Thursday, December 22, 2011

Things I’ve Noticed: Video games really want you to stay out of the water

For the last couple weeks I’ve been playing the PS3 game Infamous, wherein you play a bicycle courier who was granted super-powers after being at the epicenter of a huge explosion. Given powers over electricity, you can either run around the city as a good guy or as an infamous force of terror. I decided to play it good, but I’ll probably revisit the game in a few months and let my inner baddie out.

One thing the game did get me thinking about however, was just how common it is for games to deny the player access to the ocean. Some games (Tomb Raider, Uncharted, and God of War all come to mind) have many underwater levels, but for the most part the ocean is off limits for the player to explore. Put simply, if the game doesn’t allow water exploration, there is a lot less you have to design.

A lot of games have no reason for this at all (When Altaiir in the first Assassins Creed game falls into the ocean he simply dies (amazing assassin –yes, as good a swimmer as a five-year-old -no, or when Tommy Vercetti in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City hits the ocean it’s also lights out – which makes me wonder why he moved to a city with an ocean on three sides of it) but there are a few games that are actually pretty clever in explaining why you just can’t take a dip.

Bookmonkey’s Top Three excuses for why your character can’t go in the water.

#3 Electrocution (Infamous)
Sometimes your strength can also be your weakness; in Infamous Cole MacGrath has the ability to manipulate electricity to do all sorts of things: hurl lightning, throw objects around, even heal the sick, but the downside of having electricity-based powers is that when electricity touches water – you’re gonna hurt.

#2 Ancient Family Curse (The Castlevania Series)
All right, I’ll admit that this ridiculous reasons for vampire hunter Simon Belmont (who is cursed so that he can’t touch water) – would obviously leaving him dead of dehydration in a matter of days) but honestly, while playing the games I’m so focused on killing vampires and other creatures of the night that the idea of an ancient family curse works just fine for me.

#1 CHOMP! (Spore)
A few years ago I got my wife the game Spore; a kind of super civilization-style game. You start by playing a micro-organism, then evolve into a creature, then control the creatures tribe, then it’s nation, it’s civilization and eventually travel through space. As a creature in the second stage of the game, you wander around on an island (or continent) dealing with other creatures and getting more evolved, but if you go out into the ocean, a giant sea-creature will simply come out of the water and eat you. In the end, you can’t get much simpler than that.

P.S. A quick side note, one of my newer favourite blogs, Renaissance Dork posted this link to the new trailer for The Hobbit, now if it could only shoot me forward a year so I could see the movie!!!

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