GamerSushi Asks: Repetitive Gaming?

Uncharted 2

In talking to people about why they dislike games, there are any number of reasons that gamers use to discredit certain titles. Whether people don’t like an inventory system, a story, or long cut scenes, everybody has their own individual beef. However, it seems like one of the complaints I hear about games more often than not is that a game is perhaps “too repetitive”.

The interesting thing to me about this criticism is that when you break it down, all games are repetitive. In essence, that’s what a game is. It has to have an established set of rules, as well as a playing style that gets repeated constantly. Really, the often quoted Bungie mantra of designing a game that has “30 seconds of fun” over and over is what all games strive to do. The difference is that the best games just figure out a way to hide it. To me, Uncharted 2 is an excellent example of this, and probably one of the best I’ve seen at disguising repetition. Naughty Dog found a great balance of platforming, shooting and insane setpiece moments that really make you forget that you’re repeating yourself.

So what do you guys think about the issue of repetitive gaming? What games feel too repetitive to enjoy, and what games mask it? Go!

Written by

I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

6 thoughts on “GamerSushi Asks: Repetitive Gaming?”

  1. This is something Eddy and I talk about all the time. Every game you play is repetitive, but somehow, it’s either such a high quality that you don’t notice or the devs change the pace and variety enough to disguise it.

    Resident Evil 4, Uncharted 2 and Halo Reach are all masters at this.

    Music games, like Rock Band…not so much.

  2. Repetitive gaming has it’s ups and downs. Sometimes it’s needed, sometimes it needs to be thrown away.
    The best example I can come up with involving too much repetitive game play would have to be Sonic Unleashed, that being all of the Werehog levels. It’s one thing when you’re blasting through levels with multiple routes and trying to do it faster, but just running around beating things up with a limitation of style just isn’t something I would want to be doing over and over again.
    As for masked games, I would actually have to say Fallout 3. With the majority of the missions, it just turns into either having to kill someone, kill the other person, or find an object that has no real value to you (that being the majority of them, not all.) But they manage to make it so each one is none-the-less different, like the mission for The Republic of Dave and The Oasis. They have nearly the same means (rigging, killing or being passive) but completely different back stories.

  3. It’s really odd how some games strike some people as engaging and others as mindlessly repetitive.

    A great example for me was the 2008 reboot of Prince of Persia. Anthony and I went round and round on this one because he hated the fact that it felt like you were doing the same thing over and over and over again (jump to new area, fight enemy, jump to new area, solve simple puzzle, jump to new area, fight boss, rinse and repeat). Combine that with the fact that you couldn’t die and he was bored stiff with the game after about half an hour.

    He has a very good case because the game is extremely repetitive. Since you don’t have to worry about dying, all the tension is sucked out of your actions and it frees your mind to notice that you are, in fact, doing the same thing over and over again.

    And yet…I didn’t care. I absolutely loved that game; it’s one of my favorite games of this generation and one of the few that I would gladly play through from start to finish all over again. The repetition never bothered me at all because I enjoyed the gameplay so much that dashing through those massive levels just never got old for me.

    I just finished playing FEAR 2 and had much the same experience. The game runs out of new tricks about halfway through, but I enjoyed the basic mechanics of the combat and the game’s ominous atmosphere so much that it never felt like I was going through the motions to get to the end of the game.

    Then there’s games like Madworld. It’s a straight beat em up that offers no character upgrades and doesn’t change up the gameplay but I just don’t get tired of beating up enemies and skewering them against wall spikes.

    I’ve complained about Bioshock before, but that’s also a good example for me. The last 3 or 4 hours of that game were just agonizing for me. All I wanted to do was finish the game but I kept getting these “now go do this to get to point A” and “now do this to get to point B” objectives that just made me want to quit and watch the ending on youtube. I didn’t particularly enjoy the actual gameplay of Bioshock and once the story lost steam and the setting lost its novelty, I was left with wave after wave of combat situations that I found frustrating and repetitive.

    So I guess that I don’t mind repetition so long as I enjoy whatever it is I keep doing over and over. Some games disguise it better than others, but I can forgive an awful lot if I’m having a good time.

  4. One of the first games that popped into my head when reading this, and one of the first games that I noticed was very repetitive but does a brilliant job of masking it is Resident Evil 4. It’s funny though, because I wasn’t the biggest fan of RE 5, because I felt that they didn’t do a very good job of masking the repetitiveness in the game by introducing interesting puzzles like 4 did. All the puzzles seemed to boil down to having both characters flip a switch at the same time. Not enough interesting set pieces either. When I think about 4 though, I remember so many different set pieces and puzzles, especially in the castle, and the repetitiveness doesn’t bother me as much.

  5. Halo Reach did an excellent job of this by breaking up normal gameplay encounters with rides in the falcon, vehicle segments, space battles, hopping building to building in the falcon and fighting there, and so much more.

  6. The first thing that jumps to mind for me when you mention repetition is Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and its endless procession of push-the-block puzzles. I’m willing to put up with a lot for the sake of a plot that I’m interested in, but that totally killed the game for me. Though I guess that blurs the line between bad repetition and just plain bad gameplay.

Comments are closed.