These Gaming Tropes Are Just Plain Cliché Now
Over the course of this week I’ve been releasing features which have for the most part been awfully positive. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever done a feature that resides squarely on the negative side of gaming. Well that’s about to change with what we can call my full debut in the art of negativity (I’m taking lessons on this to be really good at it) here today.
Trope-ical Paradise… What?
A trope is linguistically a form of rhetoric which usually consists of a play on words, but in media and entertainment we consider a trope to be some recurring idea that permeates an entire medium or genre and in today’s case we’re going to consider some gaming-related tropes. More specifically, we’re going to be considering some gaming-related tropes which have taken that perilous final step into a bad, bad place and turned into full-on clichés.
Now since this is an extremely abstract sort of feature, I’m going to use pictures only as pretty factor, and only with related games, but for the most part I’m more talking about the ideas than the games in which they are prevalent. After all, these are tropes and if you’ve read my definition above then we’ve established that they’re cross-genre. Okay, so with all of that said, let’s roll out!
Well this is a nice, large, circular area…
So I’m making my way through some arbitrary dungeon on my way to acquire some arbitrary item which consists of arbitrary parts I must collect and assemble before handing in the completed arbitrary item to some arbitrary non-playable character so they will progress my arbitrary story quest. Oh, but what’s this? An arbitrary area which is really large… and completely empty.
Well, fuck. Another boss battle, is it? Oh well, let’s get this over with…
To be honest I’m a little tired of this one. I get that boss battles are meant to be fought in large areas but what happened to the tight corridors I was just walking through, and why are they not suitable to a boss character who is only slightly larger than me, if at all? Or must every boss be the size of a large building?
Suddenly, loot. Everywhere…
So get this, I’m walking through an arbitrary… okay I’ll stop. Now I’ve walked into a room and I see ammunition and health. Everywhere. Why is there so much of this around the place? Ah, shit, again? I just fought a boss in the last fucking room!
Isn’t it always the case that just before a boss battle you will find ammo and health aplenty where previously you had to scavenge like a vulture for even the slightest hint of either. I can at least be thankful to Dead Space for not doing this sort of thing so blatantly, however I’ve learned to anticipate boss battles and puzzles wherever I see stasis recharge stations and the like, because those usually mean I ought to expect to either fight something or solve something. There will never just be a stasis recharge station, you know, chilling there. Enjoying life.
Yes! A health pack just when I need it…
You all know the feeling. You’re low on health, you’ve entered a room and there it is; a health pack is just lying there at the back of some conspicuous looking room awaiting your approach. And as you do, bam, monster closet.
You know what really gets me annoyed, though? Sometimes you’ll see an item that you know is booby trapped and you’re like, “You know what? I don’t want it. Can I just not pick it up? I know what’s coming.” And then you’re forced into picking it up (let’s say it’s a quest item) knowing full well what will happen and the game will go, “Oh look at the fool who just picked this up. Ha ha. What an idiot.” Really? Fucking… really?
Save New York, save the world…
Ten bonus internets to you if you spotted that the picture is from Crysis 2. So the world is in danger, some evil force is threatening the destruction of all of Earth. Wait, what am I doing in New York for the entirety of the game? Substitute equivalent city where necessary but why is it that a single battle in a single city is enough to save the entire world from destruction?
At least in The Avengers they explained it by claiming that Loki required Stark Tower in order to carry out his plans, but in games there is no such thing. And it’s always the same fucking scene that they will show us. Go play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 again, and then play Crysis 2 again as well. First mission in New York, first visible shot of the game, the Statue of Liberty burning. Yes, we get the symbolism. We see what you did there. It’s getting old.
Why can’t I hold all this betrayal?
I’ve progressed through half the story with this character who’s been helping me along. They have absolutely no reason to betray me now! Wait… what the… what’s happening? Guys? Guys?
