6 Games That Put Insane Detail Into Stuff You Didn't Notice
Now that we're in a golden age of video game technology, players are constantly demanding that video games be made as graphically detailed and realistic as possible. However, programmers have been going to insane lengths to show off their attention to detail in other, less obvious ways for years now, and you probably didn't even notice.
These are the amazing little flourishes that simultaneously wow us with their obsessive compulsion and provide a powerful rejoinder to the argument that soaring game budgets are both necessary and entirely justified.
Call of Duty Is Packed With "Authentic" Details No One Will Ever Notice
In addition to being a lightning rod for kids who communicate exclusively via homophobic racism, Call of Duty is one of the best-selling game series of all time. The games pride themselves on realism in their portrayal of both military strategy and equipment (OK, the last game did feature robot attack spiders), sometimes to an absurd degree. For instance, in the Black Ops II multiplayer, they have gadgets called Tac Inserts that control where you respawn. Normally you can only see them for a split second before placing them on the ground. However, if you hold onto one long enough (essentially making yourself a giant stationary target with a glowing PDA), you'll notice a set of coordinates on the item's display screen:
They lead to a psychiatrist's office.
If you write those coordinates down and search for them on Google Maps, you'll find that they correspond to your in-game location in the real world. For example, one level is set in Singapore, so your Tac Insert's coordinates will show a place in Singapore. The detail is simultaneously so mind-bogglingly precise and utterly pointless that it's almost beautiful.
But this series is full of "nobody will ever notice this" details -- in one level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, you're trapped in a plane that is falling from the sky. If you happen to press the reload button during this brief sequence, your magazine will actually float away from you like it would in real life.
Luckily, pants prevent the same thing from happening when you shit yourself.
In Call of Duty: Black Ops and its 1980s-movie-sequel-titled follow-up, Black Ops II, there is a multiplayer level called Nuketown that is crammed full of hidden details. For instance, there is a scale model of the Brady Bunch house, despite the fact that 90 percent of the game's audience isn't even old enough to tell you the names of all five original Power Rangers.
"Here's a story ... of a lovely lady ... who was bringing up thr- INCOMING! HIT THE FUCKING DECK!"
Nuketown also features a countdown clock, which displays the actual time left in the match rather than the amount of time Indiana Jones has to locate a refrigerator, a population counter that changes depending on how many people are left in the game, and mailboxes bearing the names of the game's main protagonists. All of these details are impossible to notice while you're battling a horde of screaming teenagers hyped up on Monster and Avenged Sevenfold.
Halo 3 Has Your Name on Each Individual Bullet
According to Bungie, the series' creator, gamers have spent over 85 million days playing Halo games online. However, that figure is probably rivaled by the amount of time Bungie has spent filling the games with more meticulous detail than the average Kubrick film. For example, in Halo 3, every single bullet fired from an assault rifle has the main character's name carved into the back of it, as if he brought all the bullets from home.
So now, while mowing down your enemies, you can scream, "Suck my autograph!"
It's known, appropriately, as the Chief's bullet, and although it is technically present and visible in regular play, it is impossible for anyone to actually see, because bullets are tiny and fast. Reading a millimeter of text on a television screen is difficult enough without having to try to discern it from the back of an individual bullet as it explodes from the barrel of your space rifle toward AIDS_Lord6969. The only reason anyone ever discovered the Chief's bullet was because Halo 3 includes a replay mode that allows you to record videos of any multiplayer match you participate in. Some bold Halo player combing through saved videos of their various online victories inadvertently stumbled upon the writing, and now it's a well-known Easter egg.
Halo 3's replay mode also revealed other laborious details put in by the game's development team, because apparently scrawling a self-referential word onto an infinite rain of digital bullets wasn't enough. For example, every Warthog armored vehicle in the game has a full set of lighted dashboard instruments, despite the fact that you only ever see the cars from the outside.
Yeah, but your avatar knows. And that's what really matters.
This is like Warner Bros. hiring a team of carpenters to build a complete interior set for the house next door to Wayne Manor in Batman Begins.
Every Detail in Metal Gear Solid Is Absurdly Specific
The Metal Gear Solid series is famous for being totally insane. This is partly due to the series' lead creative director, Hideo Kojima. In addition to developing the long-winded batshit lunacy of the game's story, Kojima is adamant about infusing as much detail as humanly possible into every entry in the series, no matter how pointless or inconsequential those details may be.
