Lunchtime Discussion: Cutscenes

Cutscenes are the marmite of gaming. You love them or you hate them and I LOVE them. Some of you out there just want to skip every last one of them and get to the gameplay whereas some of us storm through the gameplay just to get to the next cutscene. For me, even with the best games, it’s the story and cutscenes that keep me playing. If a game is too slow and it’s story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, you’ll lose me.

Take Dead Space for example. Don’t worry, this article is spoiler free, but even if I wanted to spoil Dead Space for you, I couldn’t because I never finished it. It didn’t have the lure of a cutscene to pull me through the levels. Each objective was completed only to be greeted by a voice over the intercom who would tell me that an engine had broken or some other obscure, yet important, item needed fixing. It all just felt like it was prolonging the actual plot and I got fed up with it.

It will come as no surprise then that Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of, if not my all time, favourite games ever. I couldn’t get enough of the 8 hours worth of cutscenes and to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t care less about the gameplay. Nowadays I play through it for the stealth and to look at how I can approach each situation, but back when I originally played it, the gameplay could have been swapped with levels from Super Rub a Dub for all I cared. I was there for a cinematic experience and that was what I got.

Whilst the cutsceneless approach in games like Dead Space and even Fallout or Oblivion don’t appeal to me, games like Half Life 2 did do it fantastically for me. There I felt like a character within the world and not just somebody who didn’t speak and was ordered around everywhere by the other characters. Though I really can’t think of many games which have actually done this perfectly outside of the half life franchise. Bioshock did I suppose, but I don’t like Bioshock. They tried to give the main guy too much character so I couldn’t relate to him and therefore didn’t care.

Cutscenes turn games into interactive films. You steer the characters to the next checkpoint and in doing so trigger the next part of the story. Maybe it’s my strong love for both mediums that makes me so happy to see them come together. Especially when they do it well in titles such as Uncharted and MGS. Though I know that for some they’re just a massive bump in the road, getting in the way of the gameplay which you bought the game for. So, do they enhance or hinder your experience?