A dusty, abandoned favilla on the edge of town surround you as the sounds of gunfire echo all around the scenery of the abandoned playground you found yourself to hide. The one minute warning goes off and the man running to your left suddenly gets gunned down. You know it was the sniper in the window across from your position, but he hasn’t spotted you and you haven’t been able to get a clear shot. In an attempt to distract him, you toss your last flash bang as far in front of him as you can, hoping to blind him and take your shot. Equipping your thermal goggles, you see he is moving around blindly, so you put your cross-hair and pull the trigger just to hear his grunts as he falls to your attack. Seconds later, gun fire is heard directly behind you and your health drops instantly, putting you out for the count as the clock runs out. What follows makes your ears cringe,
“Hah, take that you f@#$i&^ noob!”
Online gaming has become popular in the latest generation, since the PS2 and Xbox attempted to get gamers online, as did the DreamCast but did it before it was a viable media. With the uprising of online play, gamers have been seen shying away from the campaign scene and moving closer to the multiplayer side of things. The common question I ask myself and others these days is this:
Is the Online Multiplayer setting taking the front seat to Campaign gaming?
To answer properly, you must consider the games in question being played online and the direct social interactions effect on the gaming experience. It has become something of a powerful factor, from Modern Warfare and Halo to Uncharted, they have all had amazing success rates drawing in players from all around the world to pwn one another in the online area. It has become a symbol of the new ‘gamers’ of this generation, those who only play games online sections.
This has slowly started the trend for developers, however. Santa Monica Studios, the developers of the God of War series, a solo campaign only game, has decided to throw their hat in the ring and introduce a multiplayer element themselves. A purely solo adventure having an online multiplayer platform?
Seems rather unorthodox but it could have limitless possibilities, so maybe it’s a good thing. The big problem presents itself when wondering about it pulling the focus from the campaign. Modern Warfare was a smash hit, but the story, to my knowledge, is fuzzy. From someone who beat the campaign two times over, it should stick out in my mind what went on during that game, especially if it warranted 2 sequels!
What do I remember clearly then?
The interesting structure of the online combat, the weapon ranks, the perks, etc. I don’t even like playing online multiplayer games and that is what I remember the most. If that isn’t scary, I don’t know what is for the future of the evolving online play.
Dead space 3, developer EA, have even shown off some of the online play themselves, in a game where fear is key, online play has a way of melting away that fear and playing competition. Mass Effect 3 has attempted to do so in style with themed online play such as defense of diffuse missions as well as an overall Galaxy Readiness for playing these “missions”. It’s beginning to blur the lines between a true campaign and an MMORPG, such as W.O.W. or Guild Wars. I understand, I’m possibly jaded by my lack of playing online with people but the true issue has become the shift of focus.
Will online play pull away from the true focus of gaming’s story?
It seems possible, as the complexity of these online sections have seemed to spawn a story and life all their own. Only time will tell if games are heading the route of ditching the focused story line and handed an online forum in which the story becomes our own. I am not sure how well some gamers will react to that transition, myself included, as a completely polished story and meaning behind the world created is what drives me to play. As much as MMO’s have stories within their realm, it isn’t always an ever-present thought and it becomes back story for your raids on town or your extinction of the lions in the woods.
The lines are becoming blurred, it’s a transition in which some people aren’t ready for, and others who want just that, the multiplayer action. Let’s hope we still get the chance to enjoy a story once in a while if it does.
*Images of Modern Warfare 3 online play :http://explow.com/mw3_gameplay_online; Modern Warfare Logo: http://gameswallpapers292.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html, God of War 3 Kratos shot: http://www.ukonlinegames.com/2010/03/16/god-of-war-released-today/, God of War Ascension shots: http://www.fromheroestoicons.com/tag/god-of-war-ascension/. Thank you all, as well as Bing. Thank You Bing for finding the images so we don’t have to.*