Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Uniqueness in Video Games

This is going to be the first in a series of video game/role-playing game blogs.
By: Michael Burdick

We need more of this. Well, not exactly this, but you get the idea
I am a major hipster when it comes to my video games. I don’t tend to pick up games like Call of Duty or Halo, because they generally are tired concepts that, although are at the top of their specific genres, their ideas, both in gameplay and general concept, are generally stagnant. I like games that tread some sort of new ground, either in story, gameplay, or settings. I am by no means thrashing CoDs or Halos, I am merely stating this: games are expensive, and why should I buy Reach when I already have a copy of Halo 3? They are both a fairly generic space opera setting, and their plots do nothing special. The only vast change is the inclusion of some semi-original game types and Armor Abilities. Here’s the kind of change I enjoy, and am very willing to shell out cash for.
Great Story
I’m a sucker for a good story. If you, as Mr. Hypothetical Game Developer, put time and effort into the tale your game weaves and don’t make it ridiculous, I will enjoy it. I like a good story, and I like it better when I can’t tell the twists. Mass Effect 2 is my typical example for this. It combines general space opera goodness like Halo, but it adds in a nice Lovecraftian twist and also mainly centers on 10ish generally (cough all the humans cough) fantastic stories that you as a player can twist and bend to your desire. These side plots are what takes the good plot to greatness. There are grand plot twists, including a few on the mysterious Collectors and soulless Reapers, that kept me on my toes, kept me interested, and when that was combined with the investment I felt in the game thanks to the choices, and I was hooked.

Gameplay Revolutions

For this example, I use a game that, without it’s Gameplay Revolution, would have fallen to the wayside: Left 4 Dead. The L4D series made by Valve hinges on having an amazingly teamwork based Co-op system. The game is built so that a team must work together in order to win, or else even a slightly more organized team will steamroll them. This is especially true for the Infected team. A single Infected, with the exception of the Tank, will get crushed quickly under concentrated gunfire. That’s why that team needs to work together, with each member working in tandem to take out the team. The Smoker drags Coach away from the group. When one person tries to get them, they get pounced by a Hunter. A Boomer quickens the death of the Smoked person, and finally a Charger either stuns or completely drives away the standing two. Boosh, ¾ of the enemy team is dead. This teamwork was unheard of before Left 4 Dead, in an age where a single lone wolf could destroy a sizable chunk of the enemy team.
New Settings/Mythologies
Space opera is good, and so is WWII, and everyone loves a zombie apocalypse. When a game takes from a completely new source of inspiration, or better, creates a unique image, then we are talking my style. For instance, Condemned (1, at least) is a mostly realistic tale of following a serial killer’s mad journey, something generally untouched. Darksiders is a fantasy retelling of the Revelations Apocalypse. These things have been untouched by gaming for the most part, and the sales of these games reflect that the gaming populous does have plenty of space for new ideas, ideas that allow a player to explore a story that has never before been explored. However, my favorite example of this is Bayonetta. A ridiculous story made by Platinum Games, Bayonetta explores a future-esqe setting in which two clans of spellcasters fight for either Paradiso or Inferno, somewhat based on the Christian Heaven and Hell. This game is in a totally unique setting with a hellish twist (Bayonetta is an Umbran Witch, i.e on Team Inferno), and altogether the enemies, settings, and especially bosses are unheard of and will make you swear in amazement. Don’t believe me? The final boss of Bayonetta is this game’s supreme deity, and it is ridiculous. The only more amazing thing is how you kill it.

No comments:

Post a Comment