Friday, May 20, 2011

In The News/On My Mind: Modern Warfare 3

By now I assume you've all seen parts of Kotaku's story on Modern Warfare 3(Don't click if you don't want it spoiled), so what's there to talk about with Modern Warfare 3? Lots, of course, anywhere from the Infinity Ward's implosion, to the way games are marketed, over saturation of yearly sequels, or even the holiday glut of title releases.

For me though, one key design item stands out: where do you go, thematically and scale wise? Modern Warfare was notable for it's over the top set pieces, and Modern Warfare 2 raises the bar by further cranking up the scale of action and complexity. Most have complemented Modern Warfare as a "Michael Bay" like experience, with over the top action that borderlines believability. However, is relying on this increase in set pieces viable in the long run? From the escalation of threats (MW1), to actual invasion and attack on the US (MW2), it's hard to see how to ramp up the excitement without becoming absurd in the next game. It's interesting to note that even though Black Ops wasn't a direct sequel to Modern Warfare 2, it still inherited the almost absurd game sequences to drive the narrative forward.

More importantly, the reliance on set pieces can be engaging and special at first, but if the entire game is made of a series of set pieces, then it robs the power of any particular set piece. A roller coaster is only exciting with the right pacing of intensity with areas of calmness, and the same can be said about game pacing. In addition, the cost of building such complex series of set pieces cannot be cost effective, can it?

I do hope they can surprise people with something, and I hope it's not just "bigger, badder, bolder".

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