When people talk about realism in video games, they are almost always referring to how real the games look. However, we talk far less about how realistically a game plays, mainly because realistic gameplay doesn't exist. Oh, we might pretend it does, gushing about features like "bullet physics" while overlooking the fact that it takes seven or eight of those bullets to bring an enemy soldier down. Ultimately, most attempts at creating "realistic" gameplay backfire as soon as the developer is forced to choose between keeping the game realistic and making a game that is fun to play.
#4. Final Fantasy VIII Pays You a Salary (After You Kill Your Boss)
You earn money in RPGs by committing mass monstercide, cracking open the occasional abandoned treasure chest full of gold standard currency to break up the monotony. Obviously, this is not how people earn money in real life. If you run over a squirrel with your car, its body doesn't spit out cash like a busted ATM. And if you start swinging a giant sword around in public, any foes you fell won't drop nearly enough money to cover the considerable legal fees you are likely to incur.
Notice how the villains are "ex-soldiers," meaning our hero is using that mystical battle saber to kill veterans.
No, if you want money in the real world, you have to get a job. Final Fantasy VIII attempted to address this conundrum by making your character a professional mercenary working for a group called SeeD, which pays you a regular salary throughout the course of the game. Theoretically, this would keep your character's source of income a little more grounded in reality.
Pictured: A giant floating city from Final Fantasy VIII, part of a series known for its realism.
However, at one point in the game, SeeD's financial backer (a robe-wearing mole-thing called NORG) goes crazy and tries to kill you, leaving you no choice but to beat it mercilessly until it shrivels up into a cocoon and dies. This puts you in the unfavorable position of having just straight-up murdered the billionaire space muppet who paid your salary. There's no way you can continue to draw paychecks from SeeD when you've just slain the source of all their money.
But that's exactly what happens. Despite assassinating SeeD's primary benefactor and leaving the organization in financial shambles, you STILL get your money on time, without so much as a bounced check for the sake of dramatic tension. You even continue to get raises, which suggests a horrible oversight somewhere in the organization's performance evaluation department. Wandering through the forest hacking giant slime monsters with a sword until they turn into piles of money suddenly doesn't seem so kooky.
#3. Bushido Blade Makes Fighting Games Realistic (By Giving You Magic Bandages)
The problem with trying to make a realistic fighting game is that it's impossible for a human body to withstand the amount of punishment doled out in a single round of Mortal Kombat. Two people cannot beat each other to the point of crippling physical injury and then be totally fine to begin Round 2 after a rest period of three or four seconds, and you can't catch a haymaker directly in the face without suffering a dramatically immediate disadvantage beyond merely losing a block of your health meter.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
In real life, this would be a freaking Fatality.
That's where the makers of Bushido Blade attempted to stand out. You see, in Bushido Blade, the characters are engaged in realistic weapon-based combat. One well-placed sword slice is enough to end the fight immediately -- much like if you were fighting someone with giant swords in your backyard, if you stab your opponent in the head in Bushido Blade, you win.
And it doesn't end there. If you manage to hit your opponent in a non-lethal area, like the arm or the leg, that appendage cannot be used anymore. It's entirely possible to have your opponent hobbling around like a maniac or dangling their arm uselessly by their side within the first few seconds of a match, making it pretty easy to move in for that head stab we talked about earlier. For a game about pirates fighting ninjas in industrial parks, it's a fairly authentic fighting system.
"'Tis a flesh wound."
Unless, of course, you win the fight, in which case any and all injuries you sustained are immediately healed. It doesn't matter if both legs and one arm were paralyzed during your previous bout, the game just slaps a bandage on the affected area and your character is suddenly back to 100 percent. It's every bit as realistic as the time Hulk Hogan wrapped a thin sheet of gauze around his supposedly shattered ribs and was then totally OK to fight King Kong Bundy.
And your battles in Bushido Blade aren't separated by long months of training and recovery -- the game is one continuous story, and your character goes directly from one fight to the next without so much as a bathroom break. This kind of takes the wind out of the whole "realistic injury" thing. Why couldn't you wrap a bandage around your head and recover from a sword through the brain? Or stick a Band-Aid over a bleeding chest hole that used to be a vital internal organ? If you're going to chuck your own realism out the window, you might as well do it from the 200th floor.