Why is it so necessary for betrayal to always happen to the protagonist of every story? Pray tell? Why must I always suffer some betrayal in a story, as if it’s some hero’s lesson to be learned or some shit, half the time I can see the betrayal coming from a mile away anyway. Half the time, it doesn’t even matter that they betrayed me because they die immediately after. Why can’t everyone just get
a bong along?
It’s awfully quiet here…
Well this is area is practically silent. Strange, considering I’ve swept through entire areas of combat entirely within earshot. Why would this particular place be deserted like this? And why are there so many conveniently overturned boxes as if for cover? What was that boom sound I just hea– oh… of course, it’s an ambush.
Yeah. Enough said? I don’t particularly enjoy having to play through entire areas of a game which are quiet and devoid of life knowing full fucking well that the second I reach invisible trigger A or push random button X there’s going to be an entire squadron of enemies coming out of the woodwork, locked, stocked and gunning my protagonist ass.
This tutorial is… helpful?
I’ve just started a new game. Please teach me how to play. Okay, thanks for the screen, that helps. Okay, thanks for that screen as well. Okay seriously, stop with the screens now. What the… really, stop!
I’m tired of boring, cardboard cutout tutorials that just throw a bunch of ‘helpful screens’ at you and sometimes force you to spend a few minutes reading them instead of just allowing you to skip ahead. This was the bane of every new playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins for me (all six of them) where not only were the tutorials just a bunch of screens basically, but half the time they threw so much of information at you that you were left puzzled and overwhelmed. Bring on the Dead Space 2 styled tutorials which are intuitive and don’t get in your way, while still teaching you how to play the game.
Bring on the tutorials that don’t treat you like a fucking five-year-old.
The world’s greatest hope is useless…
Oh, so I’m the one person who is destined to save all of [relevant location here]? Please, tell me more about how many skill points I need in order to unlock [relevant ability here]. This is a huge issue for many RPGs I’ve played, most recently Risen 2. Okay so I’m this powerhouse character who is, according to my backstory, an accomplished soldier who was chosen for this task because of his ability. Why am I so useless then?
I mean, I understand that the order of progression in any RPG means that I start off shit and then level up but really, that’s a bit tiring. Why does Commander Shepard, a fucking war hero and proven soldier, have to level up a few times before he can wield a sniper rifle? Surely there is something logically broken about that sort of mechanic? At least Skyrim did it somewhat right by allowing you to do whatever you please but explained your uselessness in other areas because you had just discovered you were a dovahkiin. How about a game where you start off as powerful as you ought to be, and then let’s see how we go from there?
Elaborate ways to kill a weakened enemy…
Okay so I’ve spent the last half hour battling this boss and whittling down its health, now… uhm, wait what’s that button above its head? Let me press it. Oh! Look at that! … Seriously, it’s been five minutes, why are you still executing this boss? Surely by now it’s dead?
I love elaborate quick time events as much as the next gamer who hasn’t played too much God of War in their life, and I get that they’re sort of a reward but they seem just a little too impractical. I mean, I’ve spent the last half hour poking holes into this enemy, just slit his throat and be done with it. Quick, easy, done and dusted. But why must your hero then attempt to rip out each of the enemy’s appendages one at a time, throw them back at it in a rolled up ball, then rip out its head and shove it straight up its exposed ass, causing its stomach to explode at which point you pull out the spinal cord and connect it to the exposed intestinal area, then use it as a lasso of sorts to throw it really high into the air before jumping onto the now decomposing carcass of what was once a really strong enemy, before taking a dump on it and kicking it back to the ground, at which point it disintegrates. And then you land and dust off your hands because you’re such a badass. No. Just no.
I’m done. I’m tired of these silly tropes. It’s not 1995, we’ve been playing games for long enough now to know that a large area which is preceded by an area full of ammo and health means only one thing, we know that your conveniently placed health kit is booby trapped, and we don’t want to save New York, we want to save the world. Also can you maybe not make all my friends betray me at some or the other point in the story? Much obliged.
If you can think of other tropes I might have missed or you’d like to discuss the ones I’ve mentioned, feel free to hit the comments below.