With the 2009 coming to its end, I’ve been incredibly impressed with how the games released this year presented cinematic experiences that feel so organic, and it only looks like it’s going to get better. Major blockbuster hits such as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Assassin’s Creed 2 (Guess things get better the second time around, huh?) definitely drive this point home and in a very big way. From the literal birth of an assassin in Assassin’s Creed 2 to a harrowing snowmobile chase after destroying a Russian military base in Modern Warfare 2, games are becoming more immersive and hugely cinematic in how they deliver their stories. Where the gamer is able to actually be in an interactive movie where you get to do all the cool things you’ve watched all before.
Delivering a storyline effectively is just as important as the gameplay itself. Well done stories can actually disguise linearity, leaving the gamer free to enjoy what is being presented to him/her, and even better, to be able to interact directly with the actions on the screen. In an unusual twist, the upcoming Heavy Rain is a mix of both linearity and choice in action. The story is presented to you and is dependent on whether or not you can perform an action in time. Whether you do or you don’t, minute changes in the story occur, which creates an interesting mix of both linear and non-linear gameplay.
On the flip side, rather than an actual cinematic experience, games have been serving as incredible storytelling medium. Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins whose “choose your own adventure” type of storytelling provides a rich and individual-based game that ups replay value. In addition, the actual emotional properties of each game where decisions made have a large effect on the world. This puts a higher weight on the conscience of the gamer making the choice, because it’s not forced upon them like it is in a film, rather, they have to live with the choice they make and ride it out until the bitter (or happy) end.
Video games have come a very long way from just you, two buttons, and the direction of east. At the rate the industry is growing and flourishing, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see games surpass films as a better storytelling medium.
What do you think?