Breaking Cover


It's remarkable how all the races of the Mass Effect universe exhibit the same architectural proclivity for large rooms littered with small, waist-high walls. It doesn't matter if the species is reptilian or mammalian, psychic or hive-minded. All of them want to make sure their buildings include lines of crates and huge, low-slung workstations. Across the galaxy, no room is considered complete until it can provide shelter to a squad of infantry.

As much as I enjoyed Mass Effect 2, I had trouble with the repetitive environments and nearly identical battles. There were so many times where something wondrous and alien was visible in the background, separated from me by an impassable partition that marked the limits of the map. The architecture that I could not explore suggested insect hives or graceful, nonlinear spaces. It suggested soaring cities and deep caverns. But it was just background artwork. My reality was one of rectangular platforms connected by ramps, and large, open spaces dotted with cover.

Cover is the great democratizer of shooter design. With a big room, some automatic weapons, and copious cover positions, you too can create an exciting shooter! You don't need a good engine, you don't need good controls, and you don't need good weapons. Just throw some cover down, and baby, you've got a shooter going.

Just not a good one. Cover produces bland, repetitive action and unconvincing locations. Toward the end of Mass Effect 2, Shepard and her crew are supposed to be in some the strangest, eeriest places they've ever encountered. But the level design always undercuts the art. Shepard and her crew might have journeyed to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, but in a very real sense they haven't gone anywhere. It's the same shooting gallery wearing a different skin.

It's not just Mass Effect 2. One of the things that well and truly murdered my interest in Red Dead Redemption was the way every encounter followed the same script. You and your allies would run across some bad guys. Everyone would start shooting and then run to the boulders, crates, barrels, and wagons that were conveniently arranged for just this eventuality. If your character was wounded and near death, you could spend a moment behind cover getting better, and then resume the battle as if nothing had ever happened. Enemies would stay roughly in the same places, making no effort to flank, assault, or retreat. They would just pop up every few seconds, take a poorly-aimed shot, then drop back down into cover. All you needed to do was plant the cursor above their heads and wait for the next regularly-scheduled potshot. Repeat.

Ultimately I liked Mass Effect 2 a great deal, but only because I enjoyed the characters and performances so much. Red Dead didn't offer any such compensations and so I bailed on the game after the first act. But the fact remains that cover-based design made each a lesser game. It stripped away the layers of illusion. Everyone hunkers down behind bulletproof furniture and starts trading shots with enemies a few feet away. With this kind of half-hearted combat, key elements of the plot become preposterous. Mass Effect 2 steadily builds up to a "suicide mission" that grows steadily less menacing the more you blaze through opponents. The combat is so devoid of peril that it's impossible to believe for a moment that Shepard or her crew are in danger of anything worse than combat narcolepsy.

At the heart of every shooter lies a dreary reality: you drop the cursor over a target and push a button until it dies. Good shooters never let you see this to clearly, or feel like it's that simple. They force players to concentrate on other tasks. They emphasize tactics and maneuvers, or weapon characteristics. They introduce enemies designed to counter standard tactics. They change the terrain to handicap some styles of play and promote others. They keep the player from relying exclusively on the same bag of tricks.

Too often, cover excludes these techniques and actually emphasizes the repetitive, mechanical task of point-and-click combat. By its very nature, cover roots combatants in place, so movement becomes a secondary concern. Environments tend to be similar and repetitive, because they have to make room for the large, broken spaces that cover demands. Worse, these spaces telegraph not only that a fight is about to occur, but often the way in which it will occur. Not that it's hard to predict, because cover also creates exposed dead-ground between the fighting positions where nobody can survive. So fights consistently occur at medium range. This in turn makes most weapons interchangeable. Sniper rifles and shotguns become decorative accessories on a character model. They are relegated to carefully controlled situations, like the inevitable sniper sequence.

