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“Here you are!”

“Why thanks, I’ll be glad to share with you my view on this particular matter!”

Stupid introduction aside, the pennies category refers to my opinions on various subject matter. Since these aforementioned opinions won’t fit the pre-play or the review categories they deserve one of their own. So my first penny will be on this:

“Violence!?” – You say

“No, no, you misunderstand! This man whose face is being tenderized into non-existance by Roy Jones Jr. represents IMPACT, not violence!” – I say

Right right, enough with the faux dialogue. Today’s topic is in summary about fidelity in games. That is, how much does games make you believe that your rocket launcher just turned a house into unrecognizable scraps of cinders, as opposed to you just seeing a computer generated explosion that makes feel a little sad that you’re not out burning things to satisfy your wicked urges.

I’m not really going to address sound and explosions today. As was hinted with the picture of Mr. Jones (Jr.?) destroying that poor man’s face, I want to say something about how characters connect with their fists, swords, bullets and heavy-metal lightning bolts, etc. I’ll start off by saying this. We’re spoiled, people! We’ve had it too good, so now we’re all expecting too much from games!

What is it we’re expecting too much of, exactly? Well, realism, I think. I’m not talking about the sort of realism that refers to our world with 9/11 bombings and political polls and Ben & Jerrys ice-cream, but rather the type of realism that when distilled makes you really feel like the unnamed heroic hunter bringing down his mighty longsword on a beast’s neck(more on that below). I’ll try not to address Final Fantasy XIII just yet, but there is one aspect of the game that I want to bring up that really bothers me. The combat feels uninspiring, to put it bluntly. Without going into story and characters my opinion is that the combat lacks gravity and impact. Characters fling about like they were made out of air and when they strike, it feels like they’re slicing air. Surprisingly though, sometimes a huge beast will give you a smack and you think “Oh man, that beast’s swipe was soooo-ooo cool, if that had hit me I’d been turned into juicy chunks of beast-food!”

Primarily my issue lies with the main character, you know, the one with the pig-tail. And also with the blonde ridiculously cool looking (the japanese sort of cool) blonde guy. When they hit, I don’t feel the impact. When they return to the places from where they attacked, it looks as if their sprint there was a breeze. When they stop they stop dead on the spot as if they carried no momentum. One could regard it as nitpicking, but for a game that’s been in development for so long, I just wish it made me feel each hit. You might remember Final Fantasy VIII. The protagonist Squall was this ridiculously cool looking (again the Japanese sort of cool) guy, whose weapon was a gunblade (more on blades married with guns below). When you used Squall’s gunblade to strike you had the option of timing a press of R2. Perfect timing on this resulted in more damage, and a satisfying boom and a flash of the screen. This mechanic, coupled with the fact that the animations in FFVIII had the feeling of momentum made for an awesome feeling of impact.

So, how does a sequel to a game fail at absorbing something like this? I don’t know. I may simply not be far enough into the game to see when the main protagonist suddenly feels her blade becoming more heavy so that her animations get cooler. All I know is that there’s a slight feeling of discord when what we perceive to be a natural element of swinging something heavy is removed and we instead see some uncommitted French “i cyldn’t care lez if I dyn’t hid anyzing”-swing (that’s probably not a French accent..)  that doesn’t seem to connect. With this off-key note ringing in our (my) head, we (I) get a bit turned off. This is why I say we’ve been spoiled. We’ve been blessed with many games that animate so goshdarned perfectly that our standards have been turned way way up. For instance, I had decided to replay the E3 2009 demo of God of War 3 since the release is approaching rapidly. And man, when Kratos smacks the chimera with his cestus, you feel the impact in your bones. Another case in point is one of my all time favourite games, that now features a sequel for the platform I played it on:

That’s right. Monster Hunter. The series that does away with all those lousy story elements, because who needs story when you have monsters and bits of monsters to make armors and weapons! In the featured trailer, pay particular attention some time after 1:40 when we get to see the armory of Monster Hunter. You’ll see some outlandishly spiffy animations. Monster Hunter 3rd is not really the third installment of the game. It’s more like the sixth, or fifth. Granted, though, the previous releases have changed little in the seemingly perfected formula.

What’s new in Monster Hunter 3rd then? Well, you get the Switch Axe from Monster Hunter Tri (which is not the same game!), and unlike Tri, the gunlance makes a return (it was removed in Tri!). The gunlance was my favourite weapon from MHFU. I mean, just check out the attack in the trailer. First he swings it and then, BOOM, comes the blast. It does some hella sweet spike damage, and offers great opportunities for guarding.

I’ll be making a review of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite at a later point. The game has a special place in my gaming library due to more reasons than simply the animations, and I feel that to give credit where credit is due, I’ll need at least a whole post to do it justice.

So, what was this post about again? Was it about impact and momentum? I think this might all just have been a disguised pre-play of Monster Hunter 3rd. I think I’ll return to some more technical aspects of momentum and impact later (it’s always later rather than sooner innit?), but for now, you have my thoughts for your penny.

/Erik

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2 Comments

  1. Good job mate, think you really hit your stride with this one.

  2. I likes this. The yous hit spot!
    Me sees into future long time for continuous follow-ups!


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