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mgspada's blog

5:34 PM on 11.03.2008

First person shooters: The character is a gun. Really?

I work for a small online games retailer in Waltham, Massachusetts. I work with many people who play video games. There is one kid in particular, though, I'll call him...Keith. His favorite game of all time is Grand Theft Auto IV. He plays the online multiplayer from when he gets home at 5pm, until he goes to bed at 2am. And on weekends? He plays it from the moment he gets up until the moment he goes to bed. I am not exaggerating at all. He is hardcore about that game.

We talk games all the time, to make the day go by. I'll talk once in a while of my exploits on Call of Duty 4 over Xbox Live, or how fantastic games like BioShock or Portal are. I'm not a huge shooter fan, honestly. The three I mentioned are pretty much all I've played in the last two years or so. But what happens when I mention them? He flips his lid!

"First person shooters are so fuckin' dumb. You have to be a retard to like them," he'll say. I can kind of respect that. Some people get motion sickness, or some people find the genre to have way too many generic titles to really sift through and find the truly outstanding ones.
"Why?" I would ask.
"Because the character is a gun. It's a fuckin' gun. That's so stupid! Why would I want to play as a gun?"
"But you aren't playing as a gun. You are playing from the perspective of a character. You see what they see."
"No you aren't! You're playing as a gun! No personality, you can't even see anybody. You just see the gun. Why would I play as a gun? I don't get it."
"But you're missing out on some of the best stories ever told in games! BioShock is so incredibly immersive and beautifully done and--"
"Nope. That game sucks. You're a gun, it's dumb."
"But you're not a gun! You are a man who ends up in this abandoned underwater society and you find out how the place fell apart and--"
"No you don't, you're playing as a gun. You're an idiot for liking those games."

So, let me ask you all this: Do you ever feel like you are playing as a gun in a first person shooter? Are there FPSes where the immersion is just not there and you think you're just playing as a gun? Or do some people just not understand that there is more than one way to see your character in a game?

UPDATE: As of January of 2009, he has turned around out of the blue. After tons of begging and pleading for him to play CoD4, Left 4 Dead, and other outstanding shooters, he has embraced the first person perspective. He now has replaced GTA IV with CoD:WaW as his game of choice every day, and frequently plays L4D when myself and others are online to play it with him.   read

6:13 PM on 08.25.2008

Instant Replay: Metal Gear Solid 2

I think it takes a lot for me to go back to a game. Unfortunately, I am the type that picks up a new game, plays around with it, and then OH SNAP! A new game comes out. Time to grab that new game, and let's forget about that other thing I was playing. I've probably only beaten about 30% of my collection, maybe only 3% of which I've COMPLETED. That's not a lot. Sure, it gives me time to play other games and experience a lot more than others, but at the same time I'm sure I'm missing out on a lot.

So what exactly is it that keeps me coming back to Metal Gear Solid 2? A game that many people take steamy dumps on for its pseudo-philosophical storyline, overly dramatic voice acting, predictable and linear gameplay, and the question, "Do you remember what day it is tomorrow?" I'll tell you what: the stuff I just mentioned.

I don't care what anyone says. Philosophical or not, the story has made me think about life. The game makes me contemplate the passing on of information, and has made me realize just how much more important that is than passing on genes. Genes get all screwy in the process, and if you keep going down in history, your own genes are but the most minute fraction of the sexy 6033 AD supergenes of our descendants. So it made me think: kids are annoying, lame, and a huge waste of money. Why not create something incredible to pass on, something that keeps my name alive forever?

All that stuff aside, though, the game does so many amazing things with its story and gameplay that keep me coming back for more. I want to relive, over and over, what I feel are some of gaming's best moments. That original mindrape when you first see Raiden still gets to me. Remembering how I felt the first time I felt betrayed, and going through the game remembering how I grew to love Raiden as a character, how he was needed to tell the story the way producer Hideo Kojima saw fit. I want to relive the amazing scene when the tanker sinks, I want to relive the fight against the Metal Gears, I want to relive the emotional moment when the usually emotionless Snake embraces Otacon, something a man with a beard like Snake never does. So many moments that made me feel SOMETHING, moments that stay in my memory as clear as day.

And if the story doesn't keep me coming back, there's nothing like classic stealth action. MGS2 improved upon everything its predecessor did that made it amazing. It felt like the perfect, ultimate Metal Gear experience. Figuring out enemy patterns and planning out a route to not get caught is still thrilling after having played through the game over ten times, and the feeling of me vomiting all over my controller when I get caught never goes away. I don't care how mechanical and linear MGS2 is, I don't care that there's pretty much only one or two ways to do any given task in the game. There's something about the way the game is set up and the way that everything comes together so brilliantly that makes me never, ever want to stop playing this game.

What brings it all together is the overall experience, and how no game has ever matched it. When have you ever had an established hero, a character you fell in love with, and then watch them go on to assist you for another game while you're stuck as someone completely different? The huge risk that Kojima took by taking Solid Snake out of the spotlight for a while before thrusting him back just to the side of it is something I cannot recall any other man in Kojima's shoes doing. It took massive balls and is still a risk he does not regret. By not only doing that, but turning everything you thought you knew about the real and fictional world on its head, is something few games do, and even fewer do well, it makes MGS2 an experience that is unmatched, seven years later.

I think what makes the perfect game is gameplay that keeps you coming back and keeps you entertained, a story that makes you think as well as react emotionally, and an experience that cannot be duplicated in any way, shape or form. And if a game is perfect in your eyes, you're going to want to play it again and again, regardless of how many copies of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts or Left 4 Dead are headed your way.

And believe me, I love me some Banjo.   read

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