There are cover-based games I've enjoyed tremendously. Uncharted 2 comes to mind, as do the Brothers in Arms games (although cover also helped make Hell's Highway the weakest game in the series). But too often, cover is a substitute for designing a complete shooter. Instead of unpredictability and danger, we get kill-houses packed with spring-loaded targets. Cover may not cause bad shooter design, but it certainly makes mediocrity easier to achieve.


Tiger Walts wrote:

I think we will be seeing that very soon.

As I briefly mentioned BRINK, take a look at the video for their SMART movement:

The sad thing is, I think it's probably too much work for most developers than the 'good enough' movement systems we currently have.

Scratched wrote:
Tiger Walts wrote:

I think we will be seeing that very soon.

As I briefly mentioned BRINK, take a look at the video for their SMART movement:

The sad thing is, I think it's probably too much work for most developers than the 'good enough' movement systems we currently have.

That's really neat.

codicier wrote:

I think my attitude to cover comes directly from my tabletop war gaming roots. With tabletop gaming you begin with a blank slate of an empty board, if nothing was added this would make for an incredibly dull game. What makes a tabletop game interesting and produces much of the tactical challenge is the way cover is deployed on the battlefield.

OK, but let's run with that analogy. If you're playing a tabletop RPG, is the board with its blocks and pillars really the environment, or a representation of the environment? When I was into D&D, the thing represented on the map was a tactical display of the far more interesting and exciting space the characters were exploring. In a game, you don't have to make everything fit on a square grid. The playing space and the imaginative space can be one and the same. So why make it look like the square tiles just went 3D?

The other thing is that a tabletop game, or a videogame that takes its cues from tabletop, is about tactics and powers. But because ME2 is a compromise between that and a shooter, it has to eschew a lot of the fine-control that makes tabletop gaming so great. Which is the downside of making everything into a shooter.

Obviously I understand you are not claiming all cover is bad, but I think much of Mass Effects woes are (as highlighted a few times above) due to the unintelligent behaviour of it's enemies. Think for moment about what is one of the most commonly cited examples of excellence in artificial intelligence in gaming, the soldiers in the original half life. The way these enemies used cover made the game's combat far more varied and challenging because you never knew what approach they would use.

Right, when I say cover, I generally mean the cover mechanic of sticking to and being perfectly shielded by a piece of cover. In a standard shooter like Half-Life, cover is not a binary state the way it is in a cover-mechanic based shooter. In games like HL or Bad Company 2, you have to think much more about the degree of your exposure.

It is partially an AI issue. But I think one place that cover goes wrong is that developers stop at teaching the AI to take cover, and don't go the extra mile to ensure that it uses it effectively (like choosing the cover that gives the greatest advantage) or knows how to drive players out of cover.

This discussion has centered on ME2, but look at the Kane & Lynch series, which I really want to like. But the first game was mindless cover action, and the second game was even worse. Now these are the guys who made the Hitman series, so they obviously know how to make a great game. But when it came time to make a pure shooter, they relied on cover to give the combat structure. Which is why K&L has first-rate production values but really generic action. Same as RDR.

I suppose my question to you would be: Would you prefer it to have a situation where the environment fitted the story perfectly, but resulted in gameplay which basically consisted of two people standing in the open firing at each other until one drops dead?

Maybe. I'm not sure. The game you just described is, to some extent, Deus Ex. Great environments. Exciting world. But when the shooting starts, everyone is just blasting away in the open. Yet that game mostly worked for me. However, one of the reasons it worked is because it let me avoid that gameplay and take radically different approaches to the same problem. To the point where you're basically playing a different level in a different game.

But really, I don't think we have to choose between environments and gameplay. In my experience, strengthening the former improves the latter.

A very well put article! And it has made me notice what you say about Red Dead and Mass Effect, I still loved Red Dead a lot even though there was this problem. I don't disagree, but I'm not sure I agree with you either if that makes sense. A very nice article though.

I become a bigger fan of your writing with each article. Great piece.

