Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Critical Analysis of Two Games

The First Person Shooter
Modern Warfare 2 and Bioshock 2 are both first person shooters and they are both recently released sequels to extremely popular games. But this may be all they have in common. Contrary to popular belief, first person shooters are not all the same.

Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2, set in the modern day, takes us to various places all over the world. As in it's predecessor, there is not a single point of view of the story (although always first person perspective.) The player is continually changing character from mission to mission which makes the story a little harder to follow. And once again, as in the previous version, your character dies. As the game progresses and the points of view converge, it seems almost like they are changing characters just for the sake of it, which becomes distracting.

The action packed missions are pretty straight forward: shoot, kill run, etc. There is a lot of automated interaction with the other AI characters when tasks are completed. But there is no user initiated interaction necessary to play this game. The various settings are realistic enough, Rio, Afghanistan, snowy Russia, to name a few, as well as the infamous airport.

While playing this game I accepted the virtual world it provided me, enjoyed the realistic warfare, didn't mind mercilessly killing everyone in sight. Until I got to the airport. The place is packed with everyday people waiting to take a flight somewhere, and you are supposed to mow them all down. They don't have guns, they can't fight back, they plead for their lives, they panic. It was way too real. People in airports are going on vacation, going to see family, going home. Nothing came out of this, it was gratuitous and unnecessary, I felt dirty, it totally took me out of the game and kind of pissed me off. I am all for pushing the boundaries and testing the limits, but this is not what I shelled out 60 bucks for.

On the other hand, the online multiplayer is where it's at. Playing with friends is what this game is all about, and worth every penny of the money I spent. The voice chat is great, but Activision blocked XBOX party chat for some reason, which can get really old when a bunch of annoying kids are in your match.

Bioshock 2
Bioshock 2 is set in an alternative version of the 1960's in a fictional underwater dystopian city called Rapture. Unlike it's predecessor, this time around you are a Big Daddy, which was the enemy in the original but is the good guy in this installment. The story unfolds through a combination of PA broadcasts and diaries you find and have the option to read or not. As the game progresses the story becomes clearer and clearer.

The environment is well made and stylized to be creepy but not overly realistic. The poor lighting and creepy music keep the player captivated, always peering into the shadows to see what is lurking. The baddies come out of nowhere suddenly (and have made me jump a few times), which is key to maintaining player interest.

There are lots of things to interact with in this game. Items to pick up are littered all over the place including weapons, powers, health, food, and even booze. Dispensers of the same objects can be found frequently, and you have the option to buy items or attempt to hack the machine which brings up a little game. Distractions like this within a game help break up the monotony, but I love that the player can bypass them with cash.

The Little Sisters are creepy little possessed girls with powers, and you have the option to save them (make them normal again), or harvest the (kill them and take their power). At first I felt bad for them and opted to save them, but I realized I got more when I killed them so that became the routine.

Bioshock 2 has an online multiplayer feature, but I have not tried it. I don't really know anyone who plays Bioshock online, we usually play Modern Warfare.

In Closing
Modern Warfare 2 is more realistic, straightforward and action packed, but the line between real and fun was crossed which left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The story was also confusing at times and the constant changing of character disconnected you from the experience. The online multiplayer is awesome and leaves all other similar titles far behind, sorry Halo. Bioshock 2 is not as fast paced, but the environment is much more captivating and the story more coherent. The user interaction with objects and machines was also appreciated, as it gave the game another dimension. The fact that I felt no remorse killing little girls to gain power, but was upset at having to kill defenseless civilians in an airport may seem odd. But I wonder if I would have happily mowed down the civilians if there was something to gain or any sort of point to it.

Short Version:
-Constant change of character in MW2 leaves player feeling disconnected
-MW2 airport mission too realistic and gratuitous
-MW2 online multiplayer is awesome
-Bioshock provides a great virtual environment via graphics and sound
-Interaction in Bioshock adds another dimension
-Don't know anyone who plays Bioshock online

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