5 Hilariously Failed Attempts at Video Game Realism (Pt. 2)

#2. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Makes You Treat Your Wounds, One Step at a Time


Metal Gear Solid is the most realistic series to ever feature cyborg ninjas, water-walking vampires, and giant mechs that shoot lasers out of their robo-dicks. When you're not staring down crotch lasers, you're trying to be sneaky, because one wrong move will get you badly hurt -- you're not a near-invincible demigod like in most action games.

Snake Eater upped the ante by attempting to accurately depict survival in a jungle that makes the jungle from Predator look like the Rainforest Cafe. In addition to sneaking around guards, hero Naked Snake needs to hunt for food and treat his own injuries, like if Bear Grylls had been trapped in an elaborate Cold War thriller. With this in mind, the developers decided that healing gunshot wounds with food rations wouldn't cut it -- even in the weird world of video games, it's hard to buy that chowing down on some cold cuts will unperforate your kidneys.

"Yeah, you've got to take that pastrami rectally."

But there's a reason why games use healing power-ups that automatically restore your health by just walking over them, and why newer games have abandoned even that (in most games these days, your health just regenerates on the fly, even if you do nothing). It's because gamers don't want to stop every 30 seconds or so to go through a laborious 10-step process for healing their character.

Which brings us to Metal Gear's elaborate "cure menu," in which players could treat all sorts of ailments by choosing from a long-ass list of procedures.

So, whenever Snake finds extra holes in his body, he has to dig out the bullets with his trusty knife before putting the sewing skills he picked up in home ec to good use. And since this is a video game -- i.e., it takes place in a world where you're being shot constantly -- you wind up spending a whole lot of time examining the hero's skeletal structure.

"They had to clone me because this shit left me sterile."

With all of this attention to detail, there isn't even a logical order in which the medical procedures have to be completed. You can stitch a wound shut, wrap a bandage around it, and only then remember to dig out the bullet that's still lodged inside. It's like the developers got halfway through designing the mechanic before somebody said, "Man, nobody is going to want to do this shit."

#1. Deadly Premonition Takes Its Cars and Hygiene Seriously

UTV Ignition Entertainment

Deadly Premonition was the closest thing its developers could make to a Twin Peaks game without getting slapped with all the lawsuits. It's an open world detective story, and despite the fact that it also features a parallel world full of monsters, a gas mask-wearing billionaire who speaks only in rhyme though his aide, and a Dalmatian who gives orders to a grotesque demon disguised as a traveling salesman on behalf of an evil tree, it still strove for realism.

UTV Ignition Entertainment
Six months went into the development of the mustache graphics engine.

The game has you investigating a serial killer in a small town, and you're mostly free to do as you please. What makes the game unique is that it operates on its own clock -- shops open and close, days pass, and most people and events are only available at certain times. Basically, unlike most games, you can't barge into someone's house at three in morning and root through all their shit like it's no big deal. Makes sense so far.

But the passage of time affects your character as well, and that's where things completely fall apart. FBI Agent York can starve to death after a day without sleep and food, but chowing down on a can of pickles will keep him going for hours. If you don't change and launder your suits daily, you quickly find yourself plagued by a horde of flies, while keeping yourself clean inexplicably earns you a bonus from the FBI, raising some serious questions as to where tax dollars are going in this world.

UTV Ignition Entertainment
Not toward deodorant, apparently.

And then you have the driving. Where lots of open world games give you a car (or horse) to get around on, none of them have shit on Deadly Premonition. You can indicate turns, adjust your headlights, and even work the windshield wipers, none of which have any point whatsoever. What does have a point is the fuel gauge -- if you don't keep the tank full, you'll grind to a halt, which means you have to send up a flare and wait for the police to come bail you out. Don't have any flares? You're hoofing it.

UTV Ignition Entertainment
Or giving a handie to a trucker for a lift.

That would be dumb even if the game wasn't full of a whole lot of nothing -- running back to town from out in the boonies can take you more time than many of us have to sit down and enjoy a game. Hell, even if you're in a car, you're not allowed to speed past a leisurely 50 mph, which is nice if you're using the game to practice for your driving test but less than ideal if you just want to get to the parts where you shoot monsters.

To be fair, you can eventually buy faster cars and unlock a fast travel method ... if you complete a side quest that's easy to overlook. Oh, and many parts of the game force you to drive manually anyway. So no matter what you do, you're forced to spend long stretches holding down the accelerator, listening to York ramble on about DVD special features (seriously), and hoping your gamble to speed past the game's single gas station won't backfire. It's like the developers couldn't decide if they wanted to make a horror mystery or Sim Road Trip With Your Weird Uncle.

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Related Reading: Video game realism seldom works out well. Remember when Bushido Blade tried to make fighting realistic via magic bandages? The few games that get it all right, like Fallout: New Vegas might still make you into a terrible person. If you're anything like Brockway, at least. If you prefer to see the authentic details in games no one actually notices, click here.

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