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When videogame plots go bad

Old 11-14-05, 03:37 PM
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When videogame plots go bad

Ok, I don't know if anyone else feels this way.

I am not a big fan of the way many RPGs and adventure games get a little too ambitious in their plots.

I'm talking about how the story usually takes a metaphysical/abstract/bizarre approach near the end.

The biggest cluprit is the Final Fantasy series. Until FF7, most of the plots in FF games stayed somewhat normal, but since FF7 every FF game has eventually taken its plot to this metaphysical/bizarre bullcrap by the time you are nearing the end of the game. Fortunately, FF12 looks like its gonna stay somewhat grounded in reality(ok not the right word but you know what i mean).

Another example: Metal Gear Solid 2. This game just became plain weird near the end. It brought in all this "waht is the matrix" crap out of nowhere. Not to mention the whole "you are just playing a videogame" plot angle.

I'm having a hard time expressing myself, but I'm dying to know if anyone knows what I'm talking about. If you do, please explain it in a more comprehensive way so others can see where I'm coming from.
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Old 11-14-05, 03:43 PM
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and btw, this does not mean I like simple plots.

Here is a list of games which I consider to have great storylines:

FF6
Suikoden II
FF Tactics
MGS 1 and 3(MGS 2s story was really good until you reach the last 2 hours)
Xenogears(ok, this game is probably the worst culprit of the whole metaphysical deal, but this is the exception to the rule for me, i loved the plot of this game)
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Old 11-14-05, 04:09 PM
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As I play video games for the games, I could really care less what the plot is and anything that tries to get "deep" is laughable in my opinion. Take Final Fantasy VII for instance? Am I really supposed to care that these rectangular Lego people are supposed to have "feelings?" and how can you NOT laugh at getting shot at, stomped on, crush, maimed and killed throughout the game and coming out okay and then a character permanently dies from a little sword slash. You're supposed to feel for these characters? It's silly, it's really, really silly.
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Old 11-14-05, 04:17 PM
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I don't care much for video game plots myself, they mostly suck. Although I thought Resident Evil had a pretty good story (despite the hammy acting and dialogue) that got worse and worse in each entry, until Resident Evil 0 which was just a big "WTF?" from me.
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Old 11-14-05, 05:54 PM
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While I don't feel that the plot was bad, Killer 7 definitely takes you off the beaten path a bit...

For the most part, though, I agree with PixyJunket. It really makes me question why I still play RPGs. Because if you take out all the gameplay, most of the time, the storyline is not all that great or unpredictable. And I still wonder why people say that FF VII and beyond stink, while previous FFs were incredible... it's not like the early RPGs are much more fully developed (not to start a flame war or anything). Maybe this is why I'm tending more towards tactics RPGs with varied job systems, where the gameplay is more of the focus. (I'm not saying that I hate all Japanese RPG storylines, but I also recognize that they're not classic literature by any stretch of the imagination)

I do think part of the problem is the limited scope of storylines that can be used for RPGs. Basically, it's all about progression as you fight more and more powerful enemies, becoming more and more powerful yourself, until you fight the big boss. To avoid monotony, I think the story writers delve more into the metaphysical, sometimes nonsensical realm to give a twist.
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Old 11-14-05, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by William Wallace
I'm talking about how the story usually takes a metaphysical/abstract/bizarre approach near the end.

The biggest cluprit is the Final Fantasy series. Until FF7, most of the plots in FF games stayed somewhat normal, but since FF7 every FF game has eventually taken its plot to this metaphysical/bizarre bullcrap by the time you are nearing the end of the game. Fortunately, FF12 looks like its gonna stay somewhat grounded in reality(ok not the right word but you know what i mean).
I understand what you're getting at. I personally think it has a lot to do with the culture in Japan (especially with the Final Fantasy series). If you watch any anime most of them do the same exact thing.
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Old 11-14-05, 06:49 PM
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FFVIII's
Spoiler:
Oh snap! We all grew up together but totally forgot until just this minute on account of the monsters!
was pretty bad.
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Old 11-14-05, 06:51 PM
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I agree that most Japanese RPGs have really wacky storylines which is one of the main reasons why I don't like RPGs. I usually just play action and FPS games because I just like to walk around and blow stuff up. If I want a good story, I will read a book.
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Old 11-14-05, 07:40 PM
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I prefer a good plot to go with good gameplay. MGS2 was just too damn stupid. I went back and played the GameCube remake of the first game and it wasn't much better. That's the extent of my MGS experience and I think I've had enough.

