Video games, at least those that revolve around you controlling a single protagonist (so for the most part, not sports or party games) seem to be fairly fond of depicting your character as an average joe who got sucked into the action. This isn’t universally true, but it’s common enough.
In the best examples, you’ll either feel like the hero’s actions are totally justified and he had no other choice, or at the very least the game is so good you’re able to suspend your disbelief. In terrible examples, you’ll just find yourself frustrated as you try to figure out why this person would ever even let himself get into this situation in the first place. Fortunately, I played a few good examples this year:
Prince of Persia
Yes, it’s just called Prince of Persia now. Again. Ubisoft can do that, because they decided to throw in the towel on the previous generation of PoP games (those which lived their lives on the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube. I guess they had gotten a little crazy while also managing to get a little stagnant; I wouldn’t know. I only played the first of that series: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I will say that while it had some frustrating parts, the overall game was just phenomenal.
This new game, on the other hand, is a little different. At the beginning of the game you’re just an average (ripped) prince (or not; I have no idea) looking for your donkey. Then you end up meeting this princess and you have to save the land from corruption and blah blah blah. Yeah, it sounds tiresome already. And it sort of is. Unlike the previous games, this game is significantly less linear. You have to collect a certain amount items before you can unlock abilities to get to more items to unlock more abilities, which gets old quickly.
There are some really fun acrobatic elements, but they end up being repeated so frequently that by the end of the game you just want to be done so you don’t have to play it anymore. But being a prince (or not; I have no idea), you are amazingly strong and acrobatic and also a great fighter. You’re also witty and charming and have completely won over your witty female companion by the end of the game. And all because of a donkey.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
I mentioned Uncharted briefly last year, when I tried the demo from PSN. Something about it just didn’t resonate with me so I ended up skipping it at the time.
Then E3 happened back in June, and all the previews of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves started to surface, and I thought perhaps I should give the original another chance. I found it to be significantly more tolerable the second time around, and picked up a cheap used copy. Basically, you play as Nathan Drake, treasure hunter extraordinaire (maybe?) and descendent of explorer Francis Drake, and you are trying to recover some kind of treasure (as is bound to happen in such an occupation). Also there’s kidnapping and stuff.
Spoiler Alert: towards the end of the game, there are zombies (or something similar). This almost completely ruined it for me. I also couldn’t figure out how all these mercenaries kept showing up in caverns that were supposedly long-lost and unexplored.
Being a treasure hunter extraordinaire (maybe?), you are amazingly strong and acrobatic and also a great fighter. You’re also witty and charming and have completely won over your witty female companion by the end of the game. And all because of El Dorado.
I’ll be honest: this post has been sitting in draft status for something like a month. For the other two games, I had a brief sentence of notes covering what I liked and didn’t. For Shadow Complex all I wrote was holy shit. That’s game of the year material right there.
Shadow Complex is an Xbox Live Arcade release from August that just totally blew my mind. The intent was to make a modern day side-scrolling Metroid (basically one big open map, but certain sections are unavailable until you find the abilities you need to access them) and they achieved that goal and more. But I wouldn’t be writing about it if it didn’t fit into the very same template.
In the game you find yourself on a hike with your hot new girlfriend that you picked up at the bar, but things quickly go awry when you stumble on a massive underground base and she goes and gets herself kidnapped. And what choice do you have but to save her? Fortunately, you happen to have some military training under your belt. And by “some”, I mean “a lot”, because you are a force, and you only get more awesome as the game progresses.
Being an awesome military hero man, you are amazingly strong and acrobatic and also a great fighter. You’re also witty and charming and have completely
won over rescued your witty female companion by the end of the game. And all because of wanting to get some.
Here’s where it gets ridiculous – all three games, in spite of being handled by three different developers, used the same guy for the voice of the main character. Because they’re all so similar in personality and ability, it’s a little bit of a challenge to keep them all separate. So depending on which game you played first, there’s the imminent danger that that game’s character becomes the one you imagine in the other scenarios.
Still though, go play Shadow Complex. Seriously.