Cutscenes ruin story-driven games - BioShock's Ken Levine

BioShock creator Ken Levine has detailed his distaste for cutscenes in story-driven games, saying he wants to interact with a game’s plot, not just watch it unfold.

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Theo11302315d ago (Edited 2315d ago )

Yes they do, Cutscenes are the boring-est parts of video games, it's the laziest way of trying to convey a story to the player instead of trying to tell it in the world.

Games that pulled it off: Half-life, Portal, Bioshock, Skyrim. They are very rare, but those games are many times more memorable and create a splash in gaming that gives them a certain status.

LastDance2315d ago (Edited 2315d ago )

Cutscenes are boring if they arent good. I play games with fantastic cutscenes.

Show me the best stories in games and most will have cutscenes. the ones you listed are pretty much the only ones that do it well without cutscenes.

Look at SOTC without cutscenes. It would be far more monotonous. How are you suppose to see the horseman coming without cutscenes? read it on a piece of note paper like skyrim?
In fact, how is ANYTHING suppose to be conveyed beyond the player character without cutscenes.

Devs would have to contrive the most retarded reasons to convey information if cutscenes were shunned from gaming entirely.

Tanir2315d ago

wtf theo? how is it lazy to put a cutscene? they take more choreography, more thought than just pulling a bethsdeda and having some guy standing still talking to you looking bored out of his mind.

games like MGS, Uncharted, Final fantasy, Devil may cry, god of war etc make the story progress with cutscenes. it is very near impossible to make a ridiculous Bayonetta style cutscene with out it being a cutscene, so stop whining. and out of the games you mentioned that did it right....only bioshock succeeded.

half lifes story was boring to tears imo, and skyrim suffers from the same (stand still) "You must go and kill the dragon....yaaaawwwn....and save the world...yaaawn" they have no emotion, no mannerisms, they are very un life like. game is epic but story fails.

heavy rain is another game that obviously needs cutscenes aswell as halo

PirateThom2315d ago (Edited 2315d ago )

Here's the problem with a game like Half-Life and story.

You can still move around, but, you're still confined to one area while characters talk on as if you're not even there, you can move away and miss the conversation but, ultimately, you often can't leave the area until they're finished, it still takes control away from you and you're basically waiting for the scene to finish so you can move on.

It's not a better way to do things, just a different way.

Captain Qwark 92315d ago


i couldnt disagree more, UC is a perfect example. the cutscenes in that game are fantastic and are often times better than half the movies coming out. with that in mind, its those cut scenes that make me want to play from scene to scene without putting the controller down becuase im pumped to see whats next. add in fantastic gameplay in between those scenes and imo you have the best and most exciting way to tell a story in a game. this guy is talking out of his *ss, if bioshock had cutscenes like UC i may have stuck around to the end. another good example is batman, your going to tell me that batman would have been better if you just sat there and watched from a first person perspective lol?

also cutscenes add to the immersion if anything, being able to get a closer look at the characters facial expressions helps you really get to know the characters far better.

now the way Bioshock and elder scrolls tell there storeis is not bad, just different. i prefer cut scenes though. kinda funny when you think about it though becuase SKyrim is my fav game ever and before that it was morrowind, still cutscenes forever!!!!

GraveLord2315d ago

Have you ever played a Final Fantasy game? Particularly the ones on the PS1?

Cutscenes are only boring if the game is boring. I love cutscenes.

TheGameFoxJTV2315d ago (Edited 2315d ago )

IT TAKES MORE EFFORT TO DO A CUTSCENE THAN IN GAME! lmao! So lazy is the wrong word! Even arguing this is stupid, it comes down to what the devs want for their game, and the design they envision for it. Saying on way is better than another is just slow. Not every game needs to be the same.

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vickers5002315d ago

They ruin it for me a lot of the time. Whenever a cutscene comes on, I put my controller down and just watch, because I'm basically just switching from playing a game to watching a pre-rendered video which looks very little like the game I was just playing (the cutscene looking much better).

It just creates this feeling of separation for me, I feel like I'm swapping between watching a movie and playing a game, when I should only feel like I'm playing a game.

That's just my personal opinion though.

