The new drool in today's game industry is realism. Millions are being spent in trying to get that perfectly realistic ragdoll animation when a character gets shot, or getting super realistic damages affecting your car's paint job when you scrape a curb. However, this often brings up a question? How fun is reality?
Most of the big releases that we see, are all heading for super realism. Assassin's creed has you roaming and hiding like a real assassin. Far Cry 2 has you driving all around Africa throughout the game.
GTA 4 occurs in a complete city, in which I personally have spent hours doing nothing related to the story, but just living the city life. Now, most of these features work, but at the same time, the thought has to cross one's mind that what if more "video game" elements were introduced back into these games?
Games of yesterday like Quake and Doom had what would be considered preposterous elements. My personal favourite is the railgun, which simply caused the entire body to explode in a bloody mess (Quake 3). In a big release game today, something like this wouldn't exist, or would have substantial backing up in terms of storylines to make sure the user thinks it's a probable device.
For example, imagine having something like a railgun or a lightning gun in GTA 4. Or a light sabre in Assassin's Creed. Immediately you will get the urge to comment and say "no that's outrageous!! it doesn't fit!!". But my point is, does it need to?
Since when did it become so important to have such compelling realism? When did the idealogy of providing a "fun" experience change into providing a "believable" experience? If you look at most of the independant games today, they have the nonsensical elements in them. (Braid, World of Goo, Tag). These game are all experimenting with bringing a new interactive experience to the user.
Now imagine World of Goo being released by a larger studio. It would have a compelling and believable storyline as to why the goo balls existed, what gives them their intrinsic properties, and other such little anecdotes, to make the game world "believable".
But is this really necessary? Is the audience actually looking for such a level of depth? If the resources (a lot of it) being spent on bringing all the loose ends together, were actually spent on creating more "fun", wouldn't that really make a better game?
The answer to this, unfortunately, eludes me. Some might think that the compelling storylines are required. Others, (like me) might think that maybe it's not required as much. Then again certain genres, particularly RPGs, require the storyline. But even then, having the sword of a thousand suns which does +50% damage might just be adequate information, without having to know that Thomberin, son of Gualorethor, crafted it with his bare hands in nine days and nine nights in the seventh level of hell.
Video games are video games, and not interactive movies. Maybe a relapse to the good old days of having a ridiculous Bio Force Gun 10,000 and blowing up "martians" which are mutant androids (huh?) would have interesting results in an industry which is stressing a little too much on things which aren't really that important ultimately.