Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Video Game Plots From Hell

Originally written for Forces of Geek (22nd March 2012) - 
NB: To avoid backlash... again: I LOVE KATAMARI DAMACY, I am merely stating it's story is mental! 

Storylines in video games can be just as immersive as reading a good book or watching a film and while not all games warrant a linear, well-thought out narrative, I thought it’d be interesting to have a look at some of the most ridiculous plots that have been created in video games since Super Mario.

I appreciate that certain games work due to their minimal/non-existent story; their arcade value alone is enough (eg. kick opponent in face repeatedly = win game).

But for those of us who have become accustomed to games that centre around powerful and engrossing narratives, we need more.

Most story lines require us to suspend our disbelief but some games push these limits to a degree beyond absurdity.

Bayonetta - An incredibly fetishised witch with an abundance of hair, that she uses as both an outfit and a weapon, accessorised with guns strapped to her hands and feet. The eponymous character was found in a river by demons and has lost her memory. Now, said demons use her as a weapon to smite “evil” angels.

There's a great deal more to this plot but it's incredibly difficult to describe because it's complete and utter nonsense. The gameplay and fighting system received positive remarks but the story is so insane that the game’s director, Hideki Kamiya, felt the need to release several vidcasts attempting to explain it.

Katamari Damacy – I like this game but as far as stories go... it’s probably best to ignore it and look at the pretty colours. The story opens with The King of All Cosmos accidentally destroying all solar existence in a drunken haze.

As the Prince, it is your job to clean up your father’s mess by rolling a giant barbed orb, collecting random objects, like assembling a gigantic snowman. After hours of rolling around making planets out of scrap (cars, buildings, ice cream, etc) you eventually remake the moon, which for one family in particular is rather exciting. The children of the Hoshino household notice that the moon is missing but their mother doesn’t believe them despite the fact their father’s trip to the moon is cancelled.

Eventually when you’ve rolled up the rest of the stars and planets you finally create a new moon, which manages to suck up the Hoshino family. It is a genuinely fun, imaginative game and many hours of objective based amusement can be curiously satisfying but the fact the developers felt the need to crowbar in this mental story, bewilders me.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – Probably the weirdest storyline in video game history. Snake is an aging cloned mercenary. Fair enough, it’s a franchise – he’s getting old. He also lives with his friend Otacon, with whom he now has an adopted child with.. for some reason. Snake has been hired to kill his evil clone brother, Liquid - who is actually dead but somehow alive because his spirit is living through his possessed arm which has been grafted onto.............okay.

Nope, no more of that. Not even going to try. Moving on.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
 As most of you are no doubt aware, this title is about excitement and intensity over credible storytelling which is pretty hypocritical for a game that harps on about being realistic.

What’s realistic about hopping on a conveniently placed snowmobile, jumping over a 50 ft cavernous gorge into a helicopter?

Or airport security not noticing armed terrorists and letting them kill tonnes of innocent civilians?

Did someone say controversy for the sake of controversy!?


Luigi’s Mansion – As a launch title for the GameCube I expected more from this game.

While I was suitably impressed that Ninrendo had the balls to divert the attention away from Mario for a change, I couldn’t help feeling that I had been short changed.

The game starts with Luigi winning a mansion (in a competition, that he didn't enter but we'll ignore that)and claiming his prize, he decides to meet Mario there - basically the equivalent of responding to those emails from a random Nigerian prince, asking for your bank details.

Essentially, Luigi is a freaking idiot.

Luigi discovers that Mario is missing and a crazy inventor wielding a vacuum cleaner saves him from the mansion’s ghosts. Luigi then has to locate Mario whilst sucking up ghosts in his vacuum cleaner, like a child pretending to be a Ghostbuster.

After roaming the halls for what feels like an eternity, he eventually defeats King Boo and finds Mario trapped in a portrait (Ghostbusters 2?!).

With a repetitive score, irritating sound effects and tedious level design, it was a bit of a misfire.

The House of the Dead – The classic light gun arcade shooter starring Thomas Rogan and “G” (seriously, they gave one main character a first and second name but ran out of ideas and settled with one letter for the other) is probably the worst offender, as it takes the basic Frankenstein/Mad Scientist story and lobotomises it down to its crude base elements.

This game continually throws immense amounts of beasts at you, so you inevitably feed the machine your coins desperately trying to kill that one annoying jumpy thing in the corridor but any time you get to a plot element, it’s a string of poor dialoguing: "We've got to get over there." "Why?" ... "Does it matter?"

And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey Emma-Jane, I think your confusing sub par voice acting with lacklustre story, House of the Dead is okay” well, don’t give me that crap – you skipped the story just like everyone else did.

Some games try way too hard to impress us with a bombardment of over the top action sequences but often this is simply a method to distract you from the convoluted storyline and bizarre character motivations.

Most of the time this appears to work, submerging our minds in pretty graphics and speedy pacing, we begin to dismiss the story or simply accept the poor excuse for one, staring off into the middle-distance in some drunken stupor where everything is juuuust fine... up until someone asks you to explain the plot - at which point you sober up with the worst hangover.

Surveying your surroundings, you look at the pile of random objects burning in the middle of the room, the small collection of geese running around and notice that you appear to be wearing a giant Christmas cracker on your head.

Shrugging your shoulders, all you can say is, "The story's not important."

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