&t Phil on Games: Shooters Haven't Changed Since MERCS <$BlogMetaData$;

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shooters Haven't Changed Since MERCS


Working on my computer again last night, I took the time out to fire up another one of my old favorite arcade games that I had never passed before, MERCS! I have fond memories of playing this game with friends at a summer school I went to at Mission College in Santa Clara, CA when I was in middle school. Lunchtime was all about pumping quarters into this game with my friends.

Playing it through, I started out thinking, "Wow, this would be cool if someone remade this." Then, after playing deeper into the game, I realized that most modern shooter games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are essentially remakes of MERCS. They might look different on the surface, but they are basically the same gameplay structure.

1. Multiple weapons and powering up those weapons: The more you play MERCS, you get power-ups that increase the effectiveness of your weapon, and you get multiple chances in each level to choose a different type of weapon while retaining your power-up.

2. Drive and shoot from vehicles or gun emplacements: MERCS has multiple instances where the user can jump into a vehicle or man a gun emplacement to cause massive amounts of destruction.

3. Guided levels: MERCS has a specific path that it forces you down for each level, but lets you run around a bit within those boundaries to choose how you want to complete each level (admittedly, not to the same degree as a modern shooter, but the idea is there).

4. Trains and Elevators: In a few instances, MERCS places you on what is essentially a moving platform that takes you along for a ride, and forces you to shoot the enemies that pass by.

5. Themes for levels: Jungle/river, industrial, mountain, desert, blah blah blah

So in reality, I've been playing various, prettier versions of MERCS for the past 23 years (the original was released in 1990). I'm not sure what to make of that... part of me wants to chastise the gaming industry in general for not really pushing the boundaries of action games for more than two decades, but that wouldn't be entirely true. Also, I didn't really notice or care until last night, so is it really that huge of a deal?

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