Hello, Destructoiders, I am a dude. I go to college at Western Washington University. And I play lots of games, combination of all systems and I like old crazy junk. Also, I beat Battletoads, punched out Mike Tyson, Five-Starred Hangar 18 on expert, beat Banjo- Kazooie, and got the 100-wins achievement in UMK 3 for Xbox 360 all in the same day.
I just spent the past hour making this crap, I could have done it faster but the only program I have is ms paint. Great, in the end though, totally worth it. What do you guys think? Have I stumbled on the radical audience changing scheme of the century, or have I wasted an hour of my life I could have spent playing M.U.S.H.A?
(In which Wootex talks about the lack of death in Bioshock and what that means for the game).
In the incredibly engaging world of Bioshock, death is a complete impossibility. No matter how many times you get drilled by a Big Daddy or step directly on a proximity mine, you will always instantly find yourself just a few steps back in a vita-chamber. All of the damage inflicted on your enemies remain and you still have any items you found, basically in Bioshock, the only punishment for death is an extra couple seconds of walking.
At first, this actually seems like a pretty good thing. After all, dying in a video game has never been a huge deal, punishment is usually limited to going back to your latest quick save or checkpoint, or in the case of some older (much shorter) games: bringing you back to thebeginning. Basically, just making you replay sections you've already played. All Bioshock is doing is eliminating the unnecessary frustration of replaying the same sections. Well, not really, I hope to explain why Bioshock would have been a significantly different and (even) better game.
The advantages of immortality:
Before I begin to be overly critical, let's look at the possible reasoning the developers decided to go with the system they did and what that system does to improve the Bioshock experience.
Cuts down on frustration: This is by far the biggest advantage to the no-death system. I, like probably anyone reading this, play games with the main intention of having fun. And, probably like most people here, my idea of fun isn't continually dying and being forced to replay the same section over and over until I feel the urge to throw the controller through the window. Under the new system, any section is rendered beatable through constant attrition. Without fear of death, Bioshock is a far easier, faster playthrough.
Keeps you immersed in the world: Nothing really takes you out of the experience of a game like looking at a constant barrage of "now loading" screens after every death. With Bioshock, you can stay focused at all the little details in Rapture without having to worry about quick saving or where your last checkpoint was. This really makes a largedifference.
The merits of mortality:
(consider this your intermission)
O.K., so there seems to be a couple of advantages to lack of death, but what sort of benefits does death give us (If I wasn't talking about videogames, that sentence would be more than a bit weird). Really, there are more advantages to death than you think.
Gives you a sense of accomplishment:"I beat the game on hard" really means nothing when you consider that as long as you put in the time, it's really impossible not to beat the game. At many points throughout the game, I actually felt a little bit dirty as I shot at the big daddy from inside of a vita-chamber. Often, the game left me feeling that I had not actually beat anything, but rather I managed to grope my way through with the crutch of un-death.
Adds more value to the game:Bioshock (in terms of a shooter) is not a short game, and if you really take the time to explore the environment (which is well worth it) the game becomes fairly long. With that said, adding more value to a game never hurts, and forcing the player to replay sections is a fairly easy way to do it. You may think that this goes in direct contrast with avoiding frustration, but it doesn't have to, just dying a few times doesn't automatically lead to frustration as long as you are still having fun replaying the sections (see the next point).
Forces you to get the most out of the gameplay: This is the clincher. The problem with no death is that it allows you to make it through the game without really exploring all of your options, which are the heart and soul of Bioshock. Instead of just shooting at a big daddy while constantly respawning, imagine that you don't get to respawn instantly, so you must go on a search to find more ammo or tonics to really give you the edge. Really, not only is it adding more value to the game, but it's forcing you to use all your tricks at your disposal to really feel that you've played well, which is really one of the most satisfying feelings in games.
Who wants to live forever?
Bioshock is a great game, but like pretty much every other game in existence, it could have been better. One of the more doable routes to improvement would have been to integrate a checkpoint system that at the very least was optional. Many games have made an almost complete transformation from being games to being experiences and it's clear that the developers of Bioshock wanted to make the experience as focused as it could be by removing the threat of death. However, it's important to remember that death doesn't only exist to make a game harder, but rather, to make the gameplay that is there feel more meaningful, improving the experience for everybody.
As usual, thanks for reading and please comment, what do you think of the lack of death in Bioshock or games in general, do you think it's always a good/bad idea? etc...
(I wrote this stuff for Gamespot, but I'd love to hear some responces to it from a different point of view, this stuff applies to destructoid reviews also, plus this way, I can submit it for the PAX contest. (sorry about the big pictures, like I said, my destructoid cherry remains relatively unpopped, sigh))
Unless you've been living in a cave without a wireless connection over the past month, or you're just uninformed, you've probably noticed that Gamespot has changed it's review system. So, before you get the wrong idea about this post, I want to just say that I really like the new system, the medals really do a good job explaining the main draws a game has to offer and the .5 increments allow the reviewers to assign a score without being constrained by trying to fit all the parts of the game into five categories. However, the new review system is not the point of this post, because the system is done and here to stay (hopefully). However, that's not to say that there isn't room for improvement, because there is. So, right here and now, while the review changes are still fresh, I am proposing that Gamespot change it's review system to use 5 as the average score for reviews (rather than 7). Everything above 5 would be an increasingly above average game, while everything below would be below average (duh).
