I came across a forum post about a week ago where the initial poster was saying that “today’s generation of young gamers are scary.” He didn’t understand it when he was told by kids that “SP is boring in games, it is all about the MP.” It’s truly unfortunate that this is becoming more and more common place but at the same time I understand exactly where these kids are coming from – single player IS more-often-than-not really quite boring!! There is nothing motivating the player to want to continue except for the drive to “see what cool looking thing comes next” or to see the next “cool looking cut-scene”. The average gamer (especially teenagers) nowadays will toss aside or ignore the SP in a game so that they can get online and play MP with their friends. Obviously FPS are at the forefront of this movement, this “shift” toward what will soon become MP-only games. Even RPG’s are headed this route thanks to MMORPG’s but thank god the market is still thriving with single player RPGs – for now – as games like Dragon Age have recently proved.
What is to stop a first person shooter from taking elements of an RPG and creating a truly engaging storyline where you not only experience the same exhilaration and fast paced action you would as if playing MP, but at the same time are immersed into a storyline that makes you think and actually wonder/care about what comes next? What is to stop a FPS game from existing that works like a good, serial television show – except being interactive at the same time? I say NOTHING and I personally believe a lot of people, like myself, are craving for these kinds of games to make a re-emergence… to feel again like we are playing inside of a unique and fulfilling story. It’s unfortunate that most FPS nowadays can be made (and make shit loads of money!) with very little creativity needed… as instead all they do is focus everything on programming and art to improve upon realism. Realism?! I don’t care for or want realism… I want to be immersed into a world outside of my own! Not feel like I’m apart of what I read in the news every day! The old “throw money at it and it will sell” ideology that Hollywood thrives on (I’m looking at you Mr. Bay!) is unfortunately taking hold within the gaming industry as well.
I personally love to play single player FPS and have played just about anything that has come out in the genre over the past 10 years. While there have been some great single player gems over the years (Halo, Deus Ex, Half-Life 2, Bioshock to name a few), they are slowly becoming the outcasts… the “rarities”. The problem is that with every new game I purchase, I’m seeing more and more of the exact same thing – the single player side of the games are being largely neglected, the story almost non-existent, and yet the graphics (the visual shock/awe value) increases exponentially to the point where you see INSANE amounts of money pumped into hiring 500 artists to build the most realistic and pretty game they possibly can.
I think the recent financial success of Modern Warfare 2 is an indication of where we are unfortunately headed and so I’ll use it as an example. In my opinion MW2 has one of the most useless story lines I have ever seen in SP… considering the “cut scenes” between missions, the story could have been interchangeable with a thousand different things and could still keep the missions themselves exactly the same. BUT the settings were incredible and some of the action they created was really quite exhilarating. So while it may have given me an adrenaline rush and I may have said to myself “holy shit that was cool looking” over and over… there was no use of my brain required. It’s like smoking crack… you get a rush from doing it but then after the rush subsides you realize there was NO substance to what you just experienced and you just feel tired more than anything. For that matter it’s exactly like watching movies such as Transformers or 2012. Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer is admittedly flawless in a technical sense… but to what end? The fun is no longer coming from a cool story that “pulls you in”, but rather from the exhilaration of doing essentially the exact same thing over and over but in a thousand different ways. Co-Op I think is at least a step in the right direction – as Co-Op single player campaigns can often combine the best of both worlds. I can’t express how much fun I had playing through the Halo, Gears of War or even Left 4 Dead campaigns with friends.
In the end what I’ve said here is nothing new – multiplayer specific games have always had their place in the FPS gaming world with games like Unreal Tournament, Quake 3, Counterstrike, Tribes, etc, etc. The main point I’m getting at is this: things are getting worse and something needs to be done. Why can’t we have the best of both worlds in our FPS? Give us the exhilarating and non-stop pace gaming experience (MP and SP!) along with an immersive and unique storyline!! If everyone made FPS games like this, maybe then we’d see the current generation of young gamers actually enjoy playing single player again! If we keep going in the wrong direction and a focus on MP games packed with only the latest graphics is what makes the most money… publishers will take notice and MP-only FPS games will completely take over! We can’t let that happen!