No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation
First Person Plot

Firefilm | 25 Jun 2012 16:00
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Kyle: Perhaps my greatest failure this week is my failure to highlight Half-Life 2 over the first game. But I still maintain that the plot of this series is far superior.

While Bioshock feels like a one or two man show, a very personal and self-contained story (there's no coincidence that it takes place in a sealed-off underwater metropolis), Half-Life 2 gave the sense that it was a much larger story that I had the privilege of roaming around in.

Also, the characters in Half-Life have much more weight to them. When they speak, the player listens. In Bioshock, when the NPCs talk, the player is busy picking a genetic superpower with which to crush them.

And when the characters die in Half-Life, even the throw-away henchmen and rebel citizens of City 17, the player feels more submerged in danger, probably because you are easier to kill than your Bioshock counterpart Jack. Vulnerability helps to amplify the plot of an FPS. Did you hear me, Activision and EA?

As far as plots go, Jack gets a twisted Ayn Rand version of Alice in Wonderland while Gordon Freeman gets an entire narrative through-line.

While you start as a fish out of water, a scientist wielding weapons with untrained hands, you soon turn into a desperate man on the run. Then a rallying point for the resistance, a symbol of defiance. Then an unstoppable force with an army of dangerous beasts in your grasp. Then you're marked as Anti-Citizen One, a freedom fighter and a leader of your people. And through the course of your journey, you become more proficient and deadly. You change from the scientist with a gun to a soldier, a hero. It's a breathtaking way to experience an FPS, especially when compared to the plot of Bioshock, which demands that I constantly be jumpy and obedient to the commands of unseen fellows on a radio.

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