Stealth

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Stealth

Sometimes stealth games can involve lovely tea parties.

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I agree that Splinter Cell doesn't appeal to a lot of people, but Chaos Theory was amazing.
There was a certain degree of skill involved navigating a fairly linear level, as you had to carefully plan when to move, where to hide, who to knock out. It was a good game.

This is, if you're going for stealth rather than headshotting every security guard working nightshift.

It's been a while since I played it, but I thought that Starcraft did a pretty good job of using all three corners of the triangle. I remember several missions where all you're supposed to do is not die long enough for help to come. I also remember sneaking into facilities to rescue allies.

So it is possible for a game to use all three corners and it makes for a sweet game, as anyone who has played Starcraft will agree.

Fine. Let's all agree that Splinter Cell:Conviction is not a stealth game. It definitely isn't. But overlooking everything it has to offer and ignoring the possibility that it can be fun, without giving it a chance, is kind of stupid.

The game doesn't give you those insta-kills for free. You have to work for them. Also, planning out a sequence of enemy take-downs and finally ending with a insta-kill is awesome.

Oddly, some of the best stealth I ever saw was in a game that didn't force you to use it...

Metro 2033.

The thrill of aiming your little throwing knife/shiv at the head of your opponent...and then sneaking up to the body to retrieve it. Getting caught, running into a vent for safety, sneaking out the other side while they look where you went into the vent, and ambushing them from behind. Good times.

And all the stealth was optional. I could have EASILY gunned my way through that level.

Stealth games need to focus on psychological warfare. not that it hasn't been attempted. a game in which you sneak around tearing out throats shooting some dudes and disappear into a shadow until you find more of your other victims buddies to brutally kill. now what if every time they saw a body they would instead of uttering "There is a body here, I'll be cautious from now on." but instead reacted with a bit of shock and fear. I want to see a game where you can kill someone leaving blood spattered up the walls and then take the body and hide it in the rafters. I'd like to have an enemy arrive and see blood and lack of a body and move in closer to investigate, then while he searches to drop the body behind him. he would react as we all would and run away screaming and blubbering.
this may say more about me than it does about gaming but I promise I am not a serial killer of and shape sort or description.

I totally agree with Mr. Yahtzee. But there is one aspect of stealth games, even the open ended ones, that really leaves me frustrated. The fact that many of them seem to rate you on your performance. It gets kind of frustrating because in order to get the best scores, the game reverts back to a completely linear path, often involving the use of an FAQ/Walkthrough along the way.

Batman Arkham Asylum did stealth really well in the story mode because there was no urgency or anything; you could take your time, herd the guys, and dispatch them in any way you saw fit.

But then get to the challenge mode, particularly the later challenges, and they all required such a specific set of tasks to be performed that you basically had to walk a very specific/linear path to take them all out and get the best "score". There was a little room for variance on occasion, but not much.

Stealth games need to focus on psychological warfare. not that it hasn't been attempted. a game in which you sneak around tearing out throats shooting some dudes and disappear into a shadow until you find more of your other victims buddies to brutally kill. now what if every time they saw a body they would instead of uttering "There is a body here, I'll be cautious from now on." but instead reacted with a bit of shock and fear. I want to see a game where you can kill someone leaving blood spattered up the walls and then take the body and hide it in the rafters. I'd like to have an enemy arrive and see blood and lack of a body and move in closer to investigate, then while he searches to drop the body behind him. he would react as we all would and run away screaming and blubbering.
this may say more about me than it does about gaming but I promise I am not a serial killer of and shape sort or description.

This is a great idea to me.

So... What about Metal Gear Solid? Or do I need to watch your review for it again and become very angry.

Calumon: I've never seen him angry... But I've heard stories.

As much as I love videogames, I don't believe they're art. When you have an interactive experience like a videogame, you're taking control out of the hands of the creators, or "artists." At that point, you're not viewing art, you're playing a game.

Evasion, huh? It can be very useful to ramp up tension, sure, but basing an entire game around evasion would be hard. Mirror's Edge was all about evasion, and failed. On the other hand, main reason for it's failure were mandatory fights, so not all hope is lost there.

psychodynamica:
Stealth games need to focus on psychological warfare.

-snip-

And here, gentlemen, we have an actually good - i'd even say brilliant - idea.

sravankb:
Fine. Let's all agree that Splinter Cell:Conviction is not a stealth game. It definitely isn't. But overlooking everything it has to offer and ignoring the possibility that it can be fun, without giving it a chance, is kind of stupid.

