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Sisyphus said on March 13th, 2013 at 9:27 am

I’m curious about what the choice you can make halfway through Deus Ex Human Revolution can make the game unwinnable. Apparently, I made the right decision and didn’t notice that I could have failed there.

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I’d point out System Shock 2 also had built in respawn points. You just had to pay in nanites to use them. That’s why finding the one on each level was important. Whether that makes it inferior or not…hell, I always reloaded after I died anyway. In Bioshock, I never had to, which meant for more seamless gameplay.

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Sisyphus, in Deus Ex Human Revolution (vague spoilers ahead), I seem to recall that there is some opportunity to ‘upgrade’ your tech due to a company-wide recall. But it turns out that this is simply a cover-up for them releasing defective chips that they can then control. Late in the game, that means a battle where you get supremely hosed if you have that defective tech installed. Not necessarily unwinnable, but makes for a pretty brutal fight, and the boss fights in the game are already arbitrarily hard, especially for certain builds that otherwise are ideal for the game.

Now, that said, by the point at which you have the chance to install the faulty gear, you’ve seen a decent number of hints implying this is a bad idea, as you’ve been actively unravelling the conspiracy behind the defective chips. But it relies a bit too much on having read just the right journal entries, and without that insight, the choice whether to upgrade can be a bit of a blind guess with pretty severe consequences down the road.

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Will "scifantasy" Frank said on March 13th, 2013 at 10:20 am

Incidentally, System Shock 2 is now available on Good Old Games–apparently they sorted out the licensing issues.

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I am okay with linear-ish FPS games now and again, but I think there’s something to be said for games that allow free-roaming exploration of an environment–SS2 permitted you to explore what was at least something like an actually-designed spaceship rather than a series of checkpoints blockaded by slightly-higher-than-chest-high walls. It also made the enemies roam around on slightly unpredictable paths, so they could surprise you at any moment, and this added tremendously to the game’s tension.

So I think in that sense, comparing Bulletstorm (Or Spec Ops, which I have played rather than Bulletstorm which I haven’t yet) to SS2 is comparing two somewhat different things. SS2 managed to create an interesting narrative that you could easily miss vital pieces of, Spec Ops drives you headlong into its story and you are just shooting the targets along the way. Both provided a stimulating game experience but the free-roaming exploration experience of SS2 is something I do enjoy and would like to see replicated more in some future games, versus the current reliance on linearity and checkpoint saves. Checkpoint saves are an entirely different peeve.

I liked poking around in weird corners in Bioshock too, though it was still fairly linear–the little objects, remnants of the chaos their libertarian paradise had fallen into, those were kind of neat. I would kind of miss it if Infinite failed to include some of those bits of depth solely in favor of shooting of things.

I’ve heard Farcry 3 offers some degree of that freedom and world-interaction, or stuff like Skyrim when a dragon would swoop down and totally get into a fight with a bear–that stuff was great. Not all games need those things, but pop-up target tourism is not the only model for FPS. It’s one that can definitely work, but it’s not the only one.

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highlyverbal said on March 13th, 2013 at 11:09 am

Loved loved loved Bulletstorm, so fun to bounce enemies into the air then kick them into spikes or a cactus.

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Scavenger said on March 13th, 2013 at 11:39 am

““Every game has a pistol and a rifle and a grenade launcher and a BFG, why can’t I get different weapons””

Painkiller….nuff said.

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gadge emeritus said on March 13th, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Just to add, that if that choice in Deux Ex: HR is, in fact, that one about whether to get yourself updated or not… it only affects the third boss battle, which is, though tougher, still winnable even with your abilities disabled. My first playthrough, I got my chip upgraded, and though the subsequent boss battle was frustrating, I still managed to beat him in less than 30 minutes.

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Cespinarve said on March 13th, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I stopped playing Deus Ex: HR at the end of the second mission, when I learned that my stealth-hacker character was expected to fight a one-on-one boss battle. Fuck that.

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Sisyphus said on March 13th, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Ah. OK. I’d figured out by that point that getting that “upgrade” seemed like a bad idea, and decided not to. I always meant to go back through and play that again, making that choice, but…well…time is finite.

As for the viability of a hacker, I did find the end of the second mission to be very frustrating. My solution, as I recall, involved a liberal application of the grenades that, as a stealthy character, I hadn’t been using up to that point. If you toss a flash-bang, and then a couple of frags while he’s stunned (and maybe an EMP), he’s pretty easy to take down at that point, and I’d been finding all these hidden grenades while sneaking around, and thinking, “WTF? I’m being a cyber-ninja. When am I going to use this?”

