GameSpot Reports: The Evolution of Stealth
What happened to all the stealth games about sneaking around? How has the genre evolved to its current state? Jess McDonell speaks to the minds behind Thief, Splinter Cell and Dishonored to try and find out.
Its always down to profit and demand for a product so i believe that old school survival horror and stealth games (original resident evil, silent hill 1 and 2 for SH genre and thief, splinter cells before conviction and some meatal gears for stealth) have died based on what ubisoft did to splinter cell conviction. If it has a hint of a story and involves thinking your way through a level instead of shooting, the kids think your making them do homework and wont play it , and kids now make up the biggest part of the market.
I really would love to see a pure stealth game. Thief 4 wil all the rewards for sneaking around, finding treasures, cutting purses unseen. This game i want to play.
Of course some hybrids are great but i still go with a pure stealth game. You have to study the map of the mission and explore all then.
I prefer stealth as an option in an action game. I mean, that the enemy doesn't always know you're there and can be snuck around, like Rainbow Six. You almost always killed the enemy, but you at least you could pick targets, maneuver and take shots before you did.
As mentioned earlier, if you want Dishonored (fantastic game) to become more of a stealth-game - crank up the difficulty. I think the idea of "play as you want" is really good and you pretty much have a slider for the stealth. On normal difficulty you can take a couple of gunshots and still win the fight and that makes action an option. And why not? If you want the option to gun your way out of a mistake instead of reloading you can. You don´t have to - you can. I´d say it adds replay-value. I´m going for a second playthrough without getting detected.
Funny. I actually played Thief more for the sword-fighting than for the stealth. I think it may have been the first first-person game to include collision detection in melee combat.
Overall, I like hybridization and have been a fan of it ever since playing System Shock.
I think this goes to prove what the market is all about now. Money. The guy from Ubisoft (correct me if I'm wrong) says that it's a good thing that there are hybrid games because we don't want the market to feel stagnant. Are you kidding? It's already there WITHOUT these games. That's the main problem, games are trying to be too complicated in the IDEA. That's why games like Dishonored and The Last Of Us are saving this generation. Because they stick with one idea and go for the ride. But games where there's just too much going on...it's like trying to hide the monotony or the absolute atrocity of the engine. Take CoD for instance. Those games have some of the biggest moments with huge explosions and what not, but look at the actual engine. It is completely awful and almost lazy that the devs haven't upgraded to something, there aren't even any ragdoll physics...hell there are BARELY physics.
Games right now need to stick with one idea and branch off of it and make the game good from that one central idea. Not make this complicated mess just so the games can appeal to a larger market. Games back then, even though graphics aren't to par with the present, were so awesome because people took risks and devs actually cared about the art they were putting out there, not the money. No patches. The game went out as it was shipped on old consoles. But anyways, appealing to that wider audience is what is ruining gaming. Not even lying. Sure, more people are buying games, but it's ruining actual good games or good ideas being poorly executed.
So after reading the comments i am inclined to think,MANHUNT is the best game in the stealth dynamic. the only game that you really really don't want to be spotted. you are actually afraid someone will see you.
I actually long for the return of the stealth style of games. You could still "hunt" people in Deus Ex, Thief, Hitman, and Splinter Cell, but it was more difficult. To paraphrase the clip from the Thief manual, "You're not a tank. You charge into the room, get fitted for your coffin now."
I won't count MGS, simply because I HATE that series like the plague.
However, the games mentioned actually made it difficult to go on killing sprees. Yeah, it is still very fun to do. I can recount more times where I had to stop playing, simply because I was laughing too hard at something I did. But you still had to work at it. Leaving a trail of bodies lying about brought the entire level of guards upon you, and they were often packing more firepower.
Unfortunately, that changed with Conviction. Leave a bunch of bodies and destruction in your wake, no big deal.
The argument that "we are giving the player the possibility to choose how to deal with a situation in a game" is sometimes a very good thing. But it's not really telling the whole story.
It's also about maximizing the profits of the game by trying to reach a broader consumer group than the older stealth games did. What they don't think about is that all games can't be broaden without the quality of the game suffering.
I would say that the increasing competition on the game market forces game developers to appeal to a larger crowd and that this new "larger crowd" motto is actually blinding the game-developers to see that this affects the quality of the game.
It seems to me that the increasing competition and the constant maximization of profits really isn't the best thing in the world when being creative and making games. Even though that's what we're being told all the time...
I *always* try to play as stealth, but the enemy AI will invariably ruin it. Be it overly long patrol routes that always happen in perfect sync with no random elements (that guy at the start takes a piss an infinite number of times), ridiculously accurate spotting of me in shadow or most importantly the fact that I just don't get punished enough for breaking stealth, it's never a good experience. Dishonored proved this quite well, you can spend an hour creeping around, but at any point if you trigger an alarm enemies just run blindly at you and you can gun them down easily and explore the area at your leisure. Where's the incentive to stay hidden? I want to feel like if I get discovered I am *screwed* unless I get very lucky.
