Is the trend of cinematic narratives ruining gaming or not?
Do you have a problem with an abundance of cutscenes in your game? Well, I don't suffer from the same situation and I actually really enjoy them! This blog details how I think gaming should include some more cinematics in future titles.
As gaming evolves and budgets become larger, there seems to be a trend going on: lavish cutscenes. You’d be hard pressed to find a modern, mainstream, triple A title that doesn’t feature cutscenes in some significant way. Be it “Metal Gear Solid” or “Alan Wake,” games just push their narratives onto us through the use of cinematic cuts.
I’ve seen this trend bemoaned as the death of gaming. I’ve heard critics lambaste titles that rely too much on scripted events and FMVs. I’ve read complaints from fans that most games are more movies now than they are game. Is this really a bad thing?
I just recently finished “Binary Domain.” The game was created by the producer of the Yakuza series by Sega. If anyone has played any entry in the Yakuza series, they will tell you that the cutscenes are long and plentiful. Still, the narrative set-up by those scenes is leaps and bounds ahead of most games in the modern climate.
Regardless, as gaming grows and matures as a medium, why is it so bad to include cutscenes in your game? Much like a musician who seeks to tell a story through the use of a concept album, can a video game not decide to display its narrative ideals through cutscene?
I suppose there is a point where enough is enough. The Atlus RPG Classic, “Persona 4” starts off with a 2 hour prologue that is text-based with limited interaction. Capcom’s brawler/adventure hybrid, “Asura’s Wrath,” is composed of 80% cutscenes. Hell, “Yakuza 4,” one of my favorites, includes over 5 hours of non-interactive FMVs. Isn’t that just too much?
I say no. Much like every movie isn’t about broken cops or drug lords and every book isn’t a fantasy novel in the vein of J.R.R. Tolkein, video games do not have a single mold with which they can convey their message. If a developer sees fit to include 6 hours of cinematics, why is anyone even complaining?
Maybe the ability to skip said cinematics should be included in every title? Well, I just finished “Shadows of the Damned” three times for the Platinum trophy and I was able to deal with the cutscenes each and every time. They even took on new meanings during my third playthrough as I focused on other elements to the game design, namely Akira Yamaoka’s glorious soundtrack.
I suppose gaming just provides a radically dissimilar interaction than movies, which is why people are sick of seeing so many FMVs. Instead of having control ripped away, most gamers want to keep going. I like getting breaks from the action, though.
The Uncharted series, for as generic and unoriginal in gameplay as it may be, has some very well done cutscenes. Extraordinary motion capture and superb acting combine to make the cut aways something you seek out. While I enjoy popping soldiers in the head, I’m more eager to see Drake’s interactions with Sully and Elena. It gives me a nice chance to catch my breath.
“Max Payne 3” was an exceptional case for having more cutscenes in games. The transitions Rockstar employed to make game and cinematic blend are so ahead of the competition that I barely knew when to stop playing and hardly ever wanted to. I blitzed through the title because I was sucked in by fierce opposition and tight controls and compelled forward through wonderful acting and supreme direction.
After playing such a great game like that, I’m left pondering why I ever thought ridding games of cutscenes was a good idea. Still, I do understand that some people just cannot stomach their existence and want nothing to do with them. I appreciate that viewpoint.
But when did our medium ever conform to one idea? The amount of games I’ve played where there are no cinematics far outweighs the amount that do. You can fire up any number of indie games and get your old-school fix, but even titles like “Portal 2” and “Doom” do not feature any FMVs in sight.
So to any naysayers of cutscenes, all I have to say is just avoid the games that have them. I, on the other hand, am looking forward to the day where an entire game may just be one long cutscene (Hotel Dusk doesn’t count!). I’m all for a slightly interactive movie, as long as the plot isn’t as garbage as “Heavy Rain.”
QTE's piss me off because of how lazily they are incorporated into most games. "Shenmue" and "Resident Evil 4" did them so well by catching you off guard and linking them into action scenes, instead of scripting an entire epic battle around them.
I do think the ability to skip should be an option. Hell, even the ability to skip action scenes like in "LA Noire." Another game, "Alone in the Dark" (2008) lets you skip the entire game if you'd like.
The story bits of GTA IV are what kept me going. Sadly, though, they were at ends with the gameplay. Niko complained about how killing people bothered him and that he was tired of it, yet you'd gun down hundreds of guys in a single mission. It was ridiculous.
See, I just love the Zelda series in general. It's the only bias I truly have and that is why I usually don't talk about any of the games. While I certainly don't like some as much as others (and even dislike Zelda 2), I love them more than any other games around.
Everything has it's place. If a game is totally immersive and can tell me a compelling story without breaking me from gameplay I'm into it. If a game wants to tell me a story through lavish cutscenes I have no problem. Hell, I grew up treating the cutscene as an award for my hard work! I don't believe either style will go away and they both can be right or wrong depending on the game.
I love Red Dead Redemption's story. I love the dialogue between John Marston and the awesome characters. I played RDR before GTA4. I just couldn't get into the story of GTA4. Many people like GTA4, it is a good game, but not for me. The last GTA I liked was SanAndreas.
well if the gamee has a stellar storyline then the more cutscenes the better in my opinion :D
I love cutscenes, they provide insight and perspective to the game. But I also like substantial gameplay. A good balane is all i ask for.
