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Gamereactor UK
articles

Weird things we look past in games

Bottomless pockets and unsubtle stealth. Sometimes games have to cut corners in order to deliver the fun.

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Graphics, sound, story and overall entertainment are all things we judge when playing games. Some can't stand playing titles that look unrealistic, for example, and others need a deep and emotional story in order to be entertained. No matter what genre you like, there are a few quirks we all notice when playing, though there are a few weird things in games we rarely take note of or care about. Unrealistic things the developers have included because it just wouldn't be as fun of an experience otherwise, because they want to keep us engaged for longer, or for any of a whole myriad of other reasons. We all know that most vehicles actually wouldn't explode by shooting their gas tank like they do in Hollywood, but what are the gaming industry's versions of this? Let's take a look at some of them.

Self-refilling magazines

The landing craft smashes onto Omaha beach and thousands of soldiers storm towards the German troops waiting in the bunkers with their turrets. I take cover behind a wrecked boat and rip my Thompson out of its plastic bag. The magazine is full, and the bullets inside are ready to wreak havoc on my enemies. Time slows down, I take a deep breath and run as fast as I can towards the bunkers. Panic takes a hold of me, so I fire a couple of bullets blindly towards the bunkers and throw away the old magazine to reload. "What the **** was that, Private?!" My sergeant looks like a tomato when I reach cover. "We'll need every bullet we've got during this operation, and you throw them away?!"

Believe it or not, bullets from magazines we throw away won't magically appear in the next magazine. Still, most games seem to think so. Seriously, think back to the last shooter games you played through. How many of them transfer your bullets to other magazines? Black Ops 3: Check, Fallout 4: Check, Quantum Break: Check, Halo V: Check. Need we continue? How is this possible? Maybe we have an elastic band attached to the remaining bullets in the magazines, a lightning fast monkey who collects the remaining bullets, or something like that. Not quite.

This is usually just the developer's way of saving players from having to look for more ammunition or take breaks from the fast-paced action to transfer bullets themselves. Games like Operation Flashpoint pride themselves on making this element realistic, but most games throw realism straight out the window in exchange for keeping the action going and the player engaged.

On the other hand, what about all those times that a developer stops you from picking up the guns dropped by fallen friends and foes. Some games only want you armed with specific guns at specific times so the devs can dictate the pace and feel of the action more precisely. And don't even get us started about enemies with infinite amounts of ammunition!

No worries.I have a trained monkey on my back that transfers bullets to my magazines.

Rewards for playing well

I'm on a mission in the Middle East. The streets are filled with enemies who must be neutralised. One falls victim to my M16. Two, three, four and five. That's when General Santa Claus suddenly makes contact over the radio. "Well done, private. You've done a fantastic job, so we've promoted you to captain. As an extra reward we'll let you use tens of thousands of dollars to call in an airstrike on the last few enemies. If you kill a few more we'll even let you drop an atomic bomb."

Killstreaks and similar kinds of rewards for doing well make little to no sense in real life. The one to blame for this? Pretty much all Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Before this, the norm was placing different boosts or weapon upgrades around the map. Then, eleven years ago, Infinity Ward got the brilliant idea of making good players even better by giving them a helping hand. How does that make sense, and how did they come up with such an idea?

The answer is once again: fun. Being on a roll feels fantastic. Endorphins rush through the body like the Gamereactor team descends on the poor soul who brought cupcakes to the office, and it gives us a sensational feeling of satisfaction. Infinity Ward decided to take this to another level by making us reach for concrete goals that not only blast more dopamine through the veins when we get a new killstreak that might help take out many more opponents but also marks the start of the journey towards to a new streak.

Um, maybe there wasn't any point in using the tactical nuke after those 25 kills.

Momentarily losing or gaining abilities

I'm fighting against Stryker in the Mortal Kombat tournament. We both give and receive a beating. Our punches and kicks are heard from miles away. I finally get the upper hand, throwing Stryker through a brick wall, and storming towards him to finish the job. Then, out of nowhere, he draws a gun and empties the clip right into my chest. What? You had a gun this entire time? Why didn't you use it from the get-go?

Character animations and abilities are also a regular sinner in terms of this absurdity. For example: have you seen Halo 5: Guardians' opening sequence? If not, watch this...

Locke and company are quite acrobatic, aren't they?! Unfortunately, it seems like they might have pulled a collective hamstring or something during this sequence, as they are nowhere near as agile during gameplay. The same goes for pretty much every game's climbing sequences. Your character might be scaling the tallest mountain with no trouble at all during cutscenes, but as soon as you're in control they can't even climb over the tiniest of cardboard boxes as developers use the environment (and sometimes even invisible walls) to keep the player out.

This is the first example that isn't mostly about keeping us entertained. Instead, it's the developer struggling with the limits of the hardware or making things more challenging. Being allowed to jump over and around slow grunts might feel fun and empowering at first, but would quickly become tedious because of the lack of challenge. It wouldn't make much sense either, as it would make us question why the enemy even bothered attacking when we have allies like these.

On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes players have access to abilities that run counter to their abilities, such as when characters can run without slowing down, Forrest Gump style. Or have you ever noticed those frustrating moments when your top speed is capped so you can't overtake an NPC who's supposed to be showing you the way to your next objective? Speed up already.

Why don't you just keep on shooting? Finish her!