Stained Class King
I find that as gaming goes on, games are getting shallower; I mean, the options between the Elder Scrolls starting at Daggerfall - let alone the story modes - have usually been less than more.
Call of Duty is also setting a poor example, especially where multiplayer is concerned; while it started with a good model, it requires very little skill and strategy to play versus many other tactical shooters such as Rainbow Six, Far Cry 2 and even Halo.
It also sets a very poor example for single-player design.
I'm also less than impressed with Gears of War.
One of the things that has really pissed me off with modern games design is flash over substance; it's like we're back to the dawn of 3D again when gameplay took a back-seat. But now, it's not to visuals so much as cutscenes and an emphasis on design that "tells a story". I rather liked being given the background and then the right to go willy-nilly and fuck everything up, but that's just me. Ironically, I hate every GTA game except for Vice City and 4.
And Bioshock was a slap to the face for everyone who played System Shock 1 and expected a similar experience. Spiritual successor my ass.
Anyway, there are modern games that I do like; Borderlands, Far Cry 2, and I still love the Dynasty Warriors games, although things went sideways for awhile there with 6. I guess they'd be more of a throwback, though.
I also like Duke Nukem Forever, despite the fact that it couldn't decide which era it belonged in.
I also like Halo Reach and ODST; not so much Halo 3.
And I love Mercenaries and Just Cause 2.
I also really like Syndicate's multiplayer, although now I'm really feeling the drag of only having nine co-op missions.
So, while not all modern games suck, there are some design elements that REALLY need to go. These have already been touched on in this discussion, but I think one that has been omitted is the continual limitations imposed in sequels. I really noticed this in the Elder Scrolls and Halo games, but it's not just them. It's even the Grand Theft Auto games.
Part of this is to sell expansions, which, frankly, is utter bullshit. 10 years ago, you got a complete game. Now, you have to question the integrity of the developer because of EA, Ubisoft and now Capcom. I think the last great "complete" game that still had an assload of expansions was Borderlands.
I suppose Skyrim from a critical standpoint, but it had a nerfed main questline because Bethesda doesn't give a shit anymore, so it's no longer a great series, IMO. The game also really is monotonous as fuck, and in the face of a game like Borderlands, which is a first-person version of Diablo with guns, that's saying a lot.
Anyway, Borderlands set a great example - you have a nice meaty main game with some decent - often amusing - distractions with plenty of options, and then you have the expansions. While it ended on a cliffhanger, I actually thought that was a joke. And while the expansions did tie up some loose ends, the game didn't end in a manner that gave you the impression that these were significant.
And Borderlands 2 doesn't look to be a jocked-up RPG like Mass Effect 2 was; instead, it clearly gives you more options and freedom than less. I actually heard that the last test run-through was clocked at almost 60 hours.
I personally felt that Mass Effect 2 was a terrible sequel that was too focused on forcing you down a narrow path so that you could be sold expansions later on to make that path wider. Which is why I haven't been bothered to buy Mass Effect 3.
When it becomes all about business (mainly due to sequelitis), the heart's not in it and we suffer for it.
So, I think the problem isn't just limited to design; it's also the business. The publishers are leaving a bad taste in our mouths, too.