I started with #1 earlier this year and will finally be continuing with this whole favorite games of 2013 thing counting down to #10. Each post will be an exploration of the games I played in 2013 and why they were remarkable in my eyes. Most of them will have not been talked about on any end of year lists by the mainstream, but heavily influence my creation process. Also be prepared to dive into some history leading up to my enjoyment of each game as well as I do not believe at looking at games in a void.
Spoiler Warning: The following post will contain some spoilers for Metal Gear Solid 2/4/Rising. Perhaps others in the series as well.
Modern First Person Shooters have dulled our senses. Instead of relying on quick reflexes and situational awareness we shoot wildly until our eyes go bloody or a glass overlay cracks in our face before running to hide behind a crate or some sandbags while our health regenerates. Rinse and repeat. FPS games in their disfigured, bloated, overly exaggerated state are the new defacto action games for the masses, and that’s a fucking shame.
In the early part of the millenium things were very different. First person shooter design was going through growing pains, trying out different interfaces and experimenting with ways to present info to the player. Through this time we were given games like The Chronicles of Riddick, Timeshift, Halo and Call of Duty 2. There was a lot more space on the market in the action genre in terms of what would be made and what could be popular. Character Action games were born out of the need to revive the floundering action brawler genre and would see games like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania Lament of Innocence. Stealth/action saw the biggest case for its existence, relatively early on, with the sequel to the biggest stealth game of all time, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
Enter First Person Shooting
MGS2 was heavily advertised as a high intensity action game that also ratcheted up the stealth to the 10th degree. I’d say it wasn’t coincidental that it was the first entry in the traditionally third person Metal Gear series to implement first person shooting as a standard practice and that the game’s trailers would focus on the shootout potential this brought. Keeping with its stealth roots, though, the player was also given a tranquilizer gun to promote the use of the new feature while keeping the game in line with stealth.
This first person mode was at the time a very big shift creating a massive change in pacing and design. In Metal Gear Solid the emphasis was placed on remembering the patrol patterns of soldiers and the goal was to avoid being spotted and avoid encounters with soldiers; guns were loud and, more often than not, a last resort. When a shootout was the only way to settle things, like in a boss fight, the design relied on the awkward cinematic and top down camera angles to control how much accuracy players had. This was very apparent when first person shooting was retrofitted to the Metal Gear Solid remake for Gamecube; it broke the boss fight difficulty completely.
The tranquilizer gun created a focus on an innocuous, silent way of subduing foes. In a sharp turn near the end of the game, however, the combat would transition as it had in the first into a late game boss fight with the player toting a rocket launcher. Except this time it wasn’t against a single helicopter, but against a seemingly unending flood of giant Metal Gear Rays, the titular bipedal nuclear missile launch capable boss robots.