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The Media Entertainment Games

Croal vs. Totilo - The God of War 2 Letters 28

I've mentioned previously how much I enjoy the writing of Newsweek's N'Gai Croal and MTV's Stephen Totilo. All this week, then, it's been a pleasure to enjoy their witty exchange on the PS2's most recent blockbuster, God of War 2. The conversation is spread across both Croal's LevelUp column and Totilo's Player Two blog, and features ruminations on the title from a number of viewpoints. If you have some time this afternoon I highly recommend you give their full correspondence a look. More than just a discussion about a single game, they manage to capture some of the greatness of the medium, with their conversation ranging across genre, time, and content to get at some of the most fundamental elements of videogaming. From N'Gai's final post: "I've said before that we 'see' videogames with our hands. Extending that analogy further, the way cutscenes are used today is the film equivalent of title cards during the silent film era: even though the audience came to the movies to watch people move, they had to do a fair bit of reading to get the full measure of the filmmaker's vision. Similarly, cutscenes leave gamers watching when they should be playing. Sure, cutscenes can communicate critical information; they allow for dramatic and spectacular sequences that might be too difficult to pull off interactively; they provide a nice breather or bookend to lengthy gameplay sections. But just as silent film gave way to the talkies, cutscenes need to keep giving way to gameplay so that our eyes--excuse me, our hands--are constantly engaged."
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Croal vs. Totilo - The God of War 2 Letters

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  • Whoooooo... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @04:59PM (#18549151) Homepage Journal
    *crickets chirping*
  • by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Friday March 30, 2007 @05:02PM (#18549185) Journal
    The paragraph appears to imply that the interactive portions of video games are some sort of objective evolution from non-interactive film. Why would games need to wholly abandon the latter if we still enjoy the occasional trip to the movies or watching a DVD at home? Video games don't need to constantly engage your thumbs to be wholly immersive or compelling, and to abandon cutscenes on the basis of some arbitrary need to always be "in control" ignores the fact that these scenes can serve to communicate something that interactivity will not. A cut to the villain plotting your demise many miles away, a flashback to a prosperous city you now see before you in ruins -- these are scenes that you need to know, but you will lose nothing by not being "in control" of those scenes. Some games don't need cutscenes and do well without them, but others need them badly. Where would FFXII be without its FMVs and plot-progressing cutscenes? Can you really replace that game's opening movie with equally compelling gameplay that tells the same story?
    • by vux984 ( 928602 )
      Can you really replace that game's opening movie with equally compelling gameplay that tells the same story?

      • by Sciros ( 986030 )
        You haven't thought about that answer then... there's a wedding, a funeral, some random battle strategy discussion, and a number of other things that you simply don't want to bore a player with having to "play through." Being an attendee at a wedding, or playing the part of the prince in it, or whatever, is at best not worth the time it takes compared to seeing a 15-second clip of its high point. I didn't pick that cinematic randomly... there *are* ones out there you can replace with fun, immersive gameplay
        • by vux984 ( 928602 )
          Actually your right, and in general I don't object in the least to the opening movie at the beginning of games.

          Eternal Darkness on the gamecube was a game where you run from cutscene to cutscene and the story is told largely in the cutscenes, but it works, and its a great game because it knows that is what it is. The cutscenes contain crucial information and hints on how to solve the puzzles, etc.

          Many other games purport to be FPSes and then keep INTERRUPTING the game play to show you a cutscene that by and
          • Still other games are designed such that these disruptive cutscenes are stuck right before boss encounters or other death traps and then force you to watch them repeatedly as demented punishment for not getting through on your first attempt.

            Eternal Darkness being one of my most hated offenders for that very crime. It's a wonderful game, excellent story-telling, all that. Too bad the FMV before the final boss battle is so very long and so very unskippable.
    • by Achoi77 ( 669484 )
      The whole issue of how to generalize video games down to a common basis is not very fair imo. I haven't RTFA (because I'm a lazy bastard that doesn't want to wait for the page to load, plus I was interested in the dialogue going on in this thread)- but based on what I've read it appears the point of interest lies in the usage of cutscenes and the point of conveying the 'romance' of the content supplied and the apparent drama that is created from the content and the artistic 'direction' of the content render
  • Great Game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Friday March 30, 2007 @05:02PM (#18549191) Homepage

    I've been playing GOW II recently and I have to say it's a FANTSTIC game. It looks great on my TV at widescreen and 480p, and it's a blast to play. Despite the fact that they to handicap Kratos (he was a god at the end of the last game, they had to do SOMETHING) they've done an excelelnt job in the parts I've played so far and handling his abilities, story telling, and keeping me hooked. The camera works great (because it's scripted). Loads are fast. For the most part, it's a textbook case of how to do a great game.

    The only complaint I have is the visual tearing which is by no means infrequent. It looks like VSYNC was turned off. It is rather annoying. I'm really sorry that made it through QA (probably done to keep the frame rate up, but in a game like this with so much fast moving stuff it is quite noticeable).

    Still, games like this and Shadow of the Colossus have come out of the PS2. I'd be happy with God of War II on a next-gen console if it was just anti-aliased. I can't wait to see what people can pull out of the PS3 and 360 4-5 years from now. Can you imagine what people would have said if you had Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, or God of War (1/2) near the PS2 launch. That would have blown people's minds of what "next-generation" could be at the time.

    • by xero314 ( 722674 )

      The camera works great (because it's scripted).

      For me the fixed/scripted camera was the only part of the game I have truly disliked so far (at least technically). There are many hide items in the game and not being able to actually look around makes finding some of these things a real bitch. I don't know how many times I've had to just jump off a ledge, to my death usually, just to check and see if there were a hidden ledge below. Now this was not a problem in games like the first two OddWorlds, but since this some times means repeating a 15 minute

      • by MBCook ( 132727 )

        I tend to like fixed cameras. Most of the time I find that having the camera under my control is because they couldn't get the logic half-decent, and had to do it to make the game playable. There have been a few instances where it has annoyed me, but by and large I think they did a very good job with it.

        As for Shadow of the Colossus, you have to remember that the scenes were VERY simple, except for the Colossus and the main character. Plus the game had noticeable frame-rate issues. So to combine that with

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Dude, fixed cameras suck. They suck.


          Fixed cameras suck. Just deal.
    • by RQuinn ( 521500 )

      Can you imagine what people would have said if you had Ico (...) near the PS2 launch.
      Ico came out in 2001, within the PS2's first year.
  • You mean like alpha and omega?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Basically, from what I got out of TFA, one guy thinks cutscenes should be interactive always, even if the level of interaction is low. The other guy says there's nothing wrong with non-interactive cutscenes.

    As with most things, I think the best result is usually a happy medium. As the guy who is okay with non-interactivity says, sometimes, a scene is more powerful when you can't control it. He uses the big plot reveal from KOTOR as an example. The cut scene makes you wait as the camera pans around to re
    • Personally I thought reading either sets of comments hurt more than... more than.. more than the cut scenes from Unreal 2. Sorry, I have to take that back, it was unfair...
  • But just as silent film gave way to the talkies, cutscenes need to keep giving way to gameplay so that our eyes--excuse me, our hands--are constantly engaged.

    Sorry it took so long for me to eyes and my hands were engaged in other activity.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington