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Like them or not, quick-time events do serve a purpose: they help bring a brief flash of hectic interaction to what would otherwise be a static, potentially yawn-inducing cinematic. But QTEs tend to rub a lot of people the wrong way, since they usually create a binary win-loss scenario of 'do exactly what the game tells you, or die'. You'll typically spot QTEs hiding out in heavily choreographed action scenes, since things like camera angles and pinpoint timing are too unpredictable to leave in the players' hands.
But sometimes, a QTE doesn't kick off an epic duel, or send your character leaping to safety right before a screen-shaking explosion. They've become so prevalent in games that we've reached a QTE saturation point, where even the most mundane, peculiar, or downright silly actions might be coupled with a frantic button mashing or finger-cramping twiddling of the analog sticks. So, which QTEs have to power to obliterate your immersion or boggle your mind with their ridiculousness? Press your right arrow key in the next five seconds to find out, or risk being stuck on this intro slide forever.
Putting your hands up (The Order: 1886)
It's official: slowly raising your hands (not even above your head, mind you) requires more effort in The Order: 1886 than it does in real life. Admittedly, this is meant to be a tense moment, so Galahad immediately throwing his hands up in surrender would kind of ruin the suspense. But you might be too distracted to appreciate the subtle facial expressions and threatening tone of the scene when you're hammering away at the Triangle button to make a virtual man move his arms a few inches.
Rat battle (Battlefield 3)
The only thing more intense than a crab battle is a rat battle. Battlefield 3 knows this, so to spice things up during a stealth mission, you're accosted by a pre-mutation Master Splinter mid-sewer crawl. What first appears to be a simple rodent turns out to be a terrorist operative, flushing out any soldier wimpy enough to writhe in agony when bitten on a hand that's encased in military-grade leather. Giving the middle finger to an animal that doesn't comprehend what I'm doing isn't how I'd choose to spend my last moment alive, but this soldier is willing to make that sacrifice for the good of the universe's strange sense of humor.
Victorious fist pump (Ace Combat: Assault Horizon)
You've just saved thousands of innocent lives by shooting down a missile headed straight for the White House. And there's only one proper way to celebrate such a heroic mission accomplished: a gloriously campy QTE. There's a certain kitschy charm to this triumphant, button-prompt-induced pose, in that Top Gun, I-can't-believe-how-cheesy-this-is-but-I-kinda-like-it way. And yes, it's made infinitely better when paired with a particular piece of licensed music.
Victorious fist bump (Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor)
I know we're here to talk about a lackluster Kinect game, but let me digress for a second. In Telltale's The Walking Dead, something as simple as giving Duck a high-five becomes a great character building moment, as you bring the slightest glimmer of happiness to a desolate wasteland. In Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, giving your cockpit comrade a poorly motion-detected fist bump feels decidedly less meaningful, besides providing a brief respite from awkwardly waving your hands in the air like a fidgety mime-in-training.
Simon Says street basketball (Indigo Prophecy)
For all their fancy sweat effects, lifelike crowds, and scanned-in player faces, modern NBA games are getting the fundamentals flat-out wrong. You can't try to conform the athleticism of b-ball to a controller's analog sticks; that's just nonsensical. Everybody knows that being able to slam-jam means having a deep understanding of pressing four brightly colored buttons in time with your opponent. I'm willing to bet good money that before Michael Jordan ever set foot on the blacktop, he was honing his legendary skills with Milton Bradley's Simon.
Hugging a Renaissance Man (Assassin's Creed 2)
Whether or not you have the instantaneous reaction speeds needed to succeed at this QTE (in a game that rarely uses them) has no impact on Ezio's tale of honorable retribution. But some players are utterly devastated at the thought of leaving Leonardo da Vinci hanging when he initiates a bro-hug. And in extreme cases, it's been known to warrant a full second playthrough just to rectify this moment of inadvertent, tragically auto-saved snubbing. That jilted look on Leonardo's face when you stand motionless in front of his open arms is devastating.
Punching a boulder (Resident Evil 5)
It seems like no matter where Leon Kennedy goes in Resident Evil 4, there's at least one massive boulder trying to squish him flat. So after an entire game's worth of fleeing from giant rocks like a terrified contestant on Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, being able to deliver some of Chris Redfield's mean right hooks to a giant rock feels downright therapeutic. I can't argue that Redfield's repeated kidney punches to unfeeling stone do produce favorable results, but his fists must be the consistency of unrefrigerated Jell-O by now.
Move to stay still (Jurassic Park)
Telltale's cartoony take on Jurassic Park sticks to the film's logic that a tyrannosaurus rex can't see you if you're motionless (despite the fact that this bit of advice is completely wrong). So when a QTE asks you to stay completely still at the feet of this imposing predator, a mini-game of fiddling with the analog stick feels just a tad disconnected from the life-threatening situation at hand. Remember, kids: when your parents bark at you to sit still, what they actually want you to do is fidget in place ever so slightly for a few seconds, just like Nima here. Also, this all happens moments before you flee the dino at a full sprint, so I guess staying still wasn't the best option after all.
Paying respects (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare)
I'm 100 percent positive that the grieving process takes longer than a three-second establishing shot showing that you've lost your left arm. At least you're able to feel a wee bit more emotion than Jonathan Irons (aka Frank Underwood, aka Kevin Spacey), who seemingly forgets all about his son's untimely death by the time he's walked to his car. Honestly, it's a bit hard to blame him, seeing as we only knew Will Irons for a single tutorial mission before he was written out of the story for (attempted) emotional impact.
Eatin' pancakes (Saints Row 4)
For a series that lets you bludgeon people with a giant penis-shaped bat, this QTE is surprisingly and delightfully wholesome. Instead of squeezing off rounds with that itchy right trigger finger, why not flex that digit to chow down on a stack of fluffy, buttery pancakes instead? I think that was one of the lines from the first draft of John Lennon's "Imagine". There's no fail state here, but I imagine that The Boss' fancy fork flip could've gone very, very wrong if it required a timely button press.
Avoid doing a concrete bellyflop (Spider-Man 3)
Wouldn't it be great if, just once, the Spider-Man films toyed with the kind of hilariously embarrassing slapstick on display in this QTE? All that money toward crafting state-of-the-art CGI, just to see Spidey slam into the ground with a sickening thud like someone doing a cannonball into an empty swimming pool. Hey, he's a superhero, he'll survive - and if anything, it'd gave that bug-eyed lady a hearty bellylaugh before they both perish in a fiery explosion.
You never know when the next QTE will strike
Know of any other goofy, illogical, or ridiculously inane quick-time events? Well hurry - share 'em in the comments below! Just promise me that whatever you do, you won't call the leaf-catching scene in Shenmue 2 unnecessary, or you might succeed the QTE of bringing a tear to my eye.
And if you're looking for more, check out the Top 7... Incredible scenes that got cut from your favorite games and The new finishers Mortal Kombat X REALLY needs.