Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Character skills you wish you had

For most of us, gaming is pure escapism - an opportunity to lose yourself for a few hours and escape all the trials and tribulations of real life. But wouldn't it be cool if you could actually transfer some of those skills earned onscreen to reality? Here are our picks of some of the greatest gaming abilities that we wish we had beyond the comfort of our living room...

Here at Megabits we were big fans of SEGA's gem Vanquish and loved nothing better than sliding about in our super suit to dispense with all those Russian bad guys. There was an awesome array of weaponry on offer but it was the ability to fly about the place on your butt that made the game exciting and different from other shooters. Gears of War 3 and plenty of other upcoming releases could take a leaf out of Mikami's book... every game - and indeed, real life - should have jet packs readily available!

Just Cause/grapplehook
While writing this I have the great pleasure of exploring the delights of Panau in Just Cause 2, and guiding Rico about the vast islands causing as much destruction as humanly possible. This isn't a story that's about robots and monsters, it's a good old spy caper like the Bourne and Bond films. Plenty of big, powerful guns and loads of vehicles certainly add to the enjoyment and make exploration and the various missions an absolute joy. But the most important addition to Rico's armoury is his trusty grapplehook - a device attached to his left arm that helps to give him that extra edge. Whether it's hitting enemies from a distance, climbing tall tower blocks or hijacking passing cars, the grapplehook is one gadget that every self respecting gamer would love to own.

Sonic the Hedgehog/spin attack
Some argue that SEGA's Sonic is getting a little long in the tooth nowadays but right from his debut some two decades ago, his spin attack has been right up there with some of the best character abilities of all time. While Mario was able to bounce on baddies to see them off, Sonic's spin move allowed him not only to move even faster(!) but he also wiped out evil critters on his way - while being able to break through those vital power up monitors as well. Not a massivley useflul ability in real life perhaps - but it would certainly get you from A to B faster. Just ensure you take care to avoid innocent pedestrians as you speed about the place.

Crysis 2/cloaking
The much anticipated shooter Crysis 2 hit our screens earlier this year and was pretty well received. If the fact it were possible to actually play the game without it frying your consoles innards wasn't reward enough, then being able to use the fantastic nanosuit was an added bonus. Some criticised its time-limited powers, and the strength ability was a little uninspiring, but the invisibility cloaking was 100% awesome. Who, at some stage in their lives, hasn't wanted to be able to become invisible? You could cause a bit of mischief, spy on people, get around completely undetected... put the nanosuit in high street stores and you're guaranteed a best seller!!!

Many derided Prototype for its linear gameplay, drab graphics and repetitiveness. Me? I loved it - largely because of the free running. Parkour is nothing new to the world of gaming and it remains a much-loved feature of the Assassin's Creed games, but it a key component of Prototype and used to full effect. Running up the sides of buildings was hugely liberating and added immensely to the sense that this truly was a sandbox game - nothing in the virtual New York cityscape was sacred - it was access all areas. Don't get me wrong though, I know parkour is entirely possible in real life, so I'm adding the caveat that the character skill I wish I had is free running with sticky shoes to get me anywhere I want to go!

Fallout 3/VATS
Forget slow-mo, let's just pause the game entirely and carry out some lead surgery! An inspired part of the Fallout games was the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (VATS), which allows you to take a breather, zoom in on some unsuspecting victim and decide which limb you'd like to shoot off. It was innovative and enjoyable, offering a more tactical element to your usual run of the mill gunfire battles. Wouldn't this be cool if the army had these kind of skills? I've no doubt the weaponry and accuracy is available... but pausing time - now that would be a character skill that would be great to have!

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed/The Force
It's the freakin' Force. 'Nuff said.

Max Payne/Bullet time
Rockstar's Max Payne not only boasted revolutionary graphics and some pretty cool facial scanning, it also introduced the world to Matrix-like slow-mo gameplay. Bullet time was a really nifty feature that allows Max to react before every one else, bursting into a room and unloading his clip into all those hapless goons. Just imagine how cool this would be in reality... spilt some hot coffee? Dive out the way before it scalds...

Just like Prince of Persia's Dagger of Time, the ability to stop and rewind events in Braid was inspired and really added to the overall game. Plunging to an untimely death? Not a problem, just rewind and attempt that leap of faith again. Not only is it a fun game mechanic but ultimately it removes some of the frustration from not being able to get past a particularly tricky section. Bring this into real life and all those moments of regret and misery could be avoided... crashed your car... just rewind and drive more carefully, said the wrong thing to your partner... skip back in time to avoid a bust up! Brilliant.

"Bloody, brutal, fast paced and foul mouthed. Welcome friends to the World of Bulletstorm." Stepping into the worn shoes of Grayson Hunt, the leash is one of his most effective tools. Much like Rico's grapplehook in the Just Cause games (see above), the electric leash allows you to grab an enemy, pull them towards you and then give them a good kicking or finish them off with a well-placed head shot. It also allows you to connect directly with the weapon pods dotted about the place for ammo, power upgrades and special skills. Wouldn't it be lovely to grab pretty much anything from distance without having to leave your seat?



Where's Portal's Gun??

My favorite is the near ubiquitous doublejump ability.