Once upon a time, the phrase video game story was nearly a misnomer. Most video games only required a paragraph or two in the instruction manual (that some hardcore gamers tossed away with nary a glance) to set the stage for their gaming. That was in the days before technology and longer games made more in-depth storytelling far more essential to an enjoyable gaming experience. While we have some games telling incredible, novel-worthy stories to us while we press random buttons on our controllers, there are still some games that haphazardly throw together elements into the semblance of a story, hoping to appease the gamer long enough for them to make it through the game without recognizing the storytelling atrocity.
This week at CCC, we're discussing the storylines in games and our personal favorites.
D'Marcus Beatty, Co-Site Director
One of the most moving storylines in a game is definitely Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. This game recalls the history of Big Boss, the original Metal Gear bad guy. Big Boss is such a tough character that his clones' sibling rivalry set the stage for MGS and MGS2. These brothers battle with the world as their ultimate stake, with Liquid Snake attempting to take over the world and Solid Snake trying to save it.
However, the story's depth doesn't come from its glimpse into Big Boss's motivations, although they are significantly profound, nor from his bickering twin clones. The game introduced gamers to Boss, who is Naked Snake's (Big Boss) mentor. The relationship between these two is mysterious but replete with some undefined love, although if the affection is that of lovers or teacher-student or merely maternal is unrevealed and only hinted at.
Boss is a character that defects to another country and ultimately gives more than the ultimate sacrifice in the name of duty. Boss surrenders not only her life but her name for the sake of obedience, and her sacrifice and the consequences of her act are one of the most profound and moving storylines in a game to date. The Boss, who is a handsome but not pretty woman, even makes her way through the game wearing her conflict on her face, which adds sympathy for her characters, especially when her plight is revealed at the story's end. The foreshadowing, the dialogue, and especially the conflicted character of The Boss are the reasons why MGS3 has one of the best storylines in gaming.
Maria Montoro, Co-Site Director
While a good storyline is almost always important for a video game, it's not always imperative. Often times I'll enjoy puzzle, simulation, and party games more than a single-player adventure. That happens because many games that do offer a story don't do a very good job telling it or because the story is so repetitive that it doesn't just drag me in.
Let's put an example of a game that I really liked, although it didn't contain an actual story: Rayman Raving Rabbids for the Wii; I expected to be playing a platformer and following a story, like it had always been with Rayman games. However, Rayman Raving Rabbids does very little to tell the story and a lot to submerge you into the gameplay. It's all about the clever minigames, the hilarious characters, and the utterly innovative gameplay. The story wasn't needed to deliver a great experience in that case, even if most of us expected another one of Rayman's adventures. The creators at Ubisoft managed to keep the public happy without telling us a fairy tale.
At the same time, the great thing about video games is that they're almost like a movie, but you get to participate. When we watch a movie, we want a good plot, and if it doesn't have a good plot, we will almost refuse to watch it. It's the same with video games: the better the story line, the more immersed we'll be on the gameplay and the more successful the game will be. Although I've said it a few times already, the game that really delivered for me was Beyond Good and Evil. If it had been a movie or a book I would have liked it just as much, but the fact that I was able to interact with the story and create an outcome is what really topped it off. BG&E had great character depth, and exciting events involving armies, politics, and infiltrations within a fantasy world. It's a game that has gone unnoticed by many gamers, but that truly deserved to be on the top.
The happenings of the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy are also really engaging, and are definitely responsible for me finishing all three of those games. Sometimes, if the story is not appealing enough, I won't feel the urge to see the conclusion. However, when you are actually entertained by what you're seeing, it will be just like when you devour a book in one day! You just can't wait!
The God of War series, which will at some point become a trilogy, introduces mythology in a magnificent way, describes human emotions wonderfully, and presents one of the most compelling video game characters to date, Kratos. Even with all the violence that the game portrays, God of War has become one of my favorite video game series.
Matthew Walker, Project Coordinator
Emotions in video games are hard to convey sometimes. There have been several times in my gaming life I have felt one way or another - anger, sadness, pride, or resolve. However, there is one that sticks in my mind the most. Anger and sadness are woven tightly into one in Final Fantasy 10, and I think that the mixture of the emotions is why the game continues to tug and hold onto my gaming memories the most.
I know that may be several peoples' pick of an emotional game, but there are several things in the title that make you want to turn away, but you can't. FF10 made the jump into voice acting for the series and even though the series had several moments that tugged at your heart, none completely destroyed it the way FF10 did. After all, you have the story of the "I don't want to be a hero" main character and the mystery of what Sin is, only to find out that it was your father whom you had grown to hate all of your life. As you watch Tidus prepare to fight his father, whom you and he realize is not the vile man you thought, three words echo the semblance of love that Tidus has for him, "I hate you." Those three words did not mean that he hated him, instead, that he had come to love his father despite all of the feelings that he had. However, his was not the only scene in the game that pulls your heart from your chest only to peel away at it slowly. In fact, there are several but only one brought me to tears as I watched in horror as the events unfolded before me.