Yeah, then you missed out. GTAIV, just like Red Dead Redemption, has some of the best storytelling in any game ever. Redemption is, of course, better but its really close.
"I, on the other hand, am looking forward to the day where an entire game may just be one long cutscene"
As for me, I think it depends on the type of game. RPGs like the Final Fantasy games have fairly minimalistic gameplay, so they need more emphasis on story, and cutscenes are a good way to portray it.
On the other hand, you have games like the Zelda series. Lots of people praise OoT, but LttP is still my favorite, and part of that has to do with the minimal cutscenes. Short bits of character dialogue, Link casting a spell or saying a prayer to open a dungeon, and that's all you have to wait through to get back to the action. You don't have to wait for the camera to finish with an establishing shot, or for Link to get bashed over the head and chased away by a group of Gorons.
But different people have different opinions, and this is just mine.
I could not watch the GTA4 cutscenes.. always had to skip them with few exceptions. Story can be told threw gameplay like conversations, but I do like cutscenes Halo 1, 2, 3 had good cutscenes, but it all depends on the game as well.. I cannot formulate an opinion on this subject. Fighting games need cut scenes to explain story or else I'll be loss.
I have no problems with cut scenes but only if the story is good and if they give you the ability to skip them. Because few things are more annoying then having to watch a cut scene over and over.
I love cut scenes, but as long as they are either less than 5 mins, or if they are over that limit, there's at least sections you can jump forward to (not skip the whole thing, just a few check marks throughout them). My favorite ones are usually when they transition smoothly from scene to gameplay. longer cutscenes are great for just prologue & epilogue. Conker's Bad Fur Day was an exception, because every scene (short, but alot of them) made me laugh.
There's nothing wrong with cutscenes in and of itself. It really depends on how they're used. The only thing that REALLY pisses me off are "quicktime events". Of course, I don't mean the QuickTime movie cutscenes of 90s PC games, but the in-game cutscenes where you have to react to something, or something bad happens (usually death) if you fail to do so in time. I really hate this. Instead of sitting back and enjoying the dialog in RE4, I'm paying attention to a small part of a screen "just in case". I really like RE4, except for the damn cutscenes. Either be a cutscene, or DON'T be a cutscene.
Hell, I love short cutscenes. I like for a game to have plenty of short cutscenes. I am not a fan of long cutscenes, though. The reason being is that I'm thinking in my head "I would've liked to have actually played that part". I really can't stand it when there are more cutscenes than gameplay.
As long as lengthy cutscenes are either really good or skipable, then I'm fine with them. I do tend to prefer gameplay over cutscenes and it can be annoying if I'm constantly being interrupted. Actually...to tell you the truth, I would prefer skipable or faster moving texts in games. Skyward Sword is a good example. Speed running it makes me want to blaze through wads of text but I wouldn't mind seeing some cutscenes now and then.
Depends on how its done and as long as its limed or brief with a way to skip them after seeing it once. Hate them the most when its part of gameplay which means they can't be skipped if you die like with CoD Black Ops or with Heavy Rain being just cinema style gameplay.
I have a lot to say on this.
I personally love cutscenes, I have no problems with them, unless they are done badly and drag on too long. I love stories in games,in general they are, to me, more interesting then any story presented in any other medium. People say that some games that have more cutscenes then gameplay should just be movies, well some stories(like RPGs) only work in a game, if made into a movie it would take like 5-7 films to fill the story of just one game. And the gameplay can complement the cutscenes, and vise versa. Wanting to get trough a level or boss to see how the story progresses is a nice reward sometimes, the fact that you won, that you did it, not just the characters gives so much more impact and meaning in the following scene(s). And on the other side of the spectrum, using cutscenes to instill emotions in the player, get them pumped up for an important fight, the bulid-up can make your desire to win, to kill the vile being who might have done something horrible to a character you like, makes the satisfaction of winning so much greater(perfect example - Xenoblade).
Some people say it would be better if all cutscenes were in-game like Dead Space, and yeah that can work to great effect, but not in every game, not every type of game lends itself to that, and not every story works like that either. Doing it that way can lose certain aspects of a narrative, different perspectives, cinematic camera movements, introspective thoughts of other characters, seeing other events that don't involve the player character, all lost for what? just so the player can walk in circles while other character talk, is that really better then just putting the controller down for a sec and watching. To me its worst, a lot worst.
One last thing the line "I, on the other hand, am looking forward to the day where an entire game may just be one long cutscene" is weird, that would basically be a movie if there's no interaction, and if it does have interaction then that already exists in some capacities with games like the arcade Dragon Lair. If you want a movie that plays out like a long cutscene of a game there is stuff like Resident Evil Degeneration that are made by the same people as the games and are part of the overall story.
I don't mind cut-scenes that much as long as they help you understand the narrative more without over doing it. I just get annoyed when the cut-scenes allow your characters to do moves that aren't possible in real-time play since it makes you wonder why they couldn't have done that while you were dying over and over again.
There's nothing wrong with cutscenes. However, I believe games that can convey their story entirely through gameplay without taking the player out of control better exemplify stronger game design. I guess I feel that way, though, because I don't pay attention to story enough in video games.