Stolen Pixels

Stolen Pixels
Stolen Pixels #183: Hello, Handsome

Shamus Young | 6 Apr 2010 13:00
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Red Faction: Guerrilla really is this silly. The bad guys are stooges with plans that make no sense and run counter to their goals. The good guys are unlikable copies of cardboard cutouts of cliches. This was fine - even expected - in Saint's Row 2, but that same writing style implodes when applied to an ostensibly serious game. People keep telling me that "Red Faction isn't about the story!" So why is it in there? I mean, Tetris isn't about story, and the game doesn't stop between levels so the straight piece can have an awkwardly animated and laughably performed death scene where the square piece yells, "Noooooo!"

An example, using the actual scene from today's comic:

The cutscene goes like this: We suddenly and for no reason switch to the POV of Bad Guy A. Then he gets a call from Bad Guy B on his space phone. They talk about how the main character has acquired the MacGuffin without explaining how they know about him in such detail but can't ever seem to track him down. Then B tells A he's taking over and A gets all huffy about it.

Why this scene is here: In lots of stories, you'll see a worse bad guy taking over for a lesser one. It's a way of escalating a threat and letting the viewer know that the heroes are now against a more formidable foe. Sometimes the new threat will kill the old one, sometimes he just fires or humiliates him. The idea is that this guy is so bad, he'll even hurt his own guys to get to the heroes.

Why it fails: We know nothing about Bad Guy A, so why should we be impressed with this new guy? They have the same outlook. Same goals. They even look the same. You have to establish a threat before you can expect us to care if he loses his job to a different douche. The writer lifted this scene out of other stories without understanding why it was there to begin with.

Yes, the destructible physics is crazy fun, amusing explosions, jetpack, Blah blah blah.

Shamus Young is the guy behind this website, this book, these three webcomics, and this program.

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