I did finish both games though so I guess it didn't bother me THAT much.
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Old 11-14-05, 08:44 PM
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Metal Gear Solid 2 is the worst culprit of this IMO. I think the problem is the story started out with a few small twists, but each twist had to trounce the prior, and eventually it just got out of hand. Eventually you get a half hour story about how nothing you played was real and the whole world is just a facade. It would be okay if the writers were subtle, but it took half hour cutscenes to get the story across. I fell asleep during one of the final cutscenes, it was just too long. It really was a let down, because most of the game despite some long cutscenes was intriguing at least.
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Old 11-14-05, 09:19 PM
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It really is a plague. It's the same problem with a lot of anime.

I'm playing Digital Devil Saga 2 right now, and the story is basically complete nonsense.
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Old 11-14-05, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Gromit
I prefer a good plot to go with good gameplay.
Me too. Plot that drives the gameplay is the ideal. I don't want to go around just shooting zombies for no reason other then to shoot zombies. Ignoring the plot entirely is silly. Caring about the characters you play makes a game that much more interesting.
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Old 11-14-05, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Gromit
I prefer a good plot to go with good gameplay.

Agreed 100% here. I actually like to have a plot/story with most of my games. Even if it's "You're a plumber, the princess has been kidnapped, save her".

I like RPG's but I don't play that many of them because I simply don't have the time to devote to them. I loved FFVII, I liked FFX at the beginning and end, but the 10 hours in the middle were pretty dumb. I love Zelda games. I'm playing Kingdom Hearts now and It seems pretty cool. I loved the .hack// games even with their flaws. I also loved the stories in Onimusha 1 & 2.

IMO, if you completely remove any type of plot from many games they quickly devolve into nothing but button mashing.

I guess what I'm trying to say that overall, I like a game to have a good story/plot, but if it doesn't it's not a deal breaker. I guess I haven't played enough bad games to sour me on the idea.
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Old 11-15-05, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
I don't care much for video game plots myself, they mostly suck. Although I thought Resident Evil had a pretty good story (despite the hammy acting and dialogue) that got worse and worse in each entry, until Resident Evil 0 which was just a big "WTF?" from me.
About Resident Evil 0, I hear it sorta contradicts Resident Evil. Is that what's bugging you or something else? Feel free to spoilerize, as I don't have a GameCube and doubt it'll get ported over to the PS2 a'la Resident Evil 4.

Speaking of Resident Evil 4, the acting is descent to good.
Spoiler:
Although I couldn't help my laughter when Luis Sera died. I really liked the character and was disappointed to see him go but a very overdramatic Leon misspronouncing his name at the top of his lungs had me in stitches.
And I'm really enjoying the story so far.

Originally Posted by PixyJunket
As I play video games for the games, I could really care less what the plot is and anything that tries to get "deep" is laughable in my opinion. Take Final Fantasy VII for instance? Am I really supposed to care that these rectangular Lego people are supposed to have "feelings?" and how can you NOT laugh at getting shot at, stomped on, crush, maimed and killed throughout the game and coming out okay and then a character permanently dies from a little sword slash. You're supposed to feel for these characters? It's silly, it's really, really silly.
I know. I really liked FFVII (although I don't consider it anywhere near being the classic most claim it to be) but I just kept wondering why they didn't throw her a damn phoenix down during that scene.

