Monday, March 24, 2008

How Accurate Are First-Person Shooter Weapons?

How Accurate Are First-Person Shooter Weapons?

With a spate of new military shooter titles hitting the market, PopularMechanics' resident geeks get the inside story on gaming's next-gen guns from top developers, who have to balance coolness with correctness for every M-16 they recreate.

In real life, people rarely want to get into a firefight. But in many video games, particularly military-themed first-person shooters (FPS) like the just-released Rainbow Six Vegas 2, you can’t wait to step into the line of fire. After all, you’re an elite commando, and there’s no way not to fight—no button to press to call your nervous wreck of a wife or go hang out with the kids. It doesn’t matter how many bullets you take while gunning down whole platoons of terrorists and mercenaries, because this is red-blooded escapism at its geekiest. So shut up and starting shooting guys.

But unlike sci-fi FPS games such as Halo or Doom, military shooters have a tradition of so-called realism. Most of the in-game weapons are available now—or at least loosely based on designs that could eventually reach the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, as optimistic as game developers might be about a high-tech replacement for the M-16 assault rifle, there are no plasma rifles or rail guns in your arsenal. Firefights look and sound like something out of Blackhawk Down, with that unnerving, staccato crackle of modern-day warfare. And the damage inflicted feels more accurate, too: In games like Call of Duty 4 or Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, most enemies are vulnerable to a single burst, and a few incoming rounds can kill you easily. So as this successful genre continues to deliver best-selling titles, will increasingly powerful PCs and game consoles allow military shooters to become more realistic than ever?

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