These Games Were Ruined By Trying to Be Movies

gamegod25

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What, no Order 1886? That game (wow I literally almost wrote movie there) is like a textbook example of wanting to be a movie more than a game. It is so loath to let the player do anything at all, let alone do anything remotely free-form or outside of a linear corridor.
 

Lightspeaker

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Trishbot said:
What? No David Cage games?

Those are pretty much the poster children of a game maker who wishes he was making movies instead... but lacks the talent to make either a good game or a good movie.
Except David Cage's games are SUPPOSED to be like that. You can like or dislike the style, but the game is working as intended with respect to gameplay. You might as well complain about the lack of gameplay in a visual novel.

In the games highlighted in this article the "cinematic" side of them is directly causing problems for the gameplay aspect of them.


On a side note I think this Captcha is trying to tell me something: "lunatic fridge".
 

Animyr

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I'd argue that Hitman Absolution started out B-movie bad. It took itself way to seriously and the villains hammed it up. In the second half the story did pretty much degenerate into sludge, although personally I found that entertaining in it's own way.
 

Xeorm

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Jingle Fett said:
Great article! With both books and movies, the general rule of thumb is "Show, don't tell". With videogames though it's a little different because of their inherently interactive nature, so with games it's actually "do, don't show".

One of the most frustrating and disappointing things you can see in a game is seeing the player character do something awesome in a cutscene...and then not being able to do it yourself.
I disagree. There are some games that are made almost entirely out of being a story where the gameplay is relatively light and does little more than involve you in the game while the story plays out. The quintessential JRPG is practically made of that format. It works just fine as long as the pacing is good and the story is entertaining, and I find it much better than watching a comparable movie. The format is especially good for the longer stories. I would not want to watch FFVII in movie form for sure, but I can get behind having some interactive points in-between to keep my interest high.

What I think mars these examples the most is that they're confusing the genres and using the wrong tools. Hitman's a good example, since it does so much wrong. The gameplay itself trumpets plenty of choice in how you execute the mission, but then the story gets in the way by changing everything. Even worse, the story itself treats you as some master assassin, but the cinematics don't reinforce that either, so it feels even more disjointing. And so the game itself is so conflicted in tone and presentation that it doesn't perform all that well compared to how it could, which is unfortunate.
 

drivetheory

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Thief 2014 has the most incompetent audio implementation I've ever seen and to this day it's still not fixed and probably never will be.
http://forums.na.square-enix.com/showthread.php?t=142563

Even Thief: The Dark Project has a better surround sound implementation and that game is almost 20 years old...
(thanks to things like Creative ALchemy or http://www.indirectsound.com/ you can experience lovely immersion even in modern versions of Windows)

It's truly a shame Eidos Montreal spent their Thief budget the way they did...
 

SandroTheMaster

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WildFire15 said:
Games are the perfect medium for 'show, don't tell', yet the opportunity is routinely squandered. We need games to go back to something akin to Half-Life, where you never lose control over the playable character.
I strongly disagree that games are for "Show, don't tell", you even made the argument for why. Games are at their best when they're going for "Let the player do it, don't show them".
 

Nixou

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Those are pretty much the poster children of a game maker who wishes he was making movies instead... but lacks the talent to make either a good game or a good movie.

The Nomad Soul is a pretty good old school adventure game. Cage is pretty much the french Takahashi: he's got interesting ideas but tends to get overwhelmed by his own toy boxes.
 

Petromir

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NiPah said:
Was GTA IV trying to be a movie or just trying to be more realistic? While it's a valid criticism (albeit one I disagree with) to say GTA IV was trying to be more realistic I wouldn't argue it choose the approach because it was trying to be a movie.
I found it much more fun cocking about in GTA IV than many of it's predecessors, the grimness though overblown often made the rebelliousness that much more satisfying.
 

sageoftruth

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WildFire15 said:
Games are the perfect medium for 'show, don't tell', yet the opportunity is routinely squandered. We need games to go back to something akin to Half-Life, where you never lose control over the playable character.
I can't remember if he stated this or not, but I noticed that all the games he mentioned came from franchises that once didn't have this problem. If that was a criteria for which ones he picked, then I suppose David Cage's games wouldn't fit the list, since they've always been this way.