For instance, in one ofMetal Gear Solid 2's many cinematic cut scenes, the game's hero, Solid Snake, does a complicated handshake with his sidekick Otacon, and if you pay close attention to the hand movements of the shake and are a student of video game history, you'll notice that Snake and Otacon are partially acting out the infamous Konami Code -- up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right. Normally the code ends with a press of the START button, but Snake and Otacon punctuate their bromance with a ball-shattering man hug instead, because human beings do not have start buttons.
At least not ones that are frequently shown in video games.
But even that was more likely to be spotted than some of the other random shit he had inserted into the background -- in the original Metal Gear Solid, Kojima made sure someone individually designed every single desk that appears in the game so players would feel properly immersed, because apparently finding a bunch of identical looking desks in a military base would've been totally unrealistic. In MGS 2, there is a random ice bucket sitting in a lounge -- if you shoot it, ice will spill out and slowly melt in a realistic manner until it has completely disappeared. This effect is never used again at any point in the rest of the game -- someone was told to figure out how to make ice melt in a PlayStation 2 game, and that achievement is entirely dependent on the player deciding to shoot one obscure object in the first level.
And, yes, you could shoot the spilled ice cubes off of the bar, too.
Then you have Metal Gear Solid 3, where the list of things you can do just to screw around is longer than the game's Wikipedia entry. However, by far the most insane detail is one that is never mentioned at any point during the game -- it's something that just kind of happens. After an early boss fight, you're thrown into a pitch black cave that leaves you unable to see anything. However, if you simply let the game sit for a few minutes, the screen will very gradually become slightly lighter, to represent your character's eyes adjusting to the dark.
Nobody tells you to do this, no attention is drawn to it, and it doesn't affect gameplay in a meaningful way -- Kojima just wanted the experience of being trapped in a Stygian cavern to be as realistic as possible, and he wasn't allowed to stuff every copy of Metal Gear Solid 3 full of live scorpions.
Breathe deep the fumes of madness and accept its sickening embrace.
Super Smash Bros. Trophies Have Obscure References Hidden in Reflections
Super Smash Bros. is a series of fighting games made by Nintendo that feature a bunch of video game mascots beating the incandescent shit out of each other like an extended piece of fan fiction written by a friendless 8-year-old.
To go along with the unbridled insanity of the game's main action, Super Smash Bros. has an exhaustive trophy system consisting of hundreds of unlockable virtual figurines spanning decades of Nintendo's history. There are over 500 all told, and the chance that a player is going to look at any one of them for more than eight seconds is about the same as your odds of winning a unicorn in the lottery. With than in mind, take a look at this Metroid figurine:
We ... may have to take a break. The Metroid flashbacks can sometimes be overwhelming.
Metroid was an early game in the Nintendo library, and this figure is the title character/alien being. However, if you look a little closer at the top of its shell, you may notice something being vaguely reflected:
That is from the title screen of Super Metroid as it would be seen from the perspective of the Metroid, encased in its glass tube:
Those are dead bodies on the floor around it. Or as we like to think, Metroid poop.
To reiterate, the Metroid is one of over 500 separate trophies in Super Smash Bros., and for some reason the game's designers decided to throw in an obscure reference that most people wouldn't even notice, let alone understand. And it isn't the only trophy with a secret reflection.
This one of Metal Mario has something reflected in its nose.
That, or it's drug residue.
Fans argued about what the reflection might be until somebody finally went in and grabbed the texture directly from the game's code.
Kind of looks like a Korn album cover.
That's Yoshi's Island, one of the stages in the game. Now, why in the hell Nintendo chose to hide that image in a reflection on Metal Mario's gin blossomed nose is anyone's guess, but they did it. And by God, the Internet found it.
Everyone in Oblivion Has a Life
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was the first open-world role-playing game to harness the unlimited might of a next generation gaming system to transport players into a gorgeously rendered fantasy world beyond their wildest imaginations. This is another way of saying the game is full of cockeyed plebeians with smashed-in faces and terrible skin.
"The shrieks of children forever echo in my malformed ears."
But don't laugh -- every single one of those ancillary background characters with the facial features of sharpened turds leads an entire life completely separate from the player. Every guard, baker, blacksmith, and highwayman wakes up, eats breakfast, goes to work, bullshits with their friends, then goes home and goes to bed, whether you are there to see them do it or not.