The game doesn't give you those insta-kills for free. You have to work for them. Also, planning out a sequence of enemy take-downs and finally ending with a insta-kill is awesome.

He never said it wasn't a stealth game, just that it doesn't press his stealth buttons because it pratically forces you to cap every enemy in the head, which is true i guess. While i do love the Splinter Cell series i do agree with Yahtzee that stealth games are much better when you sneak into some place your not to be keeping deaths to a minimum and sneaking out without being seen because it's the real show of skill and much more fun and challenging and you can't do that on Splinter Cell.

I completed Splinter Cell: Conviction on Realistic without much hassle there was only one bit on the last mission that gave me a little bit of trouble and that was basically because i couldn't rely on stealth.

psychodynamica:
Stealth games need to focus on psychological warfare. not that it hasn't been attempted. a game in which you sneak around tearing out throats shooting some dudes and disappear into a shadow until you find more of your other victims buddies to brutally kill. now what if every time they saw a body they would instead of uttering "There is a body here, I'll be cautious from now on." but instead reacted with a bit of shock and fear. I want to see a game where you can kill someone leaving blood spattered up the walls and then take the body and hide it in the rafters. I'd like to have an enemy arrive and see blood and lack of a body and move in closer to investigate, then while he searches to drop the body behind him. he would react as we all would and run away screaming and blubbering.
this may say more about me than it does about gaming but I promise I am not a serial killer of and shape sort or description.

I just started thinking of Predator after reading that...Man, I wish they'd made a good Predator game now. :/

Splinter Cell doesn't appeal to all people. Still I find it stupid that Ben likes Hitman stealth but seems to dislike Splinter Cell stealth, even for the reasons he mentioned.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
You proceed in a constant straight path from one small network of hiding places to the next. And while there are a lot of linear games I like, they're all beset by this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that the only reason the environment would possibly be designed like this is as an assault course for visiting infiltrators. Enemies wander aimlessly about because they've been told you might be there. Rather than being a place that actually functions normally when you're not around, I strongly suspect that the universe only exists within a fifty foot radius from [Bruce Wayne]'s position. And it's hard to be stealthy when the world revolves around you.

Sounds like a pitch-perfect description of the stealth segments of Arkham Asylum. Perhaps that game benefits from not being made up entirely of those stealth segments. I liked the demo of Splinter Cell, it certainly seemed much more casual that old Sam Fisher.

Jack and Calumon:
So... What about Metal Gear Solid? Or do I need to watch your review for it again and become very angry.

Calumon: I've never seen him angry... But I've heard stories.

He seems to like to like MGS1 at least, though he didn't like 4 and judging by certain comments I don't imagine he much liked 2.

I'm curious what he thought of 3.

Honestly, it would be great if a game properly employed all 3 elements of conflict. Pure run and gunning gets boring.

Kungfu_Teddybear:

sravankb:
Fine. Let's all agree that Splinter Cell:Conviction is not a stealth game. It definitely isn't. But overlooking everything it has to offer and ignoring the possibility that it can be fun, without giving it a chance, is kind of stupid.

The game doesn't give you those insta-kills for free. You have to work for them. Also, planning out a sequence of enemy take-downs and finally ending with a insta-kill is awesome.

He never said it wasn't a stealth game, just that it doesn't press his stealth buttons because it pratically forces you to cap every enemy in the head, which is true i guess. While i do love the Splinter Cell series i do agree with Yahtzee that stealth games are much better when you sneak into some place your not to be keeping deaths to a minimum and sneaking out without being seen because it's the real show of skill and much more fun and challenging and you can't do that on Splinter Cell.

I completed Splinter Cell: Conviction on Realistic without much hassle there was only one bit on the last mission that gave me a little bit of trouble and that was basically because i couldn't rely on stealth.

But what I am saying is that we shouldn't even approach it as a stealth game - don't expect it to "press your stealth buttons". I agree that it can be hard to do since the game literally screams STEALTH in your face, but play it like an action/strategic action type game, and you will most likely love it.

Onyx Oblivion:

Metro 2033.

Oh man, as flawed as that game is I loved the stealth bits.

The joy of killing off enemies one by one until you say "I can take them all out in a gunfight" and then trow a stick of dynamite is just fantastic.

And the beauty of playing it a second time, this time without killing a single one and sneaking past guards who are oblivious to your presence, more interested in killing the Nazis on the other side of the railway.

I have to admit on what Yahtzee said about splinter cell though, I played two of the games and at some points the guards looked like someone said "Stand there, yes right there. Why? So Sam Fisher has a clean shot at your head of course."

hawk533:
It's been a while since I played it, but I thought that Starcraft did a pretty good job of using all three corners of the conflict triangle. I remember several missions where all you're supposed to do is not die long enough for help to come. I also remember sneaking into facilities to rescue allies.

