Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Let me play the damn game

I recently tried Asura's Wrath, and found it a struggle to work up any enthusiasm to play it. Not because it is unattractive or doesn't have a interesting story. The reason I struggled is that it isn't really a game. To get the same effect of playing it, pick up a controller, put on your favourit manga series, and randomly press a button every time something exciting or pivotal happens on the telly. That's about it really, very much a throw back to the full motion video style games, only with a 3D engine, not video. It is not far away from something like Dragon's Lair.

Asura's Wrath is far from the only game that is little more than an interactive tv show. Heavy Rain and LA Noire also spring to mind. I know I recently said that I love games with a good narrative, but with very little to no actual gameplay, then I am not sure they can even be called games. Something like interactive fiction or choose your own adventure is closer to the mark. Unfortunately if I wanted to sit and watch a story unfold I would go and watch a tv show or film, not like there is any shortage of either.

Essentially this comes down to control. Games are all about giving the player control, or at least the illusion of control. Things don't happen unless you perform an action, ideally involving some measure of skill or experience. The games I have mentioned seem to think that a few button presses to correspond to on screen prompts is interaction enough, it is not. It is clear to me that the creators of these games are unfufilled film makers rather than fufulled game makers. They have their vision of what should be happening and they aren't going the let anyone get in the way, let alone the player. In my opinion these developers can go take a long walk off a short pier.

Not that these people are the only ones that force actions upon is. Games like Crysis 2 actually

turn our camera if we aren't looking in the right direction, and at one point I had a game character screaming at me to get down to avoid the snipers. The snipers in question could be clearly seen out of the big window, but as I wasn't scripted to be shot at I was fine, hell made me long for a way to make the character wave. Don't get me wrong cinematic play is not a bad thing, but as soon as you take that control from the player, then the game ceases to exist. There are some great cinematic games that allow the client to keep control, Skyrim and Uncharted games for example.

Sorry this has been a bit ranty, I am just fearfull of the day when big high profile games can be played with little more than a DVD remote.

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