Musings: Who really needs exploding barrels?

Not trying to mimic the great comic Jerry Seinfeld but ‘what’s the deal’ with exploding barrels? It’s not a new invention for video games nor is the questioning of their relevance. It’s only because Treyarch have littered Call of Duty: Black Ops with them that I ask the rhetorical question. Like a lot of gamers – around six million to be a tad more precise – I’m up to my neck in Black Ops right now and between the good points, very good points and painfully cheesy moments are these canisters of unknown origin, waiting for a bullet to cause major damage.

That’s fine, I get that, I understand why an exploding barrel next to a number of enemies is advantageous to the player but they become really quite bothersome when I was downed due to the buggers. Black Ops is a bit of an exception to be fair however as there were quite a few times in the campaign mode when I was killed for seemingly no apparent reason but the times when a sentence flashed up saying it was because I stood too near a barrel really wound me up. It wasn’t because I have an issue seeing them more that their existence feels a little jarring. I would prefer a game without them, which may slightly reduce my offensive options but does mean I wouldn’t pause in frustration and angrily ask myself “why are there so many damn exploding barrels in a village?!,” for example.

Because really, who needs a barrel that appears only useful as a bomb? Okay, so the Michael Bay flattering fulmination they produce is particularly eye pleasing however it also feels a bit lazy to include them in a level rather than having an altogether more creative way of disposing of enemies. Better points for sniping, a greater level of intelligence for opposing forces or just simply alternative routes for combat. I’d take all of the above over the shooting of a barrel. I tend to find that weaknesses in level design, mechanics and even story begin to show whenever there’s one near by. Maybe I’m being too harsh and maybe they have their place as a video game icon but jumping from Black Ops to Fable III and finding yet more exploding barrels caused a little sigh of disappointment.

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