I agree with Mr. Zacny here, but I didn't really notice the issues with the cover in Mass Effect 2 on the first playthrough. It wasn't until I replayed Uncharted 2 earlier this year and then started a 2nd playthrough on Mass Effect 2 that the bland combat environments and scenarios stuck out to me. I started out playing a soldier, but I restarted and picked a more magic focused class after getting slightly annoyed by the way combat was playing out. It was a great decision for me. The magic focused classes in ME2 varied things enough to keep the combat interesting.

Uncharted 2 never let you sit comfortably in one place to pick off baddies. You had to constantly jump from cover to cover to dodge grenades, run away from armored goons with shotguns, and avoid enemies running around your backside to flank. I rarely looked at a battle scene and thought it was just a series of cover pieces in an open space (which was constantly on my mind during ME2). The organically designed settings went a long way towards preventing me from seeing through the basic design of the system.

Thinking about all this before I played Red Dead was probably a big reason why I didn't enjoy the combat in that game much either.

notomtolose wrote:

If you looked at a list of six options:

1 - No magic
2 - Magic
3 - Magic
4 - Magic
5 - Magic
6 - Magic

And picked #1? It's definitely your fault if it's boring.

If the list had said "Soldier (boring, do not play!)" then I doubt so many would have picked it.

A game should generally not offer a choice that's destined to be boring.

I am enjoying the hell out of Mass Effect 2, but it does irk me that combat from cover is the ONLY way to survive. It would have been nice if that was just optional, and half the time it was ok to "run-and-gun" without the use of cover. The second I move out of cover and try to close in on an enemy the screen gets very red. I just want more options in terms of combat styles.

Again, I just love people posting that only dullards play soldier class. Everyone knows that it's impossible to have fun playing that class. Like, duh.


Soldier is very straightforward, is probably the best way to say it. The other classes just give you more toys to play with in addition to the guns.

Scratched wrote:

Soldier is very straightforward, is probably the best way to say it. The other classes just give you more toys to play with in addition to the guns.

That's a good way to put it. It's not that 'dullards' play it, or that it's inherently boring. Just straightforward.

burntham77 wrote:

I am enjoying the hell out of Mass Effect 2, but it does irk me that combat from cover is the ONLY way to survive. It would have been nice if that was just optional, and half the time it was ok to "run-and-gun" without the use of cover. The second I move out of cover and try to close in on an enemy the screen gets very red. I just want more options in terms of combat styles.

But that's where your class selection comes in. Being a Vanguard and hiding in cover while plinking away at the enemy's armour with a pistol will take forever. Charging down with a Krogan shotgun, then pausing and using your squad powers to help you survive the inevitable crossfire is far more interesting.

The downside is that rerolling can be onerous if you want to experiment, especially with the looooong intro.

I disagree with a lot of the article, but I’ll preface with what I do agree with. The cover-based combat did compromise the visual design of some of the levels in ME2. Horizon, the dead Reaper, and the Collector Base come to mind. There were even a few times when an “ambush” was telegraphed by the presence of chest-high walls in the area ahead, and surely that’s a level design sin.

But while cover based shooters systems can lead to unconvincing locations, it does lead to convincing action sequences. Before cover-based shooting we had backwards running, circle strafing, and “bullet-time.” The first two are ridiculous (obviously so from a 3rd person camera), and the third wore itself out. Cover based shooting looks and feels authentic, hence it is popular.

I think you overstate the blandness of ME2 levels. Take Tali’s 2 missions. On the first you’re in a large outdoor area with a high degree of verticality, but are strongly incentivized to stay in the shadows or risk a nasty burn from the sun’s radiation. In the next you’re fighting close-quarters cabin to cabin on a claustrophobic quarian cruiser (hooray alliteration.) These two levels play and feel very different. (Especially to my Infiltrator)

Garrus mission 1 features a segment where you have to seal off a hangar from reinforcements, and you’d better do it quickly and get back or else who knows what might happen to him. Sitting back and plinking away behind cover won’t work as the reinforcements are steadily trickling in (ok, there are infinite reinforcements) and if you take too long Garrus (up to that point Shepard’s last true friend in the Universe) might bite it. But going in too quickly will result in a load screen. A sniper might try and take down a cluster of dudes at once but... oh sh*t! The Varren (no doubt deliberately designed short enough to not be seen above chest-high walls) snuck around the cover while you were thinking and proceeded to eviscerate Shepard.

