Greetings, ladies and gentle-geeks. It has been a minute. Or two, but don’t worry, I’m still angry. I’ve been taking a break, to let the vitriol settle. Not to reduce its potency, but in fact to allow it to age in oak casks and triple-distill.
Today’s target: The FPS. I say that like it’s a unified genre full of completely interchangeable five-hour romps through similar environments with almost totally identical antagonists and almost no diversity in game-play or narrative. Just like that, in fact.
Since it is.
I will play anything with a gun in it. If it looks vaguely entertaining, or somewhat realistic, or smells like a shooter or…well, if it has guns in it, I will play it. If you can name a first-or-third person shooter in the last fifteen years that I haven’t played, I will give you a giant cookie. So it’s likely my own fault that I can say, without hesitation or qualification, that I am tired of the same game, since I have played it fifteen times. And, really, fifteen is likely an understatement.
This comes from of a moment earlier last week wherein I sat down in front of my AV cabinet, and tried to pick out a game to play. I bypassed all the RPGs I owned, as I have not simply beaten but obliterated all of them to a degree that implies an addictive personality. I briefly toyed with L.A. Noire, but inasmuch as it is the single most dangerous and innovative title I have played in the past five years, I dismissed it (I don’t want it to be over). I also rejected my Rock Band collection, as it is both terribly intensive in set-up and also just terribly depressing to play by oneself.
I was left with every Call of Duty, Battlefield, Medal of Honor, and every other bloody franchise in that vein for the last five years. Not including the terrifyingly intensive collection upstairs proudly displayed in alphabetical order above my PC. I had so, so many games. And none to play.
So I grabbed Call of Duty: Black Ops, and popped it in. I spent fifteen minutes hunting for a number of (somewhat) elusive achievements. I was almost immediately bored.
I ejected it, somewhat shortly, and grabbed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I pulled up my list of achievements, and found there was literally nothing left to do in the campaign. I brought up the multi-player, played two matches, and ran the board quite handily for one, and in the second was nuked. I turned off my console, and made coffee. I was mad. I couldn’t put my finger on why.
I went back to the living room, and perused my entertainment center. I pulled out Medal of Honor, and sat down on my couch, still vaguely hopeful I could make some good use out of this lazy afternoon. And yet, for the fourth time in forty minutes, I found myself mocking the phrase “Oscar Mike.”
I applaud realism. I do. By virtue of my brain, personality, and major at university, I value realism more than I value most things. But the simple fact of the matter is that I want to be entertained when I sit down and play a video game. For all that I will harp on theme, mood, tone, and every other Aristotelian aspect, I want to be entertained. I wasn’t.
I went upstairs and took a shower and in this shower, aside from the major concerns and activities, my unfortunately detail-oriented brain played the terrier, and would not let go of its poor rabbit: why am I bored with my absolute favorite entertainment medium of choice?
In the briefest possible terms, I’m bored because the medium is fucking boring. We play the same game over and over again. I have the same identically-meshed M4 wielded by the same interchangeable Marine in the same bloody gunfight in the same vaguely-Middle Eastern building every time I play an FPS. I don’t care anymore. Not because I don’t want to, because I physically cannot due to overexposure. I was tired of killing Nazis, and I am tired of killing Russians, and I am tired of killing the hand-picked mercenary operatives of this-week’s carbon-copy enemy of the state. I. Just. Don’t. Care.
So I get out of the shower. I towel dry, and I brush my teeth, philosophizing while I floss. I consider finishing the seven books I’m currently in the middle of reading (seriously, Stieg Larsson, stop being dead, as I’m mad about it). And then I remember something.
Oh, yeah. Bulletstorm. A completely ridiculous, offensive, and melodramatic tableau of insensate violence and excess, the diametrical opposition of everything I believe in as a tasteful journalistic and theatrical professional. And the single most entertaining and fun piece of interactive entertainment in the past …well…damn. It’s been a while.
So I put on my Halo shirt with an ironic smile, and I traipse downstairs. I turn on my PS3, and I snort a little as the absurdly epic thematic swell crests from my speakers. I take a sip of my coffee and settle back on the couch. Suddenly I’m nine, on the floor in a sleeping bag, laughing as I hack at Pierce Brosnan with a Judo Chop. No Oddjob my ass.
Thank you, People Can Fly. Thank you, Epic. I had forgotten what it was like to have fun with a gun.
James Huneycutt is the Director of Operations & Marketing at Pixelated Geek. Follow him on Twitter (IcemanJ83) and add him on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/james.huneycutt)