When you hear RPG what is the first thing that comes to mind? If your answer is Rocket-Propelled Grenade, a rocket launcher used to blow up heavily armoured vehicles in war-zones, then you are more than likely a modern gamer. RPG games do not exist any more, not in the same form as when they were ground breaking on consoles like the SNES. Action games are what people want to play these days, blood, gore and fast paced story lines with a 5 hour Campaign mode seem to keep games on the top of the charts.
The 20-somethings that picked up Final Fantasy 7 when they were 7 or 8 will remember how that game made them feel, it took 40+ hours to complete the whole thing, there were side quests with real rewards, it had variety and you could play it through as many times as possible and get something new out of it, you had to make real strategic decisions about what you were going to do, you couldn’t run in to anything with all guns blazing and hope for the best. You defined how the game played, being a Role Playing Game meant that you put yourself into the shoes of the characters.
Now it’s not to say that RPG’s don’t exist any more, its just that they exist within contemporary gaming, by this i’m not talking about MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft, these games are a different breed. But think about Far Cry 3 which came out recently, after putting over 20 hours into it, it hit me that a lot of this game has what the old RPG’s used to have. You gain XP and you level up, you have to find items, some of which you get from killing enemies, you take different medical syringes, (hello potions) to give you different abilities during battles, albeit done while holding an AK-47 or driving a Jeep off a mountainside. And hold on, but is FIFA 2013 also somewhat of an RPG? In the same way, you can acquire new players, you can give those players special items to make their stats better to ensure a fighting chance in an upcoming game, you can even send players with low stats out to another club, when their stats are improved after time has passed you bring them back. Which, I don’t know if it’s just me, but this really reminds me of dropping off your Metapod at the day care centre in pokemon Red/Blue and bringing him back when he’s a high level Butterfree that has a good chance of winning you the Champions league final, I mean defeating the Elite Four.
No game has embraced the RPG as much as the Mass Effect series has. The intricate levelling systems, the ability to change your main characters name, appearance and sex as well as the option to hand-pick your party for battle as well as your equipment makes the Mass Effect series extremely versatile among modern action gamers, and hardcore RPG lovers.
Even the Call of Duty series has RPG elements like levelling up, buying weapons and choosing the right set of abilities for whatever situation you are in. The list of current games which borrow staple traits from the golden era of RPG gaming is endless,More and more aspects of RPG’s are coming up in the weirdest places, soon you won’t be able to play Just Dance for the Kinect without first attaching relevant equipment and drinking a vitality potion. Is it a bad thing that this is happening, should first person shooters be just that, a soldier with a gun and nothing else? I would argue probably not, it would be a huge waste to have a drop down menu of commands and a five minute wait to make an attack with what the sheer power of modern day consoles are capable of, on another note it would be a travesty if modern games didn’t take the best aspects of retro RPG gaming and implement them in a way which can only possibly benefit the gaming industry.