Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Action Is Not Finisher Porn

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 24 May 2011 16:00
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But at least they're impressive, right? Well, not after you've seen the exact same one fifty felch-coughing times. Why do so many game developers have this curious blind spot to the fact that anything that's part of the core gameplay is going to be seen over and over and over again? They should be emphasizing practicality over spectacle, which is a finite thing. It doesn't matter how impressive it is to pull a monster's rectum out with your bare hands, Splatterhouse, if you're just going to repeat it enough to completely devalue it. Dialogue writers and engineers seem to have a similar blind spot. Hey! Spider-Man! Your witticism was fucking awful the first time; it is not improving with age like a fine cheddar!

I'm not saying finishing moves and special attacks should be cut out entirely, my point is there's really no reason at all that they can't fit into gameplay flow. You just have to be able to execute them quick smart and move on. Resident Evil 4 would be a perfect example. You shoot an uppity foreigner in the head or the kneecap, they stagger a bit, press the button prompt that comes up and you serve up a roundhouse kick or a suplex that makes their head explode. Very visceral and very fast, bish bash bosh, away we go, move onto the next one. The Yakuza games, also, expend a chunk of attack power to pound someone into the floor with a street sign, or stomp your heel on the bridge of their nose. Bish, bash and, yes indeed, bosh.

Or look at Batman: Arkham Asylum, it's got one of the best fighting engines I've ever seen in a game and it doesn't really do elaborate finishers at all, it just flows incredibly well. Punch flows to kick flows to counter flows back to punch. That's what I mean by "flow." Each action leads smoothly into the next one and I come out of it feeling like I achieved something that takes skill, not just hit the smoke break button when I'd had enough and let Kratos finish the job.

So this is specific mishandled game feature to think about of the week, listeners: keep the combat flowing nicely and it'll excite us a hell of a lot more than elaborate decapitation move A. Ask yourself what would carry more dramatic weight: beating someone with a broom handle for five minutes, or knocking them on their ass with a single uppercut to the jaw. See, along with everything else, the second option doesn't make one wonder why all the victim's fellow guards/monsters, several of whom are within arm's reach, don't intervene or offer them an aspirin or something. Perhaps, as they spectate, they're mentally calculating their promotion prospects.

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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