August 19, 2011

Motion Sickness Can Stop A Gamer Cold

I’d like to think I have a strong stomach.  I do in a way.  I can handle impaling, suicide, maiming, killing, blood, gore, and things that would make a 6-year old have bad dreams and run to mommy.  I can also handle fast things like roller coasters, thrill rides, scary spook houses, and Halloween themed rides to make your stomach turn, not to mention all of the disgusting internet videos out there.  But one thing that combines both of those things I apparently can’t handle is Dead Space: Extraction.  It’s apparently too shaky and too spooky for this grown-ass man.

People on the blog should know by now I’m a huge Dead Space fan, always have been.  But what I’m seeing and feeling after my first two chapters of Dead Space: Extraction leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth:  I just can’t handle extended gaming sessions with it.  And that sucks, because being the huge fan I am, I want more.

After completing a few games in my backlog, I set out to try Extraction and play an easy game for a change.  Just something I can pop in and play for awhile that isn’t over the 30 hour gaming mark.  Having beaten games like Mass Effect 1 and 2, starting Final Fantasy XIII and GTA IV, I needed something short and sweet, and Extraction fit the bill.

So on Sunday after being frustrated with a heavy boss battle in Final Fantasy and getting killed by the cops in Liberty City one too many times, I plopped in Extraction to see what it was all about.  Now I before I go further, I do have the Playstation Move, so this would be my first foray into motion controlled gaming on the PS3.

Extraction is a “guided experience”.  Basically it’s an on-rails shooter, so to play it all I would need to do is point the Move controller to fire and use the navigation controller to reload and use my stasis pull to grab objects.  The camera work, tension, and shakiness would all be a part of the game.

I booted up the game and started the first chapter in complete awe.  The game was great.  The darkness, clever additions of the glow sticks, and the gameplay mechanics made for a harrowing experience.  Just being back in the Dead Space universe gave me chills.  As I continued, things of course started to go to hell, and with that going on, the camera started to shake more and more to instill tension.

For a little bit of background, each chapter in Dead Space:  Extraction is anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour in length.  I completed the first chapter with 5 stars and wanted more, so went on into the second chapter of the story.  About halfway through the second chapter I began to feel queasy - nauseous almost.  I couldn’t look away from the screen as I didn’t know where the next attack was coming from, but I also didn’t think a game could be doing something like this to me and my head.

I remember reading a bunch of reviews for Extraction when it came out on the Wii, but I don’t recall the reviews ever mentioning the motion sickness they felt after playing it.  Then I got to thinking, maybe it might be my gaming setup?  Can you have a TV that is too big for this?  Is the refresh rate on the TV too fast?  Do I need to adjust the brightness setting so I can focus on something as the camera is flailing about? Isn’t there an option to turn down the shakiness?  I didn’t know what to do.

Finally after completing the second chapter, that was enough.  I was too dizzy to go on.  It’s almost like someone came over and said, “Hey, you want to have some fun?  Put your forehead on this bat and spin around 6 times then try and sit on your couch and shoot something.”  It’s fun the first time, but try doing that after an hour.

Through some digging, I did find a setting in the options menu for you to change the camera shakiness, so I might fiddle with that a little bit, but on the other hand, I don’t want to mess with what Visceral Games and the Dead Space series are all about:  a fun scary horror ride.  This is how the game makers intended the game to be played.  Being the purist that I am, I don’t want to fuck with that!  I love this stuff, but my weak little baby stomach can’t handle an itty-bitty video game.  I guess I just might need to take Extraction two chapters at a time, making sure my little baby stomach didn’t eat anything before playing. Waah wah!  After all, that could be one big necromorph mess in my living room for mommy to clean up, and then having to lay back so mommy can change my diapee.  Not good.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is still a great ride.  I don’t want to put people off the title by any means, I just can’t think of another game out there that has ever got me this queasy before?  Maybe being drunk in GTA: IV for an extended period of time was the last?  I can’t think of anything else though, and even then, GTA: IV is still fresh on my mind.

It will definitely be a different experience for me to take things slow in a game.  Where everyone under the sun always puts some shit in their game to tell the player “Hurry hurry”, I’ll be taking a retirement home’s grandma’s pace through Dead Space:  Extraction.  That sucks, but I got to do what I got to do to make my baby stomach happy.