It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at the video game cliche, the type of thing we've seen time and time again in all generations of gaming. Is this cliche realistic? Does it need to go away? These are the types of questions Defunct Games will be asking over the next month. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 34 Cliches of Christmas!
The original Tomb Raider was not the first game to offer you a tutorial level, but it's definitely the first time I stood up and took notice!
As Seen In:
Tomb Raider, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six Vegas, Manhunt 2, Armored Core, Puzzle Quest and most of today's best (and most complicated) games.
What Is It?
In case you haven't noticed, the games of today are quite a bit more involved than what we were playing ten or twenty years ago. It used to be that you're game pad only offered you two or three buttons, but now your average game pad gives you close to a dozen different buttons to hit. And it's not just the controller; games are also getting more complicated. To help gamers understand exactly what they're supposed to be doing game companies have thrown in the Tutorial Mission, a mission that is generally the first thing you do in a game. Take the Call of Duty series as an example, in Call of Duty 2 you're in the middle of war-torn Europe with explosions and gunfire all around you. But instead of rushing out and getting ourselves killed, you have to practice looking up and down, throwing potatoes firing your pistol and crouching for cover. This just leaves me with one question: Why weren't these combat basics taught to the recruit in boot camp? By the time the soldier has been shipped out to the war they should already know how to look up and down while throwing potatoes at tin cans. And while we're talking about this, is there a reason that the new recruit is able to train so quickly? He learns everything he needs to know about being a soldier in less than five minutes. That's pretty impressive, especially when you consider how grueling boot camp is. I guess you're just a fast learner.
Manhunt 2's tutorial mission involves you breaking out of Dixmor Hospital for the Criminally Insane!
Is It Realistic?
In a general sense I suppose the concept of a training mission is realistic. When you first start a job your employer will probably show you the ropes and teach you what is expected of you. When you're first learning how to rock climb or skydive you are instructed on the dos and don'ts. When it comes to just about anything in your life you will have some sort of tutorial mission, even if it is just a brief little questionnaire or videotape. I would certainly argue that boot camp is a training level ... only it doesn't last five minutes and take place in the middle of a warzone. I mean really, can you believe that?
Is It Overused?
When it comes down to it I would prefer the game to teach me how to play gradually through the game. The concept of a tutorial level just reminds me that this is a video game and the developers didn't think I was ready to play this game for real. If the game is really complicated (like in any mech game) you will probably need a tutorial lesson, but I don't think I need one in a first-person shooter or platformer. If you're going to have a tutorial level at all, at least give us the chance to opt out of it.