2.13.2007

Stealth Bore

For someone who loves to be Stealthy in games, I really, really, hate most straight stealth-style play. I recognize that games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid are amazing, but I sometimes can't force myself to play. There is hope for stealth, though. Before you get angry, allow me to elaborate.Let's focus on Metal Gear Solid 3 as an example of a more recent, highly-acclaimed stealth game. I do NOT understand how parts of this game are supposed to be fun. The first few hours of the game have you sneaking through the jungle, often hiding in tall grass or hollow trees for minutes at a time until a guard walks by. Now, I understand the intention here: build up suspense as the player lies in wait, hoping the guard won't notice him/her. Cool idea, but it just doesn't click. In other media, scenes like this work, because you don't know what the character will do next. In games, though, you just sit there, waiting for the guard to mosey on past you to make your move. It doesn't even take skill to do; of course, you just wait for the guard to walk far away/turn his back/take a nap to make your move. Is anyone having to restart because they mistakenly thought the solution would be to get the guard's attention and engage him in boring, sleep-inducing conversation?

Hey, if I can put my controller down for 2 minutes straight, I had better be watching some awesome cut scene. Otherwise, I feel like the game is wasting my time. Unfortunately, watching this scene play out on a TV screen just isn't immersive enough. Perhaps in the Holodeck 400 years from now, hiding in a crate, cramped, and trying to slow your breathing would be amazingly powerful. Now, though? ...well, meh.

There are types of stealth play that I think games can and do implement well, but they're normally not highly acclaimed as being stealth games. Some FPS games do this well, I think. In multiplayer, killing your friend without him ever seeing you just feels great, especially if you sneak up from behind and just pistol-whip him. These types of Stealth are fast-paced, but still require patience and build suspense. I just wish we could see stealth design focus more on sneaking than waiting in a box until the sun goes down, making it dark enough to slip undetected by a guard, inch by inch, over the course of 28 minutes.

Look, game designers. Ninjas are awesome. It's scientific fact. Ninjas were, I'm told, trained to hang from a ledge/ceiling for hours in order to avoid detection. That is very cool, but I bet you it's one of the shittiest parts of a ninja's day.

What'd you do today?
I infiltrated a shogun's castle and backflip-kicked 30 samurai in the jaw!
Awesome.

What'd you do today?
I lay in wait for 8 hours, but the time for my assassination wasn't ripe. I'll go back tomorrow and continue to whittle a hole in the ceiling with my pinkie fingernail.
Not Awesome.

1 comment:

James17930 said...

Check out the PS2 James Bond game Everything or Nothing. Most levels basically give you the option of trying to be stealthy, which involves creeping around, using head-shots to kill the guys before they notice you, but if you want to go running through guns-a-blazing you can do that too.

And the two-player co-operative is really fun.