By Nonused 10 Comments
“Taking control from the player to watch a five minute cut scene is bullshit!”
“Why can’t I be doing that instead of watching it?”
“What makes you think that I want to watch adolescents with obnoxiously great hair mope for a mo?”
These are not real quotes, for the record.
But I wanna play the devil’s advocate for a second. What’s wrong with well-done cut scenes in an interactive medium? Is it the loss of control? Is it the overly-expository dialogue? Nope. Cut scenes are only bad if the player has no interest in the happenings of the game. It could be well written, have the best acting, and have some of the most gorgeous graphics of any generation, but if the player doesn’t give two shits about the interplay between characters or the world itself, the cut scene is destined to fail.
It would be easy to cite Final Fantasy XIII as a case and point, but I’m gonna go with God of War. The second one actually.
There’s no denying that the God of War series has one of the best presentations of the previous and current generations. It’s goddamn pretty. Candy for the eyes and cake for the ears. It’s such a shame that I didn’t give a fuck about anything that revolved around the grotesque, Greek world.
The first in the series was alright, forcing cautious empathy upon the player regarding Kratos and his actions while still providing a big baddy to hate. There was the drive to get through the game, and the interest to see the cut scenes unfold. When I cut up that hydra in a QTE, I knew it would be worth it, as it would lead me further to the answer. “Who is Kratos? Why is he so pissy?” I listened to Athena babble about gods and their drama because I wanted to see how they related to Kratos, what he had done to deserve their hate. With such a backbone, the game propelled me to find out more about the context of Kratos’ situation, and thus each cut scene was a blessing. The story fell apart for me around the half-way point, but I commend the admirable effort and recognize that it just wasn’t for me. Kratos was too much of a douchebag and I lost interest in Greek mythology around the 6th grade.
So, okay, Santa Monica had created a semi-tragic Greek hero with a gory, if clichéd, background. I can dig it. I would watch those cut scenes no matter the lack of control or level of melodramatic writing, because I want more on the story. Cut scenes can’t eat away at interactivity, unless they are done in poor taste.
God of War II bathes in that poor taste. Don’t get me wrong, the game is a marvel to behold, and the first boss fight is one of the most memorable in video game history, but the game literally adds nothing to its world. Same gory Greece, same jackass Kratos, same steroid-abusing gods, same goddamn premise. And you know what? The player is expected to care! Care enough to get through the ten to twelve hour story, care enough to side with Kratos in his mission for revenge. No! These plot devices have simply diminished from the first game. They’ve become old and stagnant while still expecting you to think they’re pretty.
How does this affect the cut scenes? It makes one loathe them. It makes one wish that they would just end because they have little to no interest in what is happening to Kratos or any of the gore sacks the game likes to call characters. This situation has already been done, why would one care about it a second time?
If any game tries to pull a God of War II with its stories, the cut scenes will not just suffer; they will wither and die, no matter the production values. To hook the player in, developers have to make them care about something the game is trying to sell, whether it be the world, a character, or some major theme revolving around the story. A cut scene can only help expand on one of these things that interest the player.
That’s my hypothesis on why cut scenes are getting so my flak from the videogame community. It’s not because of the lack of control, rather, the lack of interest. But I could be totally off base or just speaking from my own experience.
What do you think? Do you think the inclusion of cut scenes helps or hampers videogames?