We all loved it when Wolfenstein 3D came out, followed by Doom 2, finally allowing us to shoot people in 3 dimentions. Such a revolution in gaming has been followed by, well, it hasn’t been followed by anything but the same. The recent “revolutionary” releases of Doom 3, Half Life 2 and Halo 2 have shown us that not a goddam thing has changed in recent gaming except for graphics.
To illustrate my point, here’s an anecdote: Bear and I borrowed Hordak’s Xbox for a couple days just to play the original Halo. I thought to myself, “Oh, cool, with 2 players cooperating, sitting right next to each other, this could lead to really good teamplay.” This image was quickly shattered as the height of teamplay became Bear yelling “GRENADE!”, me fumbling with tunnel vision to find where on the ground he threw it and, a couple seconds later, taking the full blast from under my feet.
This is the frustrating thing about first person shooters, yet it brings up a more fundamental issue about video games and games in general. All games are designed to simulate something and make it “easier” than before. Now, the sense of “easier” here means alot of things, including less expensive, less dangerous, less tiring, quicker or just possible in the first place.
Consider sports for a second. These are physical games that simulate combat to some degree. Boxing, wrestling, rugby and football are more direct in that effect but even badminton and swimming involve physical competition with a declared loser, and losing symbolizes death. Sports as competition invoke physical aspects of parties and declares winners, usually without any necissary harm to anyone involved. This, less dangerous, is one sense of “easier” stated above.
Back to video games, they simulate taking on challenges that no one is ever up to. Shooting guns, flying planes or slaying dragons are all less expensive, easier and, in the case of the dragons, only possible in the first place through video games. Mario and Luigi can jump forward and land a few steps behind. The dude from Grand Theft Auto can steal cars with the press of a button and the player at home really doesn’t get arrested. That’s not to say that everything in a video game is easier than anything in life. It’s that the parallels should be easier. Here’s a checklist for first person shooters and how they compare to real life.
- Shooting a gun = easier, less expensive, less dangerous
- Movement = quicker, easier, less tiring
- Being on a space station, fighting aliens = only possible through games
- The ability to glance down at your feet, taking in 180 degree peripheral vision = COMPLETELY NON-EXISTANT
This is exactly what’s wrong with first person shooters. Until this is seriously addressed, there will be no more “revolutionizing” of first person shooters, unless you’re the kind that counts graphical facelifts.