Metro 2033 EP12: Fluke Ninja

By Shamus Posted Thursday Nov 7, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 75 comments

Link (YouTube)

The Freddie Wong video we mentioned is here: Splinter Cell: Lightbulb Assassin. This ties in nicely with the conversation we had about stealth in Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. And really, it also relates to stealth in just about every stealth-optional shooter. The stealth is often silly, absurd nonsense.

I think the reason for this is that it’s prohibitively difficult to make stealth mechanics that are both sensible and fun. Stealth is complex and involves a lot of fussing with AI. If I was actually guarding a single dark room all by myself for hours, I would very likely be extremely sensitive to even the slightest sounds. I’d notice if a door was open, a chair was moved, a light was off, a shadow moved, or a friend was missing. I’d hear someone (particularly a grown man with a lot of gear) hitting the ground in the next room. And if anything spooked me I’d likely keep my back to the wall and turn on every light at my disposal. If not out of a sense of duty, then out of a sense of self-preservation and a desire to fill the time. I mean, I literally have nothing else to do. And even if I didn’t find any enemies, I’d be paranoid for the rest of my shift.

And of course, knocking out a human being in a single non-lethal blow is incredibly difficult. It’s very unlikely anyone could do it reliably and silly to imagine they could do it silently. There is no way a full-grown man in combat gear could slink around silently in an unfamiliar building while carrying three full-sized firearms, particularly when the inhabitants are bored, jumpy, and intimately familiar with the space. And if the place is made of crumbling concrete and creaking wood? And everyone spends their days worrying about monsters and ghosts? No way.

But none of this matters. Sneaking around in the dark and knocking people out makes for really fun gameplay. It adds tension. It has a lot of interesting mechanical trade-offs between safety and expediency. It usually adds another whole dimension to what would otherwise be a monotonous shooter. There are already well-established rules for how these systems work and most players have kind of made peace with these contrivances. It’s understood and expected that guards will walk predictable routes, that they will talk to themselves to communicate their current mental state to the player, and that they will drop back into patrol mode after only a minute or two. None of this is realistic, but it’s unrealistic in a familiar way and so it doesn’t shatter immersion the same way that unrealistic but unexpected behavior will.

The point is: It would be incredibly difficult to make stealth realistic, and if you somehow succeeded then it would probably just make stealth gameplay impossible or boring.

So any would-be game designer has to design their game knowing that somewhere, SOMETHING is going to not make any dang sense. Some part of stealth has got to be a silly contrivance.


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75 thoughts on “Metro 2033 EP12: Fluke Ninja

  1. Mersadeon says:

    Oh, one of my biggest immersion-breakers are god damn silencers. Are you telling me that in this postapocalyptic world, you somehow managed to find silencers that are better than anything we have? Because good luck silencing an AK-47 in the real world.
    Silencers don’t work that way. Most silencers can barely make the sound of the gun sound like it might not have been a gun. That’s the best we can do for most guns. It’s still incredibly loud.
    (Ok, ok, there are some specialised guns with built-in silencers that can do better, but those aren’t the guns we see in videogames.)

    1. Mersadeon says:

      I would like to edit this into my previous post, but it isn’t letting me for some reason.

      I also love how if guards are hit by tranquillizer darts in Metal Gear Solid, even on the harder difficulties were it actually takes time for it to reach the bloodstream, people don’t start shouting “OH SHIT A POISON DART IS STICKING OUT OF MY CHEST HELP”, even if they get suspicious.

      Weirdly enough, I didn’t even remember the not-first-person cutscene in the episode. The only one I could remember is one towards the end of the game, and there it feels completely weird and out-of-place, too.
      I don’t get why the one from the episode is in the game, anyway – they have already done the “guy saves your life without attention being drawn to it” during the Bandit-scene, where your invisible helper was killing guards and shooting lightbulbs. So they understand the concept of “show, don’t tell” by letting you see it for yourself, but here they force your view to look at it. Odd.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Deus Ex (the original) had enemies become alert if you tranq’d them, and it was really fucking annoying.

