More Action And Fewer Cutscenes In Video Games, Please

Jan 27, 2011
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Video games are more like movies than ever before. Studios are spending boatloads of cash to get epic games on store shelves, and along the way, they’re making stories more engaging and dramatic. A key component in a developer’s ability to create a more cinematic experience is the use of cutscenes. Just about every game nowadays starts out with a cutscene to break gamers into the title and ends with a cutscene to close out the story. Most titles also have scenes sprinkled throughout to add a bit more color.

I’ve always been fond of cutscenes. I enjoy the opportunity to learn more about characters than I otherwise would without cutscenes, and I typically find them useful for relaxing my hands or running to the kitchen to get a drink between the action.

But there is a limit to what I’m comfortable sitting through.

As anyone who has played Metal Gear Solid titles knows, cutscenes can be a nightmare. Games in that franchise make you sit for an inordinate chunk of time listening to characters interact on topics you just don’t care about in most cases.

I’m fine with the few seconds, and can even live with a cutscene that lasts a few minutes. But once a game hits the 10-minute threshold, I’ve checked out. And I’m left wondering why I didn’t just watch the shows I had DVR’d rather than sit through the typically boring cutscene.

Realizing that, I wasn’t too happy to hear that Dragon Age 2 might be overrun with cutscenes. In fact, the BBFC in the UK revealed this week that the title will have 103 minutes of cutscenes when it launches.

Maybe it’s just me, but having 103 minutes of cutscenes in a video game sounds excessive.

When I play a game, I’ve made the conscious decision to not watch a movie or television show. I’ve decided I want to do something active while I sit on the couch rather than shovel popcorn into my mouth. I don’t want to think that I’ll have the opportunity to actually play Dragon Age 2 and then get stuck sitting through several cutscenes as the finite amount of time I have each night to play a video game ticks and tocks away.

If Dragon Age 2 had about 30 to 40 minutes of scenes, I’d be happy. But once a title hits over an hour and goes to nearly two hours, I’m annoyed.

Believe it or not, I’m not impatient. I simply feel that nearly two hours of cinematic content over the course of the several hours the game lasts will take me out of the experience of playing the title. Worst of all, so much cutscene content could make the game feel choppy.

So, let’s hope Dragon Age 2 offers the ability to skip scenes. If not, I doubt I’ll complete it.


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