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Turning Japanese, I Think I’m Turning Japanese (or why I can’t play Call of Duty)

December 16th, 2008 by

japan

I like to think that I have a varied games collection, but as my hair gets greyer, my gaming tastes seem to be changing.

When the technical leap was made, from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions, there was no longer any need to be able to see the character that I was playing.  We had arrived at the stage known as ’First Person’ gaming where you saw through your character’s eyes.

I had become the hero and I loved it.

It gave me a sense of immersion that I’d never had before.  Doom, Quake, Half-Life and of course, Goldeneye.  All classic ‘First Person Shooters’ that redefined what video games could be and are all quite rightly, highly revered forms of the genre.

The Japanese have always had a problem with shooters, especially the first person style, which is why Halo hasn’t taken off as a franchise in the Far East. They’ve always preferred third person games where you can see, and identify with your character.  I’ve never quite understood that philosophy, until now.

I have spent a number of hours recently into Gears of War 2, Devil May Cry 4, God of War (PS2 and PSP), Uncharted, Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, Dead Rising and Resident Evil 4 with copious amounts of Rock Band thrown in.  Taking a step back, I realised that most of these games are from a third person perspective.  I needed to return to where it all began for me, the FPS.

gears-of-war-2-screenshot-2

I missed the launch of Call of Duty 4 for some reason.  I knew it was coming out, I knew how great it was, I just never bought it.  The longer that time went on, the less likely I was going to get it.  So I missed it.

cod4

When Call of Duty: World at War was released, I thought to myself that I must give this one a shot, so I borrowed it from a friend, looking to return to my old hunting ground, in a first person shooter environment.

The game loaded, I pressed ‘Start’, watched the beginning introduction then I was off.  Now, I’m well aware of taking a little time to adjust to new controls and game mechanics, but I just cannot get into the game.  I used to feel immersed in this scenario, now I feel completely the opposite.  I feel totally ‘out’ of the experience, like I’m moving a camera around on the landscape and that I can’t interact with the environment properly.

I have to think to myself that, either I am becoming more ‘Eastern’ in my game design choices, or COD:WAW isn’t a very good game -  but by it’s popularity at retail, this obviously isn’t the case and so it must be me.

Have I left the FPS party already?  I thought I had a few more years left in me yet.  I loved Bioshock, and that was only last year.  I’ve also been playing some Half-Life 2 this year, and had a great time with it.  I thought the Left 4 Dead demo was awesome too.

Following the argument to its conclusion, it may have something to do with taking cover, or the fact that I’m in a platoon.  With COD, I never feel that I am in cover.  When I have my head behind some barrels, I have no idea of what is happening around me.  Hiding behind a wall, popping out for a quick shot, then circle strafing the enemy are long gone in the COD world.  The AI reacts to cheap tricks like that, and with the amount of enemies onscreen these days, I get cut to ribbons in seconds.

uncharted

I really think that games like Gears of War and Uncharted have spoiled me with their excellent cover systems. I also feel that when I’m in a large squad based game like COD, I seem to have trouble getting a real sense of who my ’self’ is.  I would never have asked myself these questions a few years ago when I’m normally playing the ‘lone gunman’ role.

So I’m afraid, for now COD, you are one boat that I’ll have to let sail without me.  I’m staying in Japan.

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