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Mark Temporis said on March 13th, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Deus Ex:Human Revolution had what IMO amounted to a ‘no bosses’ option. It was called the Typhoon. Given how seldom the game ganged up on you to any extent and how the buildings were made made the implant somewhat useless in normal combat.

But it KILLED. BOSSES. DEAD. After I one-shotted that Russian bitch the second she charged me it started to feel like they gave me an in-game cheat mode.

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Cookie McCool said on March 13th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I’ll just be mad if there’s no first person pipewrench action in the game. I don’t want fancy guns, I just want to club the mess out of people.

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Anonymous said on March 13th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

This is why I play Fallout

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Hang on.

All your other points are well-taken and true, MGK, but I question this one:

“I don’t get to make any real choices and all of the in-game choices I get to “make” just ultimately result in either the same thing happening in a different way, or a different cutscene at the end”

Do people actually complain about this when a game doesn’t (and the qualifier is important here) explicitly or implicitly promise differently?

My experience has been that people expect FPS games to have a linear storyline, if not linear gameplay. That’s sort of their base state of being. Half-Life and its sequels were structured that way. System Shock 2, as you said. Halo. Bioshock. Gears of War. Etc.

And for the most part people don’t bitch about that. They might complain that that sort of thing isn’t to their liking (which is different) but they won’t bitch about the game being structured that way in a “well, I was expecting X and got Y” way.

Unless.

They were promised something different.

If the game bills itself as being one where your choices do matter and have actual in-game consequences. Mass Effect is guiltiest of this, but other games have made noises about ‘the choices you make have real affect on the plot and gameplay!’ and it turned out they were dirty, filthy lies.

(Fallout: New Vegas comes closest to delivering on its promises, but even there you’re largely locked in. You can’t decide to do something like, say, blowing up the Hoover Dam, reducing New Vegas to an economically nonviable ruin that is reclaimed by nature.)

It’s a legitimate complaint, I feel. Game developers are unwilling to release something like, say, a modern version of NWN (where you can run your own private server and run your own world where things are as consequential as you like) but want to tap into peoples desire to play such a game without investing the resources necessary to actually deliver.

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@Murc: I can only provide anecdotal evidence, but yes. They do.

It’s Nerdology 101, player. If there’s an unreasonable complaint that can be made, someone will make it.

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The boss battles were easily the worst thing about DXHR. If you were doing a combat-avoidance build, they were even more frustrating. But, if you were doing so, you really should have had enough information from sneaking around and eavesdropping and reading ALL THE THINGS to distrust the firmware “upgrade.” If you somehow stacked the two conditions I can see where that fight would be god-awful, but it really is two choices rather than one.

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I think the best reply to this is from the preview by Tom Francis:

A moment ago I’d been enthralled by this place, fascinated by how different and fresh it was, hanging on every word of these people’s everyday lives. When I realised my next task was to ram a piece of metal into eight different people until they were all dead, part of me thought, sadly, “Oh yeah. Videogames.”

The problem is that the settings of Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite seem to promise much more interesting experiences than just shooting the things. Why bother to create such a fascinating setting if it’s really just slightly more interesting wallpaper for the deathmatch arena?

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This may seem weird, but for the time, I think the Marathon series had the perfect balance of FPS and story.

Part of that is my opinion that it had an amazing story, but it also delivered it almost entirely through text entries on a terminal screen. You didn’t have to watch any movies in the game, note specific enemy behavior, or find obscure background detail to know the gist of what was going on. And you could skip over anything that wasn’t “go here, do this” if you wanted to. So if you wanted to get absorbed, there was a lot to do it, but it wasn’t forced upon you beyond having to interact with the terminals to end a level.

Of course, part of the reason that style worked was the technical limitation of the day made it more economical, so I’m not claiming this is something new FPSes should imitate. But there’s something to giving your players a choice on whether they read the story or just go to shoot all the things.

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When I realised my next task was to ram a piece of metal into eight different people until they were all dead, part of me thought, sadly, “Oh yeah. Videogames.”

If he doesn’t want to go jam a piece of metal into eight different people until they’re dead, why the hell is he playing a shoot?

It sounds like the dude wants to watch a movie. In which case, I say go nuts. There’s plenty out there.

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BioShock is an FPS series that puts you in a fantastic setting and then has basically everything attack you. I’m always a bit amazed that in the discussion of the title that part gets generally forgotten about. Yes, the world is imaginative, but the enemies behave pretty much like they have in FPSs since DOOM.