And as for "oh, here's a dead body, there must be an assassin! nevermind, it was probably nothing"... at least spawn a few more guards and make it 5x harder for me to progress. Someone has DIED, and most likely it wasnt a heart attack or spontaneous combustion, especially with the giveaway slit throat.
I really liked Dishonored and got a good 20+ hours of enjoyment from it, but it sure as hell aint a 9.0 game. I have coded AI long ago in the past and I swear it should be way better than this by now.
I think adding choice to any gaming experience is a good thing as long as the mechanics are done well. I have not beaten it yet, but I have found Dishonored to be a very enjoyable game. I remember the old Thief games when they came out and I remember being intrigued by the concept but very frustrated by the execution. The stealth gameplay way too rigid for me and it made the game not enjoyable. I think too many modern games are becoming nothing but run-and-gun and that is robbing something from the gaming community as a whole. It is as if every movie that came out was Predator or Tango & Cash. Variety is the spice of life. If I have to kill one more Eastern European terrorist or mindless alien, I think I am going to lose it.
I am waiting to see what Hitman turns out to be. It was the first purchase for my 360 and I still play it on occasion. If it has morphed into this obnoxious over-the-top run and gun hybrid, I will be disappointed... and it looks like that is what it is going to be.
I've no problem with developers giving us the option of action or stealth as long as those gameplay elements aren't half-assed/watered down. The old Splinter Cell games were great for stealth but the shooting felt very awkward. On the other hand, the last Splinter Cell game completely lost that stealthy atmosphere. Dishonored has done an excellent job of offering action & stealth but I'd still love to play another game like Thief game where fighting is something to be avoided.
Am I the only one who enjoyed Conviction ? Sure it can't beat Chaos Theory (the best, which I still own) or Double agent (which was also very good) but it was a very good game in my opinion. Also the co-op for me was the best mode and it was a hell of fun to play with a friend (chaos theory has that, but the online wasn't good and I had to do it in split screen). The fact that you cannot stun the enemies anymore kinda fits the story, as Sam is really pissed off and doesn't give a s**t anymore. I totally agree on the fact that the hybridization basically made Conviction an action game IN SOME PARTS, but for most of it it's also a good stealth game, the only thing missing were a couple more gadgets and more ways to kill in cqc. The tag and kill system made the character a little OP , but it sure is a lot of fun to use.
the problem with making hybrids is that you cheapen the aspects that you're combining. Typically, a game that may use stealth and action will not have a very developed stealth system, interface, etc. You can't put everything in a video game and expect it to be the best in every way. Apparently all developers are down with this, in the name of player choice, but is it better to have okay options or one good option?
Makes me think of the original Deus Ex for PC. You could run-n-gun, sneak around, negotiate with NPCs, hack into computers, pick locks, crawl around in ventilation shafts...it had a plethora of gameplay types you could choose from on any given mission.
Irony: Deus Ex was released in 1999!
I would be all over a thief reboot(remember using water arrows to douse a torch, genuis!)....as well as a reboot of the first deus ex, not human revolution, although I thought it was pretty good, it was still lacking in some areas imo. But I would have to agree with some of people on here saying that devs are making hybrids to appeal to more people. That said, I am liking Dishonored so far, and I do like that I have the option to either sneak past a guard or find an alternate route, or if I like, shove my blade in their neck lol.
@evilace_stealth I agree about cranking up difficulty, I started the game on very hard, because I'm a stealth expert. I played the majority of stealth games since MGS 1. I have to say that some stealth games are kinda boring in their execution. MGS and Splinter Cell great. Deus Ex: Human Revo. bleh.
@FrostDM I also like her face and hair :P
@Lockjaw2000 I miss old-school games.
@Lockjaw2000 How is dishonored saving the industry by sticking to one idea? Dishonored is a hybrid game, you can be stealthy, or you can just run and gun/slash/power your way through. The new splinter cell from what I have seen so far seems like the same thing, you can sneak or gun your way through. While I won't preorder the new splinter cell cause I wasn't impressed with conviction I do have it on my radar. I like the hybridization, it give me options which gives me replay value. Deus Ex has been one of my favorite series because of that, I can sneak around if I want or if I am in the mood for something else I can shoot my way through.
Jess McDonell comments this change by saying that "it's a business after all". When we see game-developers as business-men first and creative artist second the quality of the game drops.
@mattcake So basically you think the AI sucks because you suck at the game. I got the achievement for never getting detected, its very doable.
@Sk8rdude310 get a better computer, I have no problems with the videos and my computer is ancient.
@gatsbythepig I take it you didn't watch the demo where a guy showed a few different ways to beat one of the missions and none of them involved a gun.
