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34 Cliches of Christmas
One Man Army
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 24, 2007   |   Episode 3 (Show Archive)  

   

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!



Considering how tough Ninja Gaiden is, Ryu may actually benefit from a friend or two coming in and helping him out!
As Seen In: Metal Gear Solid, Halo, God of War, Crackdown, The Legend of Zelda, Ninja Gaiden, Splinter Cell, Ghosts N Goblins and too many more to list here.

What Is It? The idea of the one man army is as old as video games themselves ... if not older. The concept is simple, you play a man (or in certain situations a woman) who can't rely on anybody else to help him, so you decide to take on all of the bad by yourself. The world can breathe a sigh of relief when they know you're on the job, since you seem to have superhuman dexterity and an unnatural ability to locate extra ammo no matter where you find yourself. Oh, and did I mention that you have no problem dodging bullets and healing yourself? And it doesn't have to be an action-packed first-person shooter, either. The very appeal of a game like The Legend of Zelda is that you (playing as Link) can hack and slash your way through thousands of enemies all in the quest of saving the Princess and defeating evil. And there's good news, it's actually extremely easy to figure out if you're playing one of these one man army games. All you need to do is look around for a friend who is helping you battle soldiers and slimy creatures, if you can't find anybody then chances are you're all by yourself and you've fallen into one of the most common cliches around.

Is It Realistic? The concept of sneaking around and taking out multiple people is somewhat realistic (even if it is unlikely), but there's absolutely no way that a real person could take out the amount of enemies all by himself (or herself, for that matter). In the case of Halo and Crackdown, the game's hero (a heavily armored soldier and a police officer, respectively) takes out a

While he doesn't kill soldiers and tanks, Link is very much a one man army in those Zelda games!
small army all by himself. If one man can do that much damage then it calls in to question why we need to many soldiers in our Armed Forces. If this cliche was even remotely realistic then it stands to reason that all we would need are a couple of well-trained warriors and we would have Iraq under control. Unfortunately that's just not how it works in the real world. Instead we have to send as many brave men and women into harm's way and then worry about their safety. This is one of those cliches that I almost wish was more realistic than it actually is.

Is It Overused? Sure it's a cliche, but developers use it for a reason. While squad-based action games are beginning to become more popular, the truth is that there's just something inherently appealing about being that one person that can take down all of the bad guys, disable all of the bombs and save the world. Teammates just slow you down (and you have to put up with clunky AI), the hardcore gamer just wants to strap on a gun and take on the world by himself. It may be cliche, but it makes a lot of sense when you're playing a game like God of War, The Legend of Zelda or Splinter Cell.

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