I’ve been noticing a certain nasty shortcoming in multiple commercial titles these days: inconsistency. Among those games in which I have noticed this recently are Gears of War 2, Halo 3, and a little in Team Fortress 2. Of course I don’t mean to say that everything should happen the same way every time, but certain things should, particularly those pertaining to a player’s individual actions.
Let’s take Gears of War 2 multiplayer as an example. It’s generally fun, but as I play it more, I find that you never know what’s going to happen with certain actions. When I use a shotgun at close range, such that the enemy fills my entire aiming reticle, I expect the enemy to fall over dead, but such is not always the case. I also understand that when I shoot without aiming, my aim will be poor, but when somebody is right up in my face, how bad can my aim be? Sometimes these things work, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, it can really ruin a match for the player.
Some games, such as Team Fortress 2, add some randomness to the damage, just because. It’s entirely reasonable to enact changes in damage based on hit location, distance from explosion or shooter, etc., but not complete randomness (though the critical hits of TF2 are a slightly different story, since they can be affected by players, and it’s known when they happen). It seems that too much luck, especially bad luck, can take a lot of enjoyment out of a gameplay experience.