The Rest of the Story

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The Rest of the Story

Our contributors turn their gaze on Resident Evil to close out the discussion of story in games.

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Need more controversy and name calling. 2 pages of them agreeing isn't all that thrilling.

Someone hand them all guns and say only one is getting out alive please...?

Speaking of Second Sight, buy it now on GoG.com! No DRM! Made by the guys who made Timesplitters!

Anyway, shameless plugging aside, I don't like just 2 pages of conversation. Three of four would be ideal. And we need some disagreement. Guess we'll have to make do here. How about this, Ocarina of Time is wholly inferior to Majora's Mask.

Now... FIGHT!!

Yahtzee is correct, the bioshock intro is unbelievably engrossing. I was actually SHOCKED when I gained control of the protagonist because I couldn't believe it wasn't a rendered animation. But after that I started to play the game, hated it, then quit and read the whole story on a spoiler board.

SS2 and Deux Ex had the whole "training academy/tutorial" levels which are only trivially better than "press b to jump" messages. All those do is knock you out of your immersion by reminding you that you are playing a game.

I keep coming back to STALKER where it had cutscene with no explanation, tons of gameplay, intermission cutscene with reveal, tons of gameplay, ending. That to me is what a game story should be, stop talking about it and just show cool stuff. Let the player interpret on his own and so what if he gets it wrong, his story will be more meaningful to him than anything the writers can come up with.

And I disagree with Shamus, KOTOR1 is still great even if you know the twist just because the game is so well crafted. Where as KOTOR2 is such a mess the story stops making sense and you stop caring 2.5 planets in.

The intro I HATED recently was New Vegas. It did nothing to introduce my character, it didn't explain give me a reason to want revenge. An as Yahtzee's review said, the fact that he killed me once gave me a pretty damn good reason to stay AWAY from the guy in the suit rather than track him down.

Lol is it my impression or Yahtzee always dominates these Extra Considerations???

System Shock 2, Shamus? Seriously? (Glaaah, too many Ss. Esses? Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.)

I loathed the story in SS2. But then, I loathed SS2 overall, so perhaps my general hatred just spills over. But come on. Just in case someone complains about me spoiling a game they'll never play:

And not a spoiler:

That insipid computer Xerxes has shut down the elevator as well. You can transfer power at the engine core on deck 1, which will get the elevator up and running again. But you can't use the elevator to get down there. Wait... there's some kind of maintenance access right on this hallway. You can use it to reach deck one. However, it's locked and Xerxes is hiding the passcode from me. Dr. Watts should have the code. He's probably in the Crew sub-section. Grassi has the key to get in there, but he's in the Medical sub-section, probably near the biopsy lab. Now get to the Medical sub-section and find Grassi.

I'm sorry, but I'll never be convinced that anything containing THAT clot of text outlining the next two to four hours of gameplay has good writing.

It's quite amazing how many games forget about this. Gameplay and story integration should be written on every game dev's forehead. (Wait, they won't be able to read it.) Yahtzee's complaint rings quite true, there are too many games whose stories and gameplay aren't even in the same genre. That's why we don't have horror any more, how can we when we're all using action gameplay?

I love RE4, but surely not for the story; I'm not sure if it was Capcom's intent to create it as a Lesbian Vampires Slayers sort of thing but I won't argue it works in that way.

Irridium:
Speaking of Second Sight, buy it now on GoG.com! No DRM! Made by the guys who made Timesplitters!

Really? I'm a huge fan of GoG but I didn't know they had it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, maybe the new computer I just bought will be able to run it, because this one sure can't...

rembrandtqeinstein:
Yahtzee is correct, the bioshock intro is unbelievably engrossing. I was actually SHOCKED when I gained control of the protagonist because I couldn't believe it wasn't a rendered animation. But after that I started to play the game, hated it, then quit and read the whole story on a spoiler board.

Bioshock is a cool game (it fites splicers and doesn't afraid of anything) but the further you go in the game the worst it gets. The opening is pure brilliance. The first level is excellent. The rest of the first half is okay. The second half, before the final level, is passable. The final level is plain bad. The final boss is horrible. Talk about diminishing returns.

Also:

Should've gone after branston pickle instead of marmite. Or maybe said something mean about Saints Row 2. :p

Beyond that, I don't really think there's more much to add. I guess I said everything I had to say last week, and this didn't really inspire any new thoughts.

"KOTOR is the Sixth Sense of game plots. Dynamite if you don't know the twist, but unremarkable if you do"

I REALLY wish I hadn't played, basically, the end of the game at a friends house before getting it myself. It really spoiled it. Good game though.

Ok slightly off topic, but tangentially related: Star Wars: The Old Republic is set AFTER KotOR. So KotOR is in canon (well EU pseudo-canon), but the game could end in radically different ways. So which one "actually happened" so to speak? I'm pretty up on Star Wars lore, but I don't know the answer.

Also if someone who reads this DOES know please put it in spoilers so it doesn't spoil the game for everyone who hasn't played it.

