The Game Mechanic – Mechanically Perfect


There was a time when the video games we loved rested their fates on pulling off a small list of mechanics, sometimes even single mechanics.  Mario perfected jumping, Mega-Man perfect jumping and shooting, and Sonic perfected avoiding obstacles you can’t see yet and are moving towards you at a speed two times faster than you think it is.

Modern games, however, are more of a string of different mechanics sellotaped together into an…”experience” where gamers are constantly learning and adapting.  Big issue with that system is that there’s so much going on in big blockbuster games (like Tomb Raider or Assassin’s Creed) that it’s damn near impossible for any part of it to be really great, opting for a host of “alright” mechanics instead of one or two great ones.

You’ve got to wonder, though, what the perfect game would look like?  A big AAA title that truly perfected all of the aspects of the games a lot of us want to play. From running and jumping to gunplay and driving mechanics?  I’ve got some ideas, and while it’s true that perfection is truly out of reach Vince Lombardi did say, “if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

Movement: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

People loved (and still love) Sands of Time for a lot of reasons.  The combat was swift and the characters were likeable but it was the way the Prince navigated his environments with glorious acrobatic ease, running along walls, swinging from pillars and generally making us feel like gymnastic prodigies.  A more recent addition to the series, Forgotten Sands, made a brave attempt at resurrecting Sands of Time’s ability to make us feel awesome but sluggish pacing doomed it to failure.  Let’s just imagine in our theoretical perfect game that the gameplay and the feelings invoked by it have been translated perfectly.

Gunplay: Max Payne 3


Say what you like about Max Payne 3, no one does shooting people better.  The moments between the unnecessarily long-winded (and UNSKIPPABLE) cutscenes where you actually get to shoot at people are some of the best seconds of shooty gameplay you’re likely to find until the inevitable Max Payne 4 in which we follow Max’s journey to avenge the murder of his favourite bottle of painkillers.  Max is swift and responsive, giving you the ability to send bullets in any direction you like at very little notice which is impressive when you think about all the booze and painkillers.  Perhaps we could also transplant Max’s mystical dominion over the passage of time while we’re at it.

Melee combat: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings


The Witcher 2’s combat is known for being very difficult.  You take on the role of Geralt of Rivia, monster hunter and lady charmer, or perhaps I should’ve spelt that “roll” because that’s what you’ll spend the majority of the combat doing. Geralt is a fragile monster hunter you see and can only withstand five or six slaps before heading off towards the light, and the baddies aren’t the well-mannered, turn taking fighters we’ve gotten used to. The difficulty, however, is what makes Witcher 2’s combat shine when you mix it with Geralt’s ability to dodge, parry, counter, and cut nasty people to ribbons at a second’s notice. Fights may be tough as nails but when you get in the zone and send Geralt ducking and diving around groups of enemies expertly slicing and stabbing the sense of achievement is well worth all the broken keyboards.

Driving: Halo 4


It’s hardly a simulation but the Halo series’ driving mechanic is an integral and well-loved part of the game.  Many people cite it as a large part of why they prefer Halo games over the other flavours of first person shooting. It just works.  Both responsive and bumbling at the same time Halo’s vehicles are just FUN to use, double the fun when you pack in a couple of pals (or friendly AI for the sake of single-player).  Driving through crowds enemies in Halo 4 while your faithful allies gun down the remnants in a “you missed a spot” kind of way is an experience best showcased in Halo.

Squish all these together into one magical mess and you’ve got a game that would let you bounce along a rocky landscape towards an enemy stronghold, baddies smashing against your wind-shield like so many unfortunate seagulls, before exiting your vehicle to pepper distant enemies with gunfire.  Far-off foes dispatched you scale the walls of the fortress and head inside weapon-drawn to engage in close-quarters combat with ruthless enemies.

I don’t know about you, but I’d buy it.


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