Yes, flange. The second of my new weekly column where I take a random word given to me by anyone and write an article around it with my mad writing skillz (I’m joking, don’t shoot me).
You might be wondering what flange means, but don’t worry, there’s a couple of definitions and I’m going to give you the one I’m focusing on.
From Wikipedia: Flanging is an audio effect that occurs when two identical signals are mixed together, but with one signal time-delayed by a small and gradually changing amount, usually smaller than 20 milliseconds.
So it’s the exact same thing playing all over again with a slight delay? It sounds like first person shooters to me. FPS games are getting more and more like each other every time they release, mainly due to the fact that every time an FPS has a revolutionary idea, all of the others copy said idea and re-brand it to try and hide the ‘yoink!’ sound effect.
Case in point: Modern Warfare and its multiplayer’s perkiness. A brilliant idea; it adds depth to the game’s online mode, it manages to change each player’s setup whilst still keeping it at a near-perfect balance. In fact, it was such a brilliant idea that it’s been copied pretty much everywhere since. An example is Uncharted 2 and it’s Boosters, with the only real differences being that Boosters tend to involve increasing accuracy, or clip size, they’re a bitch to unlock (you can only buy two until you’re level 10) and you can only use two at a time.
Obviously, Perks are a great idea, so we don’t particularly mind them being copied, do we? Something that is much more debatable is regenerating health. It’s been everywhere since whenever the hell it was and I’m not certain I agree with the idea of hiding behind a rock having healing properties.
Set-piece gameplay was another mostly-MW thing before it spread like a virus through FPS games. Faux-realism is part of this, with incredible scenarios designed to make you feel like the badassiest of the badass whilst you’re playing through. Modern Warfare 2 is not realistic in gameplay despite what the damn Times says, and the whole damn genre is following it into this weird world of faux-realism like Infinity Ward is the damn shepherd. Well I do not want.
An example of something that wasn’t originally in MW being ‘borrowed’ into other games is the sentry turret from Killzone 2. Oddly enough, that was taken by the mighty Modern Warfare 2, so you can thank Guerrilla games for that sentry turret that keeps shooting you full of holes (philosophical question of the week; how can something be full of holes?) in MW2, then.
Now, I expect good ideas to be taken from games and used in others, but in the FPS genre it’s much more prevalent than in any of the others and it’s bringing the genre to a standstill. Everyone is doing the same thing. How long do you think it will be before another game releases with MW2’s customisable killstreaks? A year? Less?
The most original FPS I’ve played recently was Mirror’s Edge, which probably doesn’t count as an FPS because I didn’t actually shoot anybody whilst I was playing it (guns suck). It’s probably an FPF – First Person Freerunner. Has anything been taken from Mirror’s Edge and added into other FPS’? As a matter of fact, you might say ‘yes’, at least if you consider that what looks like first person freerunning in Brink, which is actually an FPS+f (First Person Shooter plus freerunning).
The key difference between Brink’s apparent borrowing of freerunning from Mirror’s Edge and everyone’s stealing of Perks from MW2 is that it is done in a completely different way. In ME you had to press the right buttons at the right time to get anywhere (and then die and do it again over and over), whilst in Brink you hold a smart button and point slightly up or slightly down and it does all the work for you. Perk-copies are usually exactly the same with tiny differences, like having to buy Boosters and only being able to have two of them.
Please, developers, take this as a plea from one who is a big fan of FPS games but starting to feel war-wearied by the same things being all over the entire genre. Stop copying Modern Warfare. We know it’s a good game, but it’s not the holy grail nor is it the be-all and end-all of FPS’. Killzone 2 did a great job of being a different kind of game from MW, it was slower and more tactical, whilst MW is clearly a twitch shooter right from the beginning, filled with unrealistic spectacle and improbably scenarios that have always been bound to get dull eventually. MW2 just about got away with it, do not push it further or I will not buy another FPS. After Brink.
Oh, and just to finish this off, Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 are not that good.