Metacritical

Because games are about more than headshots

Posts Tagged ‘Immersion

Faith and Immersion

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For all of the game’s faults Mirror’s Edge had an amazing approach to first person platforming, utilising the immersive nature of the viewpoint uniquely for a platformer. Faith’s heavy breathing accompanied every majestic jump, the screen shook violently whenever you fumbled her landings. Her legs and arms were an ever present companion on your trip through ‘The City’, animated with a fluidity and weight that created the tangibility that underpinned Faith as a character.

The game frustrated a great many people with it’s imprecise combat and occasionally arbitrary geometry, however the general consensus in the official NeoGaf thread was that the platforming was a genuine step forward for the first person perspective and that it should be ‘ taken out of this shitty game and built into a man’s FPS’. Reading this I figured it might be interesting to go back and see whether any recent first person games are actually utilising the refinements of Mirror’s Edge in their movement systems (as one and half years is probably long enough for such elements to be integrated into a development cycle or two).

Sadly, the only first person game which has since put an emphasis on platforming is the oft-maligned Aliens vs Predator (AVP) reboot, which does seem to integrate the elements of the movement which made Faith feel so real. When playing as an Alien players can see their own tail as they quickly turn around, creating the impression that they really are a long, awkward Xenomorph instead of merely a reskinned ‘floating gun’ or ‘bald space marine’. The game can also induce motion sickness (like Mirror’s Edge) which while obviously a negative point for people prone to it, is indicative of the immersive camera work in the title, although this was present in earlier AVP games so it can’t really be taken as a sign of the industry having integrated the lessons of Mirror’s Edge.

Which is a shame, as aside from merely adding believable physicality to a character opening up a world to free movement also helps to add a layer of depth and believability to the world, which often seem to be lacking in a vertical axis, in addition to being fun. Imagine pulling up to a ruined factory in Rage and being faced with a maze of fallen girders and collapsed walls which you had to run, jump and clamber up until you reached the raiders camping out up top, instead of merely heading up the building along an improbable series of flat surfaces and conspicuous ramps.

This month’s issue of Edge revealed that Crysis 2 had adopted a ‘three floors’ game play mantra, in that the majority of the environments have three levels to explore, in order to make New York feel a bit more like the vertical city that it is. Combine Mirror’s Edge style platforming with a ruined New York and the nanosuit.
The realistic environment interactions which comprise the platforming of Mirror’s Edge benefit almost any title, even if only used sparingly. While it makes no sense for Soap to be leaping onto buildings, it does make sense that he’d have a limited climbing ability or that he might slide into cover. It just makes the environment feel more real, the greater agency the player has within it. It’s essentially the opposite of realising that the knee high pile of rubble is actually an invisible wall, which is without a doubt one of the worst moments in gaming.
Immersion, it’s the benefit of the first person perspective. Get on it, developers.
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Written by Aonshix

March 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Dead Space Extraction, My Fantasy?

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Sorry about the wait for the Korsokovia +  Radiator post, that’s still in the pipeline. It’s odd that I’ve felt so despondent about writing the piece, seeing as Radiator was my favourite mod of the lot and I feel really fired up about tearing Korsokovia apart, highlighting it’s awful flaws in addition to praising it’s fantastic atmosphere and narrative. However, I’ve  been busy playing through Beyond Good + Evil, which was amazing, especially since I’d blacked myself out to information about the game. Look forward to some detailed thoughts of why it’s so awesome soon. Finally, while I was looking over the search terms via which people find this blog I trawled up some pretty hilarious and unrelated results, so every Friday from here on I’m going to try and publish a post that caters to people who really, found the wrong blog.

Like Prototype, DS:E has some cool alternate box-arts

Like Prototype, DS:E has some cool alternate box-arts

However, today’s content will be a fairly off the cuff and dare I say short post regarding EA’s recently released rail shooter for the Wii, ‘Dead Space: Extraction‘. Now I don’t own myself a Wii, so I’ve been watching a play through of it on youtube as not only am I intrigued by this new rail shooter movement on the Wii, but they’re very overt in terms of game design and I feel irrationally attached to Dead Space’s lackluster story. Finally by the nature of the game, rail shooters are enjoyable to watch.

So I was watching this playthrough of Dead Space: Extraction, and it blew my mind. Since Dead Space was great in terms of it’s core gameplay and audio design, I expected much the same from the Wii spin off.  How wrong I was.

Dead Space: Extraction  has, about half an hour in, the best plot twist in a game I’ve seen since Bioshock. The game has a surprisingly compelling narrative, although apart from the initial twist I haven’t found anything else that’s particularly original. Mainly it’s just a narrative influenced by every horror flick that’s occurred over the last twenty years, but presented in a video game the strong characterisation in Extraction really stands out. Each of the character’s is cliche`d , yet has a hook/strong personality trait that makes them endearing in some way. The story doesn’t have alot of overt humour, but there’s some amusing elements in the overall structure of the plot, where the writers had some fun with traditional structures.  I’ve only watched up until about halfway through chapter 6 so far, so as far as I know the plot could do something crazy or it could wear out it’s welcome and start becoming arbitrary and frustrating (like the original Dead Space’s lackluster narrative did).

Despite so far having less of a narrative role, both of these are far more interesting to than anyone from the original Dead Space, including Isaac

Despite so far having less of a narrative role, both of these are far more interesting to than anyone from the original Dead Space, including Isaac

The main attraction of the original Dead Space was the immersive HUD and the same ethos has gone into designing the spin off, with the perspective so tightly controlled by the developers that you get a real sense of the protagonist. You’re not the protagonist, it’s Caldwell and the writers really use physical elements effectively to enhance the storytelling. It’s everything I was talking about in my Far Cry 2 analysis, although to be fair this sort of thing is not too uncommon within rail shooters but it’s the way I’d like immersion in every game set in the first person going.

You shoot a person with a gun. Rail Shooter/Video game?

You shoot a person with a gun. Rail Shooter/Video game?

Anyways, that’s about all I feel the need to comment on. The gameplay seems pretty standard and as I haven’t actually tried the controls (which seems pretty important for the Wii) I can’t offer an opinion and the visuals and audio elements are all pretty good, especially for the Wii which rarely receives such production values from a third party dev.  My main point is that you should watch the first few chapters of this game which is really stands out in a number of ways, despite being extremely rudimentary in terms of gameplay.

Written by Aonshix

September 29, 2009 at 11:06 pm