For about a week now I've been clocking three, four hours a day on Mass Effect in the name of finally finishing the game. I'm not the biggest RPG fan, so playing the game takes me outside--way outside--my comfort zone. Which is no doubt why I stopped playing it on at least three previous occasions.
I lost Wrex on Virmire. I was really fond of him. And I lost Ashley, too, which really made me sad. I spent several minutes staring at my TV screen saying, "YOU MEAN SHE'S REALLY GONE? FOR THE REST OF THE GAME?" All the time I'd spent flirting with her between missions in the name of possibly having Mass Effect sex with her? Gone. Wasted. And it was too late in the game to start courting the blue woman.
Mass Effect, as you probably know, is a terrific game. I'm enjoying getting caught up in running petty errands around the universe in the name of earning scads of XP. I can't ever get enough XP. My thirst for XP is great; it will NEVER BE QUENCHED. NEVER.
But one aspect of the game that I find really unpleasant is the constant need to sift through my loot/inventory. I don't mind grabbing loot from a crime lord's lair--which, amazingly enough, looks identical to the other crime lord's lair (perhaps they had the same decorator?). I realize that the loot-grab that takes place at the end of every quest is my reward, my tangible takeaway for completing the mission. But unlocking crates and safes should be an exciting moment. For me, it's not. All I can think is this: Oh great. More junk.
Let's see. I've got Cryo Rounds III and Tungsten Rounds IV. I've got a Banshee II assault rifle, and a Scimitar VII sniper rifle. I've got enough suits of armor to fill up a Sex & The City character's closet. And I've got Biotic Amps, Scanner upgrades, Toxic Resistance things, Ablative something or others, etc. etc.
I honestly don't even know what half the shit in my inventory does, or why it's better than the other shit. Before a mission, I'll fool with the weapons, just to make sure I've got the best guns for everyone. If there's a better suit of armor, I'll be sure to put it on. But otherwise, I'm accumulating stuff until I feel less like Han Solo and more like an intergalactic Fred Sanford.
And I was fine just hauling all of my junk around until I got a message warning me that I was APPROACHING MY 150 ITEM LIMIT. This message popped up again and again, adding an extra layer of stress to the Geth-filled mission I was on at the time. Each time it popped up I thought, "JUST GREAT."
After the mission, I headed for the nearest store/junk dealer/intergalactic Salvation Army to clean out my inventory. I scrolled through my 150 item-long list, comparing/contrasting shotguns, thinking things like, "The Scimitar has a higher damage rating, but its rate of fire and accuracy are inferior to the Thunder VI. So. Hmm."
This went on for about 20 minutes before I lost all patience. What I did was this: I sold a bunch of stuff, some of which, I'm sure, was the wrong stuff to sell. And I turned the rest of it into the always-useful Omni-Gel. But this moment--right here--is exactly why I've never been a big RPG fan. I have no patience, no stomach, for the compare-contrast loot-sifting that the genre requires.
I fucking hate it.
My next thought was this: I wish with all my heart that I could bring in a neighbor boy, or maybe hire a person who would come to my house and do all of the loot-sifting for me. He or she would arrive at my home, and then proceed to comb through everything in my inventory, making sure that all the useless tripe is sold or Omni-Gelled, and that my characters are assigned only the top-shelf gear. Then this person would leave and send me a bill, and I could get back to the game.
Think of it as a kind of Geek Squad, but instead of fixing your computer (or "fixing" your computer; I have friends who've had bad experiences with Geek Squad), these experts would get you through the portions of videogames that you otherwise dread playing through. And the service wouldn't apply solely the dreaded loot-sifting. Example: I have a friend in Boston who absolutely hates boss battles for some inexplicable reason. He enjoys everything before the boss battle. He enjoys everything after the boss battle. But the boss battle itself is so painful for him--so anxiety-inducing--that he has shelved games that he was otherwise enjoying.
Example: My friend John Teti in New York has told me several times how much he hates the opening hour of nearly every videogame. He dislikes the process of familiarizing himself with an entirely new set of controls, with learning the new rules of the game world, with watching the cutscenes and meeting the characters, etc. But once Teti's beyond that first, painful hour, he says that he typically enjoys the rest.
After nearly 50 years, games remain messy, shaggy, ever evolving constructs. As stream-lined and mass market as they've become, most games, if not all, in their worst moments, still evoke boredom and tedium and frustration. Not enough boredom, tedium and frustration to make me quit them, but still, more than I'm comfortable with at times.
No doubt you have your own pet peeves when it comes to gaming.
So two things:
1. What are they?
2. How on earth do you endure them?