Saturday, 7 April 2012


While we're on a science fiction theme, I've started playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution and, hmmm...

Somewhere in me is a large, thoughtful article about how playing semi-sand box, RPG-lite, side quest focused collect-a-thons one after the other is destroying my ability to enjoy games. I don't want to be a vacuum cleaner who is ordered around from place to place with a GameFAQs article in one hand and the  threat of 'consequences' in a game I can never lose (except by making poorly informed choices in the skill tree). Instead I'll refer you to recent articles by Richard Terrell (part 1, part 2) and Keith Burgun (at Gamasutra), both of whom get too tangled up in the definition problem of what a game is, but whose basic thesis I agree with. Today is not that day.

Instead, I'll talk about the sixty seconds of fun I had in the prologue. This is the first cover based shooter I've played which uses hiding behind cover as the central mechanic (Red Faction: Guerilla doesn't have enough waist high walls to count). It took me a while to grok the mechanic, which primarily came down to getting the key bindings right, which for me is remapping F to jump, space bar to take cover, right-click to aim. But when I did, there was this amazing fluid joyous room-clearing experience I want to repeat. (Perhaps by not ever using that sentence again in the wrong context).

Can you suggest a PC cover based shooter that doesn't have everyone telling me I'm an asshole afterwards?


The Mad Gamer said...

Red Faction: Guerilla's sole redeeming feature in my opinion was how amazing the physics were in regards to building destruction. There's just something very satisfying about smashing a building with a sledgehammer and watching it collapse. Once the building hadn't collapsed in a good moment, so I ran inside to do a little more smashing. The building collapsed on me right as I ran inside.

However, I have to agree with you. Well have all this amazing technology at our hands, and games just use it for graphics, ignoring story and characters. AS to a good cover-based shooter, the only one I really play is Mass Effect. The story's a little weak, the characters are decent, but the part that really shines is how indepth the world is.

RogerN said...

I just finished Human Revolution last week. It was quite enjoyable - but I think if I'd tried to go with a combat build instead of stealth then I wouldn't have enjoyed the game as much. The most fun for me was going for the Ghost bonus (i.e. complete an objective without being seen).

One thing that annoyed me, though, was the fact that hacking always provides tangible bonuses while learning the password or code to a computer system never provides a bonus. In other words, even if you know the password it's always better to hack the computer system anyway. I didn't like feeling obligated to hack into every computer terminal in Detroit.

I wish they'd included a few more important player-driven conversations; it was fun trying to figure out the correct conversation branches based on subtle clues in the dialog. Unfortunately those sorts of problems have no replay value.

Joseph said...

@The Mad Gamer - I hear this complaint quite a bit. That story/character/plot is being ignored in favor of graphics/eye-candy.

I don't get it. There is far more focus on story elements in modern games. More all the time. It's part of what ruins a game. Especially an action game. The plot tends to make the game play rigid and full of breaks, and the effort put into creating plot points in the game leads to designers making games easy, predetermined and linear. So that all players of all levels can experience all that wonderful prose.

In RPG's sure, plot away, story is held in high regard in those genres. But in action games? Especially fragfest games? Lame.

Super Mario needs not plot. Neither did/does Metroid or Castlevania. What you really need is a quest. A beginning and an end. Just lemme blast my way through the middle please. Thanks.

At the very least can I turn off the achievement system? PLEASE! :-)

Andrew Doull said...

RogerN: Stealth feels about what a slightly uninventive first person Metal Gear Solid would play like - I've yet to see anything more than that.

Joseph: Agreed. At least MGS makes the story bat shit insane enough to be interesting...

Joseph said...

Oh man. Metal Gear. That was just way too much for me. As a gamer I find I'm a bit on the extreme side. I just don't need any story at all. I skip through everything I can so I can actually PLAY.

It's not story though that I dislike. It's the ingame, highly deterministic plot points. They are not 'playing' so I don't like them. They are something that must be endured, a chore, in order to play the game.

Take Zelda, Metroid, Mario, Kid Icarus, etc...They had the story, such as it was, in the book that came with the game. The designers recognized it as not part of play, so left it out. I like reading the booklet. I like playing the game. I don't like both together.

Oddly I'm not a big fan of abstract games, like tetris/bejeweled and such. Go figure.

Unknown said...

Mass Effect 3's multiplayer is what has been doing it for me lately. I hardly ever meet anyone with a microphone (on the PC). I think this factors into them being usually pleasant.