Syndicate Gets Gimmicky

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Yeah, my definition of 'gimmick' pretty much matches the general consensus here. It's a feature in a game that is not fully integrated into the core gameplay. I'll say that the on-rails shooter sections in... the eleventy million games they exist in do fit this definition because they are not sufficiently different from the core game to be a change of place, but are not similar enough that your skills from the main game (and therefore the game design) can carry on.

(Although that makes me think of the rail shooter sequences in the Saints' Row games, which I don't think are bad. I'll submit that open-world sandbox are the only ones in which on-rail shooter sequences aren't gimmicky, because it is similar enough that your skills can carry on - since in the usual game you'll usually drive and shoot, so these are sections in which you only shoot (but on the same environments), different in the same way that a racing section is the one in which you only drive.)

The problem, I think, is devs not fully understanding the game design. In the same way that a sequel by a different team may end up being a visually similar experience but feel very different, because devs only copied the surface and were unable to comprehend the deeper structure (cf MCCLOUD, Scott, Understanding Comics, 2000) devs may not completely understand the basics of their own game and thus be unable to add meaningfully to it. The result of that is a game that feels generic, because devs were unable to deviate from the basic template.

Akalabeth:
I would disagree that the Gravity Gun isn't a bloody gimmick.
I mean you go to a town full of zombies, and there are table saw blades and propane fuel tanks EVERYWHERE? In like every house almost? It's just as bad as the original FEAR expansions when some big bot starts chasing you and suddenly you enter a cafeteria where someone's left a bunch of rocket launchers everywhere.

So yes I would say HL2's gravity gun was a gimmick, a gimmick which wasn't really used for the final sequence because for no reason you got some suped-up gun that was more of an instagib rifle than its original design.

If it breaks immersion, it's a gimmick.

Compare this to the end of HL2E2 where you use a gravity gun. That's not a gimmicky section because there's a reason and a purpose behind actually using it.

I hate HL2, but I must disagree. Possibly because I hate HL2e2's ending even more.

The gravity gun was woven into the game's fabric, as it allowed the player to perform various things throughout the game without loss to its other functions. It didn't work well and could be ignored most of the time, but that doesn't mean it isn't a mechanic, just that it's a bad one.

Plus, there were some sections in which it was developed. Ravenplace is one example, since it forced you to rely on it more (although I just kept shooting zombies because fuck the gravity gun) and there was the beach where it could be used to move stuff instead of throw stuff at people. It's a small thing, but a gimmick won't get even this much, because this is depth and gimmicks don't have depth.

On the end of HL2e2, though, using the shiny balls of kapow instead of the rocket launchers means that 1) you can't have rocket launchers on the game at all and 2) you need to destroy the hunters first, instead of making a tactical choice about what to tackle first and how to approach the situation. I would argue that it's the shiny balls of kapow that are a gimmick, although a minor one.

The Random One:

On the end of HL2e2, though, using the shiny balls of kapow instead of the rocket launchers means that 1) you can't have rocket launchers on the game at all and 2) you need to destroy the hunters first, instead of making a tactical choice about what to tackle first and how to approach the situation. I would argue that it's the shiny balls of kapow that are a gimmick, although a minor one.

If you didn't need to tackle the hunters first, their presence would be irrelevant. They are escorting the striders after all, if they're unable to do that why are they even there? The hunters themselves aren't a threat to the security of the base either, not in the context of that fight. The tactical choice comes from what strider you hit first, and how you take them out.

For myself personally, my experience was that I first took out the hunters on foot with conventional guns. But as the fight got more desperate I just resorted to running them over. I guess that was the optimum thing to do, but in my experience it was the desperate thing to do. The fight escalated in tension, with me scrambling around at the end to get the job done and that to me was very satisfying.

OhJohnNo:

Some might argue as they do with the motion control bullshit that using your voice to issue orders is more "fun" or more "involving" (snnnrrkk), but I find there's little that hurts immersion more than hearing my reedy half-asleep voice in the middle of a science-fiction laser battle.

THANK YOU.

I could never understand the people who said they preferred a silent protagonist because they liked to say the lines themselves. Destroys all semblance of immersion for me.

...people have said that?....hmmmmm

I might try it some time

Chell:"where's my cake bitch!!??"