So it is possible for a game to use all three corners and it makes for a sweet game, as anyone who has played Starcraft will agree.

This is true even in multiplayer. Enemy comes barrelling across the map? Evade, evade, evade, don't let him know you have the perfect counter-unit to his assault until he's right on the door of your base, and then mercilessly slaughter him. Wait, he's trying to get away; do you pursue or back down? Suddenly you've switched from evasion, to direct combat, and now you can choose to back off or push the assault. All it takes is a Reaver or Seige tank dropped behind the enemy base with a spotter, and now you're performing a stealth assault. The triangle shifts back and forth without ever breaking or switching genre.

Yahtzee, I think you're wrong about the bottom-right corner. When there is no direct hostility between player and enemy, you have a state of arms race. Arms race is used by many strategy and 4X games, such as Civilization and DEFCON, as well as occurring in MMOs (eg. two EVE corporations have an uneasy alliance). Now I know those aren't your favourite genres, but to disregard them is madness. Arms race is relaxing compared to the other three states, but it occurs constantly. To continue the Starcraft example above, Arms race is you and your opponent furiously researching, scouting and harvesting. When you send a harvester unit out into the field, you don't intend it to be attacked nor be attacked; at best your opponent will attempt to block it if he sees it, or mislead it across the map. A mix of arms-race and evasion/stealth.

Now, in a conventional action game, there's no "arms race" phase, as usually the enemy starts fully equipped and you have nothing to do but tech up. I guess the only equivalent is "side missions", like the races in Just Cause 2 and the glide/run events in Prototype. You're not attacking, evading, or stealthing, you're just kinda dicking around and it's really fun. Enemy can't even attack you in Prototype when you're gliding. There's conflict between you and the game (trying to get platinums is frustrating), but there's a player and an enemy and neither are attacking, you're just completing a static challenge. No direct conflict, not even indirect conflict.

I'm looking for a way to extrapolate this to other games which use this, but you're right in that the majority fail to exploit the full variety of gameplay available. The best examples I can think of for non-conflict that's still valid and fun gameplay are always presented as side-challenges. Balancing on precarious beams to get Skulls in Halo. Using the hovercraft to meet the All-Knowing Vortigaunt in HL2. It's very rarely that conflict-free arms-race/upgrade seeking is presented to you as a primary gameplay mode, just an optional (albeit sometimes necessary) section thereof. The majority of games have you upgrading and improving through direct conflict anyway - every JRPG and MMO knows it, it's called grinding.

TL;DR: Starcraft uses the full conflict triangle as described by Yahtzee. I believe there's a missing element of the conflict grid, which consists of the arms-race state, which is also underused.

Hmmmm....

The whole conflict triangle thing got me thinking about Uncharted 2 oddly enough.
See you begin that game in a very weak position and have to literally climb your way up through death and destruction. In fact you don't have a legitimate conflict with an enemy until about half an hour into the game. But the game does do a good job of making you feel less than all powerful at times.
There are plenty of evasion set pieces as well of slap dash plans that only succeed due to luck and skill. You can stealth it up a little bit, but those generally take a back seat to the action.

There are probably better examples of this, but really Uncharted 2 seems closest to your desired triangle to me....

Onyx Oblivion:
Oddly, some of the best stealth I ever saw was in a game that didn't force you to use it...

Metro 2033.

The thrill of aiming your little throwing knife/shiv at the head of your opponent...and then sneaking up to the body to retrieve it. Getting caught, running into a vent for safety, sneaking out the other side while they look where you went into the vent, and ambushing them from behind. Good times.

And all the stealth was optional. I could have EASILY gunned my way through that level.

There's stealth in Metro 2033? I never even thought to try it!

I think in good games, the 3-act system isn't in the plot at all, but the gameplay. You start out in the first act, a completely new player losing constantly. Then you get to know what you're doing and start moving along a little bit faster, and finally by the end you're mopping the floor with challenges that would have destroyed you when you first began. You create the drama, the game shouldn't create it for you through the story. Maybe this is why I love old Megaman and Metroid so much: The story is a bookend, and everything important happens during gameplay.

psychodynamica:
Stealth games need to focus on psychological warfare. not that it hasn't been attempted. a game in which you sneak around tearing out throats shooting some dudes and disappear into a shadow until you find more of your other victims buddies to brutally kill. now what if every time they saw a body they would instead of uttering "There is a body here, I'll be cautious from now on." but instead reacted with a bit of shock and fear. I want to see a game where you can kill someone leaving blood spattered up the walls and then take the body and hide it in the rafters. I'd like to have an enemy arrive and see blood and lack of a body and move in closer to investigate, then while he searches to drop the body behind him. he would react as we all would and run away screaming and blubbering.
this may say more about me than it does about gaming but I promise I am not a serial killer of and shape sort or description.