        1. Hal says:

          Yup. The only place it really works is in the very first level, because the zone is very large and the enemies are clustered far apart. You hit two guys with tranq darts and then run; at no point will they be able to hit an alarm or alert other enemies.

          (Of course, my usual strategy on that level is to let the friendly bots kill them, so it’s sort of a wash.)

          1. postinternetsyndrome says:

            Upgrading the pistol skill and slapping some mods on the crossbow itself reduces the time to knock enemies out, making it somewhat more usable in smaller spaces, but yes, it’s pretty clunky overall.

            In a way, the hitman and – to some extent – assassin’s creed approach of more social stealth is more plausible and I wish more games would work with that. Of course, both those game series also does regular silent sneaking, but it’s something. The mardi gras level in blood money hints at a spectacular future in social stealth games, should anyone ever pick up that thread again.

            I would love to see a james bond-style agent/spy game with a focus on stuff like shadowing people through shopping malls, dead drops, and so on. And by all means a little action on the side, but preferably in short, lethal bursts rather than prolonged gun battles.

    2. thesnowking says:

      There’s a reason the’re called “suppressors” and not silencers

      1. Parkhorse says:

        Hiram Maxim, their inventor, actually called them silencers. It’s kinda like “gif” vs. “jif,” where the creator has weighed in and advocated the version that just feels wrong.

        1. That feels wrong to you.

          I mean, look at giant, gibbering, ginger, etc.

          Sorry, just had to stand up for the creator’s original intent. :)

          1. Draxom says:

            In that case I need to bring up gargantuan, gravity, game, and gift.

            It doesn’t really matter, but if your going to make your case based on pronunciation of other G words you can’t ignore half of them.

            1. That was kind of my point, though I do find it odd that you chose four words to support your view and only one of them began with “gi”.

              1. Draxom says:

                That’s what I get for trying to argue on the internets. I didn’t notice that your words all started with “gi” until you mentioned it. I’m all observant and such.

                Still we have words like gimp, giga(as in gigabit), and gill to give a decent rebuttal with.

                1. gyfrmabrd says:

                  People will get used to the pronounciation, jif or take a few jears…

      2. Mersadeon says:

        Oh, I just call them that because that seems to be the accepted term. I mean, I suppose you could argue that “silencing” something can be gradual, but I still think of silencing as a binary term – either you are silenced, or you are capable of making sounds.

    3. Stalevar says:

      Silencing an AK in the real world is easy, no luck needed, just put a silencer on and shoot, use subsonic ammo to make even less noise. All AKs are designed for silencer use. And the silenced gun in the game is VSK-94 which is a “specialized gun with built-in silencer that can do better”.
      Sure, those silencers won’t make a gun completely silent, but they will make less noise, than breaking a light bulb after a light bulb in front of people faces. It’s the least unrealistic part of this stealth system and definitely not an immersion breaker.

      1. Hitchmeister says:

        I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on guns. But I’ve been under the impression that the real world point of silencers or supressors is not to reduce the sound of a gun to the near inaudible “fthwip” we hear in popular culture, but to merely reduce the sound to a level that doesn’t deafen the shooter for fifteen minutes every time he pulls the trigger.

        Also, and again, I’m no expert, but I’m having a real hard time reconciling the function of a scope with the characteristics of a shotgun.

        1. Thomas says:

          I’ve heard both the existence of silencers is a misconception and the non-existence.

          But wikipedia suggests that a subsonic bullet suppresses by 10ish dB and a suppressor by about 30dB which still leaves it at ambulance siren loud (although it will apparently sound very unlike a gunshot)

          1. Klay F. says:

            This is anecdotal, as I’ve never fired, nor been fired at by, a suppressed firearm, but I’ve heard that a suppressor makes it much harder to pinpoint the direction from which the person is firing. Don’t know how true it is though.

            I AM somewhat knowledgeable about firearms in general, and I can say with confidence, videogames have never, and will never get firearms correct. No, not even Receiver. Getting worked up about it, is pretty pointless if you ask me, unless their break their own established rules *cough*Mass Effect*cough*. Its like getting mad that firing a weapon in-game in an enclosed space doesn’t permanently damage your hearing, like it does in real life.

          2. el_b says:

            I read somewhere, that the only caliber that you can really silence is about 4 mm which isn’t really in common use. Apparently using a silence and subsonic ammunition you can Pretty much only hear The guns blowback Mechanism. Never seen it so I can’t say for sure, and I doubt a 4 mm with that much of its energy taken off would-be that useful anyway. The loud crack you tend to hear is a sonic boom which is where subsonic ammunition comes in, the bullet is traveling slower.

            1. Traveling slower and presumably doing less damage. Tradeoffs . . .

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    9:50 – Nice dodge there Shamoose.

  3. Paul Spooner says:

    I’d like to offer a possible alternative to the “silly contrivance” stealth you describe. You’re right, of course, both in why stealth is presented this way, and how stealth would really work in real life.
    But it doesn’t have to be silly. You really could do it in a game. Here’s just one approach.

    First, make the AI just as paranoid as you describe. Give them perceptions, and let them imagine anything they can’t see as being full of ghosts and ghasts. They would be extremely cautious, leave the lights on, jump at the slightest sound, etc.

    Second, allow the player to skip large amounts of time. Real stealth relies on remaining hidden for hours at a time, if not days. But that doesn’t mean that the player should spend days playing these sections. The game would need a robust “fast forward” function… kind of like the one in KSP I suppose. That way the guards could remain on alert for hours (or days) without bogging down the gameplay.

    Third, give the player the ability to plan out moves that would take a long time. Creeping on your belly for two hours to move across a room is not out of the question if you want to remain out of sight and silent. These things take time, but they don’t need to take the player’s time.

    Fourth, use the same “perception” system that you developed for your AI to drop the player out of fast-forward mode when they notice something. Maybe the player character hears a guard moving around a few rooms over. The player has to guess if this is a problem. Is the guard coming this way? Do you need to dive for a hiding spot? Simply hold your breath and hope the guard is merely rolling over in his sleep? Suddenly the gameplay is on the order of split seconds instead of hours.

    This mixture of quick paced reactions and slow paced skulking would be much more interesting than the mono-pace “stealth” that we currently put up with, as well as being more realistic. Of course, it’s more trouble, and thus takes more money, so I understand why people don’t do it.

    But it is doable, and I’m sure someone will get around to it eventually.

    1. Humanoid says:

      Standing bolt upright for 72 hours straight outside a door waiting for enemies to stop being hostile? That’s been done…

      1. Corpital says:

        After the reposting of BioShock, I continued to watch the other seasons again and am currently near the end of Deus Ex:HR, another game which Josh more or less stealthed through. It’s interesting comparing parts of the two systems.

        More on topic, I agree -for Metro2033- with the need for absolutely paranoid guards. Preferably tied to the difficulty slider, so everyone can have their fun. Ever been out for a walk in the woods at night with a few friends? A bit of moonlight, a few shadows and something rustling in the brush turn are quite effective at making a lot of people afraid. Now be in that state for twenty year, only with real monsters and paranormal activites. And the tunnels must echo like all hell. Either you get some jaded guys that won’t react for anything less than a nosalis farting into their face or the most jumpy and paranoid guards possible.

        The ability to plan a few actions and skip time to wait or let the PC do it on his own because it would be boring IS good, but it sounds somewhat niche, considering every game and their cat are labelled “action adventure” nowadays.

        The one idea, I want to throw out here: drones. Little flying or crawling drones you can control around with a camera and a tiny tool each. Some could be remote controlled, some have a little cable and have to be dropped into one of the ever convenient air vents.

