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Mechanics That Require Remembrance And Reuse
Throughout the years, we have experienced a multitude of great games; unfortunately, at the same time we have also had the misfortune to behold some of the worst too *cough* Ride to Hell *cough.* There are also the games on the in-between. Games that; with a few extra little features, could have been great. Or at the very least decent.
Now there are many mechanics that can be considered brilliant, however, some can quickly become tired and overused. First thing that comes to my mind is bullet time, followed swiftly by everything involved in the Ubisoft formula. Injecting the same features into all of the triple A games they have churned out the past few years wasn’t exactly going to go unnoticed. Their unhealthy obsession with towers is truly astounding. On the flip side, what about the mechanics that nobody ever really touches? Some of which you would think could be easily implemented into most genres.
This here is just a short list and thoughts on some great features that developers seem to be ignoring. The games may not be the original source but they are where I believe they stood out the most.
Battlefield 1942: Ammunition
Way back when, in 2002, the incredibly popular Battlefield series had a rather…… Obvious mechanic, at least when it came to reloading your weapons. 1942’s ammunition ran on a clip-by-clip basis. Meaning; that whenever you reloaded your weapons, all of the ammunition currently left in the magazine would be discarded. This presents a rather intriguing new layer of strategy and item management which many games could have benefited from. For example, the original Bioshock. According to numerous interviews and walkthroughs, Bioshock developer Ken Levine had intended resources to be scarce and incredibly valuable, where every decision you made and shot you fired had to be carefully considered. A game where every action had consequences consistently throughout. Obviously that didn’t come to be. However, if they had implemented this simple mechanic, perhaps it would have helped them succeed and add another layer of tension to what was indubitably, a great game. Do you go into the next room with half a clip loaded, risking death? Or can you afford to dispense with those precious bullets in order to be completely loaded and prepared for a possible encounter?
Gears of War: Active reload
One cannot talk about reloading without mentioning this simple, slick little gem. The active reload system gave the player the ability to not only reload faster but also, if timed perfectly, gave a temporary buff to the weapon. The buffs admittedly could have been more varied, it was mostly just increased damage, fire rate or range. On the other hand if you failed to time it correctly your gun jammed, costing you potentially vital seconds. This created a interesting little dynamic every single time you reloaded. Something many fail to notice though is that after consecutive “perfect” reloads, the sweet spot was incrementally decreased, making it increasingly difficult to hit. This is something that most shooters can implement and add in their own little spin, perhaps a different penalty or buff depending on the weapon. Fail a active reload on a RPG? Why not have it blow up in your face? Raise the stakes a little. Make active reloading something that you don’t always use but a gamble you consciously have to take in dire situations? Possibilities are there. Such a great feature should be built on.
Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater: Camouflage
Arguably one of the best games available and for good reason. It was a solid game with lots of interesting features and systems as well as the series-standard innovative boss fights; the ability to preemptively kill a boss before the battle even began still makes me grin. There were also some standout features that the player had to deal with throughout the entire game, some were even used to help emphasis the plot. Up to release and after, the camouflage system had a lot of interest whirling around it. Rightly so, it helped deepen the immersion and provided a wealth of game play options, adding yet another lovely layer to the Kojima Cake. Unfortunately, aside from other games in the series, nobody has really even tried to emulate it. Why not use it in a horror game? Eject those ubiquitous lockers that plague all recent forays into the genre, take a leaf out of The Walking Dead’s book. Try implementing the ability to use monster or zombie innards as camouflage. How about having movement and certain environmental effects such as rain or wind wash it off? As a result the camouflage percentage would begin to tick lower and lower at the top of the screen, all the while, your hunters are mere inches from you; shambling around, detection and death possible at any second. That would be much more unsettling than the usual scares we have grown accustomed and ambivalent to.
Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater: Medical Treatment
The medical treatment system was rather complex for the time. Depending on what type of injury you had sustained you would have required different treatments and medication; for example, eating poisonous food would simply require a antidote where as a gun wound would have needed you to remove the bullet with a knife, disinfect the wound and then dress it. Unfortunately, there were no negative effects if the player administered the wrong treatment, a missed opportunity perhaps. A more interesting and deep health management system is something I really hope to see implemented into more games, mostly the negative effects you procured if your wounds were left unchecked. Even if it is little more than a dumb downed version of the original Deus Ex, i still feel it would be worth using. All these added features are what makes a game, give the player options. Do you fix your useless leg so you no longer share the movement speed of a turtle? Or perhaps your left arm so you can use more than just a hand gun?
Fear 3: Asymmetrical co-op
Admittedly, not the most well received game. But, it did have something that stood out to me. The co-op could have just been the standard ordeal, something to tick on the back of the box. One Point Man and his inconsequential soldier buddy taking on the world, if that had been the case then this game would have faded into ambiguity. Instead we are gifted with a little treat, something that may have actually justified purchase for those other than fans of the series. Day 1 Studios created a whole new way to play the game, effectively doubling the games length. Fettel, the alternative playable character and previous series antagonist, was limited to a outlandish move set ranging from possession to telekinesis, he was also unable to take much damage before death. This required more thought out engagements as opposed to the gun-ho, bullet sponge protagonist and his constant slow motion power. Working together allowed for a large variety of strategies for the players to use in order to survive. This is a feature that has a near limitless potential if done correctly however if you require a prime example as to how it is done incorrectly, look no further than Hunted: The Demons Forge.
Vanquish: The Cigarette
I am almost embarrassed to confess this but I sailed through the entire game without even realizing this existed, although looking back, it would have undoubtedly been helpful. While behind cover, a simple button press caused the players character to light up a cigarette and casually toss it away. Akin to distracting a guard with a bottle in a stealth game; this little beauty momentarily drew the fire of nearby enemies who were previously pinning you down, allowing you to quickly pop out and score a few head-shots or even slide to a better position. As well as being a viable option in combat it also had a added bonus of looking rather bad ass when executed.
Undoubtedly there are many many more game mechanics that should be given attention, it is a near tireless subject after all. However I hope to see developers expand and improve on what actually makes a game fun to play for this console generation, not just focusing on increased graphic fidelity like the most recent releases. I remain hopeful though, it is still very early into the consoles life span. Put it this way, they cant exactly get much worse. All uphill from here on I hope.