But I probably wouldn’t have commented on this, except that Uncharted 2 is used as a positive example of cover based shooting. Uncharted 2 was completely a shooting gallery. I’m convinced that Naughty Dog reimplemented the Nazi AI from the Medal of Honor series. It goes a little something like this

if (I’m in perfectly good cover) {
Abandon cover and advance single file, no faster than a walk, over open ground, towards the player
If (grenade lands near me) {
(In the fiction they’re not Nazis but “War Criminals.” Well, I made it through the WWII fad of the early 2000s, and I know a Nazi when I see one)

To make it somewhat challenging they introduce characters with Bullsh*tanium armor that can withstand a full clip of AK-47 fire. Later on they introduce heavier enemies that have even more ridiculous armor. And later enemies with no armor but that can still withstand a ludicrous amount of punishment. It’s just increasing hit points to increase difficulty, and to me, that is lazy game design. Uncharted 2 has convincing environments and voice-acting performances, but contrived gameplay.

ME2 does variable difficulty the right way, by making enemies try more aggressive tactics at higher difficulty levels. It also is a game that begs to be replayed. If you were mostly a Paragon, see what the Renegade path is like. Try a different gender with a different romance. Try different classes, or a different build for your original class. Try doing the suicide mission ASAP without any upgrades.

MrDevil909 wrote:

The downside is that rerolling can be onerous if you want to experiment, especially with the looooong intro.

Yeah, I'm of the opinion that games that require you to choose or build the player character's class should allow some sort of class change or re-spec with no penalty about an hour into the gameplay, or have some other mechanic to let you try out a couple different options before making a final decision. Half of what killed my interest in the first Mass Effect for so long (something I didn't fully get over until I tried the sequel and got addicted to the story) was getting into this never-ending loop of, "Pick class. Play two hours. Oops, I don't like this class. Restart. Pick class. Play two hours. Oops...."

I had a very similar experience in Oblivion, which I didn't get over until I finally sucked it up and GameFAQs'd an "optimal" character build.

My feelings on RDR are pretty much identical. Man, I regret buying that game so much

I've heard they're doing away with cover for that Warhammer 40k Space Marine game. Something about how the power armor is too bulky to hide behind crap or tougher than most buildings anyway, or that the Emperor does not tolerate cowardice in his marines.

Cover isn't perfect but it serves a purpose. If you want a game to be more challenging or more real, you need to make bullets hurt. If bullets hurt, you need to give the player a way to not get shot. It'd be nice if they could be a little more creative than the waist-high walls, yes.

In Army of TWO: 40th Day, there is very little convenient waist-high cover. You're mostly hiding behind tables, cars, walls and the like. There are some concrete barriers that are about waist-high and make good cover except they crumble under sustained fire.

I couldn't get enough of RDR but ME2 couldn't end quick enough. The most exciting gunfights happened in cinematics where I had 0 control, especially towards the end. If I had played a soldier, I don't know if I would have gotten through the game with any sanity intact.

I've got the solution for your cover-shooter blues: Metro 2033.

As how the Witcher took the RPG and gave it a Polish flavor that made for a better game. Metro 2033 takes the FPS and gives it an Ukraine (makers of Stalker) flavor where each bullet counts and sometimes you can't just wait out the enemy because of limited filters (Run!). The difficulty levels are significant. On easy you have and casual shooter. On medium you get the desperate feeling that the developers were intending, and it ramps up from there.

To end any buyers remorse, Steam has it for 75% off right now only $10! TEN DOLLARS!

I finished it on the Xbox 360 and it is still a breath of fresh air from the common shooter.

