Let's get one thing out of the way first: Rockstar makes awesome games. But when a company has such a high pedigree, sometimes we can be blinded to the things they don't do so well. Here's our list of the six things Rockstar's most-amazing games still need to work on.
6. Commitment to Realism Over Fun
In real life, you're not suppose camp within 100 feet of a trail. You're not supposed set up your tent on top of living plants, and it's in your best interest to sleep on a level surface. I understand why all of those things are important in real life. I don't understand why they're enforced before you can quick travel in Red Dead Redemption.
Rockstar games are usually referred to as sandbox games. I'd say they're closer to playgrounds. The insane level of realism creates a miniature version of reality to play in. They do a great job. It's why driving on the sidewalk in GTA is so fun. Sometimes, though, they get carried away. At some point realism gets too close to reality, which is boring.
Here is a small sample of things I don't enjoy doing in real life, let alone in a videogame: getting tired after running a short distance, going to a store and finding out it's closed, delivering pizzas, working out. If I thought working out was fun, I wouldn't be playing a videogame.
5. Holding a Button to Run
Only Rockstar could make a game as magnificently chaotic as Grand Theft Auto and simultaneously decide the default mode of locomotion should be slow and cautious. When you have to traverse a gigantic in-game map, you don't want your character to saunter. So why do we have to hold a gas pedal to make Niko Bellic move his ass? You're wasting an entire thumb telling the Playstation you want to do what it should already assume you want to do.
If a videogame character needs to walk for any reason other than carefully navigating a perilous ledge, the designer should seriously consider if the story they're trying to tell might be a better suited to a boring indie movie.
4. Replaying Failed Missions Sucks
The interviews in L.A. Noire are fun. I love listening to people's stories, analyzing their facial ticks and trying to figure out if they're lying. The first time, I mean. That stuff is fun exactly once. When you accidentally drive through the crime scene later and have to re-play the same three interviews, it's not fun at all. If checkpoints exist as a feature in a game, you should never have to repeat anything you've done successfully. Rockstar puts their checkpoints few and far between, which is a problem when you insist on making videogames into cinematic experiences that are still videogames.
For example, even if I don't successfully protect Nigel West Dickens while escaping by stagecoach, I get the gist of it story-wise. I don't enjoy protection missions and I'm not good at them. The game shouldn't punish me by making me start over every time the snake oil salesmen dies, and it shouldn't punish me further by having him recite the same dialogue. That stuff both breaks the reality of the game and makes me want to throw my controller at the wall. It's like I'm watching The Shawshank Redemption, but have to beat a level in Space Invaders to move on to the next scene.