        1. ? says:

          I think “it’s been over 20 years like this, everyday and everynight” is important here. This is why broken glass and cans on strings are important warning systems: they were intentionally put there to alert the guards. Everything else gets included in background noise of damp tunnels and creaking pipes everyone learns to ignore to stay sane. And I can’t agree with Shamus about guarding stuff for extended periods of time. Boredom and routine grinds down vigilance. Artyom spends in this station 20 minutes and from this perspective, sure, I can guard a corridor for 20 minutes. But if I spend there one uneventful day after another, and if I’m not on the first line of defence? I will try to get some sleep probably.

      2. anaphysik says:

        Reginald Cuftbert, Stealth-Detente Expert at-large

    2. Jarppi says:

      Those sound like a good idea but the first thing I would do is some changes to level design and enemy positioning. In real life you would have guards on entries (assuming security cameras are out of question) and a patrol checking those guards are on wake and alive. Maybe someone at an important object like that generator. No random patrols in the middle of the station. Why would that guard be there? Those guards at the entries are there for a reason. That wouldn’t even require huge changes in the AI. Anyway, in real life stealth is mostly about not moving so your idea really sounds intersting.

      I strongly disagree with Shamus on getting more sensitive while guarding some dark room. Even if there would be monsters lurking on the surface, after a few dozen of shifts you would just get bored. You may wouldn’t notice small changes in the enviroment because you aren’t sure if you just closed the door or if you closed the door at yesterday or ar last month. During my military service I heard querrila radio men (scouts , recon action, not really sure about translation) usually were able to recon just about every single detail about our posts. Even if we knew they would be there. They said the trick was slow movement and not-so-sensitive guards…

    3. Interesting. This might also let you do a classic stealth tactic (dunno if this is real life but it’s cute in fiction): Deliberately tripping certain security measures repeatedly to create “false alarms” until the guards start ignoring things.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    9:13 – Was….was that a pun Chris?

    1. Halloween’s over, it’s CHRISmas time!

    2. Duhad says:

      I am so glade I was not the only person to notice that.

      Though being a huge nerd I was not thinking about Christmas, but that stupid horror movie “Silent Night, Deadly Night”.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well yes,thats what I thought of as well.And the original was decent.Its the GARBAGE DAY one that was crappy.

  5. I just can’t hear the theme music at the end of these Metro episodes and not hear John Cleese yelling, “Will you shut that bloody bouzouki up!”

    I know it’s a Greek instrument, but still…

    1. Grudgeal says:

      Personally, I get the urge to play Tetris.

      1. MrGuy says:

        I start singing “I am the man who arranges the blocks.”

  6. Corpital says:

    In short: Can’t navigate and wasn’t too happy with the characterisation of the mooks.

    My brain was and still is completely unable to comprehend the structure of this level. Every single try ended with the death lottery, because even after probably several hours spend there, wandering around the corpses, I’ve been unable to memorise even the most basic routes. I’ve just watched Josh turn off the generator and would fail to find it right now, if I’d try. Sometimes, it is frightening, how efficient Josh can be.

    And then the enemies. I really like them talking a bit about their family or how one is uneasy about the selfish guy who wants to stay on top. Well, ok, that guy who is pretty ok with a bit of murder, plunder and dicktatorship should be shot on sight, but the other ones?
    Apparently just normal people. Who still do everything they can to murder you as soon as someone spots you. You, the person who comes from the entrance were two dozen trigger-happy rangers left the station.
    Yes, videogame logic. Yes, most people in such a situation would and did do the same. It still annoys me that I have to kill everyone, because I’m horrible at sneaking and navigating. Sigh.

  7. Spammy V says:

    That’s an interesting way of looking at it, Rutskarn. In the stealth levels I had no problem with taking out guards who were in my way with a headshot or a knife. Although it might just be because that and turning out the lights made me feel badass, like I was this silent specter of death ghosting through the Metro save for the trail of bodies.

