Here's I Have Two Mouths And One Is Screaming:
The burn victim who tried to get his face tattooed back on by a shaky blind man:
Video games walk a fine line when it comes to realism. No one expects a mushroom-eating plumber to obey the laws of reality, but if a gritty Call Of Duty soldier could double in size by pounding back some magic fungi, that would just be absurd. And, as we've told you before, sometimes games are at their most ridiculous when they're trying too hard to keep it real:
One of the best features of sports games is the ability to insert yourself into the action with perfect stats and rock-hard abs, even though you started wheezing when you bent over to pick up the controller. Unfortunately, you're usually limited to designing a face that kinda-sorta looks a little bit like you.
Then NBA 2K15 found a use for the Kinect that didn't involve random flailing. It uses the camera to take a photo of the player and scan it onto the body of a perfect athlete. To demonstrate, here's a regular dude.
And here's what NBA 2K15 says he looks like.
Oh. Oh, shit. It's the Pale Man's non-pale cousin. It might be tough to play in the NBA with no eyes and a mouth that constantly screams for the suffering to end, but at least he'll have plenty of time and space to line up shots when everyone in the arena flees in terror.
He wasn't alone in his The Hills Have No Eyes But Love Listening To Basketball experience. Either this scan went horribly wrong or BoJack Horseman is a fan.
And this un-man, who again suggests that the facial scan technology was originally intended to be a Guillermo del Toro monster generator.
To be fair, some of these unholy accidents are the result of gamers not following instructions. But it still seems you're just as likely to get a Lovecraftian horror after a trip to the burn unit as you are a realistic representation. Also, it tends to make black people look like white people in blackface.
Shenmue had an insane dedication to realism, whether it was a perfect and pointless re-creation of 1987's weather patterns or the fact that you were forced to get a tedious 9 to 5 job as the climactic finale. But Shenmue II was more user-friendly, so surely they wouldn't make the same decisions ... right?
The sequel looks like it's going to climax when Ryo Hazuki, trying to find his father's murderer, battles his way through a wave of gangsters and fistfights Buddha. Victorious, he gets his next clue: The killer is going to a small Chinese village. Villain vanquished, sequel teased, roll credits.
Just kidding! That would make too much sense. Instead you take a boat ride to the picturesque (by Dreamcast standards) Chinese wilderness, where a friendly, conveniently Japanese-speaking villager informs you that the village you seek is a three-day hike away. Other games would fade to black or a map screen that lets you make the trip in moments. Shenmue II forces you to take every single step.
For almost two hours after that emotional boss fight, pretty much all you do is walk forward. There are events along the way -- you gather twigs for a fire, dodge fallen trees, and occasionally jump a gap or ford a river. But almost every activity comes down to pressing a button quickly when the game tells you to, and you usually suffer little more than a fall on your ass if you fail. The closest you get to excitement is rescuing a drowning girl who turns out to be a girl you've been dreaming about. So that's going to give you a lot of important things to discuss, right?
Nope. Your literal dream woman mostly prattles on about leaves, trees, and mountains, as though the developers decided players needed to wind down with a relaxing nature walk. You can watch the epic cross-country trek if you have a spare hour and 40 minutes and have already watched every movie in existence.
Eventually you reach her house, and then your patience will be rewarded with a final showdown with the killer, right? Yes, but only if you count waiting 14 years for the opportunity to give money to the Shenmue III Kickstarter. You find out the girl might have magic powers (oh, so now you're abandoning realism, Shenmue?), examine a sword and a mysterious note, and the credits finally anticlimactically roll. Jesus, we haven't seen pacing that bad since we tried to run a marathon.
Mass Effect 3's final piece of downloadable content was all about throwing a party and fighting your evil clone, but mostly the party (because giant, genocidal squid robots killing millions of people every day are no excuse to not get funky). Before the main event, Citadel, or as it should have been called, "We're Sorry About The Ending, Here Are All The Characters Messing Around And Having Fun, Oh God Please Love Us Like You Love Them," lets you bond with each of your colleagues through mini-games. You'll play at the arcade, gamble at the casino, hit the dance floor, and even shoot an action flick. It's good times all around, until you decide to hang out with beefcake James Vega.
Invite the walking stereotype inexplicably voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr. over to your pad, and like all fictional muscly guys he'll soon come up with a contrived excuse to take his top off. He'll be drawn to your gym like a brawny moth to a protein-powder flame, and he'll challenge you to beat his pull-up record. You agree, under the impression that you'll have some fun, share some banter, and maybe even get a nice reward at the end. So, what's his record?