Also, in David Cage's games, I never got the impression that there was something worth playing in there that the story was suppressing. The story basically is the game, so unlike the games on the list I don't think Cage's games would be fixed or improved just by gutting the story.
 

remnant_phoenix

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Whoever does headlines for Shamus needs to cut down on the hyperbole.

"When A Game Tries To Be A Movie It Usually Goes Horribly Awry" (check the URL) means something QUITE different than "These Games Were Ruined By Trying To Be Movies".

"Usually Goes Awry" =/= "Ruined"

I understand the need for attention-grabbing headlines, but when the headline changes the tone/intent of the piece? That's a problem.
 

Denamic

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"Ruined" implies that the game is made thoroughly bad. What many of these games describe are just flaws of various magnitudes that certainly do negatively impact enjoyment of the games. But they only cripple certain aspects, or only sour the experience momentarily; they don't make the games unplayable or impossible to enjoy.
 

Jingle Fett

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Xeorm said:
Jingle Fett said:
Great article! With both books and movies, the general rule of thumb is "Show, don't tell". With videogames though it's a little different because of their inherently interactive nature, so with games it's actually "do, don't show".

One of the most frustrating and disappointing things you can see in a game is seeing the player character do something awesome in a cutscene...and then not being able to do it yourself.
I disagree. There are some games that are made almost entirely out of being a story where the gameplay is relatively light and does little more than involve you in the game while the story plays out. The quintessential JRPG is practically made of that format. It works just fine as long as the pacing is good and the story is entertaining, and I find it much better than watching a comparable movie. The format is especially good for the longer stories. I would not want to watch FFVII in movie form for sure, but I can get behind having some interactive points in-between to keep my interest high.

What I think mars these examples the most is that they're confusing the genres and using the wrong tools. Hitman's a good example, since it does so much wrong. The gameplay itself trumpets plenty of choice in how you execute the mission, but then the story gets in the way by changing everything. Even worse, the story itself treats you as some master assassin, but the cinematics don't reinforce that either, so it feels even more disjointing. And so the game itself is so conflicted in tone and presentation that it doesn't perform all that well compared to how it could, which is unfortunate.
You say you disagree but most of what you say is in line with what I said. It seems you're confusing "Do, don't show" with "don't show/tell anything at all". It's perfectly fine to have stories and cutscenes. In books and movies, "Show, don't tell" doesn't mean to literally never do it--some of the best movies have exposition dumps where it tells you stuff at the beginning (Star Wars, Blade Runner, etc) and that's ok. Some things are too boring to show or there's no way to fit it in without messing up the flow of the story.

For example, you admit that you wouldn't want to watch FFVII in movie form (which would be all show and no do), as opposed to having some interactive points (some doing, in addition to the showing). Meaning getting to do stuff is desirable. In fact, the good JRPGs (and japanese games in general) like the older Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger, Pokemon, Zelda, etc. all understand the rule of "Do, don't show" very well because they often do not show the player something they can't do. The Zelda games in fact are what I'd consider to be a crowning example of "do, don't show" while still telling a great story--It's not very often Link does something in a cutscene you couldn't do in-game.

Otherwise, we basically get what gamers regularly complain about -- QTE fests, endless cutscenes, "streamlined gameplay" etc. Where a game gave you choice before, now it takes it away. Showing the player something that looks fun in a cutscene and then not letting them do it. @sageoftruth mentioned something very important, which is that most of the games on this list were games that used to have more mechanics and which sacrificed them for the sake of showing stuff (which ended up being disappointing).
"Do, don't show" is basically short hand for saying that adding functionality is generally desirable, while taking it away is not.
 

inkheart_artist

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You know, I actually really liked GTA IV. The story and protagonist were the best in the series for me. I understand why people didn't like it, most people want a sandbox game like that for crazy action and they did really dial it back there. I wasn't bothered by it cause what appeals to me in the GTA series is more of the exploration, driving, and plot. I've been frequently obeying traffic signals and otherwise playing GTA games as non-violently as possible since Vice City and the fact that you could incapacitate while not killing enemies in GTA IV was the best thing I could have asked for. I was so sad when they removed that in GTA V.
 

