As a gamer, you start your gaming life not caring about the ins and outs of why you are doing whatever it is you are doing in that game in front of you. You shoot first and probably never ask questions. You pull potato chips out of garbage bins because… you need the scientifically proven healing power they provide, right? As you grow older, you keep playing these games but eventually things will trickle into the back of your mind. What is my motivation for the character I am playing? Why am I killing so many people? Better yet… why does the overload of this video game world have so many people willing to run out of rooms and die for him or her?
At the end of the day, none of those things really matter. We will keep playing and always accept so many of the tropes and inconsistencies video games are subject to. Let’s face it, if you want to continue to enjoy gaming into your adult life, you just have to live with it. There are so many games that make so little sense when you pick and prod at them, but some of these games are still not only good games, but great games. As I’ve grown older I’ve become far more analytically of the games I play. Here are some of my personal favorites with some of the massive issues I perceive to be within them.
Note there are major spoilers in here. If you haven’t played the game, skip the paragraph.
Easily one of my favorites from the prior generation, the way Bioshock starts out makes absolutely zero sense. You are on a plane. It crashes. You are the only survivor. Once in the ocean, swimming around, you’re led to a lighthouse with a winding staircase that leads to an odd spherical vessel. WHY THE HELL DO YOU GET IN IT AND START PRESSING BUTTONS? There is no logic behind the beginning of this game. In real life, you’d probably wait it out on the lighthouse for at least a little while before you’d feel the need to get in a sphere shaped vessel which eventually takes you to an underwater city full of scary people and even scarier little girls. The remainder of the game does have your motivation get an explanation (regardless of how far fetched), in rather kind way, even. It’s just hard to ignore what brought you to that amazing world under the sea in the first place.
The Last of Us:
Another favorite and probably the swan song of the generation as far as landmark games go, The Last of Us has some problems. Big ones. While you can debate the game being just another generic 3rd person shooter in a very linear world, I have zero problems with either of those issues because the game tells its story better than just about any other game I’ve played. The problems I found are when you’re traveling through the city with Ellie (and others).
Eventually you have to be very, very stealthy. If you move, a clicker will hear you and will eat your face off. Your whole face. So you are very careful. You crouch and use an ability which somehow allows you to see through walls with your ears (it helps, but I don’t understand that game mechanic at all). Oh no! Here comes a clicker… it’s okay because I am nice and still. Ellie will stay still too, no worri…. Wait, Ellie? WTF are you doing? Why are you running from on side of this box I’m hiding behind to the other, all while literally running directly into this clicker… this clicker that will murder you with the slightest noise it hears. Better yet, why isn’t the clicker coming close to acknowledging your presence?
NPC’s do whatever they want in this game and it has no impact on the enemies around you, they don’t even know Ellie or Frank exist. I understand it as a gamer. You would hate this game if the AI of NPC’s had any bearing on your ability to remain stealthily in cover, but it sure does ruin the feel of the game when you see Ellie run right into a pack of enemies while she is clearly confused as to where to take cover and the enemies don’t even react.
Assassin’s Creed II:
This can apply to the entire series, but since I think the yearly cycle has completely ruined this game I’m going with ACII since I think it was the best.
So what’s the problem with jumping on people and stabbing them in their neck with hidden blades? Nothing, nothing at all. The issue comes in when you climb a church steeple. A really, really big church steeple that’s probably well over 250 feet into the air. As you are climbing you’re thinking “Man, it is going to take a while to climb back down”. Well, don’t fret, you can get to the highest point of the steeple and then jump to the ground. Landing on your back. In a small pile of hay. The other great part about being able to free fall from 100+ feet into a small pile of hay (other than not dying a horrible, painful death) is that no one will even notice. Not a soul.
Real life logic says you should die when you do this. You should die and it will probably be slow, unless you land directly on your head, and it will hurt. Game logic? It tells you that was a really bad ass looking swan dive you took and you can wait to get out of the small hay pile and murder some fools. Quietly.
The Uncharted Series… Who am I kidding, almost every 3rd and 1st person shooter, ever:
I alluded to this in the open, but my God there are a lot of people in video games willing to run right into bullets in order to protect some amulet/map/bad guy overload/food/insert any other random object. This will never make sense if real life logic is applied. Most of us would have to be paid and paid very, very well to be willing to literally protect something, anything, with our life. In game worlds, however, there are a lot people willing to die for what appear to be trivial things when compared to human life. Hell, there might even be too many of these people. I bet there are 1,000’s on unemployment just waiting to give their life to make sure no one ever gets the second part of the puzzle which opens the door to Shangri-La. As a gamer, we’ll have to accept this trope because if we don’t, we have nothing left to shoot at.
Call of Duty… actually, again with every shooter, ever:
There is nothing I love more than shooting 1 bullet from a gun with twenty in the clip, then reloading it by taking that clip (only one bullet lighter)… and putting an entire new clip on it. There must be half to 99% full clips of ammo literally everywhere on the battlefield in every game that involves shooting, ever. Again, as gamers we just have to accept this because if we don’t, our heads would explode at the excessive waste that is video game bullet management.
One last item on shooters…. It sure is interesting how fast I can run and get 30 headshoots while firing from the hip, in a row, all at the same time. My video game shooting accuracy is off the charts! In real life, however… The one time I fired a real gun, the headshots were much, much harder to come by.
I could go further, but then this blog post would be better served as a book than it does as internet reading. When it boils down, I don’t actually care about all of the above. But these are definitely issues that, when you sit and think about them, you kind of wish you didn’t think about them. Tropes will always have to be part of gaming because fun needs to trump realism in most cases, it just doesn’t mean that sometimes it’s hard to not notice them.