Honestly, Does Anyone Still Enjoy Stealth?

Based on the continued popularity of the Splinter Cell and Metal Gear franchises, and the fact that one trick pony series like Tenchu and Siphon Filter are still in existence, the obvious answer to the above question is a resounding “yes.” I just can’t for the life of me fathom why.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten some enjoyment out of all the aforementioned series, and I would certainly never venture to criticize the almighty Metal Gear. I just don’t really see the appeal in sneaking around for five minutes just to break some unsuspecting security guard’s neck. What’s so wrong with breaking necks the conventional way – with bullets and lead pipes?

I mean, sure it’s kinda fun in the same way that startling you grandmother can be fun. But unlike that age old form of entertainment, slicing some anonymous NPC’s throat never produces any fun results like dropping grocery bags or acute myocardial infarctions. They just gurgle a little bit and die in a motion captured animation. How in God’s name is that more entertaining than a shotgun-induced back flip? In theory, a game revolving around startling people should be more interesting than using stealth to end their lives, but in practice we know this not to be true.

Now I’m not saying that stealth doesn’t have it’s place. Call of Duty 4 featured a stealth-oriented level that was rather gripping and exciting, and the deliberate pace served to make the huge shootout at the end of the level even more intense.

But for every example of stealth done right, you can find ten instances of stealth done horribly horribly wrong, which brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves in all of videogamedom; forced stealth segments in non stealth games. Once again, I’ll go for the most obvious recent example, Zelda DS.

I have a theory about this game; if you snuck from house to house (using stealth, natch), and checked each gamers’ save slots, only about one in ten people would have actually finished the game. These rare individuals would make excellent mates for drunks and drug addicts, for their forgiveness and tolerance are sure signs of the classic Enabler personality.

The other 90% of us would all be more or less in the same boat; we put the game on the back burner because we just couldn’t stand another one of those goddamn cock-sucking timed stealth segments. Am I right or am I right?

I can see the hole in my logic as well as anyone; it’s not the stealth that makes those segments so unbearable, it’s the repetition. This is true. But are you trying to tell me you actually found those segments fun the first time around? Look me in the eye when you answer. How about the stealth segments they’ve been shoehorning into nearly every Zelda game since A Link to the Past? None of those were fun.

And it’s not just the Zelda games that are guilty of forcing us to endure these boring segments. It’s everything. The stealth sequence has become a fundamental element of Videogame Design 101, sitting pretty right next to the obligatory track shooting and escort missions. And just like those turds, the whole purpose of the stealth sequence is as transparent as purified air; to add variety to gameplay that can’t stand on it’s own for more than twenty minutes without the player needing a change of pace.

My question is; can’t developers think of something better than forcing us to trudge through these slow and contrived sequences in every. fucking. game? If I want to spend my time virtually sneaking around, I can pick up the latest Splinter Cell and go nuts on some mall security guard as he’s struggling to get a vending machine to take his last dollar. I don’t, so I won’t. But it’s fine if you do. I have nothing against stealth games, because you know what you’re getting into.

But when I buy Call of Juarez, I want to shoot the shit out of every motherfucker with a five o’clock shadow. I don’t want to be sneaking through campgrounds as some underpowered sissy. And when I buy Assassin’s Creed, though I’m obviously expecting a degree of stealth, I’d prefer not to have to walk half a mile an hour so as not to arouse the suspicion of guards who find normal walking speeds to be a criminal offense. And I certainly don’t want to be hiding in shadows in games like Spider-man and Destroy All Humans. But lo and behold, here I am, staring at some stupid icon that tells me my level of “hiddenness”.

The reason developers feel the need, time and time again, to pull this lame crap on us is simple; you, the modern gamer. You refuse to buy games that you perceive as being “too short,” so developers try to add as much “variety” to their games as possible to fluff a three hour game up to twelve. So I’ll end this rant with these cryptic words; you decide the direction of the industry with your dollars and your feedback. So unless you twats want to find yourselves taking pictures of every variety of butterfly in GTA 4, or sneaking out of the bedroom without waking up Raiden in Metal Gear 4, quit pushing developers to include all this extraneous bunk in their games.

Especially stealth. I really can’t stand stealth.

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~ by Krooze L-Roy on February 5, 2008.

2 Responses to “Honestly, Does Anyone Still Enjoy Stealth?”

  1. I enjoy stealth ya motha fucken biieeettccchh

  2. Awesome rant. Reminds me a lot of my own problems with modern gaming and then some. Don’t get me started on Zelda.

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