While I do love a challenge, I'm a big fan of the passive and unaware enemies. Under this umbrella, I include enemies under preemptive attack (RPG), snuck behind (3rd Person Espionage), flanked or distracted (FPS), or well, just the dumb ones. The dumb ones specifically from Left 4 Dead. While I never get sick of the feeling of headshotting a moving, human-controlled target with a sniper rifle, there's something about headshotting a passive, mindless zombie with a shotgun, with all its glorious gore, that just makes me smile. But what kind of effect does killing unaware enemies have on the gamer?
Ralph was Google Image'd from the internets.
Author's Note: I chose to go in order of RPG, 3rd Person Espionage, and then FPS because that is the order I've taken to liking the passive enemy type. I grew up playing RPGs on the Genesis, Saturn, PS1-2 (The Shining Series, then Working Designs games on the Saturn, then the Final Fantasy series on PS1-2). Metal Gear Solid came into my life when the PS1 did because of the demo disc that it came with. You know which one I'm talking about. Once I started getting into PC gaming later on, I got into the Splinter Cell series. A bit before that, I got into FPSs like Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Brothers in Arms, and SWAT 4 to name a few but never took them very seriously. Not until Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Rainbow Six Vegas 2, and Unreal Tournament 3 did I start getting into flanking and other forms of distraction.
You can't really complain when life hands you lemons, or well, in this case, unsuspecting enemies with backs turned to you. While grinding in RPGs, I take whatever I can get to make things easier on me and get the most out of my time. Getting lucky with preemptive attacks really helps with that. My experiences come mainly from the Final Fantasy (7-10) series. If I remember correctly, preemptive attacks start with your party's ATB meters maxed and attacking an enemy from behind dealt double damage. Any slow and unlucky creatures would be my favourite since it would be easier to get a preemptive attack with them. Also, what does this say about the destructive focus of games on gamers? Getting into a battle you have the advantage in helps ease the blahs of grinding, especially when your victims drop rare items or a crapton of cash to spend on better equipment, skills, etc.
Venturing outside of the turn-based battle system and into real-time and in the third-person, there's nothing quite like using your ninja skills to sneak up behind an opponent and give 'em the good old one-hit kill. While kind of weak in games like Manhunt, doing your first sneak attack in a game like Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell gives you a sense of accomplishment. Also, having a large number of ways to kill unsuspecting grunts in those games always keeps the experience fresh. MGS2 adds a new sense of control on your enemies when holding them up. MGS3 added CQC which makes the sneak attack -> grapple hold the best position to be in to do whatever you want to an opponent. Splinter Cell's arsenal of gadgets provides hours of creative ways to prey upon the unaware. Favourite enemies in games of the genre are the ones that don't end up spotting you and are easy to pick off. What kind of effect does the sneak attack have on gamers? It reminds them that killing their enemies quietly prevents them from calling back-up.
Probably the most common game type for distracted enemies (both human and AI-controlled) to bite the dust would be the first-person shooter. I know I love sneaking behind enemy lines and just unloading clips on unsuspecting nubs though I find it happens to me more often than not (mostly in the form of backstabs in TF2 when playing as the medic or heavy). Though, when the opportunity strikes and I see enemies preoccupied with other things, I do my best to take advantage of their vulnerabilities. Better yet, do what the skilled players do and cause their vulnerabilities to show through distractions: flashbangs, decoy explosions, whatever you can to just offset the opponent's attention. It's like the sleight of hand that magicians use; take your attention away from the pack of cards for a second and the magician has free reign over deck control. Then, you're dead.
This scene from TF2 was also Google Image'd from the internets.
The most recent, and my favourite first-person shooter involving unaware victims is Left 4 Dead. This game rekindles my love for the pump shotgun. I love how you can just walk up to a zombie, wait for them to notice you, then BAM, blood in your face and the immediate surroundings. My favourite sections of each campaign would be the first stage of each since it's just a walk in the park (in some cases, it is exactly that). Outside of those, my next would have to be the start of the fourth stage in Death Toll. Picking off all of those zombies from the church "balcony", it's a nice place to get a lot of free headshots. And of course I love the finales but I'm talking about passive enemies here.
I screencap'd this image from Left 4 Dead myself.
So, what do we learn about first-person shooters and its effect on gamers? Kill or be killed. The longer you can keep your health points, the longer you stay alive, so kill before they can "see" you.
So overall, what does the destructive focus on games do to gamers' idea of killing?
It gives gamers the ideas that:
Killing makes you rich.
Killing lightens your workload.
And killing makes you live longer.