Grumpy old man?

"You Sons of Bitches", indeed.

The verbose ewgf on World of Spectrum drew my attention to this YouTube video (which itself was a response to this earlier clip) which is an excellent summation of what’s gone wrong with mainstream commercial gaming. The emphasis on storyline, character and plotting (all of which have traditionally, with the exception of text adventures and RPGs, been made secondary in videogaming) means that the actual “game” experience is turned into less a challenge and test of skill and more of an interactive, and frequently interrrupted, way of passing through a narrative. I was amused to find that I wasn’t the only one thinking “I wish they’d get on with it” when watching the parody narrative in the “modern Doom”.

The irony is that its two games which, in their own right, are very good that are to blame for this malaise: Half Life, which popularised the linear environment and “cinematic” feel in FPS games; and Halo which introduced the “hide and recharge” mechanic (which made sense in Halo’s universe but makes none in modern shooters). Whilst, at the time, these games felt innovative and refreshing the way they’ve come to define The Only Way Games Should Be Done means that their faults become glaring.

I don’t play a lot of modern games and when I do I’m always frustrated that the superb visuals and in-game physics are used to create such story-driven, set-piece riddled “experiences” rather than good old fashioned explorable levels and shoot-em-up gameplay. Are there many modern, commercial, mass-market games which buck the trend? Do let me know.

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6 Responses to “Grumpy old man?”

  1. Gnome (@gnomeslair) Says:

    Hehehe, fantastic stuff.

  2. Gnome (@gnomeslair) Says:

    Oh, and Geometry Wars could be what you’re looking for. Better yet, Waves.

  3. scoutfree (@scoutfree) Says:

    I really agree about, sometimes I feel like tutorials last till half of the game or even more and I’m really playing on rails. And it’s not just a question of difficulty level, but more the level design and game concept.
    A modern game old-school style I like is EDF 2017 for xbox 360, simple but honest gameplay. And to be honest, the good nintendo games (zeldas & marios) are really cleverly made and out of the modern trend.

  4. Felix Pleșoianu Says:

    I think you’re framing the question badly. Why only commercial, mass-market games? You don’t want an AAA game, you want a fun game. Look at indies.

  5. David M Says:

    Ach, I put it to you that you are indeed just being a grumpy old man! The story-light experiences you’re looking for still exist – downloadable gems like Trials 2 or Splosion Man, for instance, or the hundreds of tower defense games, or Geometry Wars as mentioned above. (GW2 is my fave.)

    Then if you get an iPhone or iPod Touch – arguably the most mainstream gaming experience available – you can get hundreds of brilliant storyless arcade-style games for 69p or even for free. Jetpack Joyride, Mechanic Panic and Fruit Ninja are three of the most fun games I’ve played this decade, all for less than what a Spectrum game cost back in 1987.

    Or if you were talking exclusively about 3D shooters then most new ones have something like Gears of War 2’s Horde Mode, where it just gives you a level and chucks waves of bad guys at you. (Complete with points and a one-life-only arcadey setup.) Then there’s EDF (EDF!), Left 4 Dead, or Just Cause 2, off the top of my head. In the latter you can follow the (barely there) story if you want, or just head out with a parachute and grappling hook and do your own thing. You can make Far Cry 2 exactly the shooting gallery + exploration game you’re looking for, simply by ignoring the mission list once you get past the tutorial missions.

    There’s plenty to cater for both fans of story and those who would rather do without. We’re living in a golden age!

    • Matty Says:

      I was talking mainly about FPS games, I should have made that a bit more clear. “Horde mode” sounds fine but it’s just that – a mode. ‘Just Cause 2’ is more of a sandbox game in the GTA vein and therefore a whole different genre (which I like, as it happens 🙂 ). I’ll admit to knowing little about ‘Left 4 Dead’. Is it just shooting stuff without being interrupted by some crap dialogue every few minutes?

      What I really want to know is: is there anything like Doom and Quake? Games where you get dropped into a sequence of explorable levels with secrets and power-ups and just have to shoot things and where you have to watch your energy rather than being able to recharge by ducking behind a crate.

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