Thursday, 22 January 2015

Stealth Purity and the Long Cheat

Some of us are not born to be stealthy, some of us revel in the gung-ho gameplay, whereby we see a plethora of cocky enemies ahead and we have seven weapons in our inventory and a handful of grenades and we know what we’re going to do. We didn’t even decide to try a tactful option. It’s going to be messy and you’ve already selected dual wielding as you make your approach.
Then there are people who enjoy pure stealth games and get a thrill from silently infiltrating and disenabling massive compounds. There’s a satisfaction in completing an entire level, taking out your enemies without them even being aware and when they do notice something is up, it’s far too late. That is of course if you don’t mess up. Then you need to rush to stop them from alerting more guards and sometimes you panic and use a bazooka by accident and well it kind of blows your cover in every sense of the word.
So we have the stealth game and we have the aggressive guns blazing game – but what about the games that offer us the option of both? The tactical shooter is what we currently label the stealth shooter game and I’m going to discuss why these remix games are so much fun and why maybe modern day stealth games are actually one long cheat to the end goal.

Silence Dance and the Accompaniment of Mayhem
Many game snow that are ingrained in our mind as being shooters, offer a stealth approach to many missions. In fact in the past couple of years and no doubt ahead of us, more games will let you approach volatile scenarios completely, in a sneaky tactical manner, if we so choose.
Examples include the Crysis SeriesFar Cry, Deus Ex and even Call of Duty. One game that is particularly enjoyable when played as it is spiritually intended is Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This game which works well as being simple in its goal – fun, chaotic propelling of ammo towards Nazis, also lets you take out a range of enemies stealthily, if you can. All these games, bar Crysis offer the same approach to what is called ‘stealth takedown’, you crouch, move carefully and then when close enough hit whatever button automatically enter stealth kill mode.
Crysis as a series encourages you to use more tactical approaches by giving you a wider range of means to execute foes covertly and make the road ahead easier. You can affect the environment, use special gadgets, even the ultimate cheat in stealth, invisibly – all to make the path ahead easier and also add variety, which many people claim is lacking in big FPS games.

The heart of Wolfenstein is a FPS, guns blazing, ammo everywhere and health packs being your best friend. You can stealth kill if you want, in fact it might be easier, but it’s not the essence of the game. Crysis and Far Cry are presented in way that makes you feel as if you can decide how to play, but why would you waste the chances you’re given.
But do these elements in shooter games, really justify the addition of the word stealth in the game description? I suppose that’s up to you. We’ve talked about games that at face value, are the polar opposite of stealth games, now let’s get a bit closer to the top of the tier.

Stab and run, or run and stab?
Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed ticks off a lot of boxes for gamers. It’s billed as an “action-adventure open world stealth video game “. Quite a mouthful, but better than a mouthful of poison blade death right.

In the spirit of the game, you should play as an assassin and by that I mean sneakily and covertly take out your enemies. You have means in which to assassinate prime targets without being seen and then evade once spotted. True hard-core wannabe human eliminator will hope to engage in assassination missions completely invisible, never to be noticed from the moment you enter an enemy red zone, the execution of guards and your main plot related victim and then subsequently you escape from the now aware and volatile area unseen.
All of the games in the series have a standard method and inventory for taking either approach. Some games introduced gameplay that made things handier (I’m not talking about not drowning in 2 feet of water like in the first game, though that was appreciated). In Unity we have our first unique change, a sort of throw-back to the Commandos games, where you can assume a disguise to bypass your enemies, but it will evaporate if you get to close to them. This can be quite a useful trick, so long as you disguise yourself not as the people you’re trying to bypass. Speaking of Commandos, it had the same offer of going stealthy and making your life easier, or risking more volatile approaches which did not guarantee a level complete.

I could have added the Rockstar Batman games in to this section, because let’s face it they’re very similar, also in their marketing with one coming out every year and not much changing (I do like the games though). But Batman does allow for more freedom in terms of going in and completely annihilating without the need of stealth, even if it is favourable, compared to Creed.
By that rule I’ve applied, I could also add games like Dishonoured, Hitman Absolution, and Deus Ex to name a few.

So while you can go at it from a madman killer perspective, certain games let you know, quite promptly, it’s not the best method and you’ll probably be killed or trapped if you don’t plan things out properly. And if you do succeed by blazing in like a constipated bull, you may only survive due to luck or a glitch in your favour. Some games reward you with that fictional badge of honour that is an achievement boop (well not anymore Xbox One!) if you complete a game that offers a variety of completion methods in gameplay and you choose to be an invisible killer or passer-by of opponents until the very end.
Nevertheless as I said it is possible to take on certain missions of a more abrupt approach, but Assassins Creed is a stealth game, it’s just still not as pure as we need to really feel like what stealth embodies.
See no, hear no, stealth so
Ok we’ve covered a very brief variety of how stealth games actually come in different packages and that there are variant degrees throughout. We have shooters that offer tactical approaches, which still count as stealth but are no necessary at all, because these games usually lump you with a backpack armoury to slew all foes. We have action stealth games, that have stealth in their description title, rightfully so but still allow room to manoeuvre in how true to the art you need to be. Now let’s talk about games that mean for you to be a stealth pro and will let you know without delay that any other tactic earns you a time out in the naughty chair aka the death loading screen.

Translation: Never shoot a donkey with a melon full of lying cheese pens

I suppose it won’t be a shock that I’ll be focusing heavily on Splinter Cell and yet given the recent games released under the title it feels a bit tarnished, not in terms of the games themselves (I found Conviction and Blacklist to be fun enough), but in terms of using this series as a sound basis for what a full blooded stealth game is.
Splinter Cell was one of the first games many people were exposed to that put such a taxing emphasis on truly operating under stealth. I myself remember having to become one with the NSA training program to pass a particular submarine mission.

Thief isn’t just about keeping quiet throughout so that you don’t get stabbed, I mean that’s paramount but it’s also because in a way you have to because being a little tricky voleur is your livelihood. The first few games were pure in essence, you had a code of honour and a code of action. Similar to the laws of Assassins Creed but the darkness of Thief gave an air of no other options. In Creed you character, your decisions rapidly birthed freedom and straying. The newest game in the Thief series, offers a looser approach similar and yet not as polar to how Splinter Cell is headed.

Sniper orientated games could be classified as true stealthy games as well. I suppose many of us assume that stealth means to be clad in black taking out naughty nerdowells from questionable angles rarely with a non-melee weapon.  Sniper Elite is a popular series where you can’t just run away or whip out your RPG to beat your missions with flourish.

 The night is Dark and full of dildos
A think most of us can admit that a common trait of extreme stealth games, is constant replaying and reanalysing your approach after death screens rub your inability to keep the noise down in your face. Truth be told the annoyance comes from my own underdoing’s but primarily from how long it takes to load up from a save file. That’s an irritating for any game!

Could have paid off a mortgage waiting on this game….

I think that stealth plays an important part in video games, as a mechanic for practise (not for real life assassinations of course…of course) and as a style of gameplay we should keep enjoying. Some people find that they aren’t good at a certain genre of gaming and I can see how stealth games might be a scary area for the uninitiated. Yet I believe that it’s a genre that yields reward and skill in repetition (whereas sometimes that isn’t always a naturally honed skill with fighting or driving games). It would be interesting to see stealth games come out further introducing interesting, sometimes accurate and innovative styles of gameplay.

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