Will Preston

Tag: Call Of Duty 3

What happened to challenging games and split screen?

by on Nov.25, 2010, under Opinion

I’m disappointed. I’m not going to lie to you. Yesterday I hit a such a crippling brick wall when doing essay work, that I threw in my sweaty typing towel and decided to go back to working on my writers tan in a less productive way. It was pretty clear that gaming would help. It always has done. Well, I say help, I mean it in the same way booze helps. You hit a brick wall, or something important you are doing has stressed you out so much that you go for the little snippet of ale to calm yourself down and treat yourself. Overdoing this, though, just crumples all your plans like a paper house in a cistern. I thought that by merely opening my game drawer, I would instantly find something that I would be more than thrilled to play. I couldn’t find one.

My games drawer houses over 20 Xbox 360 titles and about 40 Xbox original ones and still I couldn’t find one that is worth a replay. Some of the 40 Xbox originals don’t work on the 360 due to the emulating department being as non-committal as Britt bloody Eckland. And these are the ones that ARE worth a replay. There’s a certain nostalgic value to some games and knowing I can’t play them without extreme difficulty just depresses me further. Now not only is there little news of a new Timesplitters coming out, the old ones won’t even work on my lovely up to date 360. Checkmate. And the reason I want to sacrifice the chance to play the new Call Of Duty to play a game that is half a decade older than it? Well it’s longer for a start, offers far more replay value and extra modes, and doesn’t feel tacked on to a colossal online dependent multiplayer mode.

This isn't an exaggeration, you squinted a lot

Multiplayer used to mean that you would need to buy at least another controller and have at least another friend. Offline multiplayer was the centrepiece of social gatherings in my life from playing Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Mega Drive at the age of 5 with a close friend, right through to having a group of close mates over to sneakily drink booze whilst playing endless deathmatches on the Playstation 2. Booze keeps popping up, doesn’t it. Don’t make any rash judgements on my intake, please!

In the early Nineties, games felt longer, even if it was a perspective thing. Games such as the Sonic The Hedgehog series on the Mega Drive were expected to be completed in one session, but they seemed to take a long time to complete. Could it be the unforgivable arcade ethos of ‘no saves’ and ‘lives remaining’ making these games seem longer? This handicap made these games worth playing through again as they were more of an endurance challenge rather than say a book that you could close at any time, come back and resume at the last page you left on. I say book, I really mean film. Games today are about the same length as a film. Well, the flashy mainstream ones anyway. The recent Call Of Duty games are the biggest culprit. Modern Warfare ‘s ‘story mode’ could be completed in 4 hours. As a film, that sounds pretty long, but as a game its short.

There is no score system, no ‘lives remaining’, but it has a very persistent save game feature that bookmarks your page pretty much every time you kill something. Not only that, but it points you where to go, what you need to do to get there and makes sure you’re never out of supplies. There is no feeling of desperation and there’s no figuring things out for yourself. In this sense, playing in a modern warzone feels more casual and doesn’t really get the heart pumping like it used to do. It’s this brand of casual gameplay that needs a shakedown.

In this mode, numbers are more important than explosions

The first Modern Warfare had a fantastic option to replay the story mode, but with most of these bad traits removed. It was simply labelled Arcade Mode. You had the choice of playing a single level or go through the whole game in one massive antisocial afternoon. Just like the older games, you now had a limited amount of lives as well as a lovely score and kill combo system. And once the lives ran out? Well…that was it. You had to start all the way back from the beginning. There was a feeling of intense pressure of making sure you didn’t do anything stupid. Just like if I was in real warfare, I was too scared to move from cover in case a rogue barrage of bullets cost me yet another life. No longer did the game feel like casually strolling through a supermarket of death; I had more reason to really think out what I was going to do next. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been done again for the rest of the series.

The N64 equivalent of Modern Warfare 2

What can make a game seem longer is not the amount of content, but what you do with that content. Play the content from different angles. Move things around. Allow the player to go through the same game again with it being an unexpected gauntlet of surprise rather than playing to a strict script. Games need more attention on giving a replayable single player experience; not a massive online multiplayer system. No one is giving a shit about split screen. Sure it crushes your massive TV into a squinty portion, but playing Goldeneye back in 1997 was a social event on multiplayer. It was part of an evening with your friends. All four of you squinting at the screen together. Besides, with big screen high definition TVs being cheaper and games more clearer today, surely split screen would be no problem? Maybe some AI controlled blokes to play around with as well? A good idea would be to do the best of both worlds and allow a group of friends playing split screen to connect online anyway. You get the best of both worlds then; a social gathering AND a large amount of people in one game. Call Of Duty 3 managed this to some extent and it worked. It bloody worked and the idea of bringing friends back to mine to play games was saved.

But noone has really done it since. It’s mostly online with nearly bugger all games letting you play with squinty split screen. It’s like it’s an embarrassing member of the family and every time they have a social occasion it gets locked under the stars with a plate of crust for sustenance. And if it means sitting in the dark hearing the other guests having a good time whilst me and split screen spend our time sitting in the dark in or own isolated little game, then I’m more than happy to get my wankers tan on!

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