Monday, 9 January 2012

Video Games

One of my favourite Christmas presents of 2011 is a PlayStation 3 game called Deus Ex.

Deus Ex, which gains immediate cool points for having a Latin name, takes place in a not-too-distant future version of our world. Technology has advanced to a point where humans can be augmented with cybernetic implants, meaning that everything from robotic limbs to the ability to see through walls is available to those with enough money.
Want to be able to jump/fall from any height without that annoying side effect of the landing killing you? Then pop on down to the Limb Clinic and get yourself augmented. Concerned that you wouldn't currently be able to survive a gas bomb? Then why not save up your credits and get an augment at the local Limb Clinic? You get the idea.

In the game you take on the role of protagonist Adam Jensen, who involuntarily receives a number of augments after an attack which leaves him fighting for his life on the operating table. By completing missions, you earn Experience Points and credits, which allow you to augment him further. Gameplay involves a lot of shooting people, hacking into computers and generally being a bit of a vigilante. All excellent ways to unwind after a tough day at work, I think you'll agree.

Before this bloglet turns into a full blown review of the game I should point out that that's not what I intended it to be. No, what I actually wanted to write about here is something which arises in Deus Ex, but which also seems prevalent in numerous other video games across different platforms. Namely ... the inventory.

In order to carry out the main objectives of the game (shooting, hacking, being a vigilante), our friend Adam needs to hold on to quite a few bits of gear (weapons, energy bars, ammunition etc.). That's not a problem, think the game designers, we'll stick all of that gubbins in his inventory. Now, seeing as Adam doesn't have to keep returning to a large room where he keeps all his bits and bobs every time he decides to change weapons, I assume that his 'inventory' is basically 'what he can carry and stuff in his pockets'. It is with that theory in mind that I shall tell you what my Adam Jensen currently has in his inventory (imagine the list is said in the style of the Generation Game conveyer belt bit, if you will);
- A stun gun
- A machine pistol
- A revolver
- A combat rifle
- A tranquiliser rifle
- A crossbow
- A sniper rifle
- Various ammunition for above weapons
- A gas grenade
- A bottle of wine (doesn't deal any damage to enemies, but it's always amusing when you accidentally select it to see the screen suddenly go blurry as you realise that, instead of dealing a deadly head-shot to an enemy guard, you've just got yourself pissed).

So that's seven guns, folks. Even if we get rid of one that's still two on your back, one on each leg and one in each hand. With all that gear it's a wonder the police haven't stopped us and taken us down to the local station to discuss why we are in possession of such an impressive arsenal. But what about the rounds of spare ammunition? I hear you cry. In the pockets with the grenade and bottle of wine, I suppose? Doesn't make for the stealthiest of outfits really, does it? I can't imagine even the most useless of guards not hearing us as we waddle ever so quietly along a corridor with our six guns knocking against each other, and various bullets clanking against a half empty bottle of Merlot in our pocket.

As I mentioned, the idea of an odd, Tardis-like inventory is to be found in many other video/computer games. Take, for example, the PC version of The Sims 3. For anyone unfamiliar with the game, you basically take on the role of a god and control everything in your Sims' lives from their appearance and personalities to when you want them to use the toilet. Each Sim has their own, seemingly bottomless pit of an inventory in which they 'hold' all manner of things. Because one of my Sims has planted a number of fruit trees and vegetable plants in the garden, and the fact that these seem to bear fruit/veg every day, she currently holds well over 200 apples/potatoes/tomatoes/carrots etc. with no difficulty whatsoever. Don't even get me started on the fact that they can also keep a number of vehicles in there too. Keys to cars/motorbikes I could understand, but the actual vehicles themselves?

I suppose the alternative to these unrealistically massive inventories would irk me just as much: having constantly to choose which items to let go of and which few to keep in your pocket would be impractical and would detract from the game. I just wish that game designers would occasionally acknowledge the ridiculousness of the inventory. A simple "Where the Dickens have you been hiding that gun, Adam?" from one of the characters would do it for me.

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