@Herrick The choice of action or stealth also has to make sense in the game. Imagine going through Chaos Theory like Rambo. You're a government agent operating on the soil of a foreign sovereign state. Leaving a trail of corpses would have serious repercussions for your country. Sometimes giving the player the choice just doesn't make sense.
@ilantis I liked Conviction too, Ilantis. As different as it was from the older games, I found it to be very enjoyable. Chaos Theory was definitely my favorite. It would be cool if they could some how merge the two styles.
@Keeper_Artemus I think you are wrong, I thought Deus Ex and Hitman games both had superb Stealth and Action gameplay depending how you wanted to play it, same with Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, although since Chaos Theory they haven't yet managed to get that balance just right again.
@stan_boyd Because they kept it simple. They didn't have to add all of these elements in the game to make the campaign amazing. If you make ONE GOOD game mechanic, the entire gae is ALREADY set up to be better than one with a lot of stuff thrown on top. Take BioShock for instance. It was all about plasmids and how you used them to tailor your game style. Dishonored floats along the same line. But these games are different from other hybrid stealth games in MY opinion, because in some cases, or most in the case of Dishonored (especially if you decide to play on hard, which is what I did right out of the gate), it really really sucks when you're not using your skills that ultimately makes you powerful. Dishonored, after playing it for a while, has some of the best stealth aspects I've seen in a long time. I feel tense whenever a guard comes around the corner and I have to hide really quick by using my powers, which is what allows you to be so strong. But if you play on hard, you DON'T want to get into a fight unless you KNOW you can win.
@MrYamamoto Why would we not see them as business men first and artists second, they treat us like consumers first and gamers second.
@stan_boyd No, I'm saying the AI sucks because it's repetitive and unrealistic. If you read my post correctly I'm complaining the game isn't hard enough and the AI doesn't react intelligently. It's too easy to beat it when playing within the game's rules and parameters, and it shouldn't be. A game should be unpredictable and fun, not about waiting for the guard to perform his pre-defined action at the same time as another guard performs his. Chaos theory and all that.
@jonmar I agree. I wouldn't want to run & gun in the old Splinter Cell games. I love hiding in the shadows, but they forced you into certain scenarios where you couldn't use stealth and those situations were very difficult due to the stiff, awkward shooting controls.
@stan_boyd @MrYamamoto They didn't use to...It's so sad to see games go down the drain when they have a great idea. I mean, look at RE6. Sorry if you liked it, but it was just SO MUCH instead of sticking with a main idea. I never even really thought the AC series to be stealth. Honestly, even though there are aspects of it. They could've gone a lot farther with the "hiding in plain sight", which they finally did with the updated blending in AC2 and on. But you look at older games...and it's just funny to see devs shrink away in disgust at newer stuff. I also think it's funny to see devs like from Arkane Studios come out with an awesome game like Dishonored, which totally trumps a lot of first person games on the immersion level, which is the most important part.
@stan_boyd @twaitsfan @mattcake LOL @ Skooldaze btw, one of my favourite games ever (Dont forget Back2Skool too :P) Even in that if you weren't in lessons and that little bugger told on you, the teacher would come searching for you so it displayed some rudimentary AI :) Dishonored wasn't bad, I just dont wanna beat stealth games on AI limitations/technicalities. Roll on the next generation of console and see where we end up then.
@twaitsfan @stan_boyd @mattcake Well he is complaining about the guards having predetermined paths and thats what makes dishonored fail as a stealth game. But so did Hitman, Deus Ex, Thief, Metal Gear, Skool Daze, Assassins Creed etc etc etc. So if he considers set pathways to be crappy AI then isn't he saying all those games have crappy AI.
@stan_boyd @mattcake Play the freaking game on hard and eat your words, I swear lol Dishonored is pretty much what I've been waiting for in a stealth game. But I had high expectations, seeing how I LOVED the Thief games. The Golden Cat Bath House had a CRAZY amount of guards and stuff in it. The AI in this game is NOT terrible by any means. I've died SO MUCH whenever I get discovered, and not because I suck at it either, they just swarm me and kill me. I literally have to sneak around and incap everyone if I want to go around at my leisure. Dishonored seriously kicks everything else around right now in terms of stealth. Even MGS4 let me down as a stealth game, but I still loved it mind you, but Dishonored pretty much proved that devs from the old days should stick around.
@mattcake So in other words pretty much every stealth game ever made sucks because every stealth game I have seen from Thief to Metal Gear to Splinter Cell to Deus Ex etc all had patrolling gaurds that had a scripted pattern.
@jonmar I originally played the first three on consoles but I recently went back and played through the whole series on PC. The shooting & aiming were definitely better on the PC.
@Herrick Did you play them on a console? It's been a long time since I did that. I recently played through the first three on PC again and the shooting controls are as good as any shooter thanks to the mouse. Though I did have to turn up the mouse sensitivity quite a bit.