On voice commands; quite a few years ago a friend brought over his Star Fleet Command (or some such) to show me how marvelous it was with speech commands. He had to change to a mic with an activate button because he has always yelled at video games. Without the button his screams of, "NO!" would suddenly be used to do an arbitrary command that would be game changing. Never for the good either.

It did teach me a lesson. Enjoy the game, toss out the gimmicks and I am never going to buy a Move or a Kinect.

I also felt that the 'hacking' or 'breaching' powers in Syndicate were a bit of a unneccesary add-on, but the game does present moments where they are useful. I.e: when you are a bit overwhelmed, or when you are faced with an enemy you are not that equipped to handle (shield carrying guys, until you get that particle beam ion cannon or whatever). Granted, I did play on Hard through the first playthrough, so there were probably more instances presented.

One of the upgrades that would've been nice is a range extender, sometimes it'd be cool if you could hack someone sniping from far away behind cover. And the boss fight where you only use 'breaches/hacks' yeah...that was the only one I didn't like. All the others were pretty cool though, even better than Deus Ex anyways (unlike the rest of the game, which Deus Ex was way better).

After reading articles like this it makes me quite glad I don't have to review games. Four days of having to play Mass Effect 3 after having to play Syndicate would make me a nasty shade of green. All EA seem to do these days is release stuff which pisses off existing fans of their franchises.

Syndicate looks like a cheap shot at EYE Divine Cybermancy to me, gimmicks and all. The thing is if Syndicate's gimmicks aren't done as well as EYE did them (I love EYE but have to admit that a lot of things could have been implemented better) then Syndicate will probably have trouble finding an audience, especially since old gamers like me just don't see the re-imagining of Syndicate as interesting in the first place because we remember how good the original one was.

I'm just waiting for EA to screw up Dungeon Keeper. Re-imagined as a cover based, motion controlled, FPS in a minecraft style with no dungeon keeping... also Mistresses and Horny aren't on the disk - they're DLC. It's not like anyone will remember how good the real dungeon keeper is, right?

Zen Toombs:
Wait, Mass Effect isn't better with Kinect?

Microsoft LIED to us!

Fixed that for you.

What does the Kinect really have to do with EA? What do they care if it sells?

Edit: Oh I forgot, any reason to hate EA.

Don't think it matters what you define a gimmick as, because if it were a good thing it would be labeled a "feature" or a "mechanic" anyway.

I mean, there are some things which could probably offer up some nebulous middle-ground, but I think they're few and far between.

Frostbite3789:

Zen Toombs:
Wait, Mass Effect isn't better with Kinect?

Microsoft LIED to us!

Fixed that for you.

What does the Kinect really have to do with EA? What do they care if it sells?

Edit: Oh I forgot, any reason to hate EA.

To be fair, unless there is some mandate to say "better with Kinect," they share some of the blame. Plus, they did hype it up.

On the other hand, they are certainly not the only ones to blame.

Yeah, voice commands in ME3 are pointless. I've seen a few gameplay videos of people using it. It either doesn't recognize the command and nothing happens, or it does but it takes a few seconds to do so. These are seconds where you are vulnerable while you sit and wait for something to happen.

FUCK. THAT. I'd rather use the weapon and power wheels. They pause the game so that I'm not vulnerable and they work more frequently than Kinect does (although why it's not 100%, I don't know. I selected first aid, why did you not use it Shepard? Do you like having no health?).

WanderingFool:

The game you are thinking of is Tom Clancy's End War. Havent played it, but I heard the voice control wasnt that good. There was another game back for the PS2 called Lifeline. its "gimmick" was you controlled the main character with only voice commands. The problem with that, and with most voice command games, is the recognition of the voiced command. If you dont say it just right, the game wont register it right.

I played EndWar before I had a mic, then bought a mic. Didn't play EndWar with it, because the game was just that boring.

I heard about Lifeline. Sounds like a great idea for a multiplayer game, one player being the Voice With An Internet Connection for a gang of survival-horror game protagonists, and can choose at the start whether they get points/whatevers for helping the other players or deceiving them. Again, you'd need perfect voice recognition software for it to work with AI though.

Captcha: narrow-minded. Thanks, Captcha.

mjc0961:
Yeah, voice commands in ME3 are pointless. I've seen a few gameplay videos of people using it. It either doesn't recognize the command and nothing happens, or it does but it takes a few seconds to do so. These are seconds where you are vulnerable while you sit and wait for something to happen.