Problem with this topic is that all the participants in the debate are storytellers by trade. These are people who know exactly what makes a good story and how to present it and honestly there isn't that much variation in the basics of that process regardless of medium.
Also, as intros go, I'm quite partial to the first few setpieces of Mass Effect 2.

I'd put a more forward looking topic to the panel:
Is it possible for a game to reach the kind of greatness achieved by literary giants? What might that game look like? What would it take for someone to produce a game that could rightfully stand beside Dostoyevsky or Dickens?

thenumberthirteen:
Ok slightly off topic, but tangentially related: Star Wars: The Old Republic is set AFTER KotOR. So KotOR is in canon (well EU pseudo-canon), but the game could end in radically different ways. So which one "actually happened" so to speak? I'm pretty up on Star Wars lore, but I don't know the answer.

Also if someone who reads this DOES know please put it in spoilers so it doesn't spoil the game for everyone who hasn't played it.

Don't get Shamus started on system shock 2 or he'll go on for days...

Also Marmite is disgusting and syrups have no place on meats!

EDIT: Oh and I agree that while RE4 has a really tense start due in gameplay, the starting cinematics are hammy and goofy. Later on the story is pretty much: escort Ashley, cinematic kidnapping, retaking, repeat.

Second Sight is a good game, I really liked it....and the ending was like OMFGWTFBBQ?

Didn't see that coming xD

You guys agreeing on a lot of topics makes me feel good. I know most people are used to the news channel panels of people yelling across a desk how one guy's opinion is bollocks and such, but actually you're really hitting matters that need to be addressed by the game industry DEV's.
Go Valve for instituting the best idea for cutscenes (don't have them).

On the point of cutscenes. depending on the type of game they should serve as a reward. sitting back and gloating over your victory by watching it's ramefications in higher defenition.

I think the great examples of this are indeed blizzard games like diablo 2 and warcraft 3.

especially warcraft 3 where the intro cinematic is vague and forboding, sets a mood, then it slides relativly neat into an in game 'cinematic' and then slides onwards into gameplay of your first mission. the story then carries on in game itself only to conclude with a cinematic showing your final target crumbeling in a particulary spectacular fashion after you defeat it in game.

so in my mind that should be the order:
-opening cutscene sets the mood
-ingame events and dialog based on your actions unfold the story
-ending cinematic shows you the fruit of your labor in splendid graphic and over an awesome soundtrack.

and I once had to eat marmite as part of a kind of hazing ritual, and let me tell you I'll never touch that stuff again in my lifetime...

Ya know i can't bring myself to get up in arms about cutscenes. Sure too much can be ruinous but there have been games that i loved that became stupid cutscene heavy (see Final Fantasy 10). Frankly though i feel out of the norm because if it is a game i enjoy i never skip the cutscenes even if it is an option? Does anyone else agree with this?

As for what game has the best intro? I think my personal favorite has to go to Kingdom Hearts simply because it set up the entire game in a level of mysticism as well as being fairly symbolic. It was simply beautiful IMHO and not just from a graphical standpoint.

Since I managed to resist the urge to bash HL2 storytelling again after Shamus' comment, I'll say instead - I was interested in Second Sight since the very first review I read many years ago, but back then I didn't have the cash for it and I forgot about it later. Now it's not a problem. Thanks Yahtzee for a reminder.

Hm, I'd actually like a PC VS Console discussion, for the sole reason that I'm annoyed by an increasing amount of games that really feel like console ports, no matter how long the delay between the PC version and the console version.
Maybe Movie Bob can join and we can have a nice, little, completely friendly and non-inflammable talk about the future of Console/PC Gaming as well.

Harr harr harr.

amaranth_dru:
Go Valve for instituting the best idea for cutscenes (don't have them).

As much as I like Valve for their rich worlds that tell a story on their own, the Half-Life 2 series does feature "cutscenes" - or at least close relatives, called "gates" in the commentary. Basically the player is locked in an area and can't proceed until a discussion or dialogue is finished, only then Alyx opens a door or Dog removes some rubble or lifts a gate.
Sometimes it's well-weaved in like basically the whole scene like in Dr. Kleiner's lab, but sometimes you do some basic control warm-up and then are the times like when Dr. Kleiner and Alyx' father state the mission objective and after the briefing Dog clears the way.

It doesn't drag you out of the First Person perspective and you retain full control, true, that's what makes it different from your average cutscene, yes. But you're still forced to watch through it, even if you're on your third playthrough and just want to explore the world or gather some explosive barrels and have fun.[1]

It's not like I hold a big grudge against those "gates" or anything, but they still feel pretty cutscene-like to me, but it's still different enough to make you suddenly feel helpless when facing an Advisor - which practically starts a traditional cutscene.
I just hope In HL3 they can work a bit on that and stop using Alyx as a door opener that frequently.

[1] There are chapter selections, but sometimes you want to get to a certain part in a level quickly for other reasons - and you don't want to make a savefile for every other scene

J a m m y:

thenumberthirteen:
Ok slightly off topic, but tangentially related: Star Wars: The Old Republic is set AFTER KotOR. So KotOR is in canon (well EU pseudo-canon), but the game could end in radically different ways. So which one "actually happened" so to speak? I'm pretty up on Star Wars lore, but I don't know the answer.

