Thursday, October 29, 2009

Less is gore

Wired put together a list of 10 Creepy Video games for Halloween and while I don't think I have played many of them, I did see a kickass new trailer for Bioshock 2.

I'm not going to lie - while playing through the first one, I hit a point in the game where, late at night, something jumped out at me and I shrieked like a little kid. I may have peed on the couch a little, I can't really remember at this point.

It looks like the new one is going to be much worse for our furniture:

So between this game and Fallout 3, there's a cool new trend that's much different than what I grew up with in my games - the use of downtime to build suspense.

Someone pointed out in a Fallout review that the game made them sad. Set in the greater DC area after a nuclear war, they recognized the landmarks and subway tunnels they saw daily, but devoid of people and felt down after playing. It wasn't about the gore (trust me, there's plenty) that made people take note, it was about the wait.

In both cases, you have games that are fairly violent on their surface, but make use of minutes between killing things to really mess with you.

I really dig that about these games, especially as someone who grew up in an age where Mortal Kombat pissed everyone off because you could rip out a character's spine if you pressed the correct sequence of 27 buttons at the right time.

I find it interesting that while game designers have infinitely more computing horsepower at their fingertips, at least some of them have decided to use that memory and graphical output to tell better stories (Bioshock) and lay out ambitious storylines (Fallout 3).

While a certain degree of this is certainly a result of more sophisticated gamers and designers, there was a time not so long ago where the thought of dialing back the gore factor and expanding the scope of the game would have been strange. Whoever made that decision the first time is a freaking genius.