ENN – July 7, 2010 – The Perspectiving
July 8th, 2010

Posted by Jeremy

For this week’s ENN, we delve into the scary realm of unneeded and un-asked-for gameplay innovations. To this point, GearGasm has been mostly about hardware, but we felt that there was a spot for the grand tradition of incorporating  game design elements that are completely irrelevant to the experience of actually playing games. I seem to recall that this idea came from a discusion during the production of the E3 News Bytes, though I sadly don’t remember the details. Paul, as usual for GearGasm, took the idea and ran with it to create the most astoundingly generic-sounding game concept he could think of, paired with this astonishingly terrible concept.

After the fact, however, we realized there are actually several games that incorporate second-person concepts. Here is my personal top five.

Too Human
Among other well-intentioned-but-poorly-implemented concepts in Too Human is the idea that a physical camera within the game environment would lead to a more cinematic (and possibly compelling?) play experience. As such, small sections of the game took place from the point-of-view of enemies Baldur was about to kill, which could be jarring and somewhat hard-to-manage when that enemy was, for example, suspended 10 metres above the level, looking down on the player.

Metal Gear Solid
The Psycho Mantis section of Metal Gear Solid is one of the most fondly-remembered and consistently
lauded sections in any video game. One aspect that most folks fail to remember, however, occurs in the leadup to the sequence, where Meryl is obviously acting weird, but the player isn’t exactly sure why. At this point, outside the commander’s office, a player entering first-person mode would see Snake from Meryl’s point-of-view, instead of vice-versa. This acts as a creepy appetizer to the weirdness to follow, but is something most players never actually see.

God of War 3
There is undeniable badassary in looking at Kratos through Poseidon’s eyes as our favourite spartan beats the ever-living crap out of him. Eye damage is an important part of God of War and something that, in general, makes me extremely uncomfortable. Remember that comic where the Spider Hunter dude ripped out Peter Parker’s eyeball and ate it? Ew. Putting the player in the role of the ocular damagee seems a fitting way to escalate the impact of this violence.

TMNT: Turtles in Time
While not second-person in the strictest sense–because you can see him throughout the entire battle–the idea of placing the camera behind Shredder, during the technodrome level of Turtles in Time and having the turtles damage him by throwing foot soldiers into the screen was original and made for one of the highest-concept boss fights of its time. Of course, in an age before tutorials, throwing foot soldiers in not-quite-mode-7 3D was unreliable at best for 10-year-old Jeremy, but  it sure was fun!

Prince of Persia (2008)
Ok, this is clearly spoiler territory, but it’s an awesome spoiler. If you haven’t finished Nolan North the Iraqi Prince and Natalie Portman the Magical Fairy Visit Whimsical Painting Land, then you might not want to read the rest of this entry. The last boss fight of the game is played entirely from the perspective of said boss. This is awesome for three reasons: first, the perspective makes the boss seem huge compared to the Prince and Elika; second, the entire thing is in black-and-white, which makes everything, especially the corruption effects, look gorgeous; and third, the perspective makes it difficult to see exactly what the last boss looks like. HP Lovecraft would be proud. If you’ve listened to Those Games We Played, you know that I like boss fights that feel like an “event”, and this one definitely feels epic.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s ENN! We had a tonne of fun making it :). See you next week!


  1. Always thought for the MGS one, it was in Mantis’s PoV, though that could just be during the battle, and before since he’s right behind her….yea…nvm… Thanks for the ENN posts Jer :D

    Comment by ZehGeek — July 8, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  2. Also note that a boss fight in LoZ: Phantom Hourglass is in second person of one of the bosses.

    Comment by Timmmm — July 8, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  3. @Timmmm I vaguely remember that! These are mostly the ones that made a strong impression on me. PH, as a whole, sadly did not :(.

    Comment by Jeremy — July 8, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  4. Also in (awesome PS1 platformer) Ape Escape there’s a boss fight done from the boss’ viewpoint. Now I think about it second person is more common than I thought.

    Comment by NJ — July 8, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

  5. The kill-cam shots in Team Fortress 2 are sort of 2nd person. You see your enemy (standard 1st person) and often several parts of you (3rd person), for an average of 2nd person.

    Comment by Slack Mesa — July 8, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

  6. Yeah, Psychonauts also did this in a boss battle. I still vote for PoP as having the biggest impact on me tho ;).

    While second-person is, indeed, more common than we thought, it looks like it’s mostly used for boss fights…

    Comment by Jeremy — July 9, 2010 @ 1:31 am

  7. As someone with eye issues, would you say that the God of War example made you feel uncomfortable or vindicated? I think that would be a good time to be happy that you can’t see in 3D, cuz if they put that cutscene in 3D, it would fuck a lot of people up.

    Comment by Tim K — July 9, 2010 @ 2:13 am

  8. In Super Mario 64, you controlled Mario through the perspective of the Lakitu Cameraman. I guess that could be considered 2nd person.

    Comment by Steve Y — July 9, 2010 @ 3:21 am

  9. The first boss on Battletoads, that would be considered 2nd person wouldn’t it? Always loved that design.

    Comment by Tramp — July 9, 2010 @ 5:27 am

  10. @Steve Y #8

    Mario 64 is definitely third person. Lakitu is broadcasting to a Mushroom Kingdom audience, which ostensibly includes the player but not the subject himself: Mario.

    Comment by Keith K — July 9, 2010 @ 8:43 am

  11. Please do more ENN posts like this, Jeremy.

    Comment by Emperor Gum — July 9, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  12. @Tim K I read somewhere that eye mutilation is one of the last sacred cows of general human sensitivity. It’s apparently very difficult to convince people, even in a military setting, to hurt the eyes of another living person. That’s right: that biology 9 cow eye dissection was clearly a conspiracy to make better soldiers – tinfoil hats all ’round!

    @Steve Y I’m gonna call Mario 64 a corner case; I mean, you ALSO control Lakitu, right?

    @Emporer Gum Duly noted ;).

    Comment by Jeremy — July 9, 2010 @ 11:36 am

  13. I saw Prince of Persia (08) and I couldn’t resist commenting. Yes, that end boss (and the game as a whole) was awesomesauce! =D

    Comment by Sean — July 12, 2010 @ 1:06 am

  14. From a purely literary perspective, aren’t most text-adventure games second person?
    I mean, *I* am not likely to be eaten by a Grue, and *he* isn’t….
    But you are.

    Comment by KMC — July 12, 2010 @ 1:43 am

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