    Also, as silly as it was that no one notices, I loved being able to turn out lights. I have no played a lot of stealth or stealth/X games but the ones I have played didn’t let me mess with the lighting. Although I did feel a little guilty shooting out lightbulbs because… I don’t think we can make any more of those.

  8. Quent says:

    In this section I killed a few people and still got the ‘good’ ending. The only time that people don’t seem to get this ending is if they play it like Call of Duty. the point behind the system is to reward playing with some seance of morality and understanding. You only need about eight morality points to get the enlightened ending so I get surprised when I find out that most people don’t get the good ending.

    You arnt supposed to make decisions based on the system but on you own morality. And the system seems to be light enuf to handle it.

    1. Quent says:

      [I wanted to edit my coment but I carnt for some reasion. below is the better version of what I just said]

      Campster… I think, given what I heard in the episode, that you are looking at the morality system in the wrong way.

      You’re not meant to know that the morality system is there. This system is not supposed to be giving a choice for the player to make, its supposed to track how the player approaches the world. Douse the player try to understand what is going on? Douse the player care about the death that they can potentially cause? You don’t need all the points, hell I killed some people in multiple sections and still got the enlightened ending. So I think that the system has enuf flexibility to account for different interpretations of ethics. In the last update, when Josh went up to the surface again I killed the Nazis to prevent them from finding and hindering the civilians form that town you just went through.

      I like the system that they made as it just seems to be about doing more than acting without any thought or doubt, to understand what is going actually going on around you. It’s not meant to ask the player a question, it’s meant to answer one the player didn’t know about.

      Because once you know about the morality points you then try to play the system.

      EDIT: Interesting, I can edit this comment but not the other one.

      1. MrGuy says:

        Interesting idea. However, if that was the goal, then they really should have disabled the visual clue (the white flash when you get points).

        Once you start calling attention to certain events, they become a magic lightning machine that gamers are trained to try to understand and make happen more often.

        If you make players aware of a game mechanic, game players will try to “play” the mechanic.

      2. Corpital says:

        The first time I got the good ending, my Artyom was pretty much a voyeuristic murderer outside of the cities. I listened to about every conversation I found (except for Black Station, were only murder was found) and got a decent amount of the good points for helping people in the cities/finding stuff, but I also killed every single last bandit, red and nazi in the game, so I’d actually say that you won’t loose points, you just don’t get some, which you won’t need anyway.

        Really like the system, especially compared to the Bioware one, because you can collect all the points, but you are not forced to kick every single last puppy in the universe to get access to some snappy comebacks.
        Still, I agree with MrGuy, that visual/audible blue was confusing. And sometimes it was red instead of white, even though it was a point gained.

    2. Glimmereyes says:

      Having looked at the Metro Wiki‘s list of moral points, I got about half of them and still got the Enlightened ending. As far as getting the enlightened ending is concerned you have a lot of latitude between pacifist and homicidal maniac.

  9. Pinkhair says:

    Interesting note- the Metro 2 is a real thing that people might believe in in such a setting(if not proven to actually exist as a full-formed secret second Metro, it is well established folklore at the very least). The US government certainly took the possibility seriously.

    1. Mersadeon says:

      That’s actually the thing about this – there is a LOT of stuff in the Metro series that is… worryingly close to reality. Not just the stations.

      Although sometimes it’s just funnily retelling silly rumours, like that the St. Petersburg Metro has the stations fenced off with the cars holding with their doors right at doors in the fence (which in reality is simply done for safety reasons) because there are monsters living in the Petersburger Metro even before the apocalypse.
      I imagine that for someone actually living in Moscow or St. Petersburg, reading these books must be absolutely awesome.

  10. Viktor says:

    The obvious solution to not being able to tell your character apart in cutscenes would be to make him a PoC or a woman. There’s plenty of both in Russia, and it would be an instantaneous way of making you visibly different from everyone else. Won’t work in the gasmask sections, but everywhere else it does.

  11. MrGuy says:

    Breaking news at 2:30 – Shamus thinks a game would be better if it was more like a Valve game.

