Sunday, July 20, 2014

. . . Sniper Elite III and Genre Fusions

When video game publisher 505 Games brought UK-based game development studio Rebellion's newest game to the market, it was pretty obvious that they considered Sniper Elite III to be exactly what it appeared to be - a military simulation of the skilled sniper.

It did not take more than a superficial examination however for us to realize that while SE3 was a lot of things, a simulation of a military sniper was not one of them.  Don't take this the wrong way - SE3 is a great game - it just isn't a military sniper game!

I actually had to spend some serious brain time in order to define what the game actually is.  The fact that I found the process of defining what it was not easier than the discovery of what it actually is was both humbling and revealing at the same time.

So here is the thing: SE3 is a fusion of First-Person Shooter and Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) but without the Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing parts!

I know, that sounds confusing so I have to explain...

The typical MMORPG regardless of its genre or play style invariably presents two very basic, very consistent elements to the players: The protagonist is the player, and while this is claimed nowhere in the game or in its supporting material, the protagonist enjoys a measure of God-like powers.

What that usually amounts to is an ability to soak up a lot of damage without actually dying, combined with a touch of both omniscience and omnipotence.  Those two elements are really very important - one is tempted to observe that they are critical - to the success of the game, and here is where it gets interesting...

When Rebellion created SE3 they endowed the game with the look and feel - but mostly the feel - of the typical modern MMORPG while making it a hardcore and solid FPS game.

Finding a Special Hook

 In the world of video games - and especially in the world of fusion genre video games - whenever you go about mucking with formula certain things have to happen - and one of them is that you have to build into the game a "hook" (or feature) that is unique to that game.

Basically it needs to have an element that is unique to it, so that it not only stands out, but the player base can point to it and say with gusto - THAT is what makes this one special!

In the case of Sniper Elite III that hook takes two forms: The X-Ray-like bullet effects, and the special bonus scores that can be obtained thanks to that X-Ray effect.

Now bearing in mind that the direct result of this hook is the vision of the destructive path of the bullet you just fired, and the absolute certainty of how that bullet accomplished its killing goal - with bonus scores!

There is no point in harping on the matter - so instead watch the video above so you have a full appreciation for the mechanism of the hook - and be sure to note the different bonus points earned for the different types of X-Ray kills.

In the end what the wizards at Rebellion have done was either incredibly brave or incredibly foolish.   Only time will prove that out, but based on the fact that the level of violence (particularly with respect to the bullet effect film) very easily approaches the line of both Violence Porn and Bullet Porn, I have to wonder...

How this title will survive the review process with content rating agencies like those of Australia and Japan (to name a few) is anyone's guess (but if I were a gambling man I would not bet on it easily passing with just an adult rating).

That noted, as long as you are a mature adult gamer there really is nothing here to offend you or effect you - while there is a LOT here to entertain and attract.  Just saying..

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