September 18th, 2007
So, its been a while since I posted about RE4, mostly because work and working on games has gotten in the way.
But, I had two interesting ideas, one that’s not really unique and one perhaps that is.
First, the non-unique one, my thoughts on the game’s perspective. RE4 is an over-the shoulder 3rd-person game. While this provides for easy navigation, it doesn’t quite give the player a feeling of total immersion. Compared to an FPS, say Half-Life, the game is not as much of a simulator. And, speaking of Half-life, I think its interesting to note just how well that game does simulate the life of Gordan Freeman. There’s Zero cut-scenes in the game which show his body, compared to a game like Metriod Prime, which is a simulation for certain parts, and for the story parts removes the player from Samus to show part of the story. I think that disassociation during the non-interactive parts is jarring, but it feels natural for RE4, since the player is never really playing as the character, they are just controlling him. What is interesting also is games like Max Payne which clearly separate the player from the character and also give them inner-thoughts as voice-overs, thus creating an intimate link to the character despite non-simulation-style-view.
While I think the perspective stuff is worthwhile, it just seems like a million people would have come to the same conclusion, so I’ll move along to what I think might be more unique.
At some point in RE4, the player will come across a shooting gallery…that moment made me realize what the overall gameplay of RE4 is, essentially the game is a moving Shooting Gallery. This is enforced by how the player needs to stop-aim-shoot, unlike other 3rd person games like Max Payne. This analogy seems interesting when viewed in contrast to the survival-horror theme of the game. Why? I think of shooting galleries as a safe place, a non-threatening venue to practice one’s shooting skills. The targets don’t shoot back, they don’t even come after you. But RE4 hearkens back to an era where “shooting galleries” did pose a real threat…that is the Wild West. Many shoot out sequences in the game bring about a wild-west-shootout feeling for this very reason. Cover isn’t very useful, because things are coming at you. Essentially, the player has no choice but to enter into constant show-downs with whatever beasties are coming at them. This game mechanic ties back to the themes of isolation, fear, urgency I wrote about previously. Had the game been set in a Science-Fiction-invasion-of-the-giant-bugs-corny setting, the mechanic would have failed to match, and the game probably would not resonate so well with gamers.
So, I must applaud the authors for such a pairing, the constant show-down mechanic really does achieve a constant sense of fear in the player but still allowing them moments of exploration.
Now, does anyone out there have any thoughts about this?