I picked up Sims 2 primarily to use as comic fodder, but also because it might be a fun diversion. But this is the first time where load times have actually driven me away from a game.
When I click on the Sim 2 icon, it takes a bit to bring up the launcher. (An idiotic contraption. I don’t need a launcher! I just clicked the thing, and that should have been enough to launch the game.) Then I click “play” and the computer sits there, silent and inactive for half a minute. I very strongly suspect some fancy CD interrogation is going on and the game is trying to make sure I’m not a pirate. (Which is foolish, since if I was a pirate it wouldn’t be doing the check at all.)
Then the game finally appears and shows me a couple of short but un-skippable logos for the usual suspects. Then the actual loading screen appears. Then waiting. Then it finally brings up the neighborhood selection menu. I select a neighborhood, and hunker down for another wait. After more hard drive calisthenics, the neighborhood appears and I can select a house. Then it goes into deep thought once again while it loads the house. Once that’s done, then I can begin playing.
(And even after all that, it still lurches and stutters for another twenty seconds or so as you swing the camera around and it pulls the resources into memory as they come into view.)
Four minutes. Four minutes between the moment I click on the icon to the moment where I actually begin playing the game. And this game is a few years old. I shudder to think of how it would behave on something near the lower end of the minimum requirements. (I meet or exceed most of the “recommended” specs.) That interval dwarfs any first-person shooter I’ve played.
And even once the game is running, there is a certain heavyness to the experience. There are often these little one-second delays between clicking a button and having the button do its thing. There are large delays in changing houses or making new sims, to the point where it kills the sense of playfulness and experimentation for me.
I couldn’t bring myself to play the game long enough to write a full review, or even long enough to make any observations about the gameplay. I found myself avoiding the game because I didn’t want to sit there for four minutes. (And you have to keep clicking through to the next step, so you can’t just fire up the game and go bake a pie or learn to play the trombone while it loads.)
Obviously this is a very popular title, legendary in its widespread appeal. Somebody was able to get over the load screens enough to play the thing. But it’s just not working for me. The temporal overhead is just too steep. I am sort of surprised that I haven’t heard anyone complain about this before now.
And just to give us something to talk about besides heaping shame on a popular and successful game: What games had really horrible load times for you? Share your own tales of loading-screen woe.
Crysis 2 has basically the same plot as Half-Life 2. So why is one a classic and the other simply obnoxious and tiresome?
Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.
A programming project where I set out to make a Minecraft-style world so I can experiment with Octree data.
Could Have Been Great
Here are four games that could have been much better with just a little more work.
A video discussing Megatexture technology. Why we needed it, what it was supposed to do, and why it maybe didn't totally work.