will say is that the biggest problem with the game is the way the save system works.
What happens is that you'll get to a new interior section, say a hospital or an asylum, and you know that there's going to be a lot of exploration to do, a lot of puzzle solving and everything else we've come to expect from the Silent Hill series. The problem is you can only save the game at specific points, visually represented by red triangles on the wall. These are sparsely placed in the game's interior sections.
So, if you're anything like me, you'll save, work your way through the interior section, solving puzzles and what not, and then, after about half an hour or so, come across another save point or the same one and save again, which is fine.
But problems quickly occur. Say you've worked your way into a far off corner of one of Silent Hill's sections. You've spent half an hour getting this far, progressing the story and the game, and all of a sudden you're jumped on by four demon gimps and it's game over. That's it. You have no choice but to do everything again, and you'll never get that half hour of your life back. On more than one occasion I felt like just giving up on Silent Hill Origins because I couldn't be bothered to do it all over again. And when that happens, you know it's a problem.
I just can't understand why game developers insist on doing this. It is a save system from a by-gone era. The Nineties, a decade when Resident Evil-style forced saving was in vogue, are over. Today's average modern gamer hasn't got the time or the patience to replay half-hour sections of games just because the game wouldn't let them save when they wanted to. I want to play a game where I can save at will, so if something comes up and I have to shut my console or the PC off quickly, I can save right there and then and relax safe in the knowledge that nothing I have done has been for naught.
It's embarrassing for me to try to explain to my girlfriend that I can't actually turn the game off right now because I have to find a save point. And what if you have kids? Sorry, can't feed little Johnny right now, I'm nowhere near a red triangle save point.
And don't go saying just go back to the save point whenever you think you might be approaching a dangerous new area. That's ridiculous. I don't want to have to traipse half-way across the map just to save every time I turn a corner. That's boring and just extends the length of time it takes to finish the game.
Medal of Honour Heroes 2 on PSP is another example of a game which has awful save points, forcing you to replay whole sections of the game. And here, it feels like it's only been implemented to extend the life of the game.
So, here's my message to game developers: allow us to save when we want to. There can be no excuse.