By Jared Newman | Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 10:57 am
It’s a slow news day in video games, so humor me.
Lately, I’ve been playing Vanquish, an over-the-top shooter from Konami. It’s full of cyborg soldiers, gigantic weapons, shiny robots and loud explosions. No complaints there.
My problem with Vanquish is one that has periodically popped up ever since Nintendo 64 introduced the Rumble Pak in 1997: Excessive use of controller vibration during the cutscenes between levels.
In Vanquish, it’s pretty much a constant rumble every time the action stops, as robots explode and and space ships cruise overhead. It’s so bad that I have to put the controller down — why subject my hands to constant discomfort? — but even then, I can’t put it on the coffee table out of fear that it’ll rumble off the edge. If I place the controller next to me on the couch, I can feel the entire cushion quaking.
I’m not anti-rumble. A little kick to the controller adds to the thrill of firing a virtual gun. When you’re taking damage, a vibrating controller lends urgency to the situation. But during cutscenes, vibration lacks purpose. You’re no longer a part of the action. You’re just passively watching. Holding a vibrating controller during a cutscene is like being kicked by the person behind you at a movie theater because something exciting is happening on the screen.
Obviously, excessive rumble is not a dealbreaker, especially if the game itself is decent. And Vanquish is quite good.
But it’s time game developers heeded the call for more sensible video game vibration. Ideally, I’ll still be playing video games as an old man, so my hands need to be in top shape, not shaken to a pulp at every opportunity. Who’s with me?