04/12/2013

space nazis from beyond the stars

Ah all the beauty of creation... KILL KILL KILL IT IN THE FACE!
Killzone, a series where the peace loving people of somewhere or other are besieged on all sides by the faceless glowing red-eyed hordes of the enemy. Yes its generic sci-fi war at its most indistinguishable from any one of the countless sci-fi wars fought in modern gaming. A blast filled exploda-fest that does little to capture the imagination.

Am currently playing through its latest sequel Shadow Fall that came bundled with my PS4. Its gorgeous to behold that's for sure but then its powered by technology that's more than up to it. Not to diminish the work that goes into producing a big budget game but getting better looking games out of better technology is perhaps the easy bit. The  hard bit being not so easy a proposition for the code mechanics plying their trade behind the scenes at Guerrilla Games.

This is the fourth Killzone game on consoles (not counting the spin offs found on handheld gaming) and I'm getting that familiar feeling I've been here before. Still relatively early into the game but I'm getting the feeling the plot and the characters involved are going to draw me in about as much as they usually do, which is to say not at all.

Now don't get me wrong the basic gun play here is solid and enjoyable if a little clunky and the aforementioned visuals show off the shiny new tech quite nicely. But the sheer lack of imagination in these games is showing very little in the way of improvement elsewhere. That's not to say its not there, just that its so incremental it might as well not be. Four games in and I'm still utterly indifferent to the plight of the heroic Vektans in their ongoing battle with the Helghast. Not like they haven't tried but they're going through the motions so predictably its hard to even connect the dots and recall the history of this allegedly bitter struggle.

You'd think something would stick out with the Helghast, British space Nazis from beyond the stars but no, nada, zilch, zip. Demonic eyed bad guys from the industrial abyss that is their home planet. Visually evocative, they are perhaps the only thing that distinguishes these games from so many others like them.
Now this is an old argument and one I've referred to before. Should things like story and plot even be amongst the foremost concerns of videogame makers? That as long as they nail the gameplay it shouldn't really matter and that games shouldn't aspire to be films and so on. 

I don't think all games need it to be sure but some games do. What's more, some games perhaps need it now more than ever. First-person shooters definitely, they're plentiful and in terms of game mechanics they are near identical. This is a genre that needs differentiation, needs better stories with better storytellers. Give me things to shoot but give me more of a compelling reason to shoot them than an on-screen prompt that says KILL KILL KILL or words to that effect. Back to the blasting then, might still find a plot yet.