24 November 2009

speaking of random acts of violence

Disturbing part is the commenters more than the video

Had to look this up after I heard it discussed as the most disturbing part of a game the other day. Even GTA didn't ever bother people by having realistic wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians. The first couple games were so cartoon-ish by comparison to this that it's not even a close contest on the "disturbing" level of consideration. Most of the "disturbing" first person shooters I've played rely more on an immersion in the game atmosphere and story than your actions (Bioshock, Fallout 3). They don't therefore come off as "distasteful" to play, and if they do, it's usually by choice that you decide to murder people or children for no apparent reason. "Reasons" in a game to do so:
1) a requirement to kill someone or something for a quest or mission, which in Fallout often meant you could choose to kill the person offering the mission to kill someone else once in a while instead.
2) someone who was an annoying and unnecessary game character. Generally after acquiring some new weapon to see how well it could work against some more challenging and important target. There are usually penalties and advantages for these sorts of choices in games like these because the game allows and indeed requires you to make choices about whether you'll be some sort of hired gun avenger or just the angel of death sort killing everything and everyone (and it usually makes the latter much harder to sort out and succeed by doing, simply because gameplay wise, it's usually the easiest choice to kill people instead of resolve their problems).

So it's not like I'm one to shy away from violence in a video game. But this was something else entirely. Several thoughts:
1) I'm not sure how this was supposed to be a fun part of the game. Killing unarmed civilians with automatic weapons seems rather like playing a game with all the cheats on and enemies that run away instead of fight back. Not much of an exciting gameplay/plot twist. Could have been handled as a cut scene in my opinion. Haven't played the game of course to make that determination myself. But it's still a rather strange choice.
2) The shootout with the cops/military/FSB afterward was sort of like Heat but with grenades. That is one of my favorite sequences in a movie for the sudden and abrupt shock it delivers (going from nominally cheering for the bad guys to suddenly realizing how bad ass they are that even a shootout in a crowded street with the police using automatic rifles is not beneath them)
3) Guy playing reloads a ton. With a weapon that reloads slow, not so sure how smart that is. This has been your random unemotional critique of an indiscriminate choice to slaughter people for no apparent reason.
4) Not really explained why they have to shoot up an airport full of civilians for this mission. Other than that you're being setup. Doesn't really fly as an explanation for me that we would have some sort of war over some random American dumbasses shooting up a Russian airport. I don't think it likely that we'd have the same problem if there was a random Russian guy in America with the same M.O. I realize Russia is not America and there's more of an institution of paranoia in their leadership historically (although we have no shortage of that here lately). But it would seem more likely that we'd simply disavow any knowledge of the guy's actions (reasonable considering what he'd just done, even if it was supposed to be his mission so to speak) and tell the Russians to fry him if it would keep us out of a war.

Updated: Apparently you can skip this mission entirely. And obviously you can play it and not shoot the civilians yourself. Which is sort of like using an unethical medical procedure where the unethical part was done by somebody else, like say, a kidney transplant where the kidney was removed without consent. And you know that as the doctor. Both of those considerations really make it sort of odd to wonder WHY it is in the game.
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