Also if someone who reads this DOES know please put it in spoilers so it doesn't spoil the game for everyone who hasn't played it.

Great. The most I had heard about the canonical ending of the events in KotOR was basically "It's Complicated"; from one of the Darth Bane novels as I recall.

Wolfram01:
Need more controversy and name calling. 2 pages of them agreeing isn't all that thrilling.

They need to get new people. Yahtzee isnt boring but the other guys can take a hike.

mjc0961:
Should've gone after branston pickle instead of marmite. Or maybe said something mean about Saints Row 2. :p

Beyond that, I don't really think there's more much to add. I guess I said everything I had to say last week, and this didn't really inspire any new thoughts.

Graham loves saints row more than yahtzee

As a Canadian, I say you're supposed to TAKE that damn third helping of Maple Sypup and bacon! >: D

Damn that reminds me i always meant to buy second sight and never got round to it.

Totally forgot about second sight it was an awesome game and i didnt see the twist coming.It was so well put together and as yahtzee says it makes you rethink the entire game at the end.

I've looked back at their story discussions and honestly, I can't really see games completely leaving cut scenes behind. If we try to move them out of the way and instead completely leave the story intact with us in the driver's seat of the characters, it might become difficult to characterize the story and the main players in it. We might be reducing first-person characters to silent heroes/heroines. And I don't even know what would happen to third-person characters. But honestly, cut scenes are a form of story-telling and throwing it out the window, no questions asked, strikes me as backwards in a way. I know you can have too much in the way of cut scenes, but that only shows that we need to improve our ability to tell stories in such a way. There is no 'right way' to do this.

There's been a copy of Second Sight in my local Gamestation's bargain bin for a few months now. I really aught to go rescue it.
I know an EC between Yahtzee, Moviebob and Portnow that should really make sparks fly would be one where Other M comes up. Maybe something on Gender roles in games?

Also, maple syrup on bacon? Must investigate further...

Ok, who puts syrup on bacon? Syrup goes great on many things, but bacon isn't one of them.

Anywhoo speaking of Diablo II, I found that it got rather confusing when the expansion came out. I mean throughout most of the original main story consists on a narration provided by Marius as he's telling it to who he thinks is the Archangel Tyriel (spoiler alert). Now I don't know about anyone else but I got the distinct impression that Marius' narration in the asylum occured many years after your gameplay as I assumed your character was just one step behind younger Marius and the Dark Wanderer/Diablo (that's not a spoiler, everyone knew that before the game even came out). So, when you beat Diablo


My confusion comes when the expansion came out, after you beat the main story, you still got the above mentioned cutscene, but then it went back into gameplay and you could then return to the Pandemonium Fortress where Tryrel then tells you about Baal's attack on Mt. Arriat(sp?) which Baal presumably launched after leaving the asylum. But if the events in the asylum didn't happen until years after your adventures how could Baal be attacking Mt. Arriat (again sp?) now?

I've gotta agree... the tone of Resident Evil 4, the game, and Resident Evil 4, the story (as told via cutscenes that didn't involve Press X To Not Die) had barely a passing acquaintance, let alone a relationship. Some of it was the hammy voice-acting, but most of it was the dialogue itself, especially between Ramon Salazar and Leon S. "Meester Scott Kennedy" Kennedy. It's as if Phantasm and Evil Dead were struggling for control of the overall feel of the game.

A decent coherent story is better than two good stories that have no business being in the same production.

canadamus_prime:
Ok, who puts syrup on bacon? Syrup goes great on many things, but bacon isn't one of them.

Blech. I can't even stand maple-smoked bacon. (Or maple cured, or pumped with fake maple flavor, whatever it is.) It stinks up the house with the smell of burning maple syrup and the bacon tastes vile, sort of like syrup on bacon! I'd hate to see actual syrup on actual bacon. I'd have to kill someone for defiling bacon.

It's okay Graham no one likes syrup on their pork meats at all.

I noticed nobody has come out in support of cutscenes. Wonder why.

Really liking this column. Sure perhaps a bit more arguing would be nice, but name calling? We get enough of that already, and it isn't helping.

oh I remember second sight, great game loved the powers mixed with guns.
though the aiming system was kinda broken, I could sometimes just tilt the stick up just right so that I could headshot every guard in the room faster than Sam Fisher (Conviction)

its nice to see Second Sight getting some love. i thought it was an awesome game, you know, that hidden gem you didn't expect.

and microsoft sucks for not making it backward compatible on the Xbox 360! and on that note, they ultra suxorz for not letting Deus Ex Invisible War be backward compatible either!

Edit- there's a topic for you, why microsoft would leave out good games from the old xbox catalog from being played on the 360

Misho-:
Lol is it my impression or Yahtzee always dominates these Extra Considerations???

he has a powerful personality. Have you not noticed that certain people have a habit of doing this in your day to day life aswell. There will be somebody opinionated who will own conversations.

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