Throughout my exploration of adventure games and other shooters, I noticed an odd pattern with the enemies the player is faced with. There’s the normal enemies; they just have guns and try to shoot you. Depending on which game, these enemies take the form of soldiers, mercenaries (very often), gang members, pirates… whatever. In any case, they are all very replaceable. Then there are rarer breeds of enemies that require extra knowledge to route; like grenadiers, rocket troops, snipers, etc. Those enemies are designed, I can only guess, to make the combat more varied and interesting. Along with those rarer breeds of non-boss enemies is another specific type of enemy that I’d like to focus on – Big Frosty Dudes. They are often called “brutes” or “heavies”, but while these games can agree on the necessity of having this type of enemy, they can’t all agree on their title, so I decided a blanket-term for them was necessary. Big frosty dudes, or “frosties” for short, are the large enemies wearing fat bulky armor, face covered with a mask, wearing a hard helmet, and usually wielding a shotgun or heavy maghine gun. Here’s an example from Far Cry 3:
How did I come up with that name? Lol, I really don’t know; I guess because they remind me of a snowman. But, I know you are familiar with the type because they are involved in just about every shooter. Ever think about it? Splinter Cell Blacklist, Far Cry 3, Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider to name a few… My thesis: these enemies are cheap, unoriginal, and overused. They may have been an exciting idea at one time, but their continued use in this day and age is unacceptable in my eyes.
The following are game-specific experiences with big frosty dudes:
I think my first experience with a frosty was in Freedom Fighters – one of my first favorite games. I’m sure they’ve been used before, but not to my knowledge. The “Soviet Heavy Machine Gunners” in Freedom Fighters were always exciting. There was so much tension when they showed up, and as the game progresses, the developers became more and more clever in choosing where to place them. At first, they show up in a wide open battlefield, so we can get to know them. Then, eventually you run into them in a dark, confined space and it’s really nerve-racking. That game has been my best experience with the tactic; with other games since, frosties are just a bother.
The Uncharted Series
Uncharted has to be the worst culprit of the overuse of frosties. They are brought out so much. They don’t ruin the gameplay or anything; I understand it’s the tactic they have chosen, and it’s a part of the experience. But Uncharted is the most lazy about choosing when to introduce them. Approaching the end of an Uncharted game, frosties are just thrown in among usual enemies.
And in Uncharted 3, they introduced the fist-fighting frosty. Lol, he doesn’t really qualify but operates under the same principles – only in fist fights instead of gunfights.
Tomb Raider (remake)
This game, like uncharted, uses frosties as a an un-thoughtful way to increase excitement of battles. They end up just being a bullet sponge to make the battles (and the game) last longer.
Who recruits all these dudes and puts them in Machine-like armor? And why do they walk so slow?
Another consistency among frosties is the ability to carry a giant shield like they are members of SWAT. I don’t get how that’s feasible. But it adds another tactical hurdle to the mix. It’s not enough to just duck in and out of cover shooting at guys who are doing the same thing.
Splinter Cell series
This opens up my discussion on the stupid helmet rule. It’s that rule where you can’t shoot an enemy in the head as long as they are wearing their special helmet of safety.
It just seems like another one of those silly tactics that take the player out of the real world for a sec and remind them they are in a videogame. For some games, that’s cool. Like in Dark Souls, where you have to learn the progression of beating a boss; it’s very gamey but it’s fun because it works for that game. But for Splinter Cell, it seems a bit childish.
Peacewalker was a weird mess for many reasons, but one in particular was its regression to simpler gameplay (undoubtedly a choice made for the PSP). Along with this comes armored dudes just like in all the other third-person shooters. Their presence in the game was possibly the most uninteresting yet.
Frosties even show up in Watch Dogs… ugh. Yet another reason that game was an unoriginal waste of time.
By the way, here’s a good look at a stereotypical frosty: the tree-trunk limps, the extra armor strapped to his shins and thighs, the big ol helmet, the backpack for some reason…
Resident Evil 5
Now, this is where my thoughts go in the positive direction. With these other games, I feel frosties just take away from the immersion and main focus of gameplay. But in Re:5, different tactical decisions for a range of different, interesting types of enemies IS the gameplay. That’s what it’s all about.
In Re:5, there are some zombies that don metal armor and vests (cuz thaaaaat’s what zombies would think to do), but it’s cool because this game is firmly rooted in the ridiculous. That type of zombie would be a good example of a frosty, but I think it goes beyond that. I would even consider the “big man majini” a special type of frosty. He’s just a big dude that takes extra damage to kill. He doesn’t wear armor or anything, but I think it still counts.
Who also could count are the chainsaw zombies, the giant insects, the bulbous-head zombies, and various others. They are in that special category of not a normal enemy and not a boss, which is a big part of how big frosty dudes are defined. So, maybe not the prime example but they could be seen that way…
Now, even in the new footage of MGS5, I’m noticing enemies taking refuge in the helmet rule… I think modern games should take their previous success with frosties and be done with them. It does make for some nice systematic decision making when an enemy has special rules… but it also just reminds us that our game’s environment is very controlled by developers playing by their fantasy rules rather than the environment playing by the rules of the real world. Which is not a benefit for games aiming for a realistic experience.
Am I right? Comment please :)