It took me a while to understand why the save system is actually quite wonderful for Dead Rising. Like many gamers, you and I both probably wanted to be able to *save everybody* and kill each boss.
An important thing to realize is that the game is likely impossible to clear perfectly on the first play through. This wasn't obvious to me at first, but I could appreciate it more once I accepted that fact.
You can *finish* Dead Rising without ever leaving the roof in the beginning of the game. Just stand there and wait for the helicopter to come back. But, the fact that the events happen in quasi-real-time means that you have to pick and choose which ones to attend to. As you get more skilled and better gear, you'll be better able to try to do it all in subsequent playthroughs.
Know things work this way makes for a better appreciation of how it saves the game. Sure, you won't be able to save half of the people, because you just saved the game... But, big deal. You can try to see that content next time.
There are a lot of interesting ideas floating around here.
Kill stealing has been a part of FPS gaming since Quake and earlier. Cheap/lame -- Yes, possibly... But, *immoral*? Until I see a US Marine in body armor jumping 10 times his own height over the heads of aliens, Halo3 is not a military simulation. It's a game, and kill/death ratio is the main mechanism for scoring. Your son isn't a bad guy for playing-to-win.
We had an 8-person Halo 3 party at release. My buddy and I were top dogs. 4 others were passable, but 2 of my friends were left utterly frustrated for a lot of the same reasons you mentioned.
It's not that they were bad at games. Quite the contrary, they'd played several FPS games in the past. I agree that the curve is a bit steep for "learning the maps"... But, if you already have general FPS skills, the curve plateaus surprisingly quickly.
The short-term solution is that a new player needs 2 hours alone with bots in all of the maps, or he/she needs to die a lot for 4 hours while trying to learn them.
Longterm, games need to be more open to player-created or random maps. It's one of the things that made Quake 1 & 2 so amazing.
I used to play a lot of multiplayer on lots of different maps, so fewer people mastered them. But, it's easy for some kid with lots of free time to master the ~10 maps that come with the games these days. They are decidedly unvaried.
Yeah, these game mechanisms are holdovers from arcade games where they needed a way for you to be interested in investing another quarter. It felt *ok* to repeat the stuff, because, "hey, 6 minutes of entertainment isn't bad for 25 cents".
But, death is no longer an essential component to a video game. There's nothing wrong with having an uber mensch who solves problems unrelated to merely *staying alive*.
Comic book heroes have been doing it for over half a century. The video game medium is just evolving to this form of narrative.
Your post has made me want to buy the game. It wasn't even on my watch list until now. I absolutely agree. I'd rather have 10 hours of awesome, too, because my time budget is far shorter than when I was 14 on my C64 figuring out how to max out my 8 virtues in Ultima4.
In light of our shared sentiments, let me recommend "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" for PS3. Don't pay 60 dollars like I did, though. You will consume it in 2 days, but it will be tons of fun.
It's the same reason I loved "Portal", too. That 3-4 hours justified the entire Orange Box purchase.
Castle Crashers is an impressive evolution of 2D scroller action gaming. The gold, XP, and item rewards are mere icing that make you smile.
Redoing the level never made me feel like the time was "wasted", because it was a 5-10 minute commitment, and I was playing with my friends. Plus, the levels/bosses were interesting. Some of them required a couple of attempts, but with some brainstorming, our group figured them out.
This was one of the few very satisfying group games I've played in a long time.
Aren't these two battlefield challenges real-world problems that aren't specifically AI issues?
I'm no historian, but I think the two above items are how Meade defeated Robert E. Lee in the "Battle of Gettysburg".
I know it's more complicated than that, but I guess some seemingly "obvious" errors of judgment on the part of the AI might make for a realistic simulation. I guess it's not fun if these AI tricks are easily repeatable, though.