Game Eaters

Monday, April 18, 2005

Metal Gear vs. Splinter Cell.

I've been playing Metal Gear Solid 2 and Splinter Cell 1 for the past week. I like them both, but I'm going to say something crazy: MGS2 is more accessible than SC1. From a gamer's point of view, this is absurd. MGS, in hindsight, has a very weird control scheme. It's fixed camera top-down, with many strange controller actions one needs to perform in order to do simple things like aim.

Wait... *thinks*

Okay, so let me take that back. The *basic directional controls* in MGS2 are more accessible than SC1. Although you need to do all these strange acrobatics to get to the 3D elements of MGS2's gameplay, the basic controls themselves are actually more sensible than SC1's. Up is up, Down is down, Left is left, and Right is right. SC1's behind-the-back controls are perfectly designed the sense that they are an intuitive evolution of the fundamentals of 3D gameplay (established in games such as Tomb Raider and Doom) but if you are unfamiliar with those genres it's basically very difficult to get the hang of them.

I once tried to "teach" someone how to play videogames, someone who hadn't played games but wanted to learn how to play them. And you know what? It was a LOT easier to teach them how to play 2D games than 3D. 2D games they got the hang of after a few tries, but when I popped in an FPS I could feel the enormous leap in videogame literacy it demanded. Even someone unfamiliar with videogames could understand that in MGS2 you press up to go up, down to go down, etc. But show someone who's never played videogames Time Splitters and watch how hard it is for them to come to grips with the look/move dual-analog philosophy of controls. And then there's body consciousness. Those of us that grew up with games like Ultima Underworld and Doom understand how a mere camera view can be, itself, an avatar. But this ain't as obvious to someone just starting out. It's just not as fundamentally intuitive to human experience as a simple control scheme rooted in 2D navigational concepts.

Not that a newbie gamer would necessarily find MGS2 accessible. Its control is esoteric in many ways, but that's not because its 2D controls are dated. It's 2D controls are the most accessible thing about it because they don't require a strong literacy of 3D interface design. SC1, on the other hand, requires this literacy in ways that make it less accessible to people who might like to play games but don't.

I've been having fun with both MGS2 and SC1. But MGS2 just feels more playful and fun to me. Frankly I can imagine someone not as interested in games understanding the basic nuances of MGS2 faster than SC1--its 90-degree angle architecture, its 2D controls, its simple punch-punch combat, and its insanely simple inventory GUI. These pieces may get really convoluted when they come together, but as isolated elements they show a strong conviction for the fundamentals of intuitive interface design... fundamentals that are based on much broader concepts of interaction than SC's evolutionary 3D paradigm.

My point is this. Although SC is in some ways a more intuitive game for gamers, I think MGS could teach us more about the fundamentals of design that might attract more people to videogames. Frankly I think MGS (both 1, 2, and 3) could do a better job of it, but the fundamentals they subscribes to have always been very clear...

And worth more study, I think.

23 Comments:

  • Go suck a dick you piece of green shit. Splinter cell is way better than that shitty hide and seek games. Go give head for money you fat whore.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:20 PM  

  • wow, that was a vicious post

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:57 PM  

  • You, sir, are a faggot. Not the author, your piece was well-written and fair, but the poster above me. Take your ignorant-ass to the Gamespot forums.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this piece. I could see where you drew your ideas and opinions from, since I've played both games to the point where I know them inside-out.

    MGS, in my opinion, has always been an accessible series compared to other stealth-based games such as Tenchu and, in this case, Splinter Cell.

    One thing I think you failed to mention was MGS2's continuation of its amazing storyline. Splinter Cell, the original anyway, just felt like a typcial over-hyped Hollywood movie plot.

    Other than that though, both games are incredible deep and fun, even to this day. A true gamer won't limit himself to just one; go play both. :D

    By Anonymous beanmachine43, at 2:59 AM  

  • I second that of the first post....lol

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:54 PM  

  • From someone that has played every game in both series, I can understand the frustrations that certain gamers may face in terms of the cotrols for both games (SC and MGS games). But imo, Splinter Cell doesn't even compete with the MGS series when it comes to storyline and the depth of storytelling/backstory. In MGS there are twists comparable to watching 24, the TV program.

    Splinter on the other hand, you are dropped off in some location, maybe a tanker or some foreign embassy, you're given some objectives and you go and carry out at the very least, the primary ones. MGS is just way more than that, and SC just fails to transition from one level to another like the MGS series does.

    As for the person who posted that stupid remark above, go and take your xbox fanboy metality elsewhere, this is supposed to be an intelligent discussion about the 2 games in question and not a place for you to vent your homosexual tendancies!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:29 AM  

  • I liked the article. It's very well written and it's got some great points. I do like the Metal Gear Solid Series the most. SC just seems too dark. It's a game that needs to played at night with the lights off and shades closed just so you can see the screen. Metal Gear has a much more diverse map. And as for the first comment... SC is the epitome of a "hide and seek" game!

    By Anonymous Fried Beans, at 12:22 AM  

  • Well... I think Splinter Cell is very better, MGS is wonderful, ist's trufh, but the camera don't help, and SC is more smart.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:16 PM  

  • Go and cry to your mother .... Splinter Cell is just shitty copy of MGS . Go to wikipedia and see that MGS was first than SC , you son of whore . If you think that SC is better you should been castrated , eating shit moron .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 PM  

  • man your a bitch mgs owns sc cuz it has a story and the gameplay is action and steath ok

    By Blogger roselay, at 11:16 PM  

  • ok now you need to stfu mgs owns sc ok

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:20 PM  

  • splinter cell is for pussys mgs owns

    By Anonymous metal gear solid fan, at 11:23 PM  

  • fuck splinter cell metal gear owns it

    By Blogger roselay, at 11:28 PM  

  • mgs is better then sc

    By Blogger roselay, at 11:29 PM  

  • splinter cell is a pussy game

    By Anonymous metalgearfan, at 2:22 AM  

  • metal gear solid has more better things than splinter cell

    By Blogger metal gear fan, at 2:24 AM  

  • fuck splinter cell anyway

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 AM  

  • mgs is better than sc

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 AM  

  • man splinter cell is shitty

    By Blogger metal gear fan, at 2:32 AM  

  • metal gear solid is better than that piece of splinter cell shit splinter cell copyed metal gear solid metal gear solid was out first

    By Blogger metal gear fan, at 1:36 PM  

  • man fuck splinter cell thst is a shitty game

    By Blogger metal gear fan, at 7:15 PM  

  • metal gear solid is better than that shitty splinter cell game

    By Blogger metal gear fan, at 2:15 PM  

  • ok i played mgs and sc......

    and i say mgs is alot more better than cs why???

    in sc,, you do alot of shitty controls just to do a very simple tasks,,, like hacking that computer or so.....


    in mgs u do a simple up down left right direction and it has alot more complex storyline than sc...


    do u think cs will beat mgs???


    no... bcoz mgs greatly improves a lot in every series they got!!!!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:51 AM  

  • metal gear fan go shut your mouth. metal gear is a great game, and so is splinter cell, but splinter cell didn't 'copy' metal gear,and you have no right to bash anyone else for having a different opinion, you ignorant piece of crap. you are spewing unintelligible garbage when you spam cuss words that a 12 year old would say. your kind pisses me off.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:38 AM  

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