Occasionally offensive. Michigan State University


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Let's Talk Stealth

Recently, I purchased the Hitman HD Trilogy. After playing through the three games that it had to offer, I went back to Hitman: Absolution. Hitman: Absolution is the main reason why I am writing this blog; it reignited my love for the stealth genre. And even though I have already obtained the platinum, as I am replaying it, I am finding new ways to complete levels with more than 40 hours of playtime. It got me thinking about why I love the stealth genre so much, and I've come here to flesh out my thoughts through writing for all of you people to read!

One of the greatest aspects about video games is their ability adapt to different styles and genres of play. No matter the players preference, there is sure to be a game that suits them; be it shooting fools in the head, exploring an alternate realm, or shooting fools in the head in an alternate realm. Every gamer has their personal favorite and when asked about it, they could go on for hours about why it's the best. One of the most involving genres has to be stealth. Now, I don't plan on spending hours explaining why the stealth genre is easily one of the most engaging of all the video game genres, but I do intend to spend the duration of this blog doing so.

Deception, albeit dastardly, is a skill that few master in real life. And like life, being sneaky is one of gaming’s most refined skill sets. Learning when to walk around a corner and when to simply peak around it, or whether to poison the guard or simply subdue him, takes time. Patience is the name of the stealth game, and without it the player will find themselves on the first train to Being-SpottedVille. The act of being stealthy engages the brain like no other play style. Tension builds with each step towards the final goal out of fear of being caught. The horror genre used to give players these feelings of stress and uneasiness, but it seems to have strayed from its' roots. That isn't too say that stealth also hasn't wavered from its' original state, but some games (Dishonored, Hitman, Deus Ex) still get it right; no other genre provides the same tension and anxiety than stealth.

Solving puzzles is by far one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming when it's done without too much guidance. Games that grab the player by the hand and guide them to the answers never get much afterthought or praise. Every gamer wants to feel like they're in control and that the game is treating them with respect. Stealth does this fantastically; figuring out ways to stay anonymous and ghostly is one of gaming's ultimate puzzles. And the fantastic thing about this puzzle is that, more often than not, there are multiple ways of completing it. Should the player stick to the high ground, or should they go below? To the left or right? Lethal or nonlethal? Making these decisions effect the final outcome and rewards the player with a sense of accomplishment; knowing that this puzzle was solved by their own actions and choices.

Stealth games really go back to what gaming is; a challenge. Not just a broken, ridiculous kind of challenge, but a fair and rewarding kind. Games like Mario and Mega-Man were like this. The levels were set and the player was given their tools, and if they died, time to restart and do it again. Through trial and error they would get better. There's no finer feeling than failing so many times at something then finally succeeding. Stealth games do this exceedingly well. Not once have I been caught in a stealth game and said to myself, “Oh well, I'll just accept being caught and continue on with my overwhelming sense of failure.” I've always restarted the instant I got caught, even if there were methods of coming back from the capture. The player wants to feel triumphant. And when they completely ghost a level, I would say that there isn't any better way of feeling just that.

The stealth genre is among the top genres that engage the player fantastically; it is however, an acquired taste. Patience and endurance are not only required, but must be mastered to succeed. Mastering these rewards the player with the ability to solve some of stealth's most challenging puzzles. Not many video games can immerse the player so deeply and definitely. It makes me wish that more stealth games existed. But to be honest, no matter how many stealth come to pass, I don't think my sneaky appetite will ever be full.

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Ducky3056d ago (Edited 3056d ago )

"Not once have I been caught in a stealth game and said to myself, “Oh well, I'll just accept being caught and continue on with my overwhelming sense of failure.” I've always restarted the instant I got caught, even if there were methods of coming back from the capture."

While I too do this, it's not something I'm all that proud of.

I've found that by quickloading after every failure, I've denied myself a great deal of challenging gameplay. Sure, it takes skill to ghost it through, but it's often harder to salvage a seemingly botched mission.

Most of my memorable moments in stealth games have been from hiding in a closet hoping a guard doesn't open the door in MGS, to frantically running across rooftops in Dishonored to breaking a line of sight and getting a different disguise in Hitman. All that from screwing up.

Anyways, if you're a fan of stealth and haven't already done so, check out Mark of the Ninja and HotlineMiami. The latter isn't exactly a stealth game, but has a similar playing style.

s45gr323056d ago

I agree there is nothing quite like a good stealth game. Putting guards to sleep and hiding them in closets or garbage bins to eventualy getting caught and then desperately trying to break their line of sight.......

SilentNegotiator3056d ago

Once upon a time...Developers made decent stealth games.

Perjoss3055d ago

I think the last really good stealth game I played was SC Double Agent.

Cam9773054d ago

Try HM2 on Pro, THAT is a challenge. One slip up and the level can't be finished on SA.

Bathyj3054d ago

Stealthily is how I play all games if it lets you.

Stealth is the reason I have zero interest in run and gun online shooters.

I want to approach a level and observe, maybe not making a move for 5 to 10 minutes, and then finally say, now is the time to strike.

That few seconds when you go in to make a kill and hold your breathe while waiting to see if a 3rd party saw you is one of my greatest thrills in gaming.

I enjoyed Dishonoured, but Farcry 3 is one of the best stealth games in recent memory. Well it is the way I play it. Just very disappointed theres no body dragging.

I just finished Absolution (and made my first contract) and will play through again till Aliens and Crysis come out. Its pretty good, but I wish you could outfit weapons like the older games, and the disguise system sucks.

I really do need to get off my arse one day, dig my Xbox out and try Mark of the Ninja, it looks great.

Finally, as I've said many times before ad nauseam, can someone please, PLEASE reboot Tenchu, the only REAL ninja game and give it the AAA spit and polish its never had and always deserved. Seriously, these are games that only averaged scores of 7-8 yet remain one of my favourite series ever. The poor production values couldnt dilute that core gameplay for me. Poison Rice. BEST WEAPON EVER!