I will agree with other posters who say that the problem is mainly in execution. Most third person shooters these days just use cover simply for the sake of having cover without actually thinking through why it's there and how to use it.

Ironically, Gears of War is the one game I've played that actually uses cover correctly. The whole game is about maneuvering to get a tactical advantage over various enemies and simply uses cover to that end. Gears tries to challenge you with different kinds of enemies who behave and advance in different ways and require different cover-based strategies to defeat. Most games that ripped off Gears only did so superficially, forgetting the actual strategy element or even the ability to smoothly move from cover to cover.

Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption aren't really shooters at all - the former calls itself an RPG and the latter is an open-world game, each only incorporating shooting as a single gameplay element. Neither of those was going to develop it to the level of Uncharted or Gears because they aren't really centered around cover.

Honestly, combat has been the least interesting part of the Mass Effect games or me. The most enjoyment I've gotten from those games has come from exploring the galaxy and talking to various people. Red Dead, similarly, is actually most interesting when you are either riding across the vast landscape with dialogue exposition in the background, ranching, or busting some fools with Dead Eye on horseback.

RedSwirl wrote:

Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption aren't really shooters at all - the former calls itself an RPG and the latter is an open-world game, each only incorporating shooting as a single gameplay element. Neither of those was going to develop it to the level of Uncharted or Gears because they aren't really centered around cover.

To which I can only point to this:

Dysplastic wrote:

If a game isn't "about" shooting, but you spend 50% of the time shooting, perhaps the game needs to take a long hard look at what its about.

And RDR is absolutely a shooter. There is not a meaningful interaction in the game that doesn't involve shooting.

Could've been worse: you could have spent 50% of your time with Mass Effect picking from "Fight Magic Item Run."

I had fun with the soldier class in ME2, actually. Especially once I picked up the squad power to throw enemies around. But shepard being an unstoppable walking gun let me grab weaker but more tactically interesting teammates, and a lot of the fun was getting my team positioned properly, and using their shiny toys to blast things out of cover, or area denial, then blowing them down with shepard.

Playing through Red Dead Redemption lately, I've not really had any problems with cover feeling too arbitrary. I think the cover is handled well, since it does force you to manage exposure with your cover. Sure, that fence will give you a good firing position and some cover, but that guy with the high powered rifle will eat your lunch.

Really, the biggest problem with cover based games that I've seen isn't a cover problem, it's an AI problem. Which has been an issue in shooters for awhile, IMO. Having enemies hide, instead of standing out in the open and taking more bullets than a tank to drop does lead to some more interesting, and internally consistent, gameplay... until the AI lets you play whack a mole. Destructible cover, and better cover systems would help, but I think what would help more are aggressive enemies that shoot better, flanking, enemies actually being suppressed, weaponry that encourages you to move, and AI that are smart enough to realize it.

An alternative would be dumb friendly AI with a good interface to move them around so they're useful, but current games seem to be stuck in the middle with a little bit of squad command, a bit of AI usefulness and a bit of you doing most of the killing. Dumb enemy AI is harder to work into a game, as you're getting into Serious Sam territory if you just throw legions of dumb enemies at you, which doesn't really fit a scenario like Mass Effect where you would like to think at least some of your opposition have brains.

One thing I have noticed however is that often friendly AI tend to be ineffective as intended, so that the player gets to kill everything and feel great, but it also has the effect that you wonder if you're fighting with star wars stormtroopers who can't hit anything and why bother to bring the useless wastes of space on your mission to save the world.

In my humble opinion, i think we need health (of the non-regenerating sort) to be reintroduced to gaming. Many games these days are either instakill or regenhealth through whatever mechanic (such as cover or time-based recoveries). Each of these health systems means that each combat encounter, even each choice in combat, is a binary event - either you die or you succeed. Go back 6 or more years ago and even in Halo you could leave a fight with the health you entered into it intact or depleted to various degrees. This meant that your next fight, unless you found some health replenishment items, required you to bring more of your skill to the table: more tactics, patience or just pure luck.... or you'd end up even worse off for the next encounter (or dead).

