The Art Of The Cut Scene

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Interactive vs. Non-interactive

Cut scenes are as much a part of a game as gunshots and sword fights. Different games and different genres have certain ways of approaching cut scenes. Some games are non-interactive, such as Final Fantasy and most RPG’s. These consist mostly of a cinematic sequence that ties the story together or allows you to get to know your characters a little better.

Interactive can be separated into two categories. Mildly interactive ones such as Mass Effect where you chose an action on a wheel are the first. This type of game allows you to direct the story in the direction you want while still giving you a slight break from the action. Other games are extremely interactive and require your utmost attention to hit buttons or make quick choices. Resident evil and deadly premonition had this style of cut scene. With most of these cut scenes, if you fail a button press you die and have to restart.

Personally I’m a fan of non-interactive cut scenes because it allows me to rest my hands, get a cup of coffee, take a pain pill and so on and so forth. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what Mass Effect does with their choice wheel. On the flip side, I get irritated when cut scenes drag on for close to 15 minutes. Granted, my preference could stem from all the cinematic role playing games I played growing up.

Now I have nothing against extremely interactive cut scenes until they have cut scene death. I don’t care how good a game is, if I die in a cut scene because I missed a button press that game is likely going to be traded in. It’s worse when there isn’t any warning. During the first part, you’re on edge and nothing happens. It never fails that the one moment you set the controller down to crack your fingers a button pops up in some random part of the screen and while you fumble for your controller you miss it and die.

I was curious in what other gamers felt so I talked to a couple of local gamers and got their thoughts. Gamers Pierce Morris and Dyrk Lang had different views.

"I still tend to find having to quickly press the correct buttons mid cinema without prior warning to be annoying" Morris said referring to Resident Evil 4.

Lang defended this type of cut scene by saying " If it’s more of an action game, it makes a little sense."

Both gamers had great points but Lang summed it up best. "It’s a matter of opinion, some may think this helps enhance the experience."

Gamer Brandon Havens took a more middle of the road type of approach. "When playing action games I like interactive and when I’m playing a slower paced game I like cinematic cut scenes."

So that was the conversation between two average gamers. What about people who are in the game industry, directly or indirectly. John Breeden, chief editor here at Game Industry News weighed in with his preference. "I like non-interactive actually. You work really hard to do something and then you kind of want to sit back and watch the bomb explode while you jump out a window or whatever. It’s kind of a reward mechanism and if done well, and sparingly, can really help you feel like you accomplished something."

In actuality I think most games would do great with a little balance, or in the case of interactive cut scenes, maybe a little warning. In the end though, it all comes down to the player and his or her preferences.

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