The Mysteries of Regenerative Gaming

This is one of the funniest articles I think I’ve ever written. It took me a while but finally it’s here for the world to embrace – or not! Gamersguidetolife.com posted it this morning so head on over there to give us some support. Oh, and leave some feedback on what part you thought was the funniest!

If you look around the industry, you’ll notice that regenerative health remains a favourite mechanic amongst developers, and why shouldn’t it? Continuing your onslaught of chainsawing, bullet-hosing manliness after absorbing sustained amounts of firepower to your sternum is always a win. But haven’t you wondered how our favorite protagonists come out of these predicaments alive? Perhaps you’ve questioned exactly what is preventing those bullets from perpetually penetrating their adventures? The answers lie within.

Many think that Halo was the pioneer of regenerative health. And, in a way, they’re right; Bungie did bring the critically-acclaimed mechanic to the forefront of mainstream gaming. The birthing of it, though, is located in another castle completely. Nonetheless, regaining lost health after avoiding damage for a period of time is a smooth, insanely popular feature in contemporary games. It provides players with a reason to utilise cover while still being able to bounce back from mistakes in the midst of battle. How else were you supposed to recover from the prismatic dragon-ninja’s shuriken of dark lightning? It makes sense gameplay-wise, but as far as the games that utilise it – that’s a whole different ball game.

Now this list isn’t just about games that use regenerating health; no siree. That list would be far too lengthy and lacks the focus we’re going for here. Instead, this list is fixing its unending gaze on the games that contain unexplained reasons why your character regenerates. If a dinosaur clawed my spleen from the confines of my body, I probably wouldn’t recover very well. In videogames, however, they can do so with no real issue. How is this justice?

Each game in the following list will receive a score based on how believable its form of regeneration is. A score of ten marks the most believable regeneration, whilst one indicates ghastliness. Here we go.


The Killzone franchise has been through quite a lot during its lifetime. First it was a muddy, messy, overhyped PS2 game; then it transformed into a visually appealing, constantly-delayed PS3 title. And who could forget that glowing PSP game? Regardless of where you stand with the series, Killzone has done one thing consistently from the very beginning: regeneration.
I don’t get it though. You’re the standard space marine who – like the rest of the flock, apparently – is capable of absorbing countless numbers of bullets. Okay, okay: you’re wearing weird space military gear and all that, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it doesn’t come equipped with quantum-regenerative mind-gear.

Verdict: These guys aren’t Warhammer 40,000 genetically-altered Space Marines of doom. Bullets hurt badly, and I’m not convinced you can bounce back from a Helghast shooting a rocket down your throat. Still, they’ve got some pretty fancy technology, so maybe its possible. Just maybe… [5/10]

Assassin’s Creed

Assassins-Creed-Series (1)
Altaïr, Ezio; whoever your assassin of choice is, it doesn’t matter. Both of these badass dudes regenerate anything, from minor cuts to arrows in their ass. I think my biggest issue with Ubisoft’s star child is that when you’re fighting someone, another comes up and wants a piece. That’s cool, but things escalate rather quickly, and before you know it you’ve got armoured guards wanting to shove their six-foot pike in unwieldy places. The combat makes it a bit touchy to counter blows every single time, so it’s inevitable that you’re going to be hit with some form of weapon.

Let’s paint a picture: your screen is flashing red, you’re screaming, you’re running, and you suddenly heal back to full. How does this even happen? Do assassins in the Crusades or Renaissance Italy possess the ability to mend wounds with a snap of the fingers? Yes, you’re technically controlling a memory brought forth by the Animus, but the machine doesn’t give you Final Fantasy powers.

Verdict: Sorry: these highly trained, highly skilled assassins may be the cream of the crop when it comes to silent murder, but they’re no mutant. They’re wearing cloth and light armour so as to be weightless enough to run from any pursuer. However, if hit by tangible force, fall like tangible assassin. There’s no Curaga in this time period. I’d say that you should at least have to be hidden to regain health. [3/10]


Mirror’s Edge

You can shoot people in this game, but it sucks. It sucks because you can’t run whilst firing, and running is what this game is all about. And the running isn’t short of its own problems, either.

Running! How the hell can you run when you’ve just been roundhouse kicked by a rhinoceros? It’s a fair question: you’re usually being chased by beefy officers or kung-fu masters who, against your delicate feminine frame, could cause some noticeable damage.

Sometimes you actually have to stop and initiate combat manoeuvres, which is fine, but you take the risk of getting injured. I guess the risk isn’t too large though, because in the future everyone seems to have regenerative implants.

Verdict: I don’t know about you, but after I get shot I can totally do a double wall jump. [1/10]


Red Dead Redemption

Great as Rockstar’s wild west adventure may have been, did they explain their regeneration system? In short: no. You’d think that, in an environment where greats were born and slain, you’d receive a little more realism when it comes to pain.

