Ever since Nintendo introduced their motion control system in 2006, there’s been an idiotic game of one-upmanship happening between the “Big Three” console-makers. See, after the Wii dropped, Sony and Microsoft quickly developed and released their own motion controllers, and the industry suddenly devolved into a contest to see who can build the quirkiest control setup the fastest. This year, Nintendo will lead the way with the Wii U tablet, but then Microsoft is releasing SmartGlass, and the Wonderbook is percolating over at Sony.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to see hardware developers working on clever new devices. In fact, I’m one of the few who thinks the Wonderbook could actually be an interesting innovation. But I’m getting really tired of these assholes trying to shoehorn a gimmicky control setup into every single game simply because the option is available.
Case in point: yesterday Ubisoft revealed that Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation will have an option called “Touch to Kill” that allows players to use the Vita’s touchscreen interface to attack instead of the standard gamepad controls. The function essentially freezes time for a moment and allows players to select a string of enemies to attack.
But why does this even need to exist? It doesn’t augment the gameplay in any discernible way. Actually, it forces players out of the gameplay for a moment and then treats them to a short quick time event. Mashing buttons would be preferable in my book. At least then I’m actually playing the game.
Obviously Ubisoft isn’t going to remove the standard attack buttons, which means that, as far as I can tell, Touch to Kill is yet another silly little gimmick that has no place in a triple-A title; just ask Resistance: Burning Skies, Mortal Kombat, and basically every single Vita launch title.
Now, just so we’re all on the same page, I’m not saying that developers should be banned from utilizing the Vita’s novelty controls. Plants vs. Zombies was tailor-made for a touchscreen interface, and Sound Shapes is fucking amazing. In fact, I even love that Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation utilizes the Vita’s rear touchpad to control the canoe’s rowing motion. What I don’t love is when developers feel compelled to implement a quirky control setup simply because they’re feeling clever. The Wii was successful because it gave players a different gameplay experience, but that experience was tied to a series of games that were tailored to the controls, not the other way around.
So knock it off, developers. You’ve had your fun. You got the chance to be cute with your control setup, but it’d be nice if you just concentrated on making good games from now on.