The Memory Card: Cutscenes

Welcome to the first of a weekly series written by George Marriott. Today’s topic focuses on cutscenes, enjoy!

Nearly 100% of Console or PC gamers has been afflicted by this problem. And nearly every person who plays a Console or PC game will be harassed by this problem. The pandemic I am talking about, is the horror of cutscenes. They come in many shapes and sizes, well written, badly paced or badly animated. The problem with cutscenes is that they often disrupt the flow of the game or treated as primary to the actual game, Metal Gear Solid I’m looking at you. If you seriously and legitimately enjoy cutscenes then I would recommend you stop reading this and begin your angry e-mails to me, but if you believe that cutscenes should be limited to the most important of plot moments, then keep reading.

Now to juxtapose my point so that you can get a clearer understanding of where I am coming from, I actually enjoy some cutscenes. The ones in games like MGS3 and the Jak and Daxter series are pretty good and in the latter game they can be pretty funny. But when you get a massive over balance like the 60:40 game to cutscene ratio in Metal Gear Solid 4:Guns Of The Patriots then you know that you are no longer teetering over the edge of stupidity, but you have driven over the edge with your foot welded to the floor so you go over at maximum speed then you have done something very wrong. I have a strong feeling that this going to read as a massive invitation for many people to jump up form under their rocks to pelt me with their favourite cutscenes, but even they will know what I mean by the complete overwhelming cinematic tide. And another thing, if we are going to be forced to watch a cutscene, why can’t it be rendered in a different engine to the in game one? Surely it wouldn’t take months more work to make it look amazing rather than just what we have been watching for the whole game, and no that is not excusing Final Fantasy. Square Enix may as well just be making Interactive Storytelling Experiences, à la Heavy Rain, for the amount of time you spend sitting around waiting for things to happen.

But, and it’s a big but. Imagine J-Lo is here saying that sentence, it’s that big. Some of my favourite games have got cutscenes in. I’ve already mentioned it, but Metal Gear Solid 3, has got the balance right. There might be a lot of cutscenes, but even if you skip them you can still know what is going on. If you skip, or actually if you watch them but that point is not important, the cutscenes in Final Fantasy 13 then you have no idea of the story. The only way I got close was by reading the fluff in the game. Cutscene might be one of the best ways to get the plot across, but if you do it in such a way the audience is preferring to read the text books, then you might as well make a book, or a movie or a TV show. I’m not completely against cutscenes just the pointless ones.

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