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.