Thought: Modern FPS Level Design
I was recently playing through the Call of Duty: Black Ops campaign for the first time (I realize I am a year behind). It struck me how boring the entire thing is. For all of its’ jaw dropping cinematics and written scenes, the gameplay leaves much to be desired.
I am well aware of how many 20 somethings like myself sit around and moan about how nothing will ever be better than Goldeneye on the N64. So I went back and I tried it. Due mostly to the vast improvements to the FPS genre in controllers, Goldeneye is now unplayable, having only the one joystick. I would enjoy seeing a port done to the xbox platform but that is a story for another day.
The point is that linear design, which leads the player directly from cutscene to automated action sequence are impressive and visually appealing, however there is really no point to it and certainly zero replay value. I miss the days when FPSs were more about exploring than about getting to the next cutscene. When the clever players would find items, weapons, or bonuses for looking under the staircase or by accessing a guard station.
In Black Ops, if you fight a group of enemies from a good position and slowly pick each one off, they are replenished, and the fight will never end. If on the other hand, you rush them, take about 10 bullets but reach what is programmed as the “checkpoint”, then your team catches up and you head on. This premise is how I would define the entire franchise and it is the antithesis of how I would choose to play.
It amazes me that gamers would want this ultra simplistic style. I would rather play Half-Life or Bio-Shock any day over a game that is all about running in a straight line or following NPCs for 5 hours. (or can it be played through quicker?)