Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Playing on modern fears

I play the Splinter Cell games for the same reason that I return to Street Fighter after multiple rage quits - I enjoy the abuse. Both games punish mercilessly punish mistakes and reward good planning. It occurs to me that I just described Dark Souls, a game that I refuse to play, but fuck consistency. Who has time for that.

It took a good hour last night to get the Batman out of my play. Batman is stealthy but when he is seen he just kicks everyone's ass, creating a giant pile of dudes in the snow. When Sam is seen he dies because the bad guys have machine guns. You can tell a game is all in for stealth when it gives the player more points for just avoiding guys than it does for killing them. Avoiding confrontation is always the best way, it is just incredibly hard to do.

Especially when there are dogs and Sam smells like freshly cooked sausage.

If I must leverage an early complaint it is that the game takes itself deadly seriously. The recent Call of Duty games have had similar themes but there is a nod, especially in the bigger set pieces, that this is all just for fun. Sam never smiles. Everyone and everything is an asset and nothing more. The presentation is incredibly polished and because of that just a little unnerving. How unrealistic is any of what is portrayed? Not fanciful enough if you ask me. Not when I watch the news every night and it is always only a few degrees away from batshit insanity.

Games, like movies, reflect the mood of their target audience. They play on what we are nervous about or aggressive towards. Developers are in the business of giving us what we want and apparently we want to feel more secure by killing foreigners who are intent on killing lots and lots of civilians.

That got out of hand quickly. It's just a game, chamberlain, take it easy and stop watching the evening news.

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