Anyone who visits a semi-intelligent discussion board like The Escapist Magazine's forums is going to notice something much wanted by large groups of people; better stories in games. I agree! When a star line in a hit video game is "What if you miss?" "I WON'T." then you know something's probably in need of fixing.
But as I read further I begin to notice some people might even be taking this idea to an extreme. Some people actually say that story is now MORE important than gameplay, and here is where I sort of have to draw the line. YES, the gaming world has needed some actual writers, as opposed to people who pen the dialog as they go along. But taking an elitist stance gets us nowhere.
The fact is, story, while important, is still secondary to what matters most; gameplay. Heck, it's a GAME. You'd think that the attribute that contains the word would be most important. Things like art style, graphics, story, are used to spice up a game that is already great. Case in point...
...a game called Aperture Science. This is a First Person Shooter released by Valve in the Purple Box in 2007. You play as a test subject for a combat facility that has to shoot her way through turrets and androids to defeat the evil AI ruling the place and get out. You get to use the Assault Rifle (a medium-range gun that shoots bullets real fast.) the pistol (a medium-range gun that shoots somehow-weaker bullets less fast) and the BFG (a weapon that programmers spent an enormous amount of time on, but you only get to fire once at the end). The game also has a BF2-clone multiplayer.
Now in this game (yes, end the sarcasm, it's a fake metaphor) the gameplay is dull and repetitive. BUT, the story is superb! Turrets speak in soft voices, GLaDOS mocks you with strangely emotional dialogue...but NOBODY CARES. Because most people stopped playing after having to kill the same turret the fiftieth time with the same circle strafe. Not even having Still Alive play at the end would save this game, because nobody would even play that for.
So there you go. Portal, like many games in 2007, had a great new idea. But not only was that idea just a little bit better, but it also had great art, great dialogue, great story, etc. In fact, here's where I have to make another point.
Far too often, people summarize the voice acting, writing, and plot of a game into just that; STORY. Now even as a die-hard Half-Life fan I have to admit this much; both Half-Life and Halo are essentially about aliens trying to take over the world and create Poisoned Kitten factories. So why does one kind of bring tears to people's eyes while the other brings X-box Live flaming? It mainly lies in the writing. Half-Life has characters that are often with you, make you care about them, have pretty convincing dialogue and not over-the-top personalities. I think if a game just got that idea down, then even if it were about Noir Detectives who decided to go shoot up the streets, it could have something going for it.
Then there's voice acting. This really comes into play with War games. Compare the Medal of Honor trailer's dialogue (GO GO GO! TAKING COVER! WHISKY TANGO FOXTROT!) to the highly approved casual remarks of the AC-130 gunners in Call of Duty 4. I think you'll notice a difference.
Things like writing and voice acting, while important in a game, I consider to be just above graphics in importance. No one can deny that things like UT3 are pretty damn fun, even when the characters all spout one-liners.
Welcome to the Inconvenienced Blog. This is a Comedy and Gaming Culture Site all rolled into one. Alongside humorous articles, we'll also be be giving our thoughts on games, and the gaming industry as a whole.
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