Get A Life
Call of Duty. I’m sure you’ve played it, I know I have. I mean, who hasn’t? The game is part of the current generation of shooters that aims to offer fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping shooting experience. But there is one thing that most of these shooters share in common, besides you know, shooting stuff: Regenerating health.
Regenerating health as a game mechanics is relatively new, first applied in Halo, in basically allows players to regenerate lost health over time as compared to conventional collection of food, medicine, etc.
I can see how it helps somewhat the fluidity of shooters, it also offers a new set of problem. This game mechanics in my opinion does not offer any sense of urgency or the fear of death.
Everyone knows you don’t actually die in videogames, but try to think back onto a time when games uses collection of items to regain health. Games like DOOM, or Duke Nukem, or even mario. Remember the frantic feeling that we have when we are low on health and there is only a bit more to go.
Using items to regenerate health brings excitement, and it gives you a feeling of mortality and the drive to overcome the challenges with what little you have, whereas regenerating lost health simply make you learn the concept of patience?
A good recent example I have had the pleasure of enjoying is Metro Last Light. Its use of military rounds, as currency, oxygen masks to breath on surfaces as well as syringes to heal is all good in my book. Yes they do have regenerative health mechanics, but without the syringes to speed things up you are going to have a bad time.
There was one particular mission where i was stuck in a swamp with a prawn boss, I had only 15 seconds of oxygen left and out of medkit with only one shotgun clip left but plenty of claymores. That section became a series of alternating between oxygen masks on and off and planting of claymores around the area and shooting the boss back with the shotgun rounds to hit the claymores behind them and after which I spend the other times running.
Or another boss in a catacombs where out of bullets and out of health, I let the boss continue to hit itself on the walls and get damaged the same way one would do with a bull having the reds. Using my last 5 military round (=money) i placed it all on the injured boss, bringing it down.
Adrenaline pumping, exciting and the fear of death is intense, knowing that you are almost out of everything.
We humans thrive in challenges and work best when presented with obstacles to surmount. By introducing game mechanics such as regenerative health, we limit that drive and make the player complacent and the gaming experience in those games become a repetitive procedures. In my opinion, it feels a little like work, working from one cutscene to the other.
Whereas, the old method allows us to take a step back, to scrutinize, to think on what entails on the next step beyond us. The fear as we play, the excitement when we win.
No where is this more profound then in the classic game Rainbow Six back in the late 90s. For those unfamiliar, Rainbow Six is a tactical shooter where a player assume the role of a rainbow operative out to eliminate terrorists. The beauty of it is that there is no regenerating health, not even an item to collect. Just you and your enemy, with your rifle standing in between. Just one hit and you are out of the game.
It forces the player to plan out the routes his team will take, the corners he will make and the decision whether to engage or not.
Difficult? yes. Satisfying? hell yes.
So if you were to ask me to choose between regenerating health or getting a life or medikit to heal.
I say to you, get a life.