Why I Hate Stealth Games, and More

stealth games suckStealth Games and Why They Suck

Just got through playing a fair number of hours of Hitman: Absolution. It’s well-executed (ha ha) and smooth. I love how you can perform the right actions in context that you expect your hero to be capable of. But I hate stealth games.

I think we’ve all played our share of stealth games. Metal Gear Solid, Thief, Assassin’s Creed. Splinter Cell, and most recently Dishonored. These are all quality games, but stealth is just so infinitely tedious. I mean, why would I enjoy watching guards’ patrol patterns waiting for a chance to sneak by them? And there’s nothing I hate more than sitting in a closet waiting for guards to stand down from high alert.

Yeah, that’s how I want to spend my spare time: waiting for timed idiot NPCs to come off their hissy.

Why isn’t there a “skip hissy” button?!?

Stealth Games Are Like…

I think stealth games have inherited the mediocrity mantle of bad hunt-and-click adventure games. You know the ones: the games where you have to hover your mouse over every single pixel of prerendered 2D scenes, looking for the idiotic mouse tail or letter opener or whatever object you need to solve the puzzle you’re working.

Instead of hunting pixels, stealth games make you hunt locations for the perfect sniper perch, access tunnel, or sabotage opportunity. Unfortunately, unlike the hunt-and-click games, stealth games make you perform that hunt while sneaking around and avoiding swarms of hostile NPCs at the same time.

Folding@Home Leaves the PS3

In other news, we were saddened to see that Sony’s cut the ties to Stanford’s Folding@Home. It says here that 15 million users donated over 100 million computation hours to help research Alzheimer’s and cancer via the Life with Playstation app at the PS3 homescreen. What an amazing record of generosity for the Playstation community. It’s too bad it’s coming to an end, but with all the security and integrity concerns of the Sony monolith, it’s not surprising. Cheers to Playstation users everywhere.


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  1. Pretty good rant…

    I would say the hardest part of any stealth game is the AI. They are either insanely hard or insanely stupid. Nothing like shooting (or silently eliminating) a guard who has a buddy and the buddy giving up a search because he couldn’t find you in 10 seconds or whatever. The flip side it where they see one pixel of your leg and you lose the mission….bleh. Getting that balance is always hard.

    But overall, whether you like it or not is game play preference, some people like hunting for the 1 thing…others just want to blow stuff up.

    Personally I don’t play a bunch of stealth only games per se, but do use stealth in games….it’s always fun seeing a plan come together.

    What would be nice for the design world to notice and take up…is to have levels/missions evolve as a reaction to player choices. A player than consistently uses a specific tactic should encounter people that can counter it. If I am always invisible, the enemy should eventually figure out how to invest in spotting things. A player that uses sniper rifle all the time will suddenly be bum rushed all the time. A player with an MG will never meet an enemy that charges, but stays back and snipes, etc.

    I am not sure if Dishonored did that, but one of the things that turns me off to games like that is that you can get all these great abilities, but if the world/enemy have no real way of countering it, then wtf? Who cares? In a world where magic exists the main villain (or even minor ones) sure as anything will have lots of counters to it. Again, Dishonored may do that, but every ad it was clear they did not… it was all, look how you can f up some guy that is basically defenseless…not overly challenging.

  2. Thanks Keith!
    Yeah, I agree about the AI. A 3D game frankly presents so little information compared to actually being there – subtle sounds are lost, and quick glances are frankly impossible. As a result properly checking for threats is a burden and a lot more like work than play IMHO.
    Reactive gameplay would be interesting, huh? I like that concept.
    Yep, Dishonored did have counters to your abilities. You’re quite powerful, but you’re actually discouraged against forcing your way through chokepoints, there’s limited ammo, and the bad guys use a device that completely negates your magic. The game tallies your stealthiness and rewards it with better outcomes (or at least prettier environments). Frankly I think I might’ve had more fun if I’d ignored all of that and just blazed through.

  3. Yeah, I agree with you on stealth games. I do disagree on the point in which stealth games are compared to the pixel hunt games. As I like those the stealth games do work on my nerves. For me the definition of ‘guns blazing’ will always be that choice for me in which I feel most comfortable. I am very picky when it comes to games. The story should be something meaningful, full of empathy. Stealth games, to me, are just about finding the next spot. In this I agree with you.

  4. I just bought Splinter Cell Blacklist (Wii U) for a good price. I’ve played the MGf series and I grew tired of always waiting underneath a damn truck. Ever since then, I quit stealth games. Well, years later, I decided to give Splinter Cell a try. Maybe I just wasn’t feeling the latest MGS games. Haha, who was I kidding? I also got bored of Splinter Cell after completing two missions. These stealth-heavy games are just not for me.

  5. Ha! I laughed out loud at “grew tired of always waiting underneath a damn truck.”

    Spies, snipers, and assassins seem awfully mysterious and powerful, but I suspect the reality is much like the games: painful and often boring.

    Here’s a wikipedia page about a remarkable sniper: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simo_Häyhä . Tough guy, but I wouldn’t want to be him, or to sit for hours under a truck in a virtual snowstorm emulating him.

  6. Stealth is stupid. If you like it, fine. I find it tedious and frustrating having to start the same stupid part of a game over and over every time an NPC spots you. It’s not fun. It sucks and I don’t enjoy the game I’ve purchased when I have to deal with these repetitive situations. I can’t stand Assasin’s Creed!!! Absolute boring garbage. I have better things to do with my goddamn time than play the same stupid part over and over. If you like this kind of crap then have at it, but game designers need to get over this idea that they need to throw stealth elements into every new game. EXAMPLE: I was enjoying the hell out of Watchdogs until I got to the infiltrating Blume mission. There had been some stealth garbage before but at that point it was all too much. I sold the game the next day. I’m not repeating the same crap 100 times until I figure it out. Might be fun for some people but I really want to just shoot a bunch of bad guys and go to bed.

  7. Thanks Matt…! Good to know about Watchdogs — I was wondering. I played it for a little bit on a Redbox rental and was enjoying it, but I noticed the stealth game elements. All it takes is one brutal stealth mission to make a game distasteful.

  8. stealth games are my number one pet peeve. Like who tf wants to have gameplay interrupted with such freaking bullshit?!! It drives me CRAZY

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