I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that. To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and will be writing out entries, hopefully I can get all thirty days without any breaks, and if I manage to do that (since August has 31 days) I will think of an additional entry to write about. I have done a 30-day challenge before, it for movies, but that was a while back, feel free to read those too if you like.
Today is day 12 and the topic is “Most Epic Video Game Scene”.
I suppose epic is a relative term, and in a medium that can deliver everything from playing cat and mouse with a serial killer to having a fleet of starships coming in like the cavalry to save the day there are a lot of different emotions that could qualify as epic. I decided to go with the missions that finally made me really like a game that I had been very iffy on (story wise) till that point. The game is “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”. And the chapters are “Shock and Awe” and “Aftermath”.
“Outlaw be advised,” came the voice over the radio. “We have a situation here, Over.” The United States is engaged in a city wide fire fight as marines are shuttled from position to position relieving advance teams and removing ground forces, you have just retrieved one such advance team when the radio call comes in, Seal Team 6 has located a nuclear device and removal of all forces to the east of the city is signaled. While pulling out, Cobra Pilot takes damage to the tail blades and crashes, and your team requests to go in to rescue the pilot as small arms fire coming from the cockpit is visible.
“Be advised,” said the voice on the radio. “You will not be at a safe distance in the event that nuke goes off. Do you understand?”
“Roger that,” replies Outlaw. “We know what we are getting into.”
What commences is a big damn hero moment, with a clock ticking down, enemies on all sides, the player runs into the thick of things, pulls free the downed pilot carries them back to the chopper, and we all take off. Rescue mission successful.
Then it all turns to shit, as you begin to pull back to a safe range, the radio warning calls out a nuclear threat, and before they can even repeat the warning a mushroom cloud fills the sky, knocking your copter out of the air. Thousands of marines dead, likely civilian casualties in the hundreds of thousands if not millions.
|Unfortunately, this set a precedence of doing more and more over the top controversy in the series.|
A chapter break occurs and when we come back we crawl out of the chopper ruins and only have time to look over the wasteland before our character succumbs to the radiation and drops dead. This happens at the end of the first 3rd of the game, in a series of games that I think has 7 entries at this point. Somehow the end of the game puts on more tension and it is pretty awesome.
There is an old quote by Alfred Hitchcock about the nature of suspense in film one that I feel applies in this instance in a very literal sense.
“There is a distinct difference between "suspense" and "surprise," and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I'll explain what I mean.
“We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let's suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, "Boom!" There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: "You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!"
“In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.”
|Isn't this the look of a man who would fit right into a conversation about "Call of Duty"?|
These missions have a literal bomb that could go off at any time with the action happening in that context. This makes every second more tense and every step feels longer. The most important part is the explosion itself (I can hear you saying “duh” thru the internet, don’t “duh” me). The explosion is significant not only as set piece in the story and the means by which the game kills your character, but because it shows that this game is not afraid of this kind of death and destruction.
Later on in the narrative, shocking moments and real danger will happen, and when it is time for the protagonists to take action, they could thwart the deaths of countless people (Hint: you do, and it is great).
Share your own thoughts on this in the comments. I know I am not the only person out there who cares about video games, and I am sure many people disagree with me.