On November 21st 2004, the Nintendo DS was launched to a very welcoming standing ovation, not only did this mark the start of gaming’s seventh generation, but it also set in motion a revolutionary change in games themselves.
Gaming trends don’t often see much change with the transition into newer generations, but with today’s latest consoles, the technological boundaries are loosening, allowing much more flexibility during development. The common goal of creating a realistic title is easier than ever before. Although, these strives towards realism come not only with graphical enhancement, but with gameplay enhancement as well. These changes are most prominently seen in the recent epidemic of first person shooters, which have all made baby steps towards that final equable target.
Now, as you’ve probably already gathered from the title, the denomination of classic health bars dropped significantly this generation, the inauguration of this new trend was by none other than the Halo franchise. The game was the first of its kind to introduce a regenerative health system, and although the method didn’t spread like wildfire then, Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare brought about a gaming craze like no other. Suddenly every major shooter franchise rushed in to bring clones of Call of Duty 4’s innovative designs. Most heads up displays nowadays no longer facet health bars, the work of which is now often carried out by visual effects such as motion blur, color saturation, or the outline of blood along the edge of the screen.
As with the disappearance of health bars, medical kits have also seen an abrupt demise. Shortly after the release of the Playstation 3 and Sony’s hit launch title, Resistance: Fall of Man, Medical kits mysteriously ‘went out of style’. Many shooters afterwards allowed for health to only be regenerated by means of simply waiting, med kits were of no further use. Though several splendid games such as Bioshock retained a classic health system, these were titles released before any major fads were started.
Before these many new “rules” were carved in stone as this generation’s common-ground, many weapon systems in shooters allowed for the player to carry a near limitless number of weapons, regardless of size or weight. Though there are exceptions to this routine such as the old SOCOM games, many of the classic shooters ignored regular Human boundary and let players hold as much as they wanted. Not only was this completely unrealistic, but the task of cycling through the many weapons to find the one that perfectly matched the situation was too time consuming, and quite often, you would even switch past it without knowing. The introduction of weapon wheels (such as those found in the Ratchet & Clank series) did make the switching faster, but it was still regarded as very improbable.
In today’s games though, the amount of gear that is at the player’s disposal has been severely restricted. Most games allow only two weapons to be carried at any time; usually a heavier primary weapon (assault rifles and such), and a lighter secondary weapon (pistols or grenades). This latest system offers both a realistic alternative to the older method and balances the gameplay better. Admittedly, the aged technique of older shooter games did tender a larger variety of gameplay styles due to the number of different weapons available at one time, but this also led to a cluttered experience.
Another common appearance in ripened games is the inclusion of automatic doors, whether or not it makes sense in the setting. Take for instance Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, where a majority of all entrances are controlled by automatic means. While during some of the settings in the game, the high tech doorways are perfectly logical, but others, such as the Japanese mission, the addition of automatic doors was nonsensical, let alone bizarre.
In conclusion, the current generation of games has truly brought innovative ideas to the table, and while previous generations did have an authentic appeal, they pale in comparison to today’s standards. These new advancements could even be signs of what is to come, what could be on the horizon for gaming? Of course at the moment it’s impossible to foresee what will happen, but we can be certain that whatever the future may hold, it will be great!