This is pretty much the stealth sections of Batman: Arkham Asylum, except Batman doesn't kill and the baddies never run away. I don't play a lot of stealth games so I don't know if any other games do this, but the bad guys have adaptive AI that change according to the situation. The bad guys always start out cocky, then become more and more panicked as you take them out. You would love it.

FinalDream:

Onyx Oblivion:
Oddly, some of the best stealth I ever saw was in a game that didn't force you to use it...

Metro 2033.

The thrill of aiming your little throwing knife/shiv at the head of your opponent...and then sneaking up to the body to retrieve it. Getting caught, running into a vent for safety, sneaking out the other side while they look where you went into the vent, and ambushing them from behind. Good times.

And all the stealth was optional. I could have EASILY gunned my way through that level.

There's stealth in Metro 2033? I never even thought to try it!

The Green/Yellow/Red light on your watch? Light sensor.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
You see, in, say, the plot of a film, your protagonist is generally going to be losing. Right up until the end of the second act they're going to be the one being repeatedly shat on, either by an antagonist or their own failings, before overcoming their problems in the final act just in time to save the day. But the nature of a videogame is to give you a series of challenges, which means that in full-on combat the protagonist has to be winning all the time. Generally you start off in a low point but from then on it's win, win, win, all the way, and it gets harder and harder to take the villains seriously when you've straight up murdered 90 percent of them. Ideally, a game with a three-act plot would use all three corners of the triangle - start out with evasion when you're vulnerable, use stealth in the middle to redress the balance guerrilla-style, then gain sufficient strength to sort everything out with violence in the end. But that's mixing gameplay styles, which is almost inevitably rubbish.

What if a game makes you part of some faction, fighting other factions. There with be one faction that is better that yours. The gameplay has you winning all the time while the story has you losing until the end.

Wolfram01:
Honestly, it would be great if a game properly employed all 3 elements of conflict. Pure run and gunning gets boring.

Well, having just finished Uncharted 2, I'd have to say it's all there, though not in the proportions you'd like, I'm sure. While most of the game consists of running and gunning, or ducking and gunning, I always like using the stealthy hand-to-hand takedowns as much as possible to tip the scales in a big fight beforehand. They often were incorporated in the exploration elements, too. You're out there looking around, why shouldn't one or two enemies be looking around, too. And they also included some evasion sections, cutting down on the cover to force you to run.

Of course, it's still very linear, but I like linear games. And even in the middle of some of the longer firefights I still found myself running and sneaking.

Onyx Oblivion:

FinalDream:

Onyx Oblivion:
Oddly, some of the best stealth I ever saw was in a game that didn't force you to use it...

Metro 2033.

The thrill of aiming your little throwing knife/shiv at the head of your opponent...and then sneaking up to the body to retrieve it. Getting caught, running into a vent for safety, sneaking out the other side while they look where you went into the vent, and ambushing them from behind. Good times.

And all the stealth was optional. I could have EASILY gunned my way through that level.

There's stealth in Metro 2033? I never even thought to try it!

The Green/Yellow/Red light on your watch? Light sensor.

Ah. Never bothered with the watch! I've just been shooting my way through things maybe a replay will be in order.

I think you've hit the nail on the head as to why Hitman attracted me more than Splinter Cell. By all means I enjoyed the original SC back in the day, but looking back now it was probably because I was a lot younger and the thought of actively having to plan out a method of entry from the choices of:
a) climb that pipe over there and go through the window
b) steal a guard's uniform
c) walk around the back and try to get so far away that I can use a sniper rifle to pick off the target through the balcony window when the door to the connecting room is open for a split second

I remember the original SC being reasonably linear and you always knew where to go. Coincidently I was playing Hitman: Blood Money last night and spent a good 45-60 mins on the level as I was intricately planning out my route through the level and learning all of the guard's movements. Furthermore there truly was several methods to complete the appropriate assassinations.

Decabo:
As much as I love videogames, I don't believe they're art. When you have an interactive experience like a videogame, you're taking control out of the hands of the creators, or "artists." At that point, you're not viewing art, you're playing a game.

