Ludicrous in-game explanations for normal in-game mechanics

  • Gears of War's Hammer of Dawn will wipe out a whole army, but as it's an orbital laser, satellite positioning and climate problems make it useless whenever the game doesn't want you to use it. But given that Gears and Gears 2 take place entirely on and around Jacinto, exactly how slow to aim is this thing anyway?
  • Ultima VII part 2 ran into a small problem as a result of being a direct continuation of an existing RPG. Having already levelled, recruited and looted for the entire previous game, the player started out far too badass. The solution? A magical storm which whipped away party members and turned equipment into random tat.
  • Half-life 2's HEV suit is a great excuse for fast sprinting and a visible HUD, but it falls down when you realise that its agility-boosting powers share a power source with the freakin' flashlight. Because there's never anything you need to run away from in dark places. Oh no. No tension-building contrivance there at all. Thankfully though, that was remedied in Episode One, via an equally plausible side-effect of H-L 2's climactic blast.
  • The game isn't the only thing broken in Jurassic Park: Trespasser. Protagonist Anna has a fractured arm, making her unable to reload any gun she finds. Thus, all firearms are single-use items, leading to much dino-based tension all round. Her busted limb doesn't, however, factor into her ability to use a rifle in the first place.

  • The splendidly-realised world of Bioshock doesn't have anything as crude as restart checkpoints. Oh no, it has Vita Chambers, which are an entirely different and more plausible replacement. Seriously. They use DNA and science and things.
  • The Priests in the Dragon Quest series allow the hero to confess all of his actions thus far, thereby creating a record of his progress. Quite how they manage to reboot his entire life at that point if he dies is unclear, but we imagine in involves some pretty damn focused praying.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Snake calls home to update command on his progress. Though strangely, given the elaborate wrapping of the game saving process, no-one bats an eyelid when the actual job at hand is discussed in plain videogame terms.

  • Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force uses a Transporter buffer to beam equipment to your character as and when required, rather than having him carry around 15 guns at a time like many FPS heroes. Mercifully, the show's frequent transporter accidents never result in your finding yourself armed with a piece of fruit or a small wildebeest by accident.
  • Monkey Island's Threepwood explains his vast kit-carrying abilities via baggy-fit pants. Did you really expect anything more sensible?
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link's gear magically dematerialises during his transformation into a wolf. Because where an elven boy can carry 30 bombs, a sword, a longbow, a boomerang and a shield at the same time, a lupine doing the same would just be ridiculous.
  • The hero of Terranigma essentially has a wormhole in a box, containing several rooms he can step into to arrange his inventory. It's part Tardis, part Matrix loading construct.

  • The zombie-spawning infection in Left 4 Dead obviously has the less obvious side effect of mutating its victims' ears into those of dogs, given that they react to high-pitched noises much more rapidly than loud ones. Nothing to do with the fact that the game would be impossible if they all came running at the sound of every single gunshot. Oh no.
  • Hitman's Agent 47 has legendary chameleonic powers, able as he is to blend in with any nationality of gang by simply donning one of their suits. It's fortunate that he's an ambiguous mixed-race genetic clone with five flavours of DNA flowing through his body, otherwise the fact that he's clearly a big pale bald guy would totally give him away.
  • In Cannon Fodder, your troops use "smart bullets" which will kill anyone except their comrades. Surely sneaking behind enemy lines to perform a quick ammo switch would be a sensible idea?

From gameplay mechanics to design flaws - these are the most heinous offenders of gaming

But left us feeling massively meh

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.