Last week I caught one of my favorite types of shows, ones that focus either on the technique of martial arts or the science of it. The show was “Fight Science” and it dealt with the science and technique of using various martial art styles and weapons. I find it fascinating to watch as they explain the science behind a man being able to inflict over 2000 tons of force on a concrete block with his body. There was a smile on my face as I watched a master demonstrate the techniques behind the Bo staff. The reason I find all this interesting is that I want to apply the distinctions between the various styles and weapons to video game combat.
My action title focuses on realistic combat, allowing the player to fight multiple enemies with either their bare hands or a weapon. I want to do for the action genre what the Virtua Fighter series did for the fighting genre. From that I developed a list of rules regarding combat that will be applied to my game, and that I feel should be applied to the genre as a whole.
1. The combat system should be fleshed out to the point that the player can fight and survive a battle against multiple opponents at once.
2. The combat system will allow the player to easily fight one opponent at a time.
3. The camera must be zoomed out enough to see all combatants at once, yet zoomed in enough to be able to focus on fighting.
4. The player must always have a way to avoid damage without moving (IE block, counter).
To elaborate on points 1 and 2, some games give the player a move set and abilities that they can only fight one opponent at a time. God Hand while one of my favorites is guilty of this, which makes multi person combat next to impossible without relying on cheese tactics. For point 2, some action titles give the player attacks that are slow and sweep in front of the player, to catch multiple enemies at once. The problem is that when you’re fighting just one opponent it’s all too easy to get stuck in a combo chain that completely misses your opponent or it’s too slow to hit the opponent. The God of War series has this problem; I can’t count the number of times I completely miss with a combo and had to follow through with the chain anyway.
I know that this next statement is going to be a contradiction, I want to get away from one button combat, yet I really want to play Fable 2 for its combat system. The idea of having a simple control system (such as one button for combat), but add onto it with timing sounds very interesting. I enjoyed the Maximo series for its two button combat system, although the camera did get in the way a lot. A few weeks ago I commented on watching footage of the new Golden Axe title and predicted that it would fail just from the combat system, turns out I was right after reading several negative reviews. I would also like to repeat a statement I keep saying every time I talk about action games, the foundation of a great combat system in my opinion is one that the player will want to fight every enemy; not run away from boredom.
Besides Fight Science I also enjoyed watching Human Weapon, which I’m hoping gets another season. Also for any game designers reading this, I would love to see an action title focused entirely on Drunken Boxing, which would make me very happy :).