BioShock’s greatest achievement was the amount of atmosphere its setting delivered and gave its narrative some interesting motivations (i.e. objectivism versus human behaviour, how well people stick to their ideology when challenged). It didn’t deliver on the moral choice aspect that was indicated – you had the option of either saving the Little Sisters and being rewarded, or killing the Little Sisters and being rewarded. Also, once BioShock gets past The Twist, it has some completely bog standard FPS quests that just drag the game out.

BioShock 2 has a weaker villain but returns the solid atmosphere and in some instances enhances it – Ryan’s Amusements is a great level. BioShock 2’s DLC featuring The Thinker is probably better than BioShock 2 though, mostly likely because it is a shorter story with tighter narrative.

I’m looking forward to BioShock Infinite, but it will still be a game where you shoot everyone no matter how imaginative the setting.

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Well, yeah, but I think he WANTS a Bioshock movie.

But I’d say linear gameplay is only a problem when the linearity is actively detrimental to the experience or immersion – or, to put it another way, don’t make a wooden locked door impassable to a guy with a grenade launcher if you’re not going to let him open it. Just put a painting there, or a window, or a blank wall. Or if it’s got to be an unlockable door, why not a blast door?

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@sumguy

This I agree with.

I understand that level designers want to put in grand sweeping vistas and the illusion of wide-open spaces, but it’s deeply annoying when my guy can’t open a door that’s clearly just a texture or vault a waist-high wall.

It’s especially annoying when it “feels” like it impacts gameplay. If I’m forced to go a certain way to, say, fight a boss or a puzzle room, I think “Cool! An awesome challenge!” (In the case of Bioshock, this often took the form of me coming up with ever more ridiculous ways to murder Big Daddies.)

But if I think “huh, I bet I could get the jump on this guy by going up a flight stairs and out the door so I can attack him from the balcony- oh. That’s not a door. That’s just a wall.” then on its immediate heels is the thought “fuck you too, game.”

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How is it that we’ve gotten this far and nobody has brought up that Bulletstorm may be the single best thing Steve Blum has ever voiced, and Steve Blum has voiced a lot of shit you guys, seriously. I could listen to him and Jennifer Hale talk about killing each others’ dicks all day.

I have many fond memories of playing System Shock 2, but the one thing I don’t really remember it being was very non-linear. Pretty much from the outset you have a voice in your ear telling you what to do and whenever an obstacle gets in your way (which is literally every single time you try to go anywhere or do anything) you get another radio message telling you what to do and how to go fix it. Like, there were a couple parts where the exact order of the steps you had to take to solve the problem were up to you, and maybe you could futz around in some side rooms and stuff, but it’s not like Looking Glass dropped you into the middle of the Von Braun with a map and a compass and said “best of luck” before leaving you to your own devices.

Lindsey brought up Spec Ops upthread, and without getting too far into spoiler territory the linearity of Spec Ops is, I feel, a pretty deliberate part of the experience. It’s an experience that some people have criticized for that linearity, especially at certain points, but the sort of game that Spec Ops is casting a light on are typically very linear and don’t give the player a lot of choice in terms of what to do next, so in that particular case I feel that keeping the game on rails like that is actually a strength and to try and “open it up” would actually weaken what the designers were shooting for.

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Mark Temporis said on March 14th, 2013 at 9:20 am

DOOM was the only shooter I remember where you could get totally, utterly lost. First time I played it, I got stuck in the flashing lights part of E1M1 for nearly an hour. I have little or no sense of direction, especially when I’m not actually there.

The only thing that really annoyed me with Bioshock was that, counter to all FPS expectations, everything respawned. This meant you could clear out a room and STILL get clonked from behind as you were leaving.

The supposed ‘choice’ to either help or kill the Little Sisters…in-game your character has a squirming child in his hand struggling and begging you not to kill her. I’m sorry…if you didn’t choose the help option you are a total monster and I really don’t want to know you.

I usually try to play through at least one ‘evil’ and one ‘good’ run, but this was one of two exceptions. (The other one is KOTOR 2, where I couldn’t do a ‘good’ playthrough because the Jedi Council are all complete assholes.)

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Eh, I’d just like to see a return to the story-driven form of BioShock. BS 2 was a huge step back, IMO.

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If he doesn’t want to go jam a piece of metal into eight different people until they’re dead, why the hell is he playing a shoot?

It sounds like the dude wants to watch a movie.

Bioshock seems to promise something more interesting than either a movie or a bunch of shooting. So it’s disappointing to find out that it’s really must a bunch of shooting.

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HonestObserver said on March 29th, 2013 at 2:58 am

Get this: there used to be something called point-and-click adventure games, that didn’t have shooting, sometimes they didn’t involve violence at all! They took place in lovingly crafted, intriguing worlds, not unlike that of Bioshock Infinite. And they didn’t need CoD mechanics.

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