Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Dead Space 2 Is No Resident Evil 4

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 15 Feb 2011 16:00
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But I don't want to spend this whole column reiterating points the video made. There's one other point I want to make that was way too petty for prime time but if I don't get it off my chest it's going to drive me spare. I am really, really bothered by all these fold-out helmets sci-fi characters have nowadays.

You know what I mean. It's in Dead Space 2 and it was in Vanquish, as well as the Iron Man 2 movie and a couple of others. It's when you have a helmet or piece of complex armour that starts off packed away in an incredibly small mass behind your head or somewhere and then automatically folds out section by section to completely cover the head or body. Every time I see it, it bothers me because I simply cannot be convinced that this is a more efficient alternative, in any practical or monetary sense, to simply lifting your helmet on and off and holding it under your arm. Maybe you could argue that a rich wanker might have it but not on a mass-produced uniform like Isaac's presumably developed by the lowest bidder.

Firstly, the helmet isn't gaining or losing any mass, it's all folded up. And forgive me if you were already au fait with these matters, but a helmet is protective gear. It's supposed to be heavy and bulky and strong to soak up heavy impacts. It's going to be none of those things if it's made of material thin enough to easily fold away like that. And even if you have successfully developed some kind of superdense Adamantium that still offers full protection even if it's one millimetre thick, when its folded up its entire mass is going to be hanging off the back of your neck, and you can't tell me that's going to be good for your posture.

But even if your Adamantium is also supernaturally light, when you make a helmet fold away like that, you're adding fifteen million gaps, flaps, hinges and points of articulation that all create weak points in the structure, I'm not convinced the entire thing wouldn't shatter into eyeball-bursting shards after one sturdy bop on the bonce. And this is assuming all those moving parts don't cock up by themselves. I have a fold-out umbrella that's supposed to open out to full size at the touch of a button, and that needs a good shake now and then. It doesn't have anywhere near the number of moving parts these helmets have. I don't care how close to the technological singularity your future setting is: one of those flaps is going to stop working at some point. In Dead Space 2, you even go out into space with this helmet on. It's actually relied upon to create an airtight seal, you'd better make fucking sure you've gone over all those bits and pieces with WD-40 before you press the open airlock button, matey. And what if your helmet is slightly too small and you've got sticky-out ears, are they just going to get sliced off?

To top it all, there is only one obvious benefit to this technology to counterbalance all these possible issues: you can have both hands free when you don't have your helmet on. But the only reason you wouldn't have your helmet on is if you're not on the job. And if you're not on the job, you don't need both your hands. QED.

Yeah, I know, this was the most consequential rant I've ever done, but I'm sorry, these helmets have started really taking me out of the story. Next week: why the ability to carry fifteen two-handed guns at once makes Half-Life the worst game ever made.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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