“Cinematic Story Telling” Pros and Cons

Cinematic

Gaming has come a long way since the 1980’s, a time when every game consisted of aliens invading earth without any real rhyme or reason. Nowadays when aliens invade earth, they are not just aliens, they are trans-dimensional semi-deity machines who not only invade earth, but an entire galaxy with the aim to wipe 90% of all life to prevent a continuous cycle of self-destructive behavior. That plot is probably more engaging, and better scripted than the vast majority of theatrical releases nowadays, so gaming has evolved and partially assimilated cinema full on Borg style. This trend of cinematic experiences that we can interact with has taken the industry by storm, and we bask in its magnificence, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Like with any good argument, there are two sides to this story. When you look at cinematic games, or even games with great stories and engaging narratives we are spoiled for choice. Games like the Mass Effect trilogy, Metal Gear Solid, Bioshock and Final Fantasy are all series that are renowned for cinematic story telling, and interesting storylines, and we are only scratching the surface. A strong plot gives you a tangible connection to the world you are temporarily inhabiting. You build, and feel the bonds to the characters you encounter, you experience the weight of your decisions, sometimes literally, and for those brief moments of gameplay you become one with the world, and you are the main character.  Developers have become so adept at creating these cinematic experiences that Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots actually has so many cutscenes, that their combined length dwarfs that of all other conventional media. If you type in your favorite game in youtube, you can literally watch hours of cutscenes mashed together into a somewhat coherent movie.

Mass Effect 3

But this level of detail, this fascination with providing a “movie-like experience” is equally as detrimental. For every Silent Hill, you have a handful of games that flat out fail to evoke the connections they are desperately trying to construct. The Order 1886 is a prime example of cinematic gaming gone horribly, horribly wrong. It sets us up with a familiar, yet different scenario: What if characters from Arthurian legend lived for hundreds of years and fought werewolves? On the basis that that is a pretty awesome idea, you would be forgiven if you expected the game to live up to that initial intrigue. The plot is hamfistedly forced upon you, literally basking in its own magnificence. It repeatedly hints at a grander, hidden plot that you just have to find out when in reality the characters, and the story is, at best, tedious and at worst, boring. Then to top it all off you have generic sequel bait thrown in.

This would not have been so bad if the game had actually been fun to play. But, like so many others, The Order is just your run of the mill generic shooter with all the gimmicks and tricks you expect from these games. They even have instant fail state stealth sections, with a false sense of choice thrown in to fool you into thinking you decide what path you take, when ultimately there is only one that leads to victory. The fact the game is flat out boring to play emphasizes the taxing narrative and vice versa. It is blatantly obvious they wanted to design a cinematic experience then slap a minigame as filler between cutscenes, and frankly such design is backwards.

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Of course The Order is not the first game to mess up in such a spectacular way. Assassins Creed has a long history of being only slightly above average to everyone but the most die-hard of paint watchers. Whilst the plot of Assassins Creed is serviceable in some places, and does have some interesting characters, the whole concept of the animus slows down an already sluggish game. The plot literally holds back the core experience, which could have been interesting had Desmond died in a fire. This combined with repetitive game play, relatively empty open worlds and hours of padding through tedious side missions and you are left with a pretty…ish…game that never quite reaches the heights a lot of people want it too. As a final cherry on the cake however, “Cinematic” was used as an excuse to neuter the most recent addition to the series. Cutting your games frame rate to 30FPS and claiming it is more cinematic is not only ludicrously false on every conceivable level, but it also hampers the games overall performance. There are reasons that games like Super Smash Brothers run at a lightning fast locked 60FPS, and why PC gamers constantly whine about locked 30FPS: It makes a difference.

Games with little to no plots however are not exactly a bad thing. I have always stood by Mario as having one of the greatest stories of all time. Not for its hidden meanings or character development, but for its ability to tell you everything you need to know in about 10 seconds and opening the pearly white gameplay gates and actually letting you experience the game. Mario doesn’t need the same level of detail as Mass Effect, if it did, it would hinder what we are actually here for, and that is to play the game. Save the princess. Bim, bam, bosh, done. Simple, elegant and perfect. Super Meat Boy, The Legend of Zelda and many many others use this same formula. They set the scene and then get out of the way. And it works.

