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Head-up display

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Today's look at the emerging trend of games with minimal or nonexistent heads-up displays (HUDs) got us thinking about how games have traditionally laid out critical information about the player's status. We've come practically full circle from the days of the earliest video games, which were unable to display any status information or even keep track of basic statistics. In between, we've seen HUDs ranging from the realistic (Ace Combat 2) to the ridiculous (World of Warcraft) with everything in between. Recall for yourself by clicking through our gallery.

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Keep an eye on that meter on your wrist... it's pretty important.

The world of Metro: Last Light isn’t pretty. To escape nuclear war, millions of the game’s Russian citizens descended into subway stations the instant the air raid sirens cried out, forced to leave their lives on the surface behind. Below ground, life is bleak. The irradiated world above means no access to fresh air or sunshine. Money means nothing, and ammunition is currency. Fathers nearly break down when sons ask where Mom is and when she’s coming home—and they have to repeat a variation of the same lie they’ve told for countless years. Radioactive mutants attack the subterranean train-station-based encampments.

The setting is easy to buy into because few blinking indicators and status updates slap you in the face, offering constant reminds that you’re playing a video game. This is deliberate, according to Andrey Prokhorov, creative director and co-founder at 4A Games, the studio behind Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light.

“If you look at your monitor (or TV set) as a gate into the world of the game, the heads-up display (HUD) elements become the bars keeping you from entering that world,” he told Ars in a recent interview. And it's part of a trend.

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