  12. MrGuy says:

    Also (since we talked a bit about it), I think the size and shape of the “silenced scoped pistol with stock” really illustrates how arbitrary the weapon slotting is.

    You can have one “pistol-like” weapon, one “rifle-like” weapon, and one “special” weapon. OK – slightly arbitrary, but sort of makes sense – lugging a Quake-like set of big guns around isn’t realistic.

    But if we’re trying to force choices based on “ability to carry,” how the holy heck is the pistol with the massive stock and really long silencer still a “pistol” for any reasonable purpose? It’s considerably larger than the bastard gun. And it couldn’t possibly be carried like a pistol – what, you’re going to shove that monstrosity in your waistband?

    Allowing you to carry that AND a rifle because “well, technically it’s still a pistol,” or not allowing you to swap it for a comparably sized volt driver because “that’s a pistol slot!” subverts the reason behind limiting you to one weapon per type.

    1. Josh says:

      Last Light improves upon this by just giving you a set of arbitrary slots that you can throw any weapon into. Want to carry three shotguns around? Well… Okay. You’re gonna run out of ammo mighty quick, but we’ll let you do it.

      Also it reduces the total slots in Ranger Mode to two, so it’s a bit closer to “realistic” carrying capacity. Although you can’t count the ammo you’re carrying around in Ranger mode so I guess it evens out…

      1. Klay F. says:

        The changes to Ranger Mode from 2033 to Last Light pretty much on the whole made no goddamned sense. You can’t tell how much ammo you have, hell you can’t even tell how much ammo you have in the weapon your holding IN YOUR HANDS. AND you can’t tell if you have military rounds in your rifle or dirty rounds until you shoot something.

        Ranger Mode (at least Hardcore) was supposed to make for a more immersive experience, but in Last Light, it just arbitrarily makes Artyom blind and dumb.

      2. Grudgeal says:

        What, ‘never’ type of “can’t” or ‘you have to bring up your watch and/or journal to know’ “can’t”? Because the former just seems arbitrarily cruel. Removing the GUI and forcing you to count bullets in the chamber on your own in the heat of action makes sense. Making you completely incapable of ever knowing how much ammo you’re carrying… Does not.

        1. Josh says:

          The “never” type of “can’t.”

          1. Grudgeal says:

            Well that’s just not cricket. I guess I dodged a bullet by not buying the DLC then.

  13. hborrgg says:

    The other issue is that really first person stealth should really be almost impossible without some equivalent of invisibility or a floating camera behind you. Or at the very least it would be very luck based and involve a lot of frustrating trial and error. To think about it, you’d need to be able to observe the guards to evade them, but any time you are able to see them there is a possibility that they are able to see you. You can’t just wait until they turn the other direction if you can’t tell when they’ve turned.

  14. Michael says:

    Shamus, it’s not that knocking someone out with one blow is hard. Intentionally knocking someone out the way video games (and most media portray it) in the real world is basically impossible.

    I forget what the exact time frame is, but if someone is unconscious for more than about thirty seconds, or a minute, they’ve suffered permanent brain damage. If they’re unconscious for more than two minutes, they’re probably brain dead. Again, I could be off by a couple minutes, but knocking someone out does not last long.

    The entire point of blows to the head like that are to inflict (potentially lethal) concussions. So the idea of administering those on tap is more than a little ridiculous.

    Tranquilizers aren’t an option either. Real sedatives need to be carefully administered. Not enough, and you won’t put your target to sleep, too much, and you can kill them. How do you know the dosage you need? It’s a combination of the target’s weight (which you might be able to know), their metabolism (good luck), and how resistant they are to sedatives in general. With a bonus that some people will react idiosyncratically. And of course, if it’s a dart gun, and you needle someone in the head, “yeah, that’s an impromptu lobotomy, Denton.”

