Written by Brock Poulsen, brockst4r Saturday, 30 July 2011 05:00
Some games have certain qualities that would fit nicely into other games. These games' designers have included some savory ingredients that elevate the game's quality merely by its presence, and makes me long for its presence in other games. Whether it's because they're particularly clever, dastardly useful, or just seems like a perfect fit for another genre, this is a list of gaming elements and the games I'd like them added to.
Take a Memo: I don't have an exact figure, but I'd wager I have wasted a lot of time in my life wandering around big complicated maps trying to find a place to use my newest gadget or find a landmark I had previously visited. This is true of many Metroidvania games, but I have the same complaint with open-world games. I have 200 square miles to explore, and I'm expected to memorize every inch of it? I have a USB keyboard right here; is it too much to ask to let me open my map and jot down some notes? I'm trying to enjoy your game, and I'm tired of driving in circles.
The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass allowed the player to draw directly on the map using the DS's touchscreen, which was very helpful for dungeons without removing the challenge and satisfaction of solving puzzles. Big, intricate game worlds are becoming the norm, and with so much to do and see a note system would be very helpful. This would also be able to provide a nice reminder for those of us whose gaming sometimes get spread out over weeks and months. I've had to quit playing or restart games because I couldn't remember where I was supposed to go or what in the world I was supposed to do.
Assassin's Do-Over: EA's Skate series allows for a sort of "location bookmark," wherein the player can mark a location and be immediately teleported back to that spot with the push of a button. Skate calls it a Session Marker, and it's very useful for completing specific challenges or perfecting a specific line for a highlight video.
Along the same line, part of the fun of the Assassin's Creed games is finding creative free-running and dude-stabbing combinations. Imagine setting a marker, tearing through a bunch of guards on your way to your target, and being able to start over if things don't go exactly as planned. It would need a timing or location limit, but the premise would actually fit perfectly within the logic of the Animus. Some sort of combo or scoring system would also be cool, and would provide an incentive to retry the same sequence of assassinations. Even without a scoring system, the satisfaction of a well-executed (pun intended!) hit is enough incentive for me.
Holy Replay Feature, Batman!: Sports games get their fancy replays, with multiple angles and slow-motion and all sorts of fancy options. Skate has an excellent replay editing system, allowing you to capture your best moves. So why shouldn't the same respect be given to the enormous combat variety in Batman: Arkham City? The replays could be presented in a comic book style, with panels accenting particularly devestating strikes and takedowns.
You Go That Way!: I love tactical shooters, especially third-person shooters. I have had a lot of fun with SOCOM 4, Army of Two, and Tom Clancy's GRAW. One thing that I would like to improve about this genre - and shooters in general - is the team AI. I'd love to have more control over my teammates than just to sort of aim them in a general direction or give vague instructions like "Advance."
I have two ideas that could be implemented. First, an RTS-inspired interface that allows the player to zoom out and give detailed instructions from a top-down perspective, mapping out specific routes for teammates to flank opponents. SOCOM 4's command system is a good start, but being able to issue much more specific commands and plan routes would be a welcome addition.
My other idea is a stranger one, more difficult to accomplish, and quite a departure from the typical tactical/third-person shooter. It would be a system a bit like Valkyria Chronicles mixed with Ratchet and Clank A Crack in Time. You would control each character's actions, but the actions would happen simultaneously in the game world. So you would essentially "record," say, 30 seconds of movement, then record another 30 seconds to happen concurrently with the actions you just recorded. You'd do this for each member of your team, then essentially press "Play" and watch your strategy play out.
What games would you want to toss in a blender? Let me know in the comments!