Friday, July 8, 2011

Gaming Trends That Failed, Pt. 1

This is the first in a trilogy of posts, with each author voicing his opinions and discussing gaming mechanics or trends that failed horribly. While the other two authors will reminisce about failures of the past, I will embellish upon the trends of the present that may just become failures of the future.

Remember the old days of FPS gaming? A gun's accuracy percentage was just how accurate the gun was and the only zoom or sighting of any kind was from sniper rifles? Those days have been long gone, and with it, a new breed of FPS has emerged: Generic FPSs. You know a trend has overstayed its welcome when it's refreshing to see an FPS these days that DOESN'T use that particular trend. I acknowledge that there are FPSs that use ironsighting and are still amazing games (BioShock), but that doesn't change the fact that trends like ironsighting rarely serve a purpose at all, except to be all gritty and realistic by jamming the stock of a gun up your nose. Ironsights in games are either the only way to shoot accurately or rarely useful. In addition, ironsights in EVERY GAME EVER do not help to make a game good nowadays, it only makes it a CoD clone*.
*Not that most FPSs aren't CoD clones in the first place.

First-Person Shooters are named that for a reason. That's why it's annoying as hell when a game is mainly an FPS but the camera zooms out of the character's view to show that he's crying behind an explosive barrel for thirty seconds while shooting what is usually an AI with brain damage. It's not that cover-based shooting can't be done in first person (Killzone) in addition to being done really well, but if your game is focusing on immersion, the LAST thing you want to do is strip that immersion from the player. Take the new Deus Ex for example. Now, I love Deus Ex. I'm preordering the Augmented Edition of Human Revolution for my birthday. But it makes me sad to see a cover-based shooting mechanic in the game, especially when the atmosphere is top-notch and looks to be one of the most immersive games in years. It's that time, when third-person CBS is practically shoehorned into a game that makes me wonder if this trend will eventually ruin games that thrive on being a first-person experience but are simply incapable of being so because the view zooms out to an external view every thirty seconds during an action sequence.

Take the Medal of Honor series as of six years ago. It was a first-person shooter set during World War II in which you played a single member of a larger squad, undergoing countless firefights, deaths of friends, and the German Reich to come out victorious and alive. Now take the first three Call of Duty games. Those were first-person shooters set during World War II in which you played a single member of a larger squad, undergoing countless firefights, deaths of friends, and the German Reich to come out victorious and alive. Now take countless other games that are more than just "inspired" by CoD and copy that exact same statement. Call of Duty 4 brought that same motif to a modern-day fictional war against the Russians. This also inspired countless numbers of games that actively copy CoD to varying degrees of success. Cue Medal of Honor's sudden resurgence, and guess what? It's the same thing as CoD, only set in a real-life modern-day war scenario against the Taliban as opposed to a fictional war against the Russians. It also had vehicles. This is pretty much a vicious cycle that is doomed to repeat itself, oversaturating the FPS genre with countless military shooters that all bear resemblance to Call of Duty or Halo in some form. Rarely does an FPS bear a new and innovated story and bring something new to the table in terms of gameplay. AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE COLOR PALETTES (or lack thereof).

Has the beginning of the end begun for the First-Person Shooter genre? It has already begun, as long as every other game in the genre rips off Call of Duty or Halo in some form. It has if every game uses the same tired mechanics and never innovates. It CERTAINLY HAS if every developer company for every FPS never bothered to hire an artist who at least knows that colors other than grey and brown even exist. A perfect example of Det Som Engang Var (What Once Was, in case you don't listen to Burzum) is Unreal Tournament 2004. This game cared not for being gritty and realistic. It had a brightly-colored palette, no ironsights, and no cover system. On top of it all, it was unabashedly proud of itself for not conforming to the trends of the time. The next games, by that developer, however, began to go down the same path as many a series before it, beginning to also take part in the orgy of bland color palettes and third-person cover-based shooting systems. If a game was released that did not conform to the trends of the time and focused on being a fun game, that would potentially be a wake-up call for the industry to start making games fun again. After all, being fun is of the utmost importance for any from of media, right?



  1. The imagination thing also is starting to apply non-FPS games as well.

  2. I uh, I have to disagree with nearly all of this.

  3. IRONSIGHTS: I really can't see a function that allows you to be more accurate anything but an advancement in the genre. It's something that I miss in games that don't allow me to zoom in to line up my shots a bit more carefully. Ironsights just seem like a more sensible way of doing it to me as well, DNF had a zoom system where your FOV just kind of shrunk and filled up the screen, and it felt awkward and unnatural. Ironsights feel right and work well.

    COVER BASED: I seem to be the only person who doesn't seem to hate this kind of thing, and while it's better in some games than others, I find it a refreshing change in pace from First Person shooters as the strategies and styles of play are nearly completely different. I think you're looking at Cover Based and wanting First Person, which is where your problems with it lie.

    And the Color Palette thing really does drive me nuts, but I feel that I should point out that color is hardly the single most important aspect of art.