Shooters and horror are like chalk and cheese, says Toby. Stop trying to mix them.
By Toby McCasker on July 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm
The humble act of gunning down another man and/or creature has proven itself a resilient act of gaming. Resilient, and also insidious. The surplus of brown mili-shooters notwithstanding, what little remains of my precious survival-horrors are in danger of going extinct at the whim of a crowd who just want to watch the world burn. I prefer to see it darken and surround me with hideous terrors both overt and implied.
Capcom were pretty early to this genre-perversion party with Resident Evil 5, famously derided as more shooter than scare-a-thon. I was naïve back then, foolishly hoping – nay, believing – they’d listen to the hordes and restrike the fantastic balance between ambience and anarchy struck by Resident Evil 4.
In conversation with a Slant Six Games dev earlier in the year and leading up to the release of Operation Raccoon City – which is just appalling and busted, it really is – I realised there will never be another Resident Evil 4 again.
This is what they legitimately believe everyone wants: First-person shooters, or cover-based third-person shooters. Doesn’t matter what the license is, make it happen. I had massive hopes for Resident Evil 6. Then I saw it in action circa E3. Er, wow. Not a good wow. That looks like a lot of bullets. The Chris Redfield sections just look like CoD from behind (which is, ironically enough, a popular CoD multiplayer allusion). Reports from my fellow games crew who’d gone hands-on in LA were as sobering as things looked: “It’s a cover shooter with Resi tacked on,” was a popular sentiment.
But it’s okay, and the reason it’s been okay is because of Dead Space. In recent times, my need to squeal like a little girl and dive over the couch and hide under the laundry has been single-handedly taken care of by this franchise.
Then I was tasked with running a preview of Dead Space 3. “Lawd,” I think was my first reaction. It’s like Lost Planet crossed up with Gears of War in here. Visceral are so insistent it’ll still be scares first and shots fired later that they pretty much give themselves away. The very fact that co-op is now a big part of the package pretty much demands that there by heaps of things to shoot, and the fact that much more humanoid – and, most tellingly, gun-toting – opposition is being introduced speaks volumes as to what kind of game this will end up being: a shooter.
Don’t get me wrong: I love shooters. This entire column right here is all about them, every week. But there is a time and place, and I can only play Amnesia so many times. Shooters and horror is an awkward mix that just doesn’t work. They’re diametrically opposed. One thrives on heated confrontation, the other on chilling trepidation. Put them together and you just get steam wherein the former dominates, because it’s louder and has zero in the way of dynamicism. Did F.E.A.R. prove this combustion could work? At times, maybe, but again: It’s an example of the oil and water that is survival-shooter. Sooner or later the devs’ll realise this. Next thing you know, Silent Hill will start thinking it’s Diablo.