Modern video games are able to inject so much realism into their imaginary worlds that in 20 years or so, we might even see a purely CGI character whose teeth don't give us nightmares! But in the meantime, some bored developers are focusing on all the wrong things. These are all such petty, random details that it makes you wonder if some poor designer was skipping their OCD medication. For example ...
Rockstar San Diego faced a lot of criticism when it was revealed just how many work hours employees had to cram into their days to drive their newest prize prancing pony, Red Dead Redemption 2, to market. But not even the harshest of critics could deny the quality these sweatshop conditions delivered. After all, how else could the team have created such game-changing, revolutionary video game content like, um, dynamic animal testicles?
Only the keenest of observers will appreciate Rockstar's inclusion of "dynamic testicle physics" -- a groundbreaking system whereby a horse's testes grow or shrink, depending on the weather.
That's right, take your bounding Missouri Fox Trotter or frisky Appaloosa too close to the northern edge of the map, and their big equine balls will shrivel up faster than those of a desperado realizing you've just activated Deadeye. Of course, the real question is: Why spend countless hours of precious programming time giving horse groins better AI than the average NPC? Unnecessary attention to detail, a PR stunt, or Rockstar trying to attract a very niche German fetish demographic?
We'll never know, just like we'll never know if horse balls are the only type of genitals that shrink or expand depending on the heat -- at least until Rockstar finally releases that official Arthur Nude mod we've been petitioning for.
Final Fantasy XV was released after almost ten years of tumultuous work, to a lukewarm response. The gameplay was sort of a disjointed mess, and the storyline was less coherent than a fever dream after a midnight cheese buffet. But there was one thing the FFXV team had absolutely nailed (aside from the '90s boy band vibe), and that was creating in-game food so lovingly rendered it would leave even Gordon Ramsay gobsmacked.
According to the game's art director, each meal is the result of the combined work of many artists and designers, who actually went outdoors to recreate every single dish on a camp stove. That's a lot of camping, as the game features over 100 dishes in high-resolution textures, every single one of them looking tantalizing. Like these rice balls, where you can see every single grain of rice ...
Or this very Instagram-worthy galette with cream ...
And the main courses are no joke either, with oysters so realistically slimy that they look almost as gross as the real deal ...
In video games, players are often conditioned to think of guards as mindless NPCs, there to kill you if you so much as accidentally brush against an item you don't own. But that kind of simplistic viewpoint would be a great disservice to the thin blue line of Grand Theft Auto IV. In a game all about loose cannons, they do everything precisely by the book.
Documented with great detail by YouTuber whatever57010, it seems that GTA IV realized how much time players would spend in the company of the Liberty City Police Department, so its cops really are the finest any game has ever seen. Depending on the level of threat, LCPD officers have different protocols to deal with incidents, a lot of them centered around deescalation. Stand too close to a cop, for instance, and they'll politely warn you not to start any trouble:
If you don't heed that warning and decide to give them a little push, the cop won't put a bullet in your face. Instead you'll just get a stern talking-to or a well-deserved fist wave.
And even if you put their lives at stake by pointing a gun at their dumb faces, they'll still try to deescalate the situation by telling the player to put his weapon down, while other officers form a protective circle in case things do get nasty.
If you decide to leg it, Liberty City's finest still showcase exactly what they learned in GTA police academy. They'll give chase, call for backup, inform squad cars of the perp's movements, and refuse to shoot the suspect (you) in the back. And if you jack a car for a speedier getaway, the officer will commandeer another vehicle to continue the chase instead of getting frustrated and unloading their clip into your newly acquired windshield.
GTA IV cops will also do real police work around town. They'll even save you, the guy who has killed half of their softball team, if they see someone else break the law. Got sucker-punched in the face by an aggressive NPC? If it happened in the line of sight of the LCPD, they will calmly and effectively arrest the perp instead of giving him the ol' Game Over treatment.
Sadly, in Grand Theft Auto V, all that good police work seems to have been flushed down the drain. Los Santos police officers are gleefully murder-happy.
Great Grey Wolf Sif, an ancient wolf protecting its master's grave, is a pretty average boss as far as Dark Souls goes. But they're an A+ pet, in that they act like a real doggy. That becomes very clear when you get their health down to a certain point and they start whining and limping in pain like a wounded animal -- right before the story forces you to put them down.
In the later Dark Souls DLC Artorias Of The Abyss, you go back in time a hundred years. There/then, you have the opportunity to save puppy Sif's life, earning their loyalty and (we assume) offscreen snuggles. And if you, for some reason, did that before completing the main game, a special, horrible treat awaits you. Reach adult Sif only after finishing the DLC, and the game pops up a special cutscene showing that Sif still remembers the player after all those centuries, bounding up and sniffing them like any excited doggo.
Of course, that happiness doesn't last, as you're still there to kill their master. When the protective pup realizes this, they deliver a plaintive whimper and howl before fighting. Dammit, FromSoftware, you already broke our controllers. Did you also have to break our hearts?
Hideo Kojima's kiss-off to the Metal Gear series, The Phantom Pain has one of the most realistic video game worlds ever (and also features a skeleton cowboy as its main villain). Vehicles have been given a realism update for the game, though not one that makes a lot of sense. One-upping Red Dead Redemption 2, not only do the horses of MGSV shit to their heart's content, but that shit can serve as a bona fide environmental hazard, causing vehicles to slip and crash if they drive over the stinky landmines.
"When I told you guys to research a dirty bomb, I didn't mean this."
And don't even think about driving dangerously. The game's military compounds are connected by power lines, and they aren't just for show. Run one over with your car, and a billion volts shoot through Big Boss' already-battered body.
But the real stars in MSGV are the water physics. Take the most powerful gun in the game, the Water Pistol. No, we're not kidding. It's the most versatile weapon, able to put out fires, clean off bloodstains, and even give your doggo a much-needed bath.
The Water Pistol is also invaluable on the offensive, able to fry enemy electronics and even disable soldiers if you squirt them right in the eye.
Or you could put a captured or unconscious enemy facedown in a puddle, and they'll quickly drown in two inches of water.
Water's not so kind to items either. Take the cardboard box, which is the most iconic and coherent character of the entire series ... until it realistically deteriorates when pulled out in the rain.
That should be enough to develop hydrophobia in any Metal Gear Solid player, but don't keep Big Boss out of the shower for too long. Otherwise he'll become so sweaty and smelly that his field of view will be covered in flies, every character be grossed out by him, and if it gets too bad, second-in-command Ocelot will force him to wash up purely for his soldiers' morale.
If they had simply put a millionth of a percent of that effort into the story, MGSV might've been, well ... good.
E. Reid Ross has a couple books, Nature Is The Worst: 500 Reasons You'll Never Want To Go Outside Again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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