Now, you're not just reset after every encounter á la fighting games, but also each person within the same fight (and even the same opponent if you manage to hide before they deal some more damage to you) and quite frankly, AI hasn't progressed so much that it picks up the slack in this type of gameplay.

The thing with no regeneration and health packs, is do you design every encounter so that it's possible to beat on 1% health with no health packs? It's possible to get a save in a not ideal state like that, so the designer has two choices, either say 'tough luck' you've got to restart from the last major check point like the start of the level (the game does have check points like that, right? oops, you have to restart), or find them a way to get through on 1%. Depending on the game that 1% run might be well suited (evade rather than combat) or a real tough slog.

Just as I decide there's some types of games I want to play and don't want to play, designers can decide that there's certain types of experiences they want players to have or not have in their games, and constraints on how they make encounters. If they can be sure the player has a reasonable amount of health entering an encounter, it makes the process a lot simpler.

There's a place for ironman mode, but perhaps it's not found in the big titles.

Like i mentioned above - Halo 1 had both systems and it worked the best of the three main Halo titles IMO. So there was a regenerating shield but your health was limited.

Plus, any designer that would purposely design an encounter to try and get you down to 1% health would be pretty unforgiving. I think most encounters are designed to challenge the player but not kill them (with some rareish, nowadays poorly designed encounters where there's a difficulty spike). There's no reason why there'd not be health packs in between or during encounters. If you think of games where there's adaptive difficulty (like Sin:Emergence) if you were low on health you'd get proportionately more health packs during play and enemies would reduce their health and accuracy to match the player's skill level.

I wasn't advocating ironman mode at all with this system - in fact most old titles are not "ironman" modes in comparison to today's cover-based regenerating health titles, they just had to work at their challenge curves and player rewards systems as opposed to the less resource-intensive balancing of the current style of development. Which may also be a reason why we've seen this mechanic take off.

You can take it to the extreme in either case - but that extreme doesn't have to exist if the developer does their job right.

TheWanderer wrote:

QED, is there a lurker among us who can comment here? What is cover? How is it really used as we persecute war among living men? What are we misunderstanding in the "mechanic" of practomime (i.e., the pattern of a platformer and how is it different from real war)?

The military defines cover as any battlefield feature or material that has the potential to stop at least some fire, and blocks line-of-sight. For example, a single-row sandbag wall might be considered cover from small-arms fire, but only concealment from a heavy machine-gun or light cannon (think 25mm cannon in the Bradley and LAV-25).

The military defines concealment as intervening battlefield feature or material that blocks line-of-sight, but does not have much potential to stop fire: smoke, foliage, camouflage netting, drywall, etc. Concealment can be effective protection as long as the enemy does not have a means of targeting you through whatever concealment you've set up or are using, but is a distant second to cover.

Actual training and fighting is both more "exciting" than video game fighting and far more boring. You spend enormous amounts of time "doing nothing" (but remaining alert), doing various maintenance tasks, walking somewhere, or riding somewhere. In the tiny time periods where you are actually shooting at stuff, you spend virtually all of your time maneuvering or providing suppression fire from behind some sort of cover so that someone else can maneuver. This technique is called "fire and maneuver". Suppression fire is usually poorly aimed large-volume fire that is simply designed to interfere with the other guy's ability to shoot accurately - machine-guns are especially good at this. Smoke grenades, mortar rounds, and artillery shells are also used to provide concealment for maneuver - particularly if the maneuver would be exposed to enemy observation and direct fire.

Even then, the rule of thumb at the personal level is 3 to 5 seconds of movement (emphasis on three seconds if you want to live), and you are supposed to move from cover to cover while being covered by your buddy. It's called the "3-to-5 second rush." If you move from cover to concealment, you keep moving behind concealment so you don't get hit as soon as you stop. Virtually all battlefield maneuver takes place either behind cover and concealment, or out of sight behind various terrain features. It's extremely rare and extremely dangerous to simply rush forward without even concealment.

