Inspect your gadgets.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare dropped in this week, and as the many, many pre-release trailers show, it’s filled to the brim with cool tech, awesome gadgets and sci-fi weaponry. And when I say filled to the brim, I mean practically overflowing. The FPS, now set in the future, boasts exo-skeletons, hover bikes and laser rifles to name just a few technological goodies.
This got me thinking about all the cool gadgetry I’d seen in my many years of gaming that made good titles great. These are the types of tech that would make Jason Bradbury go weak at the knees, and in a lot of cases added some really interesting dynamics to the gaming classics they were a part of. Below is a list of just some of the greatest and most inventive gaming gadgets that are worth your time, ranging from robot sidekicks to fancy fashion accessories, all of which came to form integral parts of some truly awesome games.
These are the types of tech that would make Jason Bradbury go weak at the knees.
5. The OWL, Killzone: Shadow Fall
As a Shadow Marshal, players were given access to a host of cool weapons and tech throughout Shadow Fall’s campaign, the most compelling of which was their robot sidekick and all round Helghast ass-kicker, the OWL.
The OWL was controlled via the DualShock 4’s sparingly used touchpad, and apart from some slight functionality issues, it didn’t feel like a deliberately forced in feature on the developer’s part. Players used the touch pad to switch between the drone’s offensive and defensive modes, and it could be directed to attack enemies at will, or, if things got a little too close for comfort, provided a kinetic barrier to repel gunfire. Player’s opting for a stealthier approach could also send it to disable alarms, preventing an onslaught of seemingly endless Helghast foes.
Its most intriguing feature, however, was the zip-wire manoeuver, which allowed players to travel around the battlefield to get the drop on their enemies. This also permitted developer Guerrilla to get vertical when it came to level design, opening up multiple ways for players to progress through areas and tackle assaults. In a genre that often comes ‘under fire’ for linearity, the OWL did well to encourage replayability and to keep combat scenarios fresh.
4. Portal Gun, Portal
The ‘Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device’ made up the central dynamic of one of the most unique platform/puzzle/adventure franchises of the last gen, Portal.
For an extremely sci-fi piece of kit, the gun did exactly what it said on the tin: it made portals. These portals were then used to navigate around an intricate world of 3D puzzles in Valve’s 2007 release. A player would simply enter one gate and exit out of the other, manipulating this trick over and over again to progress.
The first game saw players assume the role of silent protagonist, Chell, taking on the task of thoroughly testing the device in a variety of scenarios. The game relied on an excellent physics engine and innovative thinking, requiring players to come up with increasingly creative solutions to the puzzles they were challenged with.
The second game, however, introduced its defining co-op mode, and with it two unlikely but lovable robotic protagonists. It was the players’ job to collectively use Atlas and P-Body in tandem with one another to navigate the various puzzles they were faced with. This didn’t only test their logic and problem solving skills but also their ability to cooperate and coordinate with one another. We’re pretty sure a good few friendships probably got ruined during the later stages of the game.
On a complete aside, the Portal Gun also gave PC gamers this crazy hack, allowing Half Life 2 fans to use it in their own campaigns.[yt_video id=”VP4a7NLjFfg”][/yt_video]
3. Sky Hook, BioShock Infinite
Introducing from Fink Manufacturing the latest in floating city transportation – the Sky Hook! Travel the city in style, but hurry – products are flying off the shelves!
The BioShock franchise has always been marketed on choice; it was one of the first shooters to afford players the ability to decide how they would tackle situations through a combination of plasmid use and gunplay. BioShock Infinite’s Sky Hook is an extension of this, the versatile gadget enabled players to gain tactical positions in the combat arena, and also made for some very spectacular set pieces.
Player’s magnetically attached to sky-rails using the hook, and could accelerate or decelerate at will.
