These games are not what you think they are

Far Cry 2

Perceived genre: FPS

Actual genre: Open-world Stealth

"Wah! We get attacked all the time". "Wah! The enemies are too aggressive." "Wah! We hate all the wilderness driving and we hate getting mobbed when we arrive at a mission". So say the Far Cry 2 haters, but they can just bugger right off, because they've missed the point of the game by a full 180. Far Cry 2 is no gung-ho action shooter, regardless of the Boys' Own adventure setting and proliferation of explosives. Instead, it's a stealthy survival game, where meticulous planning, a sedate pace, and intelligent use of the environment are key.

Rush into a camp and you'll get wasted. Drive too close to a camp and your engine noise will get you wasted. Leave your headlights on at night and you'll get spotted. And wasted.

But spend ten minutes crouching in the tall grass, scouting out the terrain of said camp, and you'll make a good start. Explore every nook of the surrounding mountains for hidden routes, sniping spots and hidey holes, and you'll be onto a winner. Move conscientiously, use quiet weapons - or none at all - and take an evasive yet predatory approach to combat and you'll dominate. Because it's not CoD. It's an open-world Splinter Cell in first-person. You can just blow up a lot of crap too, if you want to.

P.N. 03

Perceived genre: 3rd-person Shooter

Actual genre: Old-school Shmup

As part of Capcom's much-fabled exclusive Gamecube line-up, all eyes were on P.N. 03 when it arrived. Unfortunately, most eyes quickly looked away again, accompanied by a sickened utterance of "Grurk!" from their respective mouths, and a little bit of vomit. Which is a damn shame, because while the game is severely stiff and tricky to play when compared to something like The Club or Resi 4, it actually works pretty damn well as an old-school arcade shooter. Imagine a hardcore 2D shmup with the camera pulled down behind the ship instead of above it and you'll be getting the idea.

People criticised P.N. 03 for its rigid movement, repetetive action and protagonist Vanessa's lack of versatility, but while all of those criticisms are valid when discussing traditional third-person action games, in a shmup they're genre staples. Vanessa can't run and shoot at the same time, but between her strafing cartwheels, high, bullet-evading jumps and Resi-style 180 spin, she's got all the tools she needs.

Enemies spawn in with rigid predictability, but that's the point. This isn't about emergent improvisation. It's about learning enemy positions and fire-patterns in order to concoct a precision response. It's about fast, practiced execution and time-sensitive combo multipliers. It's about rattling through previously impossible levels on a calculated score attack, blasting away rhythmically while techno pulses in your ears. Basically, it's a shmup, and while it fails out of context, it's pretty damn fun when played with your Radiant Silvergun head on.

Sonic Unleashed

Perceived genre: Platformer

Actual genre: Time Trial Racer

So, we were disappointed again. We half-knew we would be. Some of us all-the-way knew. But as abominable as Sonic Unleashed is when compared to the Mega Drive games we hoped it would ape, there is a way to get a little more enjoyment out of it with a change of perspective. We know that it seems to unhealthily feed into Sonic's current state of denial that he was ever in anything good, but you're just going to have to accept that it's not a platformer. At all.

Instead, play Sonic Unleashed as a time trial racer. God knows, between the on-rails speed emphasis, twitch navigation and QTE reaction tests it's much more that than it is a traditional Sonic game, regardless of occasional 2D camera angles. Accept that there's no satisfaction to be had in the old jumpy exploration department and concentrate on shaving seconds off your times by honing your racing line instead. We're not promising that it'll be amazing, but it'll be more enjoyable than driving yourself one step closer to suicide with comparisons to the good old days. Just ignore the Werehog sections entirely, eh?

Doom 3

Perceived genre: FPS

Actual genre: Survival Horror

Once the "ZOMG! IT LOOKS LIKE REAL ZOMBIES!" excitement wore off, it rapidly became fashionable to bash Doom 3 for it's cheap monster ambushes, lack of set-pieces and reliance on shadowy old-school corridor shooting. To that however, the Doom 3 apologists of Radar say merely "Pah!", probably while foppishly slapping someone in the face with a glove. Because while Doom 3 definitely falls short when compared to the narrative-driven pacing and variety of modern FPS, when played instead as a first-person survival horror, it's brilliant.

Play it on one of the harder difficulty settings - lights off, headphones on - and the claustrophobic interiors, well secreted closet monsters and slowness of your character make for a kicker of a tense experience. When played with the right mind-set, the lack of plot is more than made up for with isolation, uncertainty, darkness and the knowledge that you're outmanned and outgunned by some of the foulest monsters ever to drool the blood of the innocent.

In fact, it's integral to the experience. Yes, Doom 3 has nothing like All Ghillied Up or Highway 17, but if it did it would lose what it does do well. Which is to put you in a near constant state of cardiac arrest and cause you to look over your shoulder for the rest of the day, probably to see a large pile of poop trailing behind you. Good work, Doom 3.

Games that shot themselves in the foot
Bad decisions, bad timing and PR-mageddon

Trendsetters: The games that defined their genre
From the great to the ghastly - find out which games shaped the genres as we know them in our weekly series


  • coolip - December 3, 2010 10:53 a.m.

    Really good article David.
  • DontEatRawHagis - February 25, 2009 12:59 a.m.

    Apparently my friend got pissed off at this article for Bioshock. His definition of RPG is limited to games like DnD and Final Fantsy. I however feel that any game that allows people to take on a role and change the story(however so limited). In my eyes both Bioshock and Deus Ex are RPGs not shooters.
  • Till - February 21, 2009 8:20 a.m.

    lol, nice article:D
  • noobeater - February 20, 2009 3:20 p.m.

    lol at cwf2008...too true great article
  • Spybreak8 - February 20, 2009 5:30 a.m.

