Lunchtime Discussion: Realism

It’s a topic that’s come up a lot recently in discussions I’ve written. Realism in the games we love. Of course there are a lot of variations on this. For example Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is praised for its hyper-realism and titles like Far Cry 2 have started to go for realistic healing animations. It’s nothing new though, all of the ‘simulator’ style of games (such as Forza and Gran Turismo) have been striving for this for a while now. On the other end of the spectrum you have titles like Mario and PacMan, with games like Halo and Need For Speed enjoying the middle ground. I know comparing all these genres together as a whole seems a bit silly, but that’s the way I’m doing it so you’re stuck.

For me the ‘arcade’ style games have always been the most fun. Whilst I normally say Halo, the truth is my favourite gaming series is still Sonic. Sure, it’s had a long slide into terrible, terrible games for a while now, but looking back on those early Sonic games they stick out as being so much pure, unfettered fun that I can’t possibly hate the series as a whole. I mean I love Sonic so much that I now own some titles three times. I don’t need to own Sonic that many times, it’s not like the game is ever going to change, but I still want to be able to play the game whenever I can. That kind of need has never happened for me with a realistic title.

I really enjoyed Rainbow Six Vegas as a realistic title, although it doesn’t quite reach the level of Flashpoint and the indestructible plant pots in the second game did detract a little. However I haven’t actually finished the first game. I have it sitting in a drawer under my TV waiting to be finished, the save is even about three quarters of the way through, there’s just no desire with me to play it. I think I just find the realism tiresome after a while, yes it’s cool to pretend you’re a ‘real’ special ops soldier picking your way through the Las Vegas strip, but it just doesn’t compare to the fun of defeating Dr. Robotnik – I refuse to call him Eggman – in Sonic or of stomping on a Goomba’s head in Mario. For me the arcade titles are always going to win out, they can be just as challenging, frustrating and punishing as any hyper-real title, but in the end they just seem more fun to me.

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Of course this is just my view on it, so let us know yours. Am I off my rocker? Are realistic games obviously far superior? Does it work better in different genres, and which ones?

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