September 14, 2010 12:00 AM |
['Diamond In The Rough' is a regularly scheduled GameSetWatch opinion column by Tom Cross focusing on the best bits of less-than-excellent games. This week, Tom rejoices at the brilliant combat and character simulation trapped in the sometimes unpleasant Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.]
I like to talk about “physicality” and “sense of space” in games. Most games do their best to trick players, to make their ingame characters move and look as realistic and believable as possible. Lots of games have little gimmicks and tricks that work towards this lofty goal. Those same games also use these tricks to gloss over the fact that little about them suggests physicality, character-world interaction, or momentum and weight.
Still, it’s interesting to look at how different games approach this tricky issue. Oblivion and Fallout 3 have so many movable, interactive (to the touch, at least) objects that I’m always knocking things over ingame. Of course, in both of these games, to move or twirl an object one is not holding (a skull or chain, say), one simply holds down a key and moves the mouse. What follows is both impressive and underwhelming. The object will tumble in midair as if handled by a ghost; the avatar’s hands and body are completely nonexistent in these situations. It turns what should be a neat, unobtrusive feature into a joke for players.
Most open world (and pseudo open-world) games employ similar tricks, tricks that seem neat at first and then just seem silly. They’re full of overly long animations (Risen is far and away the worst offender in this area), objects with text floating above them, and pointless physics tricks.
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic may share “high” fantasy setting with games like Oblivion, but unlike these games, it doesn’t need an open world or giant inventory of touchable items to back up its enhanced physicality. Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is a first person combat game. I could call it an FPS, and I did spend a lot of time shooting orcs with arrows and magic, but it’s not concerned with shooting.
Categories: Column: Diamond In The Rough