    Nope, we'll soon be around the times where people will not classify one genre for a game and that's a good thing. Although the people that don't like other genres might not agree but you get exposed to new things and you may like it, growing your gaming love. Look at Battlestations Midway, GTAIV, Fallout 3, Banjo Kazoie and others.
  • super-saint - February 20, 2009 2:42 a.m.

    i agree with your assestment of far cry 2, however a resonable majorty of the game is more of "use the envorment to save the day in a way that leaves you exposed". the molotovs are a surefire way to have every hostile trying to kill you, but also give you a huge advantage, enemys will run into your line of sight to excape fire (kudos to the fire engeine) and more importently, stop that sense in can also let you revert to stelth, while enemys are busy focusing on the fire you can hide and wait to things to get calm again...and before another person says "the AI is way too agressive for stelth" its not, its ment to be challanging(imangen your a soldier in africa, yea id be pretty attentive too) and most of the time its you own blunder for gettnig cought, you diddent take the time to look for ALL the snipers or you dident analyise the patrol routes, you can almost alweas trace it back to yourself... bravo GR, i thought i was the only one who spooted that
  • Marshmellow - February 19, 2009 3:28 p.m.

    Mirrors edge: perceived genre:FPS Actual Genre: platformer This one really bugs me because how could it ever be a shooter did any one actually ever fire a gun more than 3 times yet it says FPS everywhere. I mean come on LBP has more shooting than this and the paintball gun is easier to use.
  • Diamondis - February 19, 2009 3:02 p.m.

    "When played with the right mind-set, the lack of plot is more than made up for with...and the knowledge that you're outmanned and outgunned by some of the foulest monsters ever to drool the blood of the innocent." Felt this way on the second to last levl of CoD: WaW on Veteran. lol.
  • NadaNuff - February 19, 2009 12:15 p.m.

    I was half-expecting the Space Channel 5 series to be downgraded to "Simon" clone from music game
  • Elbo444 - February 19, 2009 6:32 a.m.

    god I hated Doom 3, you can't see anything unless you have your flashlight out, and then you can't shoot, so you can't shoot the imp that appears behind you for the 50th time because it takes so long to switch to a gun, you just have to memorize where all the enemies spawn, so dumb
  • Rhesus - February 19, 2009 4:47 a.m.

    @Kruiser My hands are as high as I can put them. But, then again, you'd have to read them to find out if they were 100 words or not.
  • Wuddle - February 19, 2009 4:31 a.m.

    hah. Clever use of Starcraft 2
  • Robusken - February 19, 2009 3:59 a.m.

    Ill never look at viva pinata the same again
  • Kruiser - February 19, 2009 3:49 a.m.

    who reads user comments above 100 words? hands up
  • Daywalkr - February 19, 2009 2:50 a.m.

    Also, another for the list, I dont know if everyone else thought that Left 4 Dead was a FPS. When I first popped the disk in and watched the (one and only) cutscene and knew I was wrong. The cinematic makes me wish that the game had a strong story. It is actually a Survival Horror game with tons of co op gameplay. That game has some amazing memories with my friends and I. You should at least rent it.
  • Daywalkr - February 19, 2009 2:43 a.m.

    GTA IV did suck, Far Cry 2 was awesome. Yet I paid 60 bucks for "crap on a disk" and paid 9 bucks to rent Far Cry 2 for a week. Bad move. Far Cry isnt all a stealth game, it has some great fighting elements to it too. Also Bioshock is NOT a RTS. You commanded no units, did not wage war with your army against the enemy. To me, Bioshock was a perfect mix of RPG and FPS. Fable 2 DID suck, another waste of 60$. If you dont think Bioshock is an RPG, you are probably comparing the game to a larger scale RPG like Oblivion. Bioshock and Oblivion are different in many ways. I dont want to talk about the game but if you havent played it yet, buy it, its still great now. If you played it and liked it, there is a Bioshock 2 in development, see you on release day
  • DeadGirls - February 19, 2009 2:34 a.m.

    Interesting article. I have probably been talking down Bioshock more than it deserves lately. It was really good game. But I don't really agree that it was advertised and introduced as just an FPS. There was alot of talk about a 'dynamic world' and how it was part RPG before it was released. In actuality the character cusomization was nothing more than picking which weapons/powers to use and the world was almost entirely scripted. I do agree with your assessment of FarCry 2. I think that it is a highly underrated game. I know that there is almost zero friendly (or even neutral) AI outside of towns, and that it could have been more interesting had there been civilians or friendlies to work with. But the enemy AI was actually quite good (though not always perfect) and I dare anyone to mention a recent open-world fps with better. The fun really was in scouting and planning each encounter for the best possible results, and not just going in guns blazing every time (although when you had to blaze some guns, it was top-notch gun blazing). FarCry 2 was way WAY better than Crysis, and it deserves more credit than it gets.
  • AzRedsk1n - February 19, 2009 2:21 a.m.

    Fable 2 perceived genre:RPG Actual Genre: stupid Waist of time and money
  • gmilf71 - February 19, 2009 1:26 a.m.

    No GTA is crap. they're fun, but they eventually get boring. It's true, though FF is like a giant cut scene with gameplay trown in. I do like the doom3 one though. "behind you, n00b" hillarious article, GR.
  • RedBandit - February 19, 2009 1:25 a.m.

    just the pics werre enough to make this article a win. Nice Job

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