Thursday, June 26, 2008

Successful Experiment is Successful

The Great Game Watching Experiment of 2008 was, I think, mostly successful. We got all the way through Call of Duty 4 on the easiest difficulty. Even on that difficulty, there are parts of the game that were fairly difficult. It's interesting when you compare it to Halo or Half-Life and see the wildly different levels of difficulty that make up the so-called "Easy" setting.

Erin and Dan seemed to have trouble following the plot in certain points. COD4 in particular relies a lot on the loading screen between levels to set up the context for what's about to happen, and if you miss the information presented, either through text or voice overs, the following level won't always make much sense.

It was also interesting for me to replay the game with the intent of giving the other people in the room the best "view" of the action. I was acting as the director in a real sense, so I tried to make sure I was always facing where scripted actions were occurring so they wouldn't miss cool and interesting scenes. Sometimes I was successful, other times I don't think I was.

As I was playing I noticed where the game padded its length to fit more "game" in. I don't mean padded as in it needlessly made its length longer. I mean in the sense that there are sequences where the plot isn't advanced in order for the player to complete certain scenarios that are fun and exciting. Before, when I thought back on the game, I usually remembered the major plot points: the opening assassination, the nuclear blast, the utterly epic slow motion finale. I didn't really think about all the stuff that happened between those moments. COD4 could absolutely be condensed into an awesome action movie, I think. However, sequences like saving the disabled tank, the escape from the farm while calling in air strikes, and possibly the escape and standoff from Chernobyl didn't do much to advance the story. They're exciting to play, but for someone watching me play, it dilutes the main plot of the game and makes it hard to remember what's going on.

We'll be trying The Darkness next. It's got a story with a bit more emotional heft, and tells it a bit more traditionally as far as videogames are concerned. It has five acts, so I'm hoping we can do one act a night until we're finished.

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