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And this is where we bump into that festering, bloated hunk of road kill known as Sonic. We all know Sonic has been in videogame hell for pretty much all of his 3D life, and whilst the actual concept of Sonic as a game is ludicrous in 3D and needs to be overhauled or given to Nintendo/someone who knows what we are doing, we can still link some of his failure to his story. Once upon a time, Sonic was a hedgehog who saved woodland critters from a fatguy. Typical “Mario Formula”. And like so many games before, and after it, it worked. Nowadays Sonic has an ever increasing cast of side kicks, an equally expanding list of villains, a strangely diverse set of anthropomorphic relationships, multiple time lines and of course, several world destroying Deities all waiting to be released. Heck, he somehow turned into a werehog (which makes no sense when you  consider that Were means Man…) but he also has a strange Arthurian side story…which somehow links nicely with The Order.

In the end, a strong narrative is a wonderful thing, but ultimately we are a part of a unique medium. We alone have the power to interact with what we see on our TV screens and watching a plot unfold will never be as enthralling as playing through it, and many developers understand this and create masterpieces. On the flip side buying The Order is like buying a £60 movie that you can occasionally play a dull minigame on during the ad-break. Whilst the argument is far from being simple, and there is no sure-fire rule that guides developers, it is clear to see that “Cinematic” experiences are not all they are cracked up to be.

The Order 1886: Short Length Explained through Hybrid Genre

Hybrid

The Order: 1886 is being criticized for its short gameplay length and the reason might lay on Ready at Dawn’s intent to create a hybrid game marked by visuals, cinematics and storytelling.

The upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive can be finished in less of six hours, despite it being a full-priced release. Ready at Dawn has refused to explain the matter and whether or not the storyline was rushed into such a short gameplay. Meanwhile, CEO Ru Weerasuriya has clarified that quality doesn’t always correlate to quantity/lenght:

We know people want to be entertained and have things they can play longer. (…) Gameplay length for me is so relative to quality. It’s just like a movie. Just because a movie is three hours long, it doesn’t make it better.

The game is already known as one of the most good-looking games ever made and perhaps, in this case, the price goes mainly for the visual content. But even if The Order: 1886 is, indeed, a master piece in terms of quality, it still doesn’t explain why a 59.99$ game can be finished in five hours and half. Despite developers point towards quality as the main reason, there might be another factor. In an exclusive interview to 3news, Ready at Dawn technology director Garret Foster said that what makes this game unique is a mist of complex and diverse experiences:

It’s a very seamless experience in a way people haven’t experienced before. It’s an experience of gameplay, cinematics, storytelling, suspense, tense horror – all in an arc that feels cohesive and natural. You won’t see a choppy beat at all, like you would in most videogames, it’s a very smooth experience that feels very natural.

This statement clearly defines The Order: 1886 as an interactive game focused on visuals, cinematics and narrative. A hybrid genre placed between a fully playable game and an interactive movie. The whole point of this game is to create a journey as realistic as possible, where every move feels natural and unpredictable, just as it happens in the real world. It’s probably not something that fans would like to hear but it’s a completely understandable motive and it’s not something new. After all, the game has been fully motion captured with the sole purpose to get one step closer to reality.

Is Anyone Really Looking Forward to The Order: 1886?

Order

I ask this question mainly because I barely hear anyone that I know, or anyone on the internet really talk or hype the game up in any way.

The most recent things I remember being “breaking news” was when Ready at Dawn announced that their game was in 30 FPS because they want their game to be “Cinematic”, or this rumor that the game was only gonna be 5 hours long, and even then based on some PlayStation trophies that were leaked, yet that was shortly debunked by those who actually got review codes for the game for preview/review reasons.

Also I bring this question up because when I think about the gameplay videos that I’ve seen, and listen to those who have demoed the game themselves, and gave their impressions, it just seems to me, It’s just another pretty dime a dozen third person shooter.

Not to mention critiques from the demos like quick time events, insta-fail stealth sections, Bugs, and the overall un-innovative nature of the gameplay, really just makes me think that the real reason nobody is hyped about the game itself is that it just confirms what we already know. It’s all polish-no shine.

Heck even things like the characters seem very generic and dull. The characters in cut-scenes and gameplay just speak generic military jargon with a steam-punk asthetic, needless to say, I don’t really feel invested or interested in who these people are.

Now to be objective for a moment, I have not played the game yet, and I am purely speaking from and outsider looking in perceptive, so do take what I say for what it’s worth.

But my impressions at the moment are that it seems very dull, and repetitive.

It is possible the game will be very impressive upon release with favorable reviews, so who knows really.