Originally Posted by Ralph Wiggum
FFVIII's
Spoiler:
Oh snap! We all grew up together but totally forgot until just this minute on account of the monsters!
was pretty bad.
Spoiler:
Let's not forget the witches. I get that magic in the FFVIII universe is artificial but when Rinoa turns out to be a witch it's a perfect opportunity to do something special with her. She (and that other witch lady that teamed up with you for a while - she was the first main villain in the game) could have been the only character(s) with learned skills that used MP. Insted, what's so great about these ladies? They do slightly more damage. I also didn't care much for the broadly drawn stereotypes refered to as characters in that game. What's worse is that Seifer was the most compelling character despite being 2 dimentional at best.


Originally Posted by Gromit
I prefer a good plot to go with good gameplay. MGS2 was just too damn stupid. I went back and played the GameCube remake of the first game and it wasn't much better. That's the extent of my MGS experience and I think I've had enough.

I did finish both games though so I guess it didn't bother me THAT much.
Originally Posted by msdmoney
Metal Gear Solid 2 is the worst culprit of this IMO. I think the problem is the story started out with a few small twists, but each twist had to trounce the prior, and eventually it just got out of hand. Eventually you get a half hour story about how nothing you played was real and the whole world is just a facade. It would be okay if the writers were subtle, but it took half hour cutscenes to get the story across. I fell asleep during one of the final cutscenes, it was just too long. It really was a let down, because most of the game despite some long cutscenes was intriguing at least.
Yeah. Hideo Kojima's motto seems to be "let's throw in everything, including several kitchen sinks". Which is too bad because, were you to trim the excess fat, his stories would be very compelling. He's just too in love with himself to edit anything out, it seems.

BTW, since ya'll beat MGS and MGS2, try out MGS3. You wont be disappointed since the gameplay is sweet and the story is rather polished. Yes, there are certain Kojima-isms
Spoiler:
(the Boss divulges her entire ethos far too early in the story, only to repeat it toward the end of the game, making the second more important instance redundant and killing a couple of twists in the story)
but it's rather straight to the point and without any of that silly "I've just killed you, random stranger. Now regale me with your life story, despite the fact that I have precious little time before the world is destroyed, and should get off my ass to save it."

Last edited by RocShemp; 11-15-05 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 11-15-05, 09:06 AM
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I duno pixy, I think you are being closed minded.

You telling me that they can get the greatest writer on the planet to write a story for an RPG, but no matter what you would consider it garbage only because its a videogame?

I don't understand the reasoning. Obviously the gameplay in RPG's isnt supposed to be incorporated into the actual storyline so literally. If they stuck to keeping it realisitic in terms of gameplay, you end up with boring ass games like Bushido Blade.
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Old 11-15-05, 09:31 AM
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I play a game for the game first sure, but I love getting wrapped up in a story. However I play the MGS games for the story first. I want to know what happens next. Sure, the games control well, but I still go in first wanting to see the story. That being said I was so burned on MGS2 that I haven't played MGS3 yet. What the hell was going on? The game itself played well and was beautiful to look at, but the story really ruined the experience for me.

But that's when it's done wrong. One need look no further than a darling around these parts, Beyond Good and Evil, to see how a story can suck you in and make you care about the characters.
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Old 11-15-05, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by RocShemp
About Resident Evil 0, I hear it sorta contradicts Resident Evil. Is that what's bugging you or something else? Feel free to spoilerize, as I don't have a GameCube and doubt it'll get ported over to the PS2 a'la Resident Evil 4
Spoiler:
I don't know...the game itself isn't too bad, but as you say it somewhat contradicts the first movie. And it added some metaphysical stuff I didn't like, including a bizarre wizard guy who dresses in white that looks like he walked off the set of a FF game by mistake.


But really, I'm with Pixy. I haven't seen a videogame where the story was really "all that." And the more the focus is on story, the less freedom you have when you play.