    1. Klay F. says:

      I actually had a bug my first time playing DX:HR where if I ever hit someone in the head with a tranq round, it would kill them. I didn’t even realize it was a bug until Spoiler Warning, and I replayed it.

    2. Ygor says:

      It’s about 40 secs or so, and you do a permanent damage to brain cells. If you let them go as soon as they go limp, they’ll usually be back conscious in about 4-10 seconds. Drowsy, sure, but awake.

    3. Hal says:

      I don’t blame video games for this; this has been a trope of fiction for a long time now. Hollywood probably has the most to blame, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find the non-lethal KO in older literature.

      Really, keep track of the number of times they use this in the TV shows you watch. Action/Crime dramas love the non-lethal KO. Detective is getting close to the suspect. Detective tracks the suspect down to his home/next target/etc. Suspect sneaks up on Detective and delivers surprise blow to the back of the head. Detective wakes up minutes later groggy but none the worse for wear, angry that the Suspect “got the drop” on him.

      1. Michael says:

        There’s an additional perk there, multiple concussions are cumulative. So those shows where the heroes get knocked out two or three times? Yeah, no matter what else, they should be, at least, seriously brain damaged by the third thump. I was going to say, It usually isn’t an issue with video games, but then I remembered all the times the protagonist gets clocked upside the head.

        And, yeah, you’re right, this goes back way farther than just video games. It’s been kicking around in literature for at least a century.

        1. Corpital says:

          Wait. So there’s a good chance, every time I called a character braindamaged after they did something ridiculously stupid, they really might have been? That would explain so much!

          1. Ygor says:

            This also explains why a pokemon can know only 4 moves in total.

            1. Michael says:

              And why “moves” like sleep and confusion exist. :p

  15. AJax says:

    I love Josh’s insistence to barely use the night vision goggles just to grief everybody. I don’t think I’ve ever not relied on them during my several playthroughs.

    1. hborrgg says:

      Eh, I actually had this problem in Last Light as well. Night vision goggles make it easier to see, yeah, but you can’t tell exactly how bright it is anywhere. And that’s pretty important here.

      The night vision scope you get in the very first level of that game wound up being way more useful just because I could easily snap back and forth and didn’t have to worry about the battery or accidentally turning on my flashlight.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        The goggles come with a light-gem analogue on top. If you can’t see any dots or the dot is on the left, you’re ok. If you see the middle dot, you’re in the danger zone. If you see the right one, you’re fully visible. You can also turn them off and on (without taking them off) with a click (not holding down) of the appropriate button.

        The battery issue *is* an annoyance at times, though. But not as bad as on the Volt Driver.

  16. Steve C says:

    Because reality is stranger than fiction and because it’s almost Remembrance Day:

    “Prince single-handedly snuck up to the enemy front lines in the middle of the night, slipped into all of their fortified steel machine gun bunkers one-by-one, and killed everyone inside with a fucking Bowie knife. His mission was completely silent.”

    “Sometimes he’d break into the infantry barracks, and steal everyone’s shoes off their feet while they were sleeping. Or he’d go into the SS Officers’ quarters and kill every third guy while he slept in his bed.”

    1. Rutskarn says:

      “Oh, and he was also kind of a player ““ one time he got 60 stitches when some woman at a bar slashed him in the face with a broken beer bottle (presumably because he was already going home with five other hot babes and didn’t feel like bringing her along).”

      Yeah, I appreciate that this article is taking the hagiographic approach approach to “people who’ve killed loads of other people,” but getting bottled by a woman at a bar seems less “player” than “sexual predator.”

      1. Disc says:

        It also fails to mention he ultimately ended up like many other veterans; miserable and alcoholic. Ron Perlman was right.

      2. Steve C says:

        My point was more that there was an entire brigade doing stealth fighting in relatively modern WWII kit. It wasn’t that a man who kills others in their sleep is a nice person… just that it was so effective to the point of unbelievability.

