[We've been getting a ton of great entries for the Monthly Musing so far -- enough that I can promote a blog every single day this week! Today's blog is brought to you by Stevil, who discusses the decline and evolution of the difficult and unforgiving tactical shooter genre. There is also a jazzy chart. If you haven't written a blog on the topic yet, I still need promotions for the rest of the month! Go ahead and post something, and you might end up seeing your work on the front page. - JRo]
If you’ve ever played the original Rainbow Six trilogy, then you’ll be acquainted with the Groundhog Day feeling that accompanies their missions.
The original Rainbow Six trilogy had plots, but political intrigue was paraded in the background. Your role was merely to guide specialists through tense last-resort situations. These were videogames primarily about tactics; level designs that focused heavily on stealth kills, timing, and team co-ordination. Much of the intensity comes from advantageous breaching and clearing, with fire-fights barely lasting a second.
So, how do you make something heavily focus on intimate combat and somehow entertain with narrative gratification simultaneously?
One prominent solution is to ditch the realism and turn NPCs into near-invincible bullet sponges. At a cost, tactics are streamlined to the point where you play a backseat driver, e.g. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. WWII shooter Brothers in Arms is a similar streamlined franchise that tries to make you care about your fellow men, but what’s the point if they’ll always die in scripted scenes?
So we turn to online co-op for our immersive risks. Videogames like Operation Flashpoint and Left 4 Dead offer some semblances of tactics in their plotted scenarios, but the communication comes from real people. The stories are there in-progress, but ultimately, the situations are slight in comparison to single player experiences such as Rainbow Six: Vegas to prevent endless déjà-vu with skill fluctuating comrades.