Before you real-time weapon switch to your tomatoes and throw them at my weakpoint for massive damage, hear me out. I think this switch would really improve the quality of reviews on this site (I obviously feel strongly enough about it to write this).
I believe that the first step before I criticize something is to understand why it's there in the first place. As such, lets discuss why the current system was put in place. According to Gamespots review guidelines:
"The average rating on GameSpot lies between a high 6 and a low 7, which is fully in line with what we believe is the fairly good quality of the average game on store shelves. Because we do not strictly grade on a curve, we have not set 5.0 as our average rating. We believe the high end of our rating scale (the 8 and 9 range) works suitably well to distinguish truly outstanding games from all the others. However, most games really aren't bad."
I agree, most games really aren't bad, but with that said, since the editors and the readers of this site are already interested in video games, it generally doesn't take a lot for us to have a good time with a game. As such, it's clear to see why this system got established in the first place, but it has some unintended consequences which constrict the freedom of the reviewer and potentially confuse the reader . I will discuss them now (bulletedlistchu: I choose you).
1. The middle ground is nearly non-existent.
Since the 8 and 9 range is used "to distinguish truly outstanding games from all the others", that puts the average "good" game in a bit of a fix. The series game player generally don't want to think they are spending time and money on games that are less than good. As such, reviewers are stuck having to label far too many games in the 6.5-7.5 range, which convolutes scores there. Having 5 as the average would allow two extra number for reviews to distribute their scores more evenly and thus have more distinguished levels of quality. This would also allow games that fall into the 6 range but may be worth playing to be looked at more seriously by gamers as they would still be considered above average.
2. The current system is a waste of resources.
As of now, there are only about 20 different scores that the reviewers can assign to a game, and though this may seem like a lot, it's important to acknowledge that the majority of these are used only for games you're probably not interested in in the first place. Take a look at my super scientific chart.
Crummy paint drawing aside, it's important to know that right now, there are significantly more options of scores for games that you probably will not want to buy, than those that you actually need to make a decision about. Ask yourself this: what do you care more about: whether a game gets an 8 or 9, or whether it gets a 1,2,3, or 4, my guess is the former. The proposed system would even this out and give the reviewers even more options for helping consumers make the right decision.
3. Editors choice would mean even more.
Both of these games received editors choice awards, but see if you can tell the key difference between them.
If you guessed "one is an innovative game that will remain a milestone in game history for years, the other one is a pretty fun shooter" give yourself a pat on the back.
The Liandri Conflict is certainly a solid game, but it doesn't come close to RE4 by any stretch of the imagination, yet their scores are only .6 apart. Under the proposed system, there would be more numbers to help differentiate games like these and reserve the hallowed editors choice for the games that are really special. Take the Internet movie database, there are only 3 movies there with a rating above 9, and very few with ratings above 8 all of which represent the pinnacle of filmmaking. On Gamespot, there are hundreds of games with scores above 9 and at least a thousand games with ratings above 8, and, to be blunt, it makes the game playing population appear naive.
4. 8 would no longer be considered a low score.
When Jeff Gerstmann was lampooned for giving Twilight Princess an 8.8, I knew there was a problem. Not because there was anything wrong with the review, but rather because 8.8 is (and should be viewed as) such a high score. To quote the review guidelines again (concerning games in the 8 range): "We highly recommend games in the upper half of this range, since they tend to be good enough to provide an enjoyable experience to fans of the particular genre and to new players alike."
When did "great" start to mean "not great".
However, it's not too hard to see where the criticism was coming from, after all, 8.8 is only 1.8 above the game being just good. However, in the same light, it's only 1.2 points away from the highest score it could possibly receive. under the proposed system, our companies profit margin would go up at least.... No wait, sorry, I mean under the proposed system, 8.8 would be significantly more than the average score and hopefully we could get the
term "great" to actually mean "great".
I believe that this is a far bigger issue than may seem apparent. Writing reviews for games is big business and Gamespot is one of the premier sites on the web. Now is their chance to lead by example and kick the quality of reviews up a notch. The change might seem a bit Jarring at first, but in the end, the editors and consumers would all be better off. Setting the average score to 5 just makes much more sense in every way than the current system.
So, what do you guys think? As usual, I'd love to hear what you think of the proposed plan, and if you think it's a terrible idea, that's great too, just make sure you explain why you think that. I'd especially like to hear one of the editor's stance on the issue.
So comment and disscuss and maybe we can triumph for the well being of all our time and wallets.