But if anything, maybe the lack of hype is a good thing, and that The Order: 1886, will be another footnote in the annals of gaming, and a reminder that no matter how good your graphics are, and how good the textures look, if the game isn’t fun to play, then why bother paying the price of admission.

Best Games Coming Out in February 2015

Games

February 2015 is definitely going to be a month dedicated to action games. Despite the relative low amount of video game releases planned for this month, there are a few notable and highly anticipated titles incoming, such as Evolve and The Order: 1886.Here are the most promising video games coming out this month.

6. Total War: Attila (MAC, PC)

Total War Attila WPAttila is the ninth game from Sega’s Total War series. The game is based on Attila’s historical conquests as one of the most feared leaders of the Hunnic Empire. Total War: Attila is a real-time strategy game that will feature three main factions: the Danes, the Geats and the Jutes. The provincial system will allow players to choose and adapt tactics depending on the circumstances, since each region within a province can be conquered separately. The game will feature a multiplayer mode and several packs of DLC in the release day, which will add further factions, units and campaigns. You can get it here.

Release Date: February 17, 2015     Genre: Strategy
Developer: Creative Assembly     Publisher: SEGA

5. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

Dead or Alive 5 Last Round WPThe final update of the Dead or Alive 5 series will arrive late February. Last Round will feature over 30 characters and a set of new realistic moves providing the ultimate fighting experience. The game will also feature multi-stages, allowing players to fight in several consecutive environments. Stage interaction, counter-attacks, combos and costumes will remain key elements in Last Round. However, the typical character brutality and elegance will be displayed with further refinement. You can get it here.

Release Date: February 20, 2014     Genre: Fighting
Developer: Team Ninja     Publisher: Tecmo

4. Game of Thrones: Episode 2 – The Lost Lords (iOS, MAC, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)GoT E2 WP

The Lost Lords is the second episode of the acclaimed video game adaptation of Game of Thrones. The new episode is already available and it follows the story of several characters. The journey begins after the massacre at the Twins. It follows Gared’s training at the Night’s Watch – to fulfill his duty to House Forrester he must become a ranger and protect the North Grove. At King’s Landing, Mira  desperately seeks for the Crown’s support. As typical of Telltale Games, this is an interactive graphic adventure based on players’ decisions.

Release Date: February 3, 2015    Genre(s): Adventure
Developer: Telltale Games     Publisher: Telltale Games
 

3. Resident Evil Revelations 2 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

Resident Evil Rev 2 WPAnother game of the Resident Evil series is arriving later this month. Revelations 2 will feature Claire Redfield, as the main protagonist, and Barry Burton’s daughter Moira, as a secondary and supportive character. Other confirmed characters are Barry and Natalia Korda, a little girl with special powers. Very little is known about the storyline, except that it will take place between the events of Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6. This survival-horror adventure will be released in an episodic form and it will feature a cooperative gameplay mode. You can get it here.

Release Date: February 25, 2015     Genre(s): Action, Survival-horror
Developer: Capcom    Publisher: Capcom

2. Evolve (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Evolve WPEvolve is a sci-fi first-person shooter game set in a distant future. The plot takes place in Shear, a planet with valuable human colonies, that is soon attacked by volatile aliens. In a desperate attempt to defend  Shear, a team of expendable hunters is assembled, setting the main conflict of Evolve. The game will feature four main classes (assault, trapper, medic, support) and four game modes (hunt, nest, rescue, defend) with over 15 different monster types. Both human and monsters have access to unique skills. However, monsters have the ability to hunt smaller monsters and evolve into something stronger. You can get it here.

Release Date: February 10, 2015     Genre(s): Action, First-Person Shooter
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios     Publisher: 2K Games

1. The Order: 1886 (PS4)

The Order 1886 WPThe Order: 1886 is probably one of the most anticipated games of the year and is coming out this month. With the promise of taking full advantage of the next-gen graphical capabilities, this action game will present an alternate history of London, where an enigmatic order keeps the world safe from monsters known as the half-breed. The game will keep certain realism levels by introducing existing monuments and weapons based on historic theories. Some of the unique features in this game involves environmental interaction, lock-picking, small puzzles and group tactics. You can get it here.

