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We’ve been playing a lot of Mirror’s Edge recently. And, aside from the engrossing, minimalist future setting, thoughtful platforming and the joy of movement that’s been engrained into every pixel of DICE’s title, it’s the viewpoint that really gives the game legs. It’s basically POP, only inside the prince’s head instead of behind his back. And that got us to thinking about what other games would be great in first-person.
Ever wondered what it would be like to speed through vomit-inducing loop-the-loops through Sonic’s ratty retinas? Pummel chainsaw-wielding zombies in the pupil from the in-head perspective of Chris Redfield? Or take the full force of Ryu’s face-breaking Dragon Punch in first-person? Then read on.
The idea of playing a beat ‘em up in first-person isn’t quite the Homer Simpson jumping Springfield Gorge-sized leap you might think. After all, the first-person fisticuffs in the Condemned games and the much overlooked Chronicles of Riddick were absolutely ace. Jarring, deeply unsettling and incredibly visceral, it was the uncompromisingly close range of seeing Fight Club-esque violence through your character's eyes that made those fights so primal.
Now transfer the instinctive, brutal intimacy that viewpoint brings to the don of arcade-addled Japanese fighters, pump it full of Brucie-esque bull shark testosterone, and you’ve got first-person Street Fighter. Okay, multiplayer would be a complete car crash as you’d have to play it in split-screen. But c’mon, the single-player payoff of flexing your 9 inch blades of death with Vega – Wolverine-style – from behind the ‘festive’ fighter’s mask, as seen above, would rock your face off with awesome.
Before anyone starts: no, Gun Survivor doesn’t count. A proper first-person adventure, though, full of tense exploration, incredible setpieces and ‘Welcome… STRANGER’ moments would be so full of win it could fill the Grand Canyon. Twice. A first-person perspective would offer the perfect opportunity to return to the mantra of the first three games. Reducing the number of enemies, but actually increasing the tension, as each encounter would be more unexpected and therefore more threatening.
Couple this with the elevated precision an FPS-style view would bring – you’d be able to see the whites of zombies’ exposed kneecaps – and you’d have the perfect balance between the original game and Leon’s most recent Las Plagas-shooting excursion.
Also, Capcom. Go back to the eerie door opening sequences of the first three games. This time it wouldn’t be out of any technological constraints, but instead, a conscious design decision to ramp up tension. Just imagine the suspense at slowly peeling back a door to be met with a room filled with shadows and potential zombie hiding places, rather than a black screen. It would be the most effective undies-messing device in the genre since a Doberman met a suspiciously breakable window.
It would be just like Mirror’s Edge, honest. Well, minus the hot woman, slow motion disarms and pegging it from the pigs. But that instinctive searing speed of adrenaline-fuelled platforming is something a first-person Sonic game would really benefit from. Admittedly, it would be much quicker than futuristic parkour, but if Sonic Team were clever about the level design – keeping it simple, streamlined and narrow so you were always on the move – it could work a treat.
Hearing that quintessential ‘ding’ whenever you sped through a row of rings, hurtling off springs and bombing around a loop-the-loop would feel just like an interactive first-person rollercoaster. Only with less people being sick on your face. This purer, more focused viewpoint would hopefully encourage Sega to abandon all the features that have diluted recent games – Sonic as a werehog, anyone? And would usher in a new era of uninterrupted, white-knuckle speed that defined the 16bit titles.