IamLEAM1983

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Kargathia said:
... can I nominate Shadow of Morder for a special prize? That's one example of a game that for 99% of it did the exact opposite of the "cinematic experience" (big whoop for warchiefs).

And then it pulls a 20 minute cutscene / QTE fest out of its arse for the final boss.
Eh. Twenty minutes after hours and hours of senseless Uruk-Hai genocide? Small potatoes to me. I prolonged the game's active phase for as long as I could, clearing out Captains and Warchiefs and sometimes purposefully dying so the ranks would get repopulated a little faster.

Besides, Mordor had zero penalties for dying: Sauron's Army refreshes, which means more Power points and XP available at easier levels, and you're given a hundred Power and XP for your trouble, along with being revived with full Health, Focus and Elf-Shot.

It's one of those rare games where my accidentally kicking the bucket in the middle of a huge fight only made me shrug it off, instead of bemoaning my lost progress.
 

CaitSeith

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gamegod25 said:
What, no Order 1886? That game (wow I literally almost wrote movie there) is like a textbook example of wanting to be a movie more than a game. It is so loath to let the player do anything at all, let alone do anything remotely free-form or outside of a linear corridor.
The games in the list have good gameplay, but it gets shoved aside when trying to be a movie. The Order 1886 was conceived as a cinematic experience since the beginning. It didn't have much of gameplay to ruin, which essentially it was a really short corridor shooter with QT events.
 

Fireaxe

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At risk of starting an argument, I only recall one instance in Deus Ex: HR when Adam did something dumb in a cutscene was the first Zhao one, and there was a plot level explanation for that (that explanation being a CASIE implant).
 

JohnnyDelRay

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I think Hitman Absolution fell out of tone with the rest of the games. It's a lot more sequential and scripted, and less exploration and screwing around with various occurrences that you can slip into your murder tactics. Simple little things, like finding the secret path in the manor for the Sir to go down behind the stairs and screw the housemaids, to give you another way in his bedroom through the mirror to smudge him with his pillow, those were really clever really touches, and required you to explore and get the timing right (you could only sneak through there I think while she was having a shower). Or the poisoning of the fish in the Japanese yakuza level, or the playboy mansion in the mountains level where you could shoot out the glass bottom of the hot tub. These are instances where I think "over cinemafying" the game experience can kinda suck and take away the interactive part of y'know, playing a game as opposed to watching it.

GTA IV and V are increasingly more "cinematic" in the story it wants to tell, yes they do feel like you are playing someone else's story rather than doing whatever you want, but I don't think it ruins the game insofar as just being a different kind of game. On it's own merits, they are engaging stories that want you to invest more in each character's plot rather than just going around raising hell, so that's fine with me. But then again I'm not one of those people who slam and burn games like Resident Evil for not being what they used to be anymore, despite loving the originals and wishing that style was still alive I still think the sequels are great in their own right.
 

Zefar

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The Max Payne 3 game was trying for that movie feel and it failed quite badly. It became more of Max Whine 3 because that's all I remember him doing. The game also took over far too much for it's own good.
 

Pyrian

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Fireaxe said:
At risk of starting an argument, I only recall one instance in Deus Ex: HR when Adam did something dumb in a cutscene was the first Zhao one, and there was a plot level explanation for that (that explanation being a CASIE implant).
How about the one at the end of the FEMA camp mission, introducing the first boss? He walks in all casual, stands around doe eyed while the bad guys have a discussion and take the elevator, then gets ambushed by a guy whose footsteps are so heavy the floor shakes as he approaches.
 

Razorback0z

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No.... Human Revolution fell apart shortly after the meeting to discuss the concept of another a sequel to Deus Ex.