Release Date: February 20, 2015     Genre: Action-Adventure
Developer: Ready At Dawn Studios     Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

The Order 1886: 10 Things We Know About It

The Order

The Order: 1886 is coming out next month on February 20th but what’s really known about this action game? Aside from being a PlayStation 4 exclusive title developed by Ready At Dawn, The Order promises to revolutionize the next-gen visuals in video games. But what about features, plot details, skills and so on? Here’s a list of 10 things that will be included in The Order: 1886.

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10. Two Enemy Factions United

You really believe the Rebels are collaborating with the Half-breeds? – Isabeau D’Argyll

The Order will count with two main enemy factions: the Rebels, an organized group of outraged citizens who oppose The Order’s repression and tyranny, and the Half-breeds, werewolf hybrid creatures who possess special abilities, such as increased speed and strength. The two factions will unite forces to ensure The Order’s downfall and the consequent ascension of a new era. It’s known that the hybrid race will present a much higher difficulty in the battlefield due to their resilience, regeneration and supernatural powers.

 theorder7779. An Alternative Version of London

The tricky thing was exactly to merge the time frames. We needed to stay believable, to use things that actually existed at the time to make people believe it existed in the form that we have. – Ready At Dawn

The storyline takes place is an alternative recreated version of London, featuring familiar monuments such as the Big Ben, the Palace of the Westminster and the Crystal Palace. Even though the timelines are similar, the environments are quite different due to technological progress. The scientific advancements are obvious during the entire game with the introduction of realistic Victorian objects which were further mainly developed into revolutionary weaponry and transportation.

 theorder558. Weaponry Based on Historic Inventions

For example, the thermite gun is based on aluminum iron oxide, it actually exists and you can melt things the way you do in game. The twist for us was to make it into a weapon. The lightning weapon is also built based on tesla technological theorized at the time. – Ready At Dawn

Most of the weapons in The Order: 1886 might seem unrealistic or even thematic (steampunk). But that’s not accurate, the developer team has explained that most if not all the weapons in game were recreated based on real inventions at the time. Standard guns were recreated based on real models, however the advanced and special power weapons were recreated based on technological theories and models discovered at the time from fields such as robotics, mechanics and electronics.

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7. Four Main Characters

You’ve got the team experience where characters work together but the main focus will be on singular characters. It’s about seeing the game through the eyes of Galahad and it’s really about reinforcing his character. – Ready At Dawn

Based on what Sony has been publishing, it’s known that The Order: 1886 will feature an extensive and rich plot with many characters. However, there will be four main characters in which one of them is the protagonist, Grayson/Sir Galahad. The other three characters will be Grayson’s friends and party companions during his journey – Sir Perceval/Sebastien Malory, Grayson’s mentor and long-time friend; Lady Igraine/Isabeau D’Ardyll, a possible love interest; Marquis de Lafayette, Malory’s apprentice.

theorder116. Environmental Interaction

The Order: 1886 transports players into the stunning realistic and re-imagined Neo-Victorian London, replicating the nuances of actual motion picture cameras and lenses for a more immersive and believable presentation. – Sony Computer Entertainment

There will be a certain degree of environmental interaction in The Order: 1886, inclusively special actions in close contact with certain objects or enemies. For example, players can push and assassinate close enemy targets and they can climb all sort of walls. Rope slide, long jumps and slide over medium objects are three known movements as well. As anticipated, all the interaction moves have been motion captured to reassure the developers’ high standards of realism and immersion.

theorder225. Regeneration and Slow Motion Combat

Blackside is a side effect ability of using the restoration skill, Blackwater. It gives the possibility to slow down time and going faster than anything else, allowing precise targeting. – Ready At Dawn

Two of the most important skills in the battlefield revolve around Blackwater, a miraculous liquid with regeneration powers and beneficial side effects. To regenerate health inside or outside of combat, players can consume Blackwater. Additionally, they will be granted special side effect powers for a limited time, they’ll be able to slow down time, increasing aiming precision and movement speed.

theorder334.Manual Dispositive Unlocking

Probably one of the most unique features of The Order: 1886 is the manual dispositive unlocking, which requires players’ skills and patience to crack locks. Although this feature is not entirely distinctive, since it can be found in other video games, like for example the Thief series, it’s still something not so common to be found making the gameplay a bit more interesting and inspiring. It’s also known that players will be able to disrupt and crack other electronic and mechanical objects.

theorder883. Impressive and Realistic Visuals

One of the main attributes of The Order: 1886 is its visuals capabilities. Based on true next-gen technology, this game is a pioneer in exploring the PlayStation 4 full potential for displaying impressive and realistic graphics. Using the RAD Engine 4.0, The Order promises a new level of image detail, motion and quality. Despite this seemingly heavy performance, Ready At Dawn has confirmed that the game will run smoothly at around 30 FPS.

