Violence overkill: Five games that should tone down the gore
16th Jun 2012 | 12:00
Though the discussion of violence in games is usually triggered by some misinformed attack by the national press, recently there has been a far more measured debate over the gore-fest of titles on display at E3.
A confluence of arguably excessively brutal trailers and an overwhelmingly gratuitous E3 has forced players, developers and reporters have been forced to step back and think about the place violence has in video games
Warren Spector - the co-creator of classic titles such as Deus Ex and System Shock - recently said he was concerned with the intensified levels of gore in games.
"The ultra-violence has to stop," he said. "We have to stop loving it. I just don't believe in the effects argument at all, but I do believe that we are fetishizing violence, and now in some cases actually combining it with an adolescent approach to sexuality. I just think it's in bad taste."
In the spirit of betterment, CVG has looked back through the E3 archive and picked out games that could grow into something better if they toned down the violence.
God of War: Ascension
Hear us out. This may be a tough pill for some fans to swallow, and it's understandable that some people believe that tearing through anything and everything on a whim is a routine component of the God of War experience.
There was a time when Kratos was driven by a desire to absolve himself of the sins he committed in desperation. The guilt plaguing him made his objective in the first game simple: serve the gods and topple Ares, the treacherous god of war. In return he'd have his sins forgiven and be free of his personal nightmares.
And then came the sequels. With his task complete, Kratos continued to maim and mutilate his way through four additional games. Kratos started off as a character that we could understand on some level, but over the years it's become difficult to relate to him, we're too busy drowning in a pool of blood and guts to figure out what's driving him anymore.
God of War: Ascension, which in terms of narrative is essentially the preface, could be a good opportunity to ground Kratos once again.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
The Metal Gear series is an icon of stealth gameplay. Even if Snake is swapped for a blade-weilding ninja armed with cutting-edge cyborg technology in the name of "lighting bolt action", the franchise was born on stealth, patience and reconnaissance.
Platinum Games needs to be careful with how full-on it is with the violence in Rising. The game allows players to slice and dice enemies at an unsettling micro level and - admittedly - this in itself looks fun in a bonkers sort of way, but how long can we do this before it turns a thinking-man's game into a repetitive one?
We haven't played enough of Tomb Raider to say whether the level of violence shown in the recent trailers is maintained throughout the game, but so far we've seen Lara break bones, burn skin, be impaled and shot at.
It can't be easy having to take the character with so much history in a new direction, especially one as cemented in pop culture as Lara. From that perspective we understand why Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are making a point of showing Lara bloody and bruised, maybe they think if they throw her at a wall hard enough it'll shatter the preconceptions as much as it will her femur bone.
Lara is one of gaming's few capable, strong, smart female characters. Hopefully this upcoming reboot will have as much puzzle solving and tomb raiding as it does mud, blood and desperate bullet-dodging.
Of course, on the other hand, there does seem to be a wonderful opportunity to spend a chunk of time engaging in some pure survival-against-the-elements gameplay, exploring and developing Lara so she's attuned to the harsh terrain and honing her survival abilities.
We've pinpointed the exact moment Watch Dogs became just a tiny little less interesting: it's when the main character pulled out a gun.
Ubisoft's futuristic action game may have stolen the show at E3 last week, but the excitement for the game was at its strongest when onlookers thought they were witnessing a GTA would that the player must think their way through.
Watch Dogs holds the potential to offer some memorable gameplay opportunities. Players take control of a character that seems to have an unfettered ability to hack anything, with the means to access personal information and gain a deep insight into the lives of people around him. He's essentially Agent 47 on God Mode.
Instead of devolving into a run-of-the-mill third-person shooter, Watch Dogs could be a game all about manipulating the world around you without ever needing to pull a trigger. While the game already looks fantastic, its potential when you minus the gunplay is massive.
Heavy Rain studio Quantic Dream's next game, according to its writer David Cage, will attempt to explore themes of the afterlife and and what lies "between our world and beyond."
"Beyond will be unlike anything you've experienced before, it will be emotional, mature and unique," Cage said when unveiling the game at E3.
The trailer, however, was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser: SWAT teams armed with assault rifles, exploding helicopters, car chases and pronounced profanity. There's a bit of a disconnect between Cage's romanticised ambitions, which present a sombre exploration of the themes, and the bombastic gung-ho trailer.
What was often cited as the greatest asset of Heavy Rain was its sparing use of violence. Quantic Dreams should bear this in mind as it pushes ahead with production on Beyond.