Regenerating life is lame.

Oh no… this isn’t a post about the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Check that out though.

This is about a relatively new mechanic in video games that’s been bugging me (that’s right girls, tune out now). I don’t know if there’s a proper term for this, but “regenerating life” seems to make the most sense.

This is usually applied to first person shooter video games. Most first person shooters have a set amount of health that goes down when you get hit and goes up when you get medpacks or some other life pickup. Regenerating life makes it so that if you don’t take damage for a certain amount of time, your life goes back up to full. 

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: oh no, he’s gonna bash halo now. I’m not (for once). In halo there’s a somewhat intelligent reason for the life to regenerate, because its tied to the shields that recharge over time. When it comes to games like Call of Duty though, it absolutely does not belong.

First of all… realism. As I just said with the halo thing, they came up with a reason for the regenerating life mechanic to work. Call of Duty aims to be relatively realistic. It doesn’t make sense to have a war game that allows you to take 600 bullets to the head, as long as each bullet nails you 30 seconds apart from the last one. 

Defenders of this type of play would say that it encourages players to be wise and hide behind things to cover themselves and recharge their health. What they don’t seem to realize is that in a game emphasizing realism, a good player would do that anyway, without a game enforced contrivance telling them to do so. 

Ahh… but perhaps medpacks are a game enforced contrivance. Yeah, maybe it doesn’t make sense to pick up a little health kit and immediately be healed of all wounds. It still makes slightly more sense than healing magically. If we look at it from a gameplay perspective, medpacks make you more careful over the long run, since you never know when the next one will be. Regenerating health makes you more careful, but only moment to moment.

A friend of mine said he prefers the regeneration system because “otherwise it’s just attrition”. Well YEAH it’s attrition! It’s a game that has a certain amount of health that allows you a certain amount of hits in a realistic war scenario. It should be attrition… and I certainly shouldn’t be rewarded for running away and hiding for 15 seconds.

I’ve fantasized about a truly realistic war game for a long time. Where you have to actually individually pick up each bullet and load it manually. Where medpacks need to be administered onto wounds, taking several minutes at the least. Where when you die, the game closes and deletes itself from your computer.

I dunno… maybe i’m just too hardcore…


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January 2009
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