Editorial: M for Mature
So in the world we live in right now “Hardcore” games are generally M rated games(Rated M for Mature for those who don’t know). Most games I own are rated M and I have no problem with them, but there are a few games that take the “M” rating the wrong way. How can you take the M rating the wrong way you ask? Easy I say, adding in extreme gore and language for no real reason. Case in point, Gears of War. Don’t get me wrong Gears’ gameplay was top notch but the story was sub par at best. The dialogue was filled with unneeded swearing that just sounded fake with lines delivered horribly. OK maybe “horribly” was a bit too much but the dialogue was pretty bad. It seemed that Epic Games assumed that since this was going to be really violent they should add in all the needless swearing a 15 year old boy would use. It isn’t just Epic who are doing this(In case you thought I’m just picking on them) but it’s a growing trend that is really hurting the M rated genre of games.
Another example of taking the M rating the wrong way is again from Epic with Unreal Tournament 3. Not because of the story so much (horrible again I might add) but really because of how the gore that got so many people to love Gears of War came into this game. I came from the experience of an Unreal game with Unreal Tournament 2004, the game that got me into online gaming(that and Counter Strike Source). That game had minimal gore(gory for the time though), and it was really about all the customization and the fun of the game. After opening Unreal Tournament 3 and making my online avatar, and seeing the complete lack of the species and options that made 2004 so great I was just stunned. “Where are my robotic alien things!” I cried and it was just really disappointing. During gameplay it was obvious gore was really ramped up and seemed to take center stage at times. Don’t get me wrong it was a good game(as evidence from the B score I gave it) but compared to the brilliance of the previous game the new attitude was irksome. They even tried to add in a real story (Filled with a need of revenge, swearing and cliques I might add), Unreal Tournament with a real story? Everyone knows that story is merely training for online and that is obvious from the story structure.
As I said earlier it seems that developers think that a M rated game should be full of gore, cursing and a complete lack of a compelling story structure. By no means am I saying M rated games can’t be over the top with gore or violence, but there should be a reason for it and my case for this is the God of War series. The gore and violence in that game is used as part of characterization for Kratos and there’s a reason behind the gore, Kratos is insane. You got a sense of who Kratos was by how violently he fought in battle. That was a very mature game that was a best seller that had a good story and didn’t rely on needless dialogue filled with swearing to bring its Mature rating to the center stage. Another great example is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. It sells million of copies worldwide, is rated M and has minimal gore and like God of War has no swearing. The reason why that game is mature is more for some of the sexual humor but mainly for the mature storyline. The story of MGS4 is really one of the best stories I’ve ever heard/read/seen (not including the back story from previous installments) and if you add in those stories the series as a whole becomes this truly engaging story that is complemented by great gameplay.
The review community is fueling this misconception of M rated games needing to be gory and full of swearing when they allow great/good gameplay to overshadow a bad story, but not allowing good story to over shadow decent-bad gameplay. Its true great gameplay should be the focus of a game but a great story is also a key part on the equation. A book can be poorly written but if the core story is great you won’t care about how bad the writing is. As you can tell from a number of reviews I can swayed either way by a good/bad story. In my Burst Limit review the way the story was conveyed was scattered and really bad, while games like MGS4 and Ratchet have good stories with excellent dialogue and really complement the great gameplay.
So after this long rant what were my points you may be asking? Well in summation this is it, M rated games do not need gore and swearing to be mature, gore should have a purpose outside of being gore and great gory gameplay should not overshadow a bad story.