order32. Storyline Filled with Conspiracy and Intrigue

The Order: 1886 freshly released story trailer has unveiled most of the upcoming narrative’s drama involving tons of conspiracy, intrigue and conflict. Apparently, the whole story will explore the fragility of The Order, showing how vulnerable and exposed the organization is to both outsiders and its own members. Among personal revenge quests, predictable betrayals and complex schemes, The Order: 1886 seems to bring it all.

theorder441. Complete Motion Captured

Everything you see in this game is motion captured, even the gameplay though it’s fully playable. We made sure every move felt real, so we had stunt actors, performing actors, talent actors… Everything necessary to remain true to what you’d expect a real character on film. – Ready At Dawn

Ready At Dawn explained that the whole idea was to reproduce realism as good as the current technology allows. And in this case, every detail counts. The developer team confirmed that every single motion was captured and for that they’ve used real actors from diverse areas to capture all the necessary movements, special moves, expressions and dialogue. All in the name of perfection and of course, realism.

The Order 1886: 5 Reasons Why This Game’s Story is Too Predictable

The Order 1886 is a greatly anticipated action-adventure game coming out this February. But the most of the anticipation might be in vain. Recent information contained in the freshly released story trailer reveals that more than obvious, The Order 1886’s narrative is way too dull and predictable. Here are five reasons why this game’s story won’t be able to amaze anyone.

5. Deadly Supernatural Creatures

orderEvery game has its own bad guys and it’s well known for a while that one of the main enemy factions will consist of deadly “half breeds” or by other words, werewolves. But these are not ordinary werewolf creatures, they’re as fast as lightning and as deadly as thunder. It’s a somewhat strange, yet lethal combination that will (hopefully) bring a certain degree of challenge to the game. Or maybe not, with the amount of high-tech weaponry in game and the common action game difficulty standards, they’ll most likely remain the strongest in cinematic scenes.

order34. Inner Circle Disputes

The Order appears to be a strong organization from the outside. However, not everything is the way it looks like. The Order’s weaknesses are immense and its integrity will shake when conflict scatters over the inner ranks. But that was something already expected, wasn’t it? The good old stories of boys following strict orders forever and ever has become part of the past, at least in the video game dimension. Also, things become way more exciting when your supposed friends backstab you. Unfortunately, it’s hardly a story nowadays if drama and conflict are not present.

order23. The Order’s Mission Will be Jeopardized

For some reason the main character, Grayson, will oppose his associates, including the Order’s master and he’ll do anything to jeopardize The Order’s plan, whatever that might be. Finding compromising data about The Order might change the whole picture… Nevertheless, the expectable drama keeps on going in a seemingly ordinary way. Would it even be any interesting if no one opposed the rules? Besides, victory tastes better when it’s hard to get or in this case, when it gives further content to an extended and obvious storyline.

 order52. Grayson’s Thirst for Vengeance

The old sweet touch of individualism normally comes by the name of vengeance. Just in the last year we had several popular action games using this type of narrative, take for example Watch Dogs and Thief. Now, why would The Order 1886 be any different? It’s a type of story easy to come up with and unfortunately it works just fine. So, Grayson will pursue his individual quest towards revenge. What remains unknown is what type of revenge is it going to be but that’s probably something concerning family or a loved one (isn’t it always?).

order4 1. Enemies United

Having one enemy faction is tedious, having two enemy factions is usual. However, having both enemy factions united is somewhat bizarre. At first glance, it would seem like an epic challenge coming to life but that doesn’t seem the case. Aside from pure conspiracy, uniting enemies is nothing more than a failed attempt to turn a mediocre story into something impressive and enigmatic. Truth be said, uniting the lethal half breeds with the fearless rebels would create an undefeatable force but we all know that in the end, that’s not what’s going to happen. Because… this game sweats predictability and obviousness.

New The Order: 1886 Gameplay

Gameplay

The Order: 1886 is Sony’s premier third person shooter this gen, so it’s no surprise that they would get rolling with some new gameplay.

For the first time we get a good look at the monsters, and how they move and interact with the player as well. We get a better look at the UI than ever before, along with a look at what type of game there will be beyond shooting.

Check out the Order: 1886 game trailer below and let us know what you think about the upcoming game!

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