I heard it was about 50:50 unless you spoke really loudly, or something. And the reviewer could never get it to accept Incinerate as a command.

As far as I can remember, your only major complaint about regenerating health was that it generally made things too easy, rather than removing a feeling of continuity like you say you mentioned.

It took me a minute to realize what you meant when you mentioned Halo Reach because the space-flight bit allowed you to shoot in any direction and directly control the space craft (which I want to call a Short-Sword for some reason). Then I remembered a couple of things:

1 - the first space-flight section happens in the equivalent of a tiny, 3-dimensional sandbox

2 - the second space-flight section happens in a smaller area around a small Covenant ship

3 - both of those sections made me long for more space combat, something that's harder to come by in modern games than a games retailer that sells titles for platforms that remember the Clinton administration.

4 - You meant the sections earlier in the game where you sit in a helicopter you aren't allowed to fly, shooting at things as your pilot flies by them. Like the one section before the Spire and the other section towards the end of the level you do after blowing up the Covenant...Corvette...cruiser thing.

Ninjat_126:

I heard about Lifeline. Sounds like a great idea for a multiplayer game, one player being the Voice With An Internet Connection for a gang of survival-horror game protagonists, and can choose at the start whether they get points/whatevers for helping the other players or deceiving them. Again, you'd need perfect voice recognition software for it to work with AI though.

Captcha: narrow-minded. Thanks, Captcha.

Yes, that is possibly the biggest hurdle for Voice cammand games. Also, what you described sounds tons better than Lifeline. The only problem I see is the ease of griefing:

Griefer: NO, No... thats the right way, just keep heading down the hall.
Player: Okay...
Griefer: Okay, no open that door.
Player: It says its looked due to depressurisation of the room?
Griefer: I know, it a glitch, the room is fine...
Player: Okay...
*player forces door open, gets sucked out into space*
Player: FFFFUUUUUUU...

"I also can't be certain but I think the game managed to interpret its own audio as me making a dialogue choice at one point"

Yes. It does do this. I've had it happen too.

I define the difference between a gimmick and a unique mechanic as the former being a feature that isn't necessary to use (or use extensively) in order to complete the game.

For example, remember Singularity? It's an FPS that involves time travel, russians, and most importantly a glove that ages or deages objects and people. Is it cool to age enemies to dust or repair a broken staircase by turning back time? Oh hell yes. Does killing an enemy this way revolutionize the FPS genre or take the place of shooting people with guns? Absolutely not, which is why it's a gimmick. And while you HAVE to use the glove to solve certain puzzles, it's basically just a single action "do" button that gets you through an area.

Now certain things in that game, namely the sniper rifle that lets you guide the bullet to a target's head, is awesome. But one could just use a regular rifle, and there's no instance in that game I recall that made it necessary to guide a bullet through a non-straight line. It was cool, but there's no puzzle that requires a bullet obstacle course run.

WanderingFool:

Yes, that is possibly the biggest hurdle for Voice cammand games. Also, what you described sounds tons better than Lifeline. The only problem I see is the ease of griefing:

Griefer: NO, No... thats the right way, just keep heading down the hall.
Player: Okay...
Griefer: Okay, no open that door.
Player: It says its looked due to depressurisation of the room?
Griefer: I know, it a glitch, the room is fine...
Player: Okay...
*player forces door open, gets sucked out into space*
Player: FFFFUUUUUUU...

That's the point. Not sure how you'd score something like that, but the VwaIC should be able to screw over the players at any time. Also, there should be a way to trick players into killing eachother, like NPC human enemies or something in addition to the traditional mutated horrors.

Ninjat_126:

WanderingFool:

Yes, that is possibly the biggest hurdle for Voice cammand games. Also, what you described sounds tons better than Lifeline. The only problem I see is the ease of griefing:

Griefer: NO, No... thats the right way, just keep heading down the hall.
Player: Okay...
Griefer: Okay, no open that door.
Player: It says its looked due to depressurisation of the room?
Griefer: I know, it a glitch, the room is fine...
Player: Okay...
*player forces door open, gets sucked out into space*
Player: FFFFUUUUUUU...

That's the point. Not sure how you'd score something like that, but the VwaIC should be able to screw over the players at any time. Also, there should be a way to trick players into killing eachother, like NPC human enemies or something in addition to the traditional mutated horrors.

You have just brought about evolution of trolling... one that is putting the blood messages from Demon's Souls to shame.