  17. Nalyd says:

    Um, Nazis are fascists, guys. The fascists occupying Black Station are the same group as the Nazis from the front line or just before here, on the surface. Because Nazism is explicitly a branch of fascism. Nazis are fascists. Communism is ideologically directly opposed to fascism.

    1. Michael says:

      It might be worth pointing out why. I mean, we kick this around, but I can’t remember anyone actually explaining the fascist/communist split here, and if you’re only looking at Soviet Russia as your example, the reasoning gets a bit muddied.

      Fascism started out as a reaction to the liberal governments popping up in Europe. (Liberal in the sense of democracies and republics replacing monarchies. Not, political faction context.) The basic premise was that; people aren’t really capable of leading themselves. They’re just not up to the task. So, a strong leadership is needed to allocate resources, direct production, and (basically) guide the country.

      In a lot of ways it’s a post-industrial revolution monarchy, rebuilt for modern civilization. (Please remember, this is “modern” in the historical era context.) In theory, it is interested in the well being of the population, but, there’s a long tradition of the population being asked to make sacrifices for “a greater tomorrow”.

      Nazism, as an ideology, is strictly Fascism, with the Nazi ideas of racial or ethnic purity mixed in.

      Now, Marxist Communism is basically the exact opposite. Instead of individuals calling the shots, the community as a whole is expected to come together and decide the best course of action. (There’s also the economics element, which you’re probably aware of, that economic inequality leads to dissent, and that as a result you need to eliminate economic inequality.)

      So, the Soviet Union doesn’t look like that, at all. Lenin and, later Stalin both instituted a system where they were in control, and all decisions had to run through them. They claimed this was necessary to shepherd Russia through it’s transition from the Tzarist Monarchy to a Marxist Utopia. (This, by the way, is the reason I’m okay with calling the Soviet Union a Fascist state. It wasn’t supposed to be, but it had most of the hallmarks.)

      Now, externally this wasn’t very widely known before WWII. During the interwar period, the Soviets repeatedly pushed this idea of a worker’s utopia. There’s even a fair chunk of literature from that era that genuinely believed the Soviets were communist. Now, it’s a lot easier to look back and make that assessment. But, when the Nazis invaded Russia, it was on this belief that they were politically completely incompatible.

  18. “If I was actually guarding a single dark room all by myself for hours” . . . I’d be asleep.
    Or I’d have smuggled in a book or a game or something and I’d be paying attention to that.

    Oh, sure, maybe the first day on duty I’d be hyperaware. But come on. Solo guard duty in a quiet dark place = most boring experience in the history of humanity.

    1. Shamus says:

      Having guards reading books, playing ad-hoc games with improvised items, or napping on the job would be much more realistic than what we have here, which is groups of guards who are doing super-boring jobs and actively avoid doing more interesting stuff so they can get back to pacing or standing.

      1. Bubble181 says:

        And it’s been around since Dungeon Keeper – your trolls will play dice and cards if you let them. It’s something that’s disappeared from newer games, probably because it’s too expensive to model properly and supply all the doodads for little gain. Why mocap someone playing dice?

  19. Ben Hilton says:

    I actually feel the exact same way Rutskarn does regarding killing people when it’s possible to sneak by.

    I feel guilty about choosing one man to die over another, but if I go in and take everybody out I can just role-play that they were all un-repentantly evil.

    I’ve heard that this a complex that real life snipers get because in some scenarios it isn’t as simple as killing the people shooting at you. It’s choosing which person dies out of all of the people you can see when they have no idea you’re there.

    That last bit isn’t really pertinent to the game but I thought it was interesting.

  20. anaphysik says:

    “Cee Cee Cee Pee” Bad Mr. Pee-Pants!
    It’s “Es Es Es Er.” I pity the foo’ that can’t read Cyrillic!

  21. Paul Spooner says:

    Man. Every time I’m scrolling down this page and I see “Fluke Ninja” my brain reads a different word that starts with “F”. At that point half my brain says “Wow, Shamus is really letting this site go.” and the other half says “I have GOT to read that article!”

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