Created by the very shady Fink Manufacturing company, the Sky Hook gave players a means to navigate around Columbia utilising the city’s sky-rail network, which effectively functioned like an exhilarating roller coaster system. Think Alton Towers but with more, well… risk. Player’s magnetically attached to sky-rails using the hook, and could accelerate or decelerate at will by moving the analogue stick. This enabled them to choose how and where to engage enemies, adding another layer to the tactical shooter. Would they take the high ground and snipe from a distance? Or risk the lower levels to pick up some item drops? This worked to increase the pace of the gameplay as enemies had just as much access as you, meaning that no area was safe for long.
It could also be used as a melee device, meaning players didn’t have to switch back to the trusty but dated monkey-wrench from the original game. The execution moves never disappointed in terms of gore, and attacking from height literally never got boring.
The Sky Hook made excellent use of the game’s stunning setting, never letting players forget the sheer height at which the events took place. It also gave us the Zeppelin sequence, which to date is one of the most thrilling sections of gameplay that I’ve ever encountered.
2. CTOS Phone, Watch Dogs
Needless to say, Ubisoft’s 2014 release Watch Dogs had a fully realised open world and intense combat, but it was built on the unique mechanics offered by the CTOS system and Aiden Pearce’s Swiss-Army Knife of a smartphone.
The game found itself wrapped up in debates of voyeurism and surveillance culture, all of which were a mere button press away thanks to Pearce’s trusty device. Out of combat, the phone was used primarily as a hacking device, with players completing mini-game style puzzles in order to open gates or access servers – your average stealth game exploits. At certain points throughout the city you could also hack into people’s wifi and view their strangely comic and often slightly too revealing private antics.
In combat, however, the smartphone afforded players a tactical advantage, both on foot and in vehicles. If you favoured stealth, you could use it create distractions, moving forklifts or calling elevators to draw enemies away whilst you snuck past. When the stealth inevitably went sideways the phone became the most offensive weapon in your arsenal, enabling you to cause grenades and circuit boxes to explode, and even to overload the enemy comms systems. When behind the wheel, the device effectively became a key to the city, giving you access to hidden doors and garages and also letting you manipulate traffic flow at will, making for some pretty spectacular pile ups!
1. Metal Gear Mk. II, MGS4
The Mark II from Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriots injected a touch of the director’s slightly ‘goofy’ style into the game while bringing some interesting and fun gameplay mechanics into the frame.
Developed by fan favourite Hal ‘Otacon’ Emmerich (now sporting a very stylish turtle-neck), the Mark II was the answer to every secret agent’s needs when infiltrating a high profile war zone! Players accessed the robot as they would an item, through Snake’s inventory system; they were then able to navigate it around the battlefield to scope out areas before stealthing through them. This was only the beginning, however…
The Mark II was the answer to every secret agent’s needs when infiltrating a high profile war zone.
Unlike its big brothers, the Mark II wasn’t actually capable of launching Nukes, or firing weapons of any kind. What it did have was a handy stunning move that temporarily knocked soldiers out, enabling Snake (who seems large and clunky in comparison) to pass through areas easily.
The Mark II’s most useful feature, though, was its ability to set up video calls between Snake and Otacon. That’s right, it could turn invisible, it could even knock out enemies, but Skype is the best function it had. This is because it cut out overly long ‘Codec’ conversations that bogged down earlier games in the series. A preferred method of story-telling by Kojima, these conversations were mostly quite dull (everyone remembers the ‘Flora vs. Fauna’ lecture) and didn’t really engage the player or progress the narrative. By comparison the video chat offered by the Mark II, while still overly long in places, made for a more dynamic way to listen to long stretches of dialogue.[yt_video id=”3kPkltr5Dtw”][/yt_video]
It’s also a testament to Kojima’s direction, how he is able to give the robot personality and charisma simply through quirky movement animations.
So There We Have It…
Contained within this article were just some of gaming’s greatest gadgets, but these weren’t just pieces of tech that were well designed to look great. They were chosen because of their impact on the games in which they feature; each one of these items either formed a core dynamic of the player’s experience or at least added a quirky aside that served to keep the primary campaigns feeling fresh.
The great thing is that if the current-gen’s line-up is anything to go by, future releases are just going to get techier!