WanderingFool:

You have just brought about evolution of trolling... one that is putting the blood messages from Demon's Souls to shame.

The thing is, helping the other players gives the VwaIC more points/XP/bonuses than stabbing them in the back. So it's a toss up- do you troll for minimal reward, or assist for maximum?

That wouldn't be a gimmick, that would be a game mechanic. Wish someone made it...

What I'd love to say is "gimmicky" is minigames in general, especially if they take advantage of in-game features that you'd most likely never use them for, or on a skill level about 100x higher than what is needed to finish the game. The much-hated (by me) archery minigames in Zelda, for instance, or the most obnoxious (again by me) racing sequences in platformers or action games.. that aren't about racing.

I suppose they fit the "game-stopping interruption" aspect of what Yahtzee's describing, but not really the gimmick part. Still, I often find them just as, if not more, unwelcome as the aforementioned gimmicks.

EDIT: Incidentally, and quite off topic.. while I am happy for captcha's I can actually friggin read, having to use ADS is quite irritating. It's like saying I have to look at a commercial before I open my mouth to speak to family, or stop for a few moments while writing in a notepad file to do something unrelated, such as have dinner.

I was all set to say that the vehicle sections in HL2 were *so* gimmicks. However, reading some other opinions caused me to re-remember HL2 differently.

I had been thinking of HL2e1 (Wolverhampton 0), where the car was just a way to get around slightly faster. In the car, you could run over things (physics showcase), and trigger certain events - like the zombie that grabs onto the car and gets knocked off. However, none of the vehicle iterations shielded you from damage, all it really did was give Valve another opportunity to move the player quickly through a large game world. The car didn't make anything that different - anyone who got the "Little Rocket Man" achievement should know that you *can* make those journeys on foot.

Yet, the bigness of the world in HL2e1 isn't a gimmick. It was an improvement over HL2, where three or four striders kept tromping around the same two or three city blocks. Now that I think of it, that was pretty silly. HL2 spent a lot of time showing off its large world, and that felt kind of gimmicky. The big world in HL2 was schizophrenic. You could be trapped in a mine, and then find yourself in a city 5 minutes later. So the world is big but it doesn't need to be? I think it may have just been that the City 17 Planning Commission was insane.

But we got to see a big world. And in a big world, a car is an improvement on Bethesda's "fast travel" system; which I didn't mind in Fallout 3, because I kept getting lost in the subways; but I did mind in Elder Scrolls because *poof* I managed to travel 42 miles carrying 4x the amount of weight that I can normally carry.

... uh, I think I had a point somewhere. I think what I might have been trying to get at is that some mechanics dance around a very blurry line separating them from gimmickry. And that its the implementation that can make or break a gimmick. Like whether the car in a vehicle section is destructible or not.

Two points about Syndicate's "Breaching" system (they don't call it hacking):

1. There are a few moments where, if you bothered getting used to using the system, it made some fights a LOT easier, and was a MUCH more efficient and rewarding way to win the fight. Problem was that the level design and enemy placement did FAR too little to encourage this kind of behaviour.

2. Co-Op. I know Yahtzee almost entirely sticks to single player in games, but if you're in Syndicate's Co-Op mode, you have a MUCH wider variety of Breach applications, and you have to choose only 2 that you can bring into each mission with you. There are some which could use tweaking, because even at their basic level they're unbalanced (C2C Pulse, Virus, Battery), but it's not such a huge problem with Co-Op. Also, the maps in Co-Op are MUCH better designed for abuse of the Breach mechanics, allowing players all manner of interesting "app combos" where players coordinate their app use WHILE shooting to screw the enemies over in increasingly efficient ways.

Even without using any other abilities, players can heal one another. If you have 2 players with a good selection of apps between them, you can coordinate with one another to seriously tear apart the enemies. Popping a well-timed Virus on an enemy Agent or a guy with Reactive Armour, or breaching a Liquid then using Backfire to knock him down and make him more vulnerable to fire, then combining it with Damage Link so you do even more damage.

Also, in Co-Op, most mini-bosses require you to breach before you can do damage (either a Virus app or a standard breach to take their armour down), and while some enemies are resistant to a few apps, Virus works on everything, and Backfire works on everything except Agents.

In single player, breaching is MOSTLY a gimmick, but there are moments where it shows that with proper design, it COULD have been more. In Co-Op, it's a core gameplay feature and not a gimmick at all.

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