Don’t get me wrong, you can kill people in a shot or two (which is just like real life, apparently), but some of the punishment you can take is downright ridiculous. With the amount of shootouts you encounter, you’ll be tucking yourself away to regenerate constantly. After the eightieth bullet, that leg of yours should be the most decrepit thing on the planet.

Verdict: How about that deer you shot? Do you see it running over to the nearest form of cover? That’s right, you didn’t. It isn’t coming back, because it can’t regenerate. Instead, it died, like in real life. Are you even listening or are you just skinning that deer? [4/10]


Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 wasn’t the best game. Questionable AI, dodgy respawning points and horrible stealth mechanics made this gamer cry in dirty corners, but at least the health system was unique.

And gross.

As this video indicates, you can heal manually if you’re at critical health. This form of manual regeneration entails some of the most grotesque animations I’ve ever witnessed. Pulling glass from your wrist, prising bullets free from your kneecaps, wriggling wire out from between your fingers; Far Cry 2 tries its best to make you vomit.

While this mechanic is unquestionably awesome, it makes no friggin’ sense whatsoever. How the hell does pushing a bullet through your arm give health? I’m no medical expert but I’m pretty sure that after you pull a large piece of shrapnel from your arm, it’s going to bleed and you probably aren’t going to be using it for a while.

Verdict: Points for disposing of the junk in your body, but deductions for the nonsensical health giving. Also, since the animations are random you could be shot at, and then all-of-a-sudden be pulling a shard of glass from your wrist. Unless the enemy is armed with wine-bottle launchers, that shouldn’t happen. [6/10]


GoldenEye 007 (2010 Wii version)

This re-imagining of the famed N64 shooter was high on many gamers’ lists of unbridled anticipation. Then it came out. All I can say here is that Daniel Cr… – er, I mean, James Bond – now regenerates health rather than having to use med kits. Thanks go to Activision, for shattering my nostalgia into lots of tiny unsalvageable pieces with the most contrived game mechanic possible. Why not add laser cannons and giant mechs next time?

Verdict: James Bond is not a space marine. At least, not yet. As good a spy as he is, he’s still only a man, and a well-placed bullet ought to puncture his anatomy like a nail through a slab of soft butter. [2/10]


Gears of War

Only the manliest of men can say that this game doesn’t feature enough gore. Gears of War is responsible for doing a lot right, and a whole lot wrong – see Gears of War 2’s multiplayer mode, for instance. Regardless, Marcus Fenix and his COG brethren are fighting a war that they must win. And what equipment do they have in order to ensure this victory against a heavily-armed, ruthless enemy? Chainsaws and standard-issue armour.

Just to remind you, these people are fighting against a horde of mutant angries called the Locust, who have a whole arsenal of hurt just waiting to be unleashed. How does a unit that are struggling for any type of technology fight against beasts the size of small buildings with rockets strapped to their back?

They regenerate, of course.

Verdict: There are no shields, no special infusions to make you a God, nothing. That obviously means that when a colossal space laser descends onto the surface of the world, hitting you square in the forehead, so long as you get out of the blast radius within a few seconds everything’s good. Where is the sense? [2/10]



uncharted3drakesdeception_art-02This blows my mind. Nathan Drake and company are wearing what appear to be clearance items from JC Penney, and they have no fear of taking on waves of enemies. What happens when Drake gets shot? The obvious of course: he regenerates. But how?! How can you heal gaping shrapnel and bullet wounds, with your half-tucked shirt as your only form of protection?

Verdict: I guess half-tucked shirts are the new Kevlar. [1/10]


Call of Duty

There is nobody in the entire galaxy that would be able to survive a .50 cal straight to the chest at point-blank range. No manner of Void Armor, magical forces or hostage children used as shields could save you from your dire fate. In Call of Duty, however, apparently they can.

I still remember the day I stopped playing Modern Warfare. I was patiently waiting for some camping hobo to return to the window he’d shot me from several times before. When he appeared, I focused and fired a very accurate shot, dead centre in the middle of the poorly-hidden gentleman’s chest. And he didn’t die. Even despite the fact that my reticle registered the hit, the bastard lived and shot me again.

Verdict: No. [1/10]


Red Faction Guerrilla

Red Faction is known for its ridiculously enticing destruction. The GeoMod is something that hasn’t been embraced throughout the industry, and it’s ridiculous that it hasn’t been utilised more. However, the very mod I was just praising shows why Guerrilla’s regeneration system makes no sense.

First off, Alex Mason is wearing some kind of industrial rain coat that frightens me. Second, you can be decimating a building and have a two-by-four block of solid concrete fall straight on your face, and yet can still get up after the ragdoll physics have stopped, and be good for another round. Is Mason made of rubber or something? Last time I checked, he was still human, and concrete still really, really hurts when thrown on top of you.

Verdict: Even on Mars, a building collapsing on you is still a building collapsing on you. You’re not coming back out. Ever. [1/10]