See, instead of just following a script like non-player characters in most video games, every NPC in Oblivion has a built-in list of needs he or she has to fulfill -- food, sleep, poon-nabbing, etc. If you and your Level 14 Orc Shaman happen to interrupt any one of those needs, say by breaking into an NPC's house and stealing all of his food, the NPC will venture out into the world to find more food for himself. He may get killed by a monster, robbed by a thief, or killed and robbed by a monster thief, or simply return home with a loaf of bread. And in all likelihood, you will never see any of it happen.
"I just stabbed four peasants with a sharpened loaf of bread."
Check out this video -- a lizard woman creeps through the street and picks some lady's pocket, then gets chased by the city guard for like 20 minutes until he finally corners her in her own house and slashes her to death with the king's justice. The player does absolutely nothing to influence any of this; he's just running around like the COPS cameraman trying to keep all the action in frame.
Then there's Roderic Pierrane, an NPC who, if you follow him around (like any heroic adventurer would), you will see sneak out of the house he shares with his wife once a week to go sleep in the bed of another woman.
"Player's gotta play."
Roderic is utterly inconsequential to the game in every way -- you can't buy anything from him, he doesn't play a part in any quest, and he doesn't tell you a single worthwhile piece of information. Yet the programmers of Oblivion decided to give him (and literally hundreds of others) a unique "life" that will carry itself out regardless of whether or not you ever interact with him. This must be similar to the way Brad Pitt feels when he goes to film a movie in Muncie, Indiana, and discovers that there are entire cities that exist outside of his influence.
Fallout: New Vegas Is a Completely Different Game if Your Character Is an Idiot
Fallout: New Vegas was designed by the same people who made Oblivion, so it should come as no surprise that it has its fair share of ridiculous intricacy that most people will never notice, even after 250 hours of play time (which is probably low for the average Fallout: New Vegas player). However, none are more expansive than the "intelligence" Easter egg -- basically, when you create your character, you get to give him or her certain attributes, and if you decide to make one with absurdly low intelligence, every character in the game will treat you like you have a debilitating brain injury. It even changes your conversation options in some cases, requiring you to speak like a time-displaced caveman.
The look on that guy's face says it all, really.
This doesn't happen only in New Vegas, either -- it's been a feature in every Fallout RPG ever released. Not only will your character be unable to speak in anything but a manner generously described as "Gary Busey after the motorcycle accident," but several missions (and virtually all side quests) will be completely unavailable to you.
Let's say you make a character with average intelligence and approach some widow living in an abandoned subway, and after speaking with her she sends you on a quest to retrieve her dead husband's lunchbox or something. If you take your paralyzingly stupid character to the same widow, she'd refuse to even speak to you, and the lunchbox quest would be forever beyond your reach. Bottom line -- if you're stupid, every single character in the Fallout universe hates you by default. There's even a point in New Vegas where your brain gets removed and becomes a sentient being, and if your intelligence is low enough, your own goddamned brain will start giving you shit about being such a hopeless dumbass.
So it's basically the Internet.
There are also some Forrest Gump moments of accidental heroism -- for example, in Fallout New Vegas, there's a mission wherein a security robot will stop you and ask for a password. Normally, a character with a high enough luck rating might be able to guess the password, which, for some reason, is "ice cream." However, a character with cretinously low intelligence will be given the option to just immediately bellow "ICE CREAM!" into the robot's speech receptors, regardless of how lucky they are.
Which is quite possibly the greatest thing ever put into a video game.
If you'd like to keep updated on Karl's gaming-related shenanigans, you can follow him on Twitter. He is also in charge of updating this website with new, radical facts every single day, if that interests you.
Related Reading: Detail is great and all, but sometimes you just want your games to creep you the hell out- and this article has got you covered. After The Legend of Zelda: Nicholas Cage Edition nothing in your life will ever be the same. Of course, hacks aren't nearly as crazy as the glitches that already exist in your favorite video games. No modder would have programmed Skyrim's planking dead or the protagonist from Assassin's Creed's compulsive masturbation. Once you've had enough of REAL games, it might be time to read Brockway's list of incredible game ideas that will never get made. And if that one isn't enough for you, he's written two more articles full of the best games you'll never play.