Freeform vs. Linear Story Games.

I like the former. The latter could use some work.

Ghost Recon Future Soldier

I have said it before: games didn’t used to hold our hand, they encouraged exploration (even if limited). Nowadays, games whack us over the head with a massive ball bat and point the way. They yell loudly we are not going that way. I have played so many that fall into that trap, that well – they bore me something serious. Ghost Recon: Future Warrior is like that, even Far Cry 3 (campaign) is like that. While publishers yell “creativity”, all I am is bored, bored, bored.

Even Tomb Raider has succumbed to this. Puzzles? So…putting a square peg in a square hole is a puzzle? Geez. What grade is this again? Games long ago used to challenge, and ‘easy mode’ wasn’t more than something other than how hard the bullets hit, or less health lost. You still had to use your brain to get through it, so it stayed fun. It wasn’t all just “reaction time.”

These days, too many games are all “action, action, action.” They’re beating us down with QTE’s (quick time events.) I effing despise those, they should be banned!!! Too many “on rails”, no freedom, no thinking, no exploring unless it’s an ‘open map’ type games. Great time to be an American IMO, and play a game that is actually subliminally teaching me about slavery.

What was the title again?

It makes me wonder if 1940’s Nazi’s haven’t taken over gaming through some weird time travel device. Games used to have more freedom, and were more free form. Freedom in some sense was always there for us, never inhibited. Today’s rat maze runs are just runs, sans the maze. It is not as if we COULD get lost, it’s quite impossible even if we COULD stray from the oh-so-obvious path. You know, where the giant arrows always point,clobbering us.

Fallout 3

Fallout 3 Gets It Right

This is why I like games like Fallout 3, and others. I can do what I want, when I want, how I want, the way I want, with what I want. They have the freedom to tell my OWN story, the way I want and wish. Nobody is beating me down with their stupid ass linear-on-rails version of “don’t eff up my perfect story or else.” Sure Fallout 3 has a story. But there aren’t any borders I have to worry about stepping over or my character be killed for some random, bizarre reason.

And, no one can prove to me otherwise.

I truly prefer the freeform game where I can do as I darn-well-please. Stories are fine…but it gets old when the story keeps clubbing me down. I don’t like a “how the story goes” fail system. Story based games should be fluid enough to survive my mistakes, and adapt to ME, the player. You know – like REAL LIFE? That is the part of “reality” that I REALLY want to see, BTW, developers. A game shouldn’t be so damn linear that it freaking breaks because I stepped over a brick designers didn’t want me to. Or I managed to get past a bush you hadn’t planned on. I’m the player, for crying out loud. How about making the story something I can discover, form, and help fabricate, instead of have rammed down my throat?

More and more, modern games feel like some lame bogus lesson from some creepy art class. “Get it right, or FAIL!!!”  Wow, I thought games were supposed to be fun and entertaining. They’re not supposed to be bent on brainwashing me into a more fascist way of thinking.

Tomb Raider 2013

Recently, I read a less than positive review on the new Tomb Raider game. Guess what? It’s just like all the others. Challenge your brain? Nope. Interesting enemies? Nope. All ‘on rails’ with too many QTE’s? Yep. For a gal out in the lost woods, she sure has trouble finding anything BUT a linear, one-way path to trudge down. You would think on an island you could blaze your own trail. Obviously, the person before her did, as they left all of those ropes…

Linear Games as Reality

So. Lets just take that linear game philosophy out into ‘reality’ for a brief moment, shall we?

Imagine if your life was like some lame game-story script, where you had to repeat doing something exactly right until you succeeded. That there were only certain paths you could travel, and places you could go, because all the others were a facade. Everything you drove past in your car was a pasted image, and not one building was something you could actually go into. They were not even choices. Imagine that every choice you made was dictated by a large freaking arrow overhead. Anything you might wish to do was not an option at all. That everything that would happen in your life was ‘on rails’, and all you really had to do was follow the stupid arrows over your head, and get to ‘the wonderful end’.

That life wouldn’t be too popular, would it?

Even in the most communist of countries people must make their own choices. No matter how repressed, they still have to eat, sleep, and do basic stuff, which involves some freedom. If the only thing (in a game) you are truly, really allowed to do is go forward, and maybe avoid failing in the path you are being forced down – at some point boredom is going to kick in really hard.

Great Graphics Aren’t Enough

Great graphics can be so deceiving, that we look at screenshots and just drool. Then, we get the game home and have to adjust our minds that we created all that we believed it was from some deceptive ad copy, and whatever we thought was – isn’t. Some games look so freeform in the screenshots, you would think you could get lost in the forest. But, when that forest is actually no larger than a local gas station convenience store, that’s just not going to happen.

Somewhere, there has to be a happy middle, and I keep waiting for it. Good luck, me.

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