A Call for Consistent Video Game Cinematic Pausing

Can you pause a cinematic in Gears of War 3, or does the start button skip them?

By , Contributor
I loved Gears of War 3, the third entry in Epic's manly, macho shooter portraying a narrative of personal desperation in humanity's dying days. However, it would have been enjoyed more without fear, fear that hitting a button was going to skip a crucial plot point necessary towards the full story.

Most video games these days let the player pause the story-driven cinemas, or even offer an option to skip the cinematic interlude of they choose when a button is pressed. Some instantly skip when you press start, others just bowl them over for the next action scene. Other have hover text stating, "Press this button to skip." What's lacking here is consistency.

Of course, you can pause a movie when you're watching it at home, but playing these mega-blockbusters video games these days is sort of like being at a theater, only worse. It's the equivalent of if nature calls midway through the feature, getting might actually skip past that block of the flick for everyone.

gears35.jpgI honestly don't know what would happen if I had tried to pause one of those story bits in Gears 3. It's not like it's in the manual, mostly because Gears doesn't even have one. Maybe the start button does pause them, but how can I know? If you miss one with key info, it can require replaying significant portions of the level design.

There are other consistencies in gaming, the right trigger acting as fire, left aiming down the sights, analog sticks controlling movement, etc. Not all control schemes would work for all games (switching the smaller trigger for X in terms of reloading is always a toughie), but it's a developers right to change up as they see fit.

But gorgeous displays of CG prowess? Why would any developer not let someone know how to pause that in case of a phone call, pet interruption, significant other bickering, or sandwich urges?

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Matt Paprocki is a 13-year veteran of the video game, movie, and home media scene. He has written thousands of reviews, has been published on a variety of websites, and contributes his thoughts daily on a diverse range of topics.

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