Speaking of real-time strategy games, I recently purchased The Battle for Middle Earth (BME). I’d been addicted to Battlefield: Vietnam’s online play for months, but it was time for something new (huh, combine that with my occasional ongoing NHL 2005 gaming, and every game I’ve played in the past six months was published by Electronic Arts…that’s a bit worrying).
I may post a complete review of BME, but I wanted to mention the intro movies. In recent years, computer games have come to mimic movies in their series of irritating pre-film ads. I’m referring here to the studio and production company animations and THX-type ads (more on THX here) that run after the advertisements and the trailers, but before the actual feature. As Mark observed a while back, it’s like movies have a boot sequence.
Last night, when I started BME, I was treated to sequences for EA Games, New Line Cinema, Intel and THX (surprisingly, there was no game developer, so I guess EA built the game in-house). I timed it, and EA makes me watch 1 minute and 10 seconds worth of ads before I can actually start playing the game. That’s not down to my machine’s performance either–all of that time is spent showing graphics, not loading the game. I don’t play games for hours on end anymore, so this means that if I spend 30 minutes playing a game, 3% of my time is spent watching ads. I didn’t pay EA Games $60 to be sold on the Pentium 4 processor.
Fortunately, a quick Web search led me to a (very obvious, but I’m rather dimwitted when it comes to these things) work-around. I can now skip all four movies and get straight to the actual game-playing. Daniel Bishop, you’re a star.