By jakob187 4 Comments
For those who know me on the forums, I'm a bit of a hard-ass when it comes to criticisms about games (and specifically, a ton of games that you guys seem to like). However, the biggest criticism that I have overall about many video games is the use of cutscenes and/or cinematics to tell the story in a game.
Back in the days of the PS1, cinematics were fine. The graphics weren't that great (although at the time, they seemed more than thrilling), so developers wanted something prettier to tell the story with. That's all fine and dandy, and it moved into the PS2 and Xbox generation in about a half-there appearance. Now that we are in the current generation, where in-game graphics can meet or rival some of the pre-rendered cinematics we would've seen, we get a ton of cutscenes. Here's the problem, though: it's not helping the cause of the game in most cases.
Most development studios seem to use cinematics and cutscenes as a way of being lazy, so that they don't have to program all the stuff being in-game. When you look at games like Half-Life or Bioshock, where the story is unfolded through the progression of the game with little to no cutscenes, it's difficult to believe that people continue to fool around with the junkiness and non-immersion of cutscenes...especially in something like (and flame me later for saying it) Metal Gear Solid 4. When the series first started on PS1, it was all fine and dandy. It was new to us. Now, cutscenes are old news. I have never enjoyed watching my games (even when it was something I was super-psyched for...as I point my finger at Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2). MGS has never really done much for me.
There are times where, sure, cinematics and cutscenes are almost necessary because it's something that is nigh impossible to show in-game. I look at a handful of the stuff in The Force Unleashed and think "yes, that had to be a cinematic"...but the majority of it could've been very easily integrated into the game if the studio would've taken the time to do so.
Then I look at games like Fracture, which aren't amazing or great or are barely even able to be considered a game...but their use of cutscenes is dramatically better than most other people. Using the same basic principle and idea as the original Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, the game background-loads behind a cutscene instead of loading with a loading screen showing. This provides a non-stop form of action which I like (and yes, I'm aware that many other games do it...but I felt Fracture - despite the horrific video quality - did it very well).
There's also Dead Space, which just from the small amount of time that I've played in the game makes me want to point at the game and scream out, "HEY, DEVELOPERS - THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT CORRECTLY".
Flawlessly telling a story is far from impossible, but it is also challenging. Nonetheless, I would love it if developers would open their eyes a little wider and see that there is almost no point for cinematics and/or cutscenes anymore. Storytelling can easily be integrated in-game and become the floating standard for a while to come very easily. Immersion is not about having a gigantic open-world to run around in, nor is it Havok physics engine v6,958. It's making sure that your players do not miss out on the world because of a design choice that could potentially take them away from the world they are trying to experience.
Therefore, my plea is: developers, plz /delete cutscenes.