Is Dr. Noh Behind the Times?
Gamers everywhere are in a state of fervor because of two games Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. I could care less. I’ve not played a Call of Duty game since the 2003 WWII based original, and I’ve never fully played through a game in the Elder Scrolls franchise. I have little to no interest in exploring either franchise with their current iterations. Let me tell you why.
I think I understand the appeal of the Call of Duty franchise. In the past 8 years the game has effectively become the premiere FPS title through its fast and well balanced multiplayer mode. Call of Duty games can be very rewarding towards players, especially if you play well. The better you play, the more you unlock, the more you can kill, and the easier it becomes to kill. I cannot however find the appeal of the setting. Game fans eventually tired of the WWII setting and the modern war setting became the new standard. Embedded within this setting was a sense of realism that for even a fast paced, almost arcade-like game like Call of Duty disinterested me.
I think I understand the appeal of the Elder Scrolls franchise. Game fans who tired of the RPG tropes of turn based, randomized battles found a new open world where almost anything is possible. Players could explore a world in a way that they chose to and the world given to them is vastly epic. Unlike Call of Duty, the setting of the Elder Scrolls does interest me, but what disinterests me is the presentation.
I’ve said the before, and I’ll say it again. I’m am not currently interested or impressed with gaming’s obsession towards realism. I find the Zombies mode in Call of Duty far more interesting than any other mode because the setting intrigues me, and the gameplay works well in concept and execution. Say what you will about Final Fantasy’s spiky haired protagonist stereotype, but I find the character design infinitely more wondrous. One thing that video games excel at are immersing players into fictional worlds that could never exist. Although it’s not always the case, I find more often than not, that attempts at realism tend to pull me out of these worlds because either graphical quality or realism inconsistencies. The same thing tends to happen when I view CGI in a live action film.
In a way Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim are opposites. Modern Warfare 3 has unrealistic gameplay in a realistic setting, and Skyrim has an unrealistic setting with gameplay and graphics influenced by realism. In Modern Warfare’s case, I find that the gameplay does not match its setting. It’s why I cherish a game such as Team Fortress 2. Team Fortress 2′s gameplay does match it’s setting. In fact, it’s gameplay is greatly exaggerated and I would argue, enhanced, do to the influence of its setting. In Skyrim’s case, I like to compare it Lord of the Rings. Both take a similar approach in treating a fantasy world with an acute sense of realism and seriousness. It worked with Lord of the Rings because for it me was grounded with live actors and great performances. Skyrim’s characters scare me because honestly, they look creepy fuck. I think dragons look great, but I can’t stand the cat-people. For me, the comparative cartoony look of The Legend of Zelda works very well because there’s no clash between what I know is real and what is not. Nothing is trying it’s damnedest to convince you that it is real and in a time where I believe that the technology and skill level to create photo-realism is just not there, I very much appreciate that.