Once again, this cliché comes out of the JRPG market. Frankly, the power of friendship will not save you. This shortsighted attempt to fit some morals into an otherwise moral-less story really just reeks of poor writing. Sometimes, all you need is one man who wants to do the right thing to save the world. You don't need to give him special sparkly powers triggered by his relationships with his friends. In fact, the only recent games that did "the power of friendship" well were the Persona RPGs. They actually had a compelling plot-driven reason for friendship to give you magical powers. Otherwise, all we have seen is white-screen cut-away Disney magic, and that doesn't fly when you are fighting primordial Cthuloid evils.
I never expected games to exploit our fears in a similar manner to what Fox News does, but the continued success of Call of Duty proves to me that America continues to be terrified of Middle-Eastern people and anyone with a Russian accent. We constantly paint foreigners as faceless enemies to gun down without ever delving into their motivations. I want to see a game about a man forced to fight for a terrorist organization who ends up realizing his motives are flawed and takes the organization down from the inside. I'd like to see a military shooter where, for once, America is not the shining savior of the world in all global affairs. Heck, I'd like to see a military shooter where America doesn't even factor into the plot! There are so many interesting stories to tell out there, and yet we continue to tell the story of America saving the day against the evil foreign devils. Looks like we haven't evolved much from the days of the Red Scare.
Games like to put their protagonists into impossible situations and then have them come out just fine, and that can sometimes be compelling storytelling. However, when you build up a situation as hopeless, you should stick to that sort of theming in your plot. Hopelessness is a powerful human emotion that can add gravity to a situation. However, if your protagonists look at their impending certain doom with flippant confidence, then all this gravity is lost. What should be a powerful tale of a hero overcoming tremendous odds ends up breaking the fourth wall and becoming any other adventure. If the characters never worry about their impending doom, then the player won't either.
Sometime in the mid-90s we became obsessed with apocalypse scenarios, and this has leaked to all sorts of media. Zombie apocalypses, villains trying to destroy the world, natural disasters, and demons rising from the netherworld have become far too commonplace in our games today. Why is this a problem? Well, partially because we never ask questions about why a villain wants to destroy the world. We never ask for character motivation. We never ask for reasons. Similarly, we never ask heroes why they want to save the world aside from "that's where I keep all my stuff."
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: July 10, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*