Gaming's Top 10 Stupidest Sci-fi Gimmicks
Here follow ten things that are good for nothing in sci-fi beyond looking both wibbly and wobbly…
Master Chief has an invisible force field. Any incoming fire that breaches it, irrespective of the heavy metal armour he wears, immediately deals him damage. The gameplay then is telling us that he is, to all intents and purposes, nude. So what exactly is the point of metal, yes metal armour? Oh, that’s right; to make him look cool. You can’t win a war against every sentient species you come across if you don’t look cool. Everyone knows that.
9. Asari headtacles
A giraffe has a long neck because it’s an evolutionary advantage. Natural selection favoured longer necks to get to more plentiful foods, survive, and then breed, planting the longer-necked DNA into its offspring. So why do the asari have tentacles on their heads, neatly pulled back into cornrows? Perhaps if the body is attacked, the head might squid away, leaving nose ink. Or perhaps it’s so they look sci-fi. Yeah; that second one.
8. Desmond Miles
Assassin’s Creed games are brilliant. Except the first one. And the last one. But as a general rule, they’re brilliant. Do you know how they could be more brilliant? Get rid of Desmond Miles. Because he’s the character equivalent of the red light travelling back and forth on the front of that camp car in Knight Rider. ‘Ooh,’ he says, ‘look at me – I’m in the future,’ when really all we need is Ezio (or Connor), leaping about stabbing neckholes.
This has been around since the Seventies – you know, when most people thought computers were magic. And it goes for sci-fi movies as much as it does games, but it seems to us odd that in the future of a world in which user interfaces are developing towards something as easy to use as one’s own urinary tract, all computers should come with screens whose sole purpose is to scroll digital gobbledegook upward at a speed no one can read.
Pick up your phone, choose a random number, dial it, speak. There couldn’t be anything simpler, but there could be something more complex: holograms. The disadvantages are many. You need more space, the sound is crackly, images like those of a Bush Model TV-12 black and white television set, people displayed as luminescent, grey corduroy. But it looks sci-fi. And that’s more important, because this is the future. Things have moved on and shit.
5. Lady computer
GLaDOS is cool, but elsewhere the inclusion of a lady computer with a ‘sexy’ (rather, what is imagined as sexy by virgins) voice is only ever a hindrance. Future technologies are all about increasing efficiency. How efficient is it for an implicitly large-chested, firm-bottomed female to tell you there are ‘missiles incoming’ or that the bomb goes off in ‘T-minus four minutes and 31 seconds’, when a flashing red light would be both more direct and less distracting?
While it may seem sensible to dig a big old hole in the ground and hide in it come the time of the apocalypse, Rage, Borderlands and Fallout all go to show that to do so does little to improve the chances of humanity’s survival. Those locked inside them tend to want to get out and adventure across the wastelands while those outside are numerous enough to make it abundantly clear there was never any reason to dig the hole in the first place.
3. Honeycomb overlay
Near-future sci-fi is hard to do, we’ll admit. Pie in the sky sci-fi may presume everybody to own a personal teleporter and a faster than light ship, but most instances in which videogames veer into the choppier waters of near-future have to contend with realistic technological progress. The answer then, is to make computers and things exactly how they currently are, but cover them in orange hexagons. Orange hexagons are, of course, unachievable on current technology.
To talk about the sci-fi stupidity of the hoverbike, one first has to talk of fuel consumption and power/weight ratios. In essence, any engine that employs an afterburner gets through fuel at a rate that would force hoverbikes to carry their own weight in fuel just to make it to the end of the street. And they have no grip. Like a hovercraft, a hoverbike would be impossible to control. Motorbikes win, but of course, they’re not futury enough.
1. Engineered super-soldiers
If you want to take over the world, the generally accepted sci-fi videogame thinking is that you would be a fool to do so with standard, highly trained soldiers. You know; soldiers who think for themselves and can adapt and behave unpredictably in combat situations. Because there’s no advantage in that, right? No, what you need are mindless drones controlled by some sci-fi force based ‘off-site’. You know – the type who stand about waiting to be shot.