Not many games have achieved realism. Actually, no game really has. And you know what? I’m glad of that. I know there are some of you who enjoy games like Microsoft Flight Simulator and Operation Flashpoint, but I think some of us play video games as an escapist activity. We like being grounded in reality sure, but ultrarealism just ends up being an extremely frustrating experience.
I honestly don’t care all that much that Solid Snake can carry like 30 different weapons and switch among them in an instant. I don’t care that he can just instantly go hiding into a cardboard box in less than a second. It’s unrealistic sure but it’s what makes the game fun and unique. So what if enemy guards can’t see Sam Fisher who’s two feet away just because he’s in a shadowy area? Would you really like the game if being stealthy in Splinter Cell was near impossible just like in real life?
Gameplay wise, a litttle unreal elements here and there I think are breath of fresh air and provide excitement. Just imagine playing Call of Duty 4 where one single bullet kills you or disables your ability to wield a gun. And imagine that you only get like 60 clips of ammo. And also imagine that the enemy’s bullets can rip through walls as well. It’s not going to be a fun game. There are fun realistic games of that sort like Delta Force but they turn out to be extremely niche games and that’s why none of you here probably have never even heard of Delta Force games.
Many gamers complain about games being unrealistic and while they’re right, I really applaud those developers who take this criticism and build their games around it so that their game feels realistic even though the gameplay is just as unrealistic as other games. Half-Life for example had the main character wear this suit and so the health level was due to the suit. So while it was unrealistic that Gordon Freeman take a hundred hits and survive with a 29% health level, the game explained how that was possible. When games explain their gameplay mechanics, it provides a feeling of realism that real realism probably can’t.
There are some games of course that benefit from incredible attention to realism and these are simulation games. One of my favorite simulation game of all time is Jane’s USAF and the game has a setting where you can play it as realistic as you want. It’s incredibly challanging and while it may not be completely realistic, the different features really do make you feel like you’re really flying an F-16. Grand Turismo and the like can also benefit hugely from realistic gameplay and will probably be incredibly challanging when damage models are added into the series.
I think we’re coming to a point where realism in games is becoming more and more possible. And I honestly don’t know what to think of it. In some ways, it’s a great thing. A game that feels like it’s really happening is immersive and extremely engaging. But a game too real can often be a game too boring.
I think I would rather have a game with unrealistic gameplay but is grounded in realistic themes. There’s not many games that do this but the obvious game that does this is the Metal Gear Solid franchise. The story of Metal GEar Solid takes real life events into account and creates its own unique persepective to it. REalistic themes like genetic engineering, nuclear proliferation and detente, political intrigues, genetic heritage of memes, etc, all these are realistic themes found in Metal Gear Solid games. The gameplay is unrealistic as hell (but that’s what makes it fun) but the messages in MGS are as real as they come. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 130 achieved this in a remarkable way as well. But there aren’t enough games that achieve this kind of realism. All other games are trying to achieve realistic gameplay and while that’s great and all, I think this realistic grounding and these realistic themes make for a much more engaging game.
A game may play realistically especially with things like the gaming vest and incredible graphics but in the end, I had a more connection to reality in games like Metal Gear Solid 2 than say, Rainbow Six Vegas.