This dynamic is why ambushes and urban fighting are so dangerous. In an L-shaped ambush, you have enemies firing from in front of you and from one side ... which makes virtually all the available cover useless, and the short range virtually guarantees accurate fire. Standard procedure is to get out of the ambush's kill zone as fast as possible and by any means necessary - which usually means pop smoke and run. Fighting in urban areas adds the problem of three dimensions and severely restricted lines of sight. It's virtually impossible to "take cover" that will be effective for long due to maneuvering on both sides, and there's constant point-blank contact as both sides attempt to maneuver through tight spaces.

I've played the first Brothers in Arms game, and it failed in two major ways - the maneuver space was sharply limited to the point where it was more-or-less a wide combat "tunnel" with no flanks, which removed most of your ability to maneuver effectively and made almost every scenario a frontal assault. There were also very few options for the use of smoke or distraction. Suppressing fire was modeled in the game, but it was difficult to do right and not very useful - picking off the enemy soldiers with your super-human accuracy was faster and more effective.

To me, super-human accuracy and lack of concealment options are more realism-downers than cover mechanics, although they are related - the super-human accuracy from behind cover that's prevalent in Army of Two and Gears of War, for example.

The Steam Sale has given me some insight into this article. I'm normally a role-playing/strategy kind of guy, but I finally picked up Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect 2 and have been playing both rather avidly.

IMHO there really isn't that much difference between Mass Effect 2's cover system and say Call of Duty's system. Call of Duty makes it a little less obvious since you don't have big bright arrows pointing to where you can hide. However, the level design still gives you obvious cover. For example, fighting your way through a Middle Eastern back alley, it's obvious that you're going to duck behind that bulldozer. Any game that has you fighting through limited space versus giving you full freedom - aka the Fallout games or ARMA - is going to have the same problem.

I'd also like to point out that Bioware has the same repetitive problem with combat in their non-shooter games. Dragon Age had some truly memorable fights between bosses and monsters like the dragon guarding the sacred ashes. It also had a lot of tedious fights between genlocks in the wilderness or back alley thugs in Ferelden. Maybe this is less of a genre issue and more of a developer issue.

Thanks Aetlius for that authoritative-sounding reply.


hidannik wrote:

Thanks Aetlius for that authoritative-sounding reply.

Don't take my word for it.

FM 7-8 Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad

L-shaped ambush:


Battle Drill #4 React to Ambush

In a near ambush, the drill is to return fire at people you generally can't see, take cover in a location specifically selected by the enemy so there is little to no cover (and what is there is likely booby-trapped), throw grenades, and assault through (or, more intelligently, away). In short, your goal is to turn Battle Drill #4 into Battle Drill #3 Break Contact.

FM 21-75 Combat Skills of the Soldier - Chapter 3, Movement

The rush is the fastest way to move from one position to another. Each rush should last from 3 to 5 seconds. The rushes are kept short to keep enemy machine gunners or riflemen from tracking you. However, do not stop and hit the ground in the open just because 5 seconds have passed. Always try to hit the ground behind some cover. Before moving, pick out your next covered and concealed position and the best route to it.

Make your move from the prone position as follows:

* Slowly raise your head and pick your next position and the route to it.
* Slowly lower your head.
* Draw your arms into your body (keeping your elbows in).
* Pull your right leg forward.
* Raise your body by straightening your arms.
* Get up quickly.
* Run to the next position.

When you are ready to stop moving, do the following:

* Plant both of your feet.
* Drop to your knees (at the same time slide a hand to the butt of your rifle).
* Fall forward, breaking the fall with the butt of the rifle.
* Go to a prone firing position.

Mass Effect 2's combat, for me, was some of the best I have experienced in a video game. It ranks up there with Infinity Ward's CoD games and the Gears of War series, in my book. I see it as an exemplar of how to make a great action rpg. I am more than a little confused at the dissatisfaction. To each his own I guess.