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Red Barrels

Written by Mike Holmes on the 29th of November 2011 at 12:17

This is my love letter to all the unappreciated red barrels out there. Here's me doffing my cap to those explosive little cylinders of joy that have, over the years, enhanced my experience of so many first-person shooters.

If all the explosions I've created over the years were combined together into one enormous wave of destruction, the resulting fireball would be too big to fathom. The explosions I have created with my well aimed bullets have taken out countless henchmen, demons and aliens. Eruptions of flame have surrounded me in combat, making me feel like an immortal action hero.

They've come along way over the years have red barrels. My first memory of them is of demons disintegrating into flesh and blood as I poured bullets into the conveniently placed deathtraps dotted all over the complex maps in Doom. Blowing up the barrels was always a satisfactory experience, bringing an additional level of complexity to the shooting; creating a cause and effect relationship that went beyond my gun and it's victim.

Quake brought the barrels into the realm of 3D. GoldenEye took it one stage further, allowing players to place mines on scenery and create their own special brand of destruction. They both used 3D to great effect, improving on the physics of the explosions and in doing so, amplifying the sense of style and finesse felt when the I pulled off a tactical masterstroke involving a well aimed grenade and an explosive crate.

Everybody is at it now. I can't think of many contemporary shooters that don't include some form of explosive scenery. It's the norm. Now it's all sorts of things; cars, walls, fire extinguishers. I want you just for a moment to think of what your favourite shooting game would be like without a bit of destructible scenery in there. It wouldn't feel right would it?

It goes to show what an important innovation it was all those years ago. Exploding barrels/crates add something unique to a FPS adventure; it bulks up the gameplay, gives it something extra and turns it into a much more cinematic experience.

So here's to you red barrels. Here's to everything you've done to liven up the games I've played over the years. Thanks for all the death and destruction you've helped me create. Thanks for all the deeply average shooters that you've made bearable, and for all those classic games that you've made that little bit more enjoyable.

You might not get the appreciation you deserve from some people, but next time i'm playing Call of Duty and I roll a grenade under a car and it explodes killing the sniper who has been camping on the other side, know that I'll be thinking of you and I wont forget for a moment what a glorious little game mechanic you are.

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