February 15, 2013 by misterblank22
The last few years have brought a mass of games, most with a number after the title. Sequels are in and innovation seems to be out. This lack of original content could be due to one simple fact, old hardware. This has been the longest cycle of game consoles in the history of games, for better or for worse. Game developers have learned the ins and outs of every console which leaves them with very few unique ideas to put into their games. To me I believe some games, specifically Halo 4, are perfect AAA sequel titles. It brought a few new story aspects and feel to the table but it was still just a shooter.
Games use to be able to get away with a short “You Won” or “Congratulations The Princess Has Been Saved” at the end of their stories and that was all of the story a player needed. Now we get long cut scenes packed with dialogue that can most of the time pull you from the gaming experience. Everything goes back to the written word though, movies are like books and games are like movies combined with books. But with this new wave of excessive story telling the gameplay has been sacrificed changing games into movies. Dialogue choices litter the screen that offer the player the ability to choose what they will say, most of the time it serves no purpose in the big scheme of things.
What developers have forgotten is that a great game story does not need to be told to us like a movie. With every cut scene we as players are pulled out of the experience and have to put our controllers down as the game plays itself, it gives us a chance to get something to drink so that’s a plus.
When telling a thorough story all game writers should look to Silent Hill 2 for a good example. There were several short cut scenes to progress the game but every story detail among every emotional attachment was made through the surroundings or the words smeared in blood on the walls to the range of grotesque enemies. James’s words showed his detachment from the world, his inventory showed us the letter from his dead wife and how you played effected on the strange relationship with Maria. Everything that was in Silent Hill 2 as we the player walked around drowned us in story without boring us with a cut scene.
What we are given now are either long cinematic scenes or a short briefing from a man standing in front of us spilling the beans on the next mission. A game is a fast-moving experience where the player controls most of the action, not a movie where you can occasionally pick a line from a dialogue tree.
I love all genres of games from shooters to role-playing games. Sonic, Thief, Silent Hill and Halo are my favorite titles and seem to almost always deliver for me. But they all have suffered from this new crisis of gameplay (Except Thief, I’m still waiting for Thief 4). Running and shooting is a wonderful thing, it lets you play with friends and on teams to destroy the other team without the humiliations of being on an actual team, (football never really panned out for some of us) and it fills the natural human desire of competition. But you can only do so much before you just play Slender to try to change the monotony of it all.
This once again can be because of older hardware or the lack of using some of it correctly or at all (I’m looking at you Kinect). Or the better theory on this rehash of gameplay is money. Developers know what sells, shooting and competition, so they would be fools to change that up a bit. Experimentation has been lost due to the spending of money. The underground and innovative projects will never be seen or even made because that sort of game is just not being made anymore. A company does not want to take a risk on a bizarre project if it won’t make back the profit, it’s understandable but also unacceptable that these truly unique games are lost in the dust.
Where did all of the happy go? Why is everyone so depressed or dying? Where’s the cute little animal that goes around collecting things and fighting other things just as cute as he is? Game characters have become sad shells of themselves. This was good at first because it brought life to games. Max Payne has always been unhappy and most likely will never be happy again; also Silent Hill characters are lost fragments in a fragmented world, which once again is good but not for every game being made.
Jokes are rarely cracked anymore, other than in Borderlands of course, and the worlds we play in are just as dull and dreary as the inhabitants. The only thing that can make you smile in games is when the sun comes up and the great lighting effects shine down onto you. The soundtracks have become one note tunes that could use a good beat thrown in there, or maybe an antidepressant.
Games have not failed nor will they for some time. We’ve just fallen into a small slump which can happen (look at Hollywood) and I still enjoy almost every game I play but they just don’t pull me in as strongly anymore. Most games have become clones of the highest selling game that year. I have not lost faith yet and I do not plan to. I believe that the new hardware that is coming will bring a breath of fresh air to us all.