Friday, April 11, 2008

Your City Asplode!

Half Life 2 - "Follow Freeman" level

Call of Duty 4 - Charlie Don't Surf level

I don't know about other people, but I find urban combat settings in shooters to be among my favorite. There is something about being in a chaotic warzone, bullets flying, rockets propelling, soldiers yelling in the distance, that gets me much more excited than your standard corridors and rooms in most shooters. Perhaps it's the feeling of being a small part of greater battle that is exciting. The battles also feel much more desperate and frantic. Any moment, you could walk around a corner and see an army of foes approaching you. It's not like a battlefield in the 18th century where everyone rushes at each other across a field.

Some games like CoD 2 don't get that feeling right. Everything feels very self contained in that game. Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) and its sequel also didn't quite get the feeling right for me. The levels were too sterile. It was only your squad, occasional support, and Mexican rebels. There were no civilians, animals, or anything to make it feel like a living city. It may come down to something as simple as sound design. If I can hear shouting, gunshots, and other sounds of battle in the distance, like they're just over that wall there, I immediately like a level more than if they weren't.

A good non-game example is the end of the movie Children of Men, when Clive Owen's character runs through a battle in the refugee city looking for the baby. I couldn't find a good clip of it, but if you've seen the movie you know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, that's one way a game developer can make me like their game more.


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