As a former enlisted soldier, I have first-hand experience with how dialogue is exchanged within a squad, a platoon, or even a battalion setting. I know how modern soldiers communicate, both in uniform and out. Some are deep and spiritual warriors, others are shallow killing machines, and a select few are “war is a necessary evil” peace advocates, but none of them are one-line robots.
What amazes me is the amount of video games that miss the mark of creating credible dialogue, especially considering the “Michael Bay”- sized budget that goes into their production.
Whether it’s hearing “We’re Oscar-Mike” a million times a level, referring to non-commissioned officers (sergeants) as “Sir”, or sounding off “over-and-out” on a radio, these moments in my games make me cringe.
The worst I have seen this generation, in regards to creating caricature-puppet soldiers was Haze by Crytek UK, formally Free Radical. But don’t think for a moment that this curse only applies to failed games; this afflicts top-tier shooter franchises like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Tom Clancy titles.
It causes me to wonder: how much do certain developers pay military advisers for professional input, then choose to ignore them completely? This is especially frustrating considering the wealth of Hollywood productions that provide authentic military portrayal; my favorites being The Hurt Locker, and HBO’s Generation Kill.
Due to mediocre critic reviews, I’ve yet to play Spec Ops: The Line [pictured above] past the demo, but my brief time spent in this world impressed me, simply because of the dialogue between the characters. As I played the introduction, I said to myself: “This feels like a conversation I would have with my fellow teammates.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love over-the-top action in my shooters, military or otherwise. I’m not looking for more America’s Army simulators. I just want the gaming experience without these glaring errors that stick out like a sore thumb.
Are there any other soldiers, marines, or airmen that feel the same way? Are there any games out there that are your favorites for their military authenticity?