Wednesday, 2 February 2011

He's just doing his job!!

Would you kill this guy? Why? Ok the clever ones may have spotted that the guard in question is actually an assassination target and therefore fair game, but if he was an ordinary guard, would you kill him?

I probably would not if I could help it - unless it was particularly important or I suppose if
the guard was particularly annoying, but generally speaking I dod try to complete games with
as little bloodshed as possible, games like Assassin's Creed in particular.

I've wondered why this is, it's not that I'm particularly squeamish, I've mowed down countless enemies in games like Halo and Prototype with no remorse and I love to go off script and beat up a civilian as much as the next person, but I will really go out of my way to avoid killing in certain games - why?

Because I'm enjoying them - is the simple answer! A really engaging game is not just there for me to spill blood and blow stuff up, it's a chance for me to escape and be part of a story, play the part of a character for a little while. And so while I am that person I strain to act as much as they would - it doesn't strike me as realistic that a trained assassin would go fighting guards without provocation so I don't do it. In fact because I'm so into the game, I imagine the guard as a real person who i don't want to kill unless it's part of my mission.

I'm clearly not the only one who thinks this way, as this Penny Arcade comic shows...

So if he's about to raise the alarm, yeah he gets a dagger in the throat, if I need no witnesses then he might get shot in the back, but if I'm just on my way and cross his path then I'm much more lenient. At one stage in AC2 I had a method for dealing with rooftop guards - I would assume they could swim and toss them into the nearest body of water, failing that I would take them down in a fist fight, leaving them unconscious, but alive.

My best example of this is playing Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy in a level where you face Nohgri warriors. This group had been stranded and were following orders from the long-dead Darth Vader. Now in Star Wars continuity noghri have since joined the new Republic so are technically allies, even though they don't know it, so killing them was a bad idea - so I managed to complete the whole level without killing a single Noghri, even though they absolutely swarmed the place!!

Another bi example is Mass Effect where choice and morality play a huge part in the game, I've found that over the course of the game I have a clear sense of the character of Shepard, who is loosely based on me, and the actions he might take. mine is good (maxed out Paragon!) but also pragmatic, taking the most practical option and leaving no risk. For example I chose to blow up the Geth base rather than risk overwriting them and it failing to work. But all these decision come from a clear sense of what the character would choose, even though in a sense I made him myself!

There is a big change then, when I go off script, for example when collecting flags in assassin's creed, if my sole purpose is to find them and not to do a mission then the streets are sure to be littered with the corpses of any guards who pass my way!!

Waht about you - how do you play?

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