Are cutscenes a necessary evil?
They only seem to serve one purpose: to confound any gamers who have any semblance of a rational thought process. There are some exemplarily examples of excellently executed cutscenes, but they're as rare as hairs on Vin Diesel's head. For the most part, cutscenes are awful. Most have great graphics, but other production values such as cornball dialogue, poor translations, stilted voice acting, and uninspired music can be painful to endure. There are so many terrible cutscenes out there that it's virtually an epidemic.
Developers seem to think we like—or even need—cutscenes. This is just not the case when even the developers acknowledge the storyline is often secondary to everything else. It's all part of the formula now. A game contain cutscenes because it's a game, and games contain cutscenes. That's the circular thinking that keeps these things alive. Just because you have a head doesn't mean you have to put a baseball cap on it. (Unless you live in Saskatchewan, where it's mandatory.)
Cutscenes usually depict the characters in the highest rendering possible, which only serves to highlight how low-res the in-game graphics are. It's like being shown Disneyland through the window of a tour bus en route to Bargain Ed's Carnival in the Walmart parking lot.
Cutscenes usually just interrupt the flow of a game. They're non-interactive, which goes against the prime directive of a video game. It's like watching a commercial, only commercials are produced better than most of this crap.
A cutscene is a plot checkpoint. Here, the developers try to fill us in on what happened, what's happening, and what will happen. This often winds up as nothing more than a convoluted mess. The storyline becomes harder to follow than an alcoholic stutterer. Why can't the plot develop in-game? Then you would have no choice but to follow it. Usually after the second poorly produced cutscene, I don't give a $#!+ about the story anymore.
And just in case we haven't suffered enough, there's the unskippable cutscene.
If we're forced to watch the same cutscene over, because we die before completing a difficult level, we'll have to watch it until we get it right. It's an incentive to play better before having the offending cutscene permanently committed to memory. I can still hear, "Just because you're hot doesn't mean you can be rude," from Castlevania Judgement festering like a tumor somewhere in hippocampus region of my brain.
Let's put it this way. You wouldn't get Steven Spielberg to write code for a game, so don't get a code monkey to produce a cutscene. Problem solved. Glad I could be of assistance.
By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*