I like Japanese RPGs, but sometimes I get tired of being forced to play a certain group of characters, and having no real say in their development, or even where they go next. Those games sacrifice a lot just so they can have a "story" that is forwarded by elaborate cutscenes.
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Old 11-15-05, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by William Wallace
You telling me that they can get the greatest writer on the planet to write a story for an RPG, but no matter what you would consider it garbage only because its a videogame?
Well, yes. Not that the greatest writer on the planet would bother with a video game, but if we were in bizarro world and it happened my opinion wouldn't change. When I've got a controller in my hand I want to explore a world, I want to solve puzzles, I want to fight monsters. Mind you I'm not AGAINST story in games but they need to exist to service the game. When the game exists only to service the story, there's a problem. When you play 10 minutes of game and then sit through 30 minutes of non-interactive cut scenes, there's a problem.
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Old 11-15-05, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
Spoiler:
I don't know...the game itself isn't too bad, but as you say it somewhat contradicts the first movie. And it added some metaphysical stuff I didn't like, including a bizarre wizard guy who dresses in white that looks like he walked off the set of a FF game by mistake.
Whoa. Colour me intrigued. That's quite a change of pace. Care to say more or point me somewhere the story might be summarized?

Originally Posted by PixyJunket
When the game exists only to service the story, there's a problem. When you play 10 minutes of game and then sit through 30 minutes of non-interactive cut scenes, there's a problem.
There I agree. I like stories in games (evidenced by my love of the Metal Gear series) but sometimes gamemakers go two far and forget we payed $50 to play the game not watch the pretty cutscenes. Two good examples of games that got this right are the aformentioned Beyond Good & Evil and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Both games had intriguing stories but neither allowed the story to take command of the gameplay.

Last edited by RocShemp; 11-15-05 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 11-15-05, 10:09 AM
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Here's a good plot summary of all the Resident Evil games:

http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/psx/f..._evil_plot.txt

Reading it over, the game wasn't quite as over the top as I remember, but I didn't find the storyline as intriguing as other games in the series.
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Old 11-15-05, 10:11 AM
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Thanks, Groucho.
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Old 11-15-05, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by RocShemp
Too good examples of games that got this right are the aformentioned Beyond Good & Evil and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Both games had intriguing stories but neither allowed the story to take command of the gameplay.
Agree on both counts.
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Old 11-15-05, 10:52 AM
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I agree with Beyond Good & Evil and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time too. They had really great stories. The Thief series, No One Lives Forever series, Max Payne, and Mafia are also underrated games with great stories. Mafia has the probably the best storyline of any game I have ever played.

Maybe it is just me, but it seems like most Japanese games have really wacky/weird storylines. The games with the best storylines are non-Japanese like the games mentioned in my first paragraph. Really, the only Japanese game I have seen with a good storyline is the Metal Gear Solid series. However, Metal Gear Solid needs some serious editing. I don't mind 3-4 minute cutscenes, but frequent 10-15 minute cutscenes are damn boring. A lot of the dialogue and cutscenes in MGS are completely pointless too. Did we really need to know about Otacon's lusting for Sniper Wolf, or his "relations" with his mother, or Rose's nagging Raiden about forgetting their anniversary, or the "bosses" spewing out their life-stories when they die? How is any of that crap necessary for the overall story?
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Old 11-15-05, 10:53 AM
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I thought RE 4 had a pretty decent plot and pretty good voice acting as well. Compared to the past incarnations, it's pretty much Oscar material.
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Old 11-15-05, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls
It really is a plague. It's the same problem with a lot of anime.

I'm playing Digital Devil Saga 2 right now, and the story is basically complete nonsense.
I was just thinking the same thing [I beat Abaddon last night]. I think I like what it's going for, but it's not doing a real incredible job at portraying it. But the game itself is still fun.

I don't mind story in games; sometimes I want to skip the story and just kill stuff or explore dungeons, but it's nice to have some overriding point to it.
Games are becoming much more like movies in many ways, and this is one of the ways that can backfire.

I also agree that the duration and frequency of cutscenes are definitely a concern. I don't mind longer exposition scenes or ending scenes or chapter start/end scenes, but they need to be
* entertaining
* skippable
* prefaced and ended with a Save option.

A welldone story can really help to draw you into the game, but a poorly written or presented one can detract greatly.
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