Do you know what it feels like to have everything, and then lose it?
Do you know the feeling when one moment you have the power to detroy a sun, to fly, to bring peace to the world, And then, moments later to be jogging along the pavement, barely outpacing that sweaty obese gentleman with the sausage dog?
Well then you obviously haven’t played Metroid, or Prototype, or any of the other million games that do this to you.
The point, I guess, is that you’re shown the awesome peak of your abilities to when your appetite for the endgame. You can spend the rest of the game aspiring to become that godlike entity once more.
Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work out this way. Instead you’re given about 30 or 40 minutes of sublime, glorious, chaotic gameplay and then reduced to mere tramp-like humanity. The evil bald developer that looks a bit like Skeletor has snatched the lollipop out of your hand and your only form of protest is to sob and piss yourself as your fun-time dissolves into a puddle of sadness.
Let’s be clear, it doesn’t really matter what happens in the game at this point, it could become the best run and gun shooter in the world, it could shoot rainbows into your living room and spew gold medallions from the disk drive, the fact is you are going to be dissapointed.
Take Prototype, a game I’ve been playing through recently. You have the power of an insane and evil god in the opening segment, bloody chaos flies out of the screen in sparks as you lay waste to an entire army of military and mutant types. Then, of course, it’s all gone.
The thing is when I eventually rediscovered my powers I wasn’t interested in the abilities I had already seen. I bypassed the Hammerfist ability even though it let me elbow drop tanks because I’d already seen it. Instead I went straight for the whipfist, which allows you to turn your left arm into a colossal spiked whip and spear helicopters several miles away. The real excitement I get from progressing in a game comes from gaining abilities that are entirely new, not ones that I’ve seen and played with already.
It’s just a lazy design decision that needn’t have been made. Prototype could easily have started you in your reduced state, compared to other games your character is already remarkably powerful, and you’d be able to enjoy those early sections discovering abilities that are entirely new, and not weakened versions of the ones you were wreaking havoc with moments ago.