Come on -- 182? Really? Was he on a low-gravity planet? OK, but the game will find a way to make it fun, right? Dear God, no. You're prompted to push one of two buttons 183 times, and every time you have to watch an animation. And you have to pay attention, as just enough input and timing is required that you'll screw up and lose if you don't keep watching. The character-building conversation boils down to Vega occasionally calling out your count while pathetically swatting at a punching bag. And your prize for grinding through this nonsense is a whole lot of nothing -- he'll compliment you on your strength, and then the whole shameful affair will never be mentioned again. There's no purpose to the 15-minute event aside from being able to brag to your unimpressed friends that you beat virtual Freddie Prinze Jr. at pretend pull-ups.
Damn, who would have thought that BioWare would be able to get people to invest time and effort in something that peters out into disappointment and wasted potential?
Remember Deadliest Warrior, the show that answered questions no one's ever asked like, "If the Taliban fought the IRA in a parking lot, who would win?" Well, their unique blend of pseudoscience and childhood playground arguments spawned a video game that featured soldiers from throughout history in one-on-one combat. And just like its big brother, it attempted realism in the stupidest way imaginable.
The basics of fighting games haven't changed much. Characters who are all carefully balanced so they can hold their own against each other can shrug off punches and swords to the head like they were tickles delivered by Care Bears. They can take hit after hit and not be any worse for the wear until their energy bar finally drains and they go down in a heap, only to bounce right back up for Round 2. It makes no sense, but it's fun.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
But Deadliest Warrior went for realism. Hitting people's arms will break them and render their shield useless, limbs can be hacked off to make opponents bleed to death, and swords to the neck will send skulls rolling. Sounds awesome, right? Yeah, except it's all rendered obsolete because realistic damage means every fight lasts mere moments.
A Spartan can use his shield and armor to stroll toward a robe-wearing Shaolin Monk and lop his head off while taking precisely zero damage. And it's sort of unfair to compare an Apache warrior to an Impending Jack Sparrow Lawsuit when there's a millennium of technology between them. Pointy bits of metal aren't much of a match for guns and freaking grenades.
Pretty much every hit kicks off a winning combo or just kills outright, effectively reducing the battles between history's greatest warriors to who can press the "face stab" button faster.
It gets even sillier when ranged weapons are introduced. No one outside of video games uses swords anymore, and that's because it's preferable to kill from a distance; even throwing a spear at someone's head is a better option, one that ends exactly how you'd predict. Watch as this poor pirate can barely move off his starting line before he's killed.
Technically, those instant kills can be dodged, because nothing says realistic historical combat like two warriors hopping back and forth like they took too much acid at the history rave. There's a reason most fighting games don't strive for realism; you'd have to take six months off after every Street Fighter loss to let your combatant go through physical therapy.
Dark Dreams Don't Die, or D4 if you're hip, tells the story of a man named David Young using time travel to undo the murder of his wife. Which is all fine, but like Deadly Premonition and Tamagotchis, D4 is all about making sure you're eating. Just, all the time. Every action in the game drains stamina that has to be topped up with food, which sounds reasonable until you open the overhead storage on a plane and watch 10 percent of poor David's energy fade away:
Then there's this scene, where trying to move a piece of cloth draped over a seat drains David's final 6 percent and causes him to pass out like he just ran a marathon through the Sahara. Christ, does he have to eat an entire cow after getting dressed in the morning? David isn't keeping himself fueled; he's battling a serious health problem. And to do that you need to either find food or buy it from a cat who's psychically linked to your roommate and follows you around. Look, you can't strive for realism if your game involves buying a hamburger from a magic cat on an airplane.
Gameplay involves doing five or six things that further your objective before scavenging for sustenance like your stomach is a black hole, a time-consuming and immersion-breaking hassle that ends up being the exact opposite of realistic. And even that tenuous logic falls apart during the game's action sequences, when you slide across tables and smash baseballs into people's heads without the need to visit an all-you-can-eat buffet immediately after. Maybe all that food just keeps him functioning through his mundane life until he can get his true sustenance from inflicting pain on others.
Unrelenting horror doesn't occur only when games try to keep it real. Check out the horrendous things that happen in Super Smash Bros. Brawl in The 8 Creepiest Glitches Hidden In Popular Video Games or the Far Lands from Minecraft in The 6 Creepiest Glitches In Famous Video Games (Part 2).
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Nightmarish villains with superhuman enhancements. An all-seeing social network that tracks your every move. A young woman from the trailer park and her very smelly cat. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, a new novel about futuristic shit, by David Wong.