But you are stil interacting with a virtual creation subect to the rules and bounderies of those artists who created it. When all is said and done even the most open sandbox game has walls through which you can't pass. Of course, this all get's back to: what is the universal definition of art anyway? Unless there is some sort of Grand Commity that determines what is and is to be considered art, I don't think there is one definitive definition.

On the subject of Splinter Cell, I don't like it really either. I just recently bought the first game and have been incredibly frustrated with it. Maybe the other games are better, but most of my time in the game was spent repeatedly doing increadably simple tasks to get a shot at doing something hard, then getting caught and having to do all those other bloody things I just did again to get permission to try the hard thing again!

psychodynamica:
Stealth games need to focus on psychological warfare. not that it hasn't been attempted. a game in which you sneak around tearing out throats shooting some dudes and disappear into a shadow until you find more of your other victims buddies to brutally kill. now what if every time they saw a body they would instead of uttering "There is a body here, I'll be cautious from now on." but instead reacted with a bit of shock and fear. I want to see a game where you can kill someone leaving blood spattered up the walls and then take the body and hide it in the rafters. I'd like to have an enemy arrive and see blood and lack of a body and move in closer to investigate, then while he searches to drop the body behind him. he would react as we all would and run away screaming and blubbering.
this may say more about me than it does about gaming but I promise I am not a serial killer of and shape sort or description.

This is basically what I want in Prototype 2. More stealth, better stealth, and better civilian AI. More shadowy infiltrations of bases where the soldiers NOTICE their slowly-dwindling numbers and start panicking, skirmishing, blind-firing at shadows, and eachother... and occasionally you, if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nateman742:
I think in good games, the 3-act system isn't in the plot at all, but the gameplay. You start out in the first act, a completely new player losing constantly. Then you get to know what you're doing and start moving along a little bit faster, and finally by the end you're mopping the floor with challenges that would have destroyed you when you first began. You create the drama through the gameplay, the game shouldn't create it for you through the story. Maybe this is why I love old Megaman and Metroid so much: The story is a bookend, and everything important happens within the gameplay.

You're onto something there. The difficulty curve as gameplay analogue to the three-act story.
However, that's not to say we can't have both "gameplay curve narrative" games, and "cinematic three-act story" games, or perhaps even both in one game.

Stealth should be optional, and fun AI non optional(think if Bioshock had AI that could manage hit and run,group and trap tactics) attempt to look for you after begin alerted for you in every other nook and cranny for acouple minetess before going back to their normal rotines....on wait its jsut a random sand box shooter who needs completed AI.....

Give me a mix of UT bots,MGS,BAtman:AA and FEAR AI mixed into whatever yer playing, the odder the AI the better!

FinalDream:

Onyx Oblivion:

FinalDream:

Onyx Oblivion:
Oddly, some of the best stealth I ever saw was in a game that didn't force you to use it...

Metro 2033.

The thrill of aiming your little throwing knife/shiv at the head of your opponent...and then sneaking up to the body to retrieve it. Getting caught, running into a vent for safety, sneaking out the other side while they look where you went into the vent, and ambushing them from behind. Good times.

And all the stealth was optional. I could have EASILY gunned my way through that level.

There's stealth in Metro 2033? I never even thought to try it!

The Green/Yellow/Red light on your watch? Light sensor.

Ah. Never bothered with the watch! I've just been shooting my way through things maybe a replay will be in order.

Also, if there are NO LIGHTS lit on the watch, you're uber hidden. Like, invisible.

Clearly Zelda demonstrated the pinnacle of stealth game play.

But there is something to aerial view stealth, that was the reason Commandos was so awesome.

BobisOnlyBob:

Nateman742:
I think in good games, the 3-act system isn't in the plot at all, but the gameplay. You start out in the first act, a completely new player losing constantly. Then you get to know what you're doing and start moving along a little bit faster, and finally by the end you're mopping the floor with challenges that would have destroyed you when you first began. You create the drama through the gameplay, the game shouldn't create it for you through the story. Maybe this is why I love old Megaman and Metroid so much: The story is a bookend, and everything important happens within the gameplay.

You're onto something there. The difficulty curve as gameplay analogue to the three-act story.
However, that's not to say we can't have both "gameplay curve narrative" games, and "cinematic three-act story" games, or perhaps even both in one game.

Yes, and I do enjoy a good story, but again, as a player the story usually feels like a completely separate element to me, unless the game is extraordinarily gripping. It just ends up being a stage for the game's mechanics. In any case, plot can be created without making it a huge cinematic flourish.

I miss good ol' days of hitman...not that wad stealth...even if annoying at times!

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