Viewpoints on RPGs

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I’ve been playing primarily two games of late, God of War and Dragon Quest 8. While they are both role-playing games, they each have an extremely different feel. There’s the obvious differences in setting (Random Fantasy World that doesn’t seem to give its name anywhere v. mythological ancient Greece); in art style (rich color, cell shading and cute v. 3-D, realistic and gritty); in gameplay (turn-based combat v. occassionally button-mashy, but cool-looking real-time action); and in rating (DQ8 is “Teen” v. GoW is a solid “Mature”).

But the difference that has been the most troubling to me is the camera. God of War has a very fixed, cinematically controlled camera. There are numerous money shots (get your minds out of the gutter) with the hero scaling walls of extremely tall buildings while fighting monsters racing against the clock to save someone dangling by a cord. There are brief panoramic views of the Ares-beseiged Athens. There are dizzying top-down views of Kratos balancing on rafters, hundreds of feet in the air.

And it makes me crazy. I cannot control the camera AT ALL. There have been a few instances where I’ve found myself saying, “Ares would be just to my right and this would be a great place to see him if I could just turn to the ri- oh.” And no great view of the God of War for me.

Dragon Quest 8’s camera, however, is fantastic. Sometimes, I’ve noticed Japanese RPG’s have somewhat wonky cameras. In fact, Level-5, the studio that made DQ8, had some wonkiness in the fairly recent Dark Cloud 2. But they’ve certainly ironed that out. I can look anywhere at any time, first- OR third-person. And I tell you, it’s a beautiful thing – and view.

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