JoeReno2315d ago

The Naughty Dog team do this so well with Uncharted. Its hard to tell when the cut scene ends and the game play kicks back in so you pay attn to the whole thing. They really do a great job with making cutscenes seamless.

FlashBack2315d ago (Edited 2315d ago )

@vickers500 I just played the desert part in U3, your argument is invalid...

vickers5002315d ago


It's pretty easy for me to tell most of the time. I'd rather have the Uncharted games just use in game cinematics, kind of how the majority of mgs4 did it.

Thatguy-3102315d ago

I think it just depends how good they are. I can say on behalf of most gamers that when it comes to playing uncharted games we never skip the cut scenes. In fact they were so crafted well that i would re run them and pretend i was seeing a movie. IMO the voice acting and the characters have to be top notch in order for it to work well. Another perfect example is heavy rain !

MariaHelFutura2315d ago (Edited 2315d ago )

Team Ico is the best at story driven games by far IMO. They dont use cutscenes, CGI ones atleast. Come to think of it most good story games dont use any CGI cutscenes, asides from JRPGs.

trouble_bubble2314d ago

I've loved good cutscenes in good games ever since Ninja Gaiden in '89/90 on the NES.

What I hate are BioShock's out of order, missable, often negligible audio diaries. Fragmented storytelling aside, Mr Levine, who in the hell walks around all day talking into a tapedeck and leaving 20 sec blurbs about sea slugs and NewYearsEve Parties all over town, lol?! Hey look, another Suchong secret in an ashtray! Did Einstein leave his theory of relativity fragmented on tapes in cash registers and whiskey barrels too? It's absurd, Levine. Especially when Fontaine records himself turning into you-know-who and apparently left it at an orphanage. Wtf.

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Harelgur2315d ago

Its always better to have in game events where you can still move (like in hl2)

Slugg3r2315d ago

But one thing I have to say about HL2 is that when I had ability to move around while those important parts of story were given, I did something else (like teleporting objects in the beginning) and missed some parts of the story.

ZombieAssassin2315d ago

As much as I like the guy and his games I can't agree, don't get me wrong I don't want a game that has more cutscenes that gameplay but I like them.

Crazyglues2315d ago (Edited 2315d ago )

Yeah it depends... Are we talking God Of War , uncharted which I really enjoyed -or- are we talking Metal Gear Solid 4 OMG this could have been in a movie cut-scene's LoL...

it just depends on how it's done - if you start getting much more cut-scene's then game time, then something is seriously wrong.. IMO


kevnb2315d ago (Edited 2315d ago )

I would of liked uncharted much better if they dropped some of the cutscenes and let us play through stuff. God they are always talking about stuff during gameplay anyway, why not just flesh it out more? But I suppose people want the cutscenes... Uncharted games also look much better in cutscenes for the most part...

FlashBack2315d ago

In cutscenes they can use cinematic techinques impossible during cutscenes for example you get familiar with the characters' faces, now imagine it without least I would have a much different image of Elena....

LightofDarkness2315d ago

I agree, in a medium like ours where interaction is the key to immersion and thus success in many cases (particularly story and setting focussed games), taking the player out of the game to watch some exposition every few minutes is not the best way to accomplish your goal.

I can appreciate and enjoy cinematics/cutscenes to a degree, but they do often have the effect of removing me from the experience, often just when you were really getting into it. It's like they're drawing you further and further in, asking you to do things and be a part of the story, until a larger plot development comes along and they basically wrestle control from your hands and say "STOP, put that controller down, it's our turn, you'll ruin it with your interaction, our way is better", like a bratty child who has to have it their way.

I can also appreciate that certain game directors fancy themselves as film directors for a modern age, but they're not doing it in a way that specifically targets the strengths of their medium; they're trying to direct the game like it's a movie. Except it's not a movie, it's a game.

I can say I definitely prefer the approach that companies like Valve, Bethesda and some others (too few, IMO) use when telling a story. They have more impact on me because I feel more like it's MY story, like I'm involved in it somehow. It's like the game extends a hand to you and says "come with me, we're going to do something great together." Whereas a game that is heavily laden with cutscenes and is more cinematically presented says "come with me to the next bit, then STAND THERE AND DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING, JUST LOOK."

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