Nothing Says Funeral Like a Quick Time Event

Illustration for article titled Nothing Says Funeral Like a Quick Time Event

In the early moments of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's campaign mode, the player is given a choice — press or hold a button to pay their respects to a fallen comrade, or just sit there awkwardly watching the screen until they get bored and wander off. Not much of a choice, really.

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Circulating on Twitter and Reddit yesterday, screens like the one above are being pointed at and ridiculed. It's the new "Press 'E' to Hide In The Mass Grave." I can see it. While nowhere near as distasteful as Homefront's example, a military funeral is a very odd place for a button prompt, especially in a game filled with gorgeous non-interactive cutscenes.

Having played through the full campaign however, I can understand why Sledgehammer Games chose to make this portion of the story player-controlled.

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Mild spoilers follow.

In the scene in question, Jack Mitchell is bidding farewell to his best friend, who perished during a disastrous mission in South Korea. His friend also happens to be the son of Kevin Spacey's Jonathan Irons, founder and CEO of powerful private military corporation Atlas.

The button press is a mechanic that signals the beginning of the interactive portion of the scene. Here's the sequence in full.

Why go interactive at this point? Without spoiling anything, I'll say that the sequence acts as a clever framing device for events which occur later in the game. It also, hopefully obviously, hints that there's something not quite right with Spacey's character. Your son's funeral is not the proper place to field a new recruit.

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That doesn't mean the whole "Hold X" bit isn't a silly device. The game needed the player to perform and action and follow the non-player characters down a path, and this is what they came up with.

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DISCUSSION

turbotastic
Turbotastic

So what happens if you don't push X? Does your character loudly shout, "Good riddance, that guy was an asshole!" and run out of the funeral with both middle fingers in the air?

The coffin thing isn't even the weirdest part of this sequence to me. It's the fact that we never get a prompt that reads, "PRESS X TO ACTUALLY TALK TO KEVIN SPACEY."

And if we did, it would be followed by, "HA HA JUST KIDDING, YOUR CHARACTER CAN'T TALK. WE ACTUALLY WENT TO THE TROUBLE OF INVENTING THIS SARGENT GUY JUST SO HE COULD SAY STUFF TO KEVIN THAT YOUR CHARACTER SHOULD BY ALL LOGIC BY SAYING. THEN KEVIN TELLS YOU WHO YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND IS. PRESS ANY BUTTON TO PRETEND THIS ISN'T INCREDIBLY AWKWARD STORYTELLING."

The Silent Protagonist trope works really well in some games: Half-Life, Zelda, Chrono Trigger, etc. This is not one of them, at least going by this scene. COD is trying really hard to push the "LOOK AT ALL THE REALISM" angle, but when the protagonist can't talk for no good reason, and you're pushing buttons just to make him sad about a dead guy, it just takes you right out of that. It's like the developers want the game to be all cinematic, but also all video gamey, and instead of committing to one angle, they mashed both together in a super-awkward way.

Anyway, thanks Call of Duty for continuing to crank out reliable memes year after year. Last year it was Army Dog, this year it's Press X to Mourn. Next year: I don't know. Terrorists on stilts. "Ha ha!" they will shout. "Now we are slightly harder to shoot from ground level!"