The battle of the narrative

One of the most important parts of a game to me is the story behind it. Granted that this isn’t always relevant depending on the genre (sports games etc) but when it comes to the likes of RPGs one of the main things I’ll look for is the story.  Even now the FPS genre seems to be getting in on the act, and while old school traditional FPS had a limited story arc such as Doom and Quake, new titles in the genre are being padded out with just enough story to keep things a bit more interesting.

Gears of War is a good example for me to use as I’m currently playing through the campaign so things are still fresh. The story isn’t all in your face, but then it doesn’t have to be, there are no 20 minute narrative scenes or loads of dialogue for you to sift through. What it does, it does well; it serves it up in bite size portions, like a mini cheese platter, so that in between bouts of shooting people in a brutal fashion you’re reminded just why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Of course it adds to the incentive to keep going, to reach the next point in the story arc to find out just what’s going to happen next. The important point to me is that it also helps create a bond with the characters. The short bursts of dialogue in Gears is done so well that with just a couple of chapters cleared you’ll find yourself easily identifying with the characters; you’ll form virtual bonds with them which no doubt you’ll carry over to multiplayer and so forth.A complicated man

Gears is all about over the top weaponry, characters and cheesy dialogue, but deep down under all that, its story is what holds it all together. Without the story, the game would just be another emotionless shooter, and quite frankly, we need more characters with a bit of life about them. Master Chief isn’t really pushing boundaries on the personality scale, where as someone like Marcus Fenix probably does.

Of course this isn’t primarily Gears based, it goes across most games that we see released. We’ve had some really good stories since the current generation started, likes of Bioshock, Metal Gear Solid, and Eternal Sonata all use the story in the game for different effects.

A few years back story wasn’t so evident, but now we’re seeing it more and more in games. In my eyes, story is one of the most important parts of the game and the industry is starting to recognise that – long may it continue.







8 responses to “The battle of the narrative”

  1. SeeminglyIncoherent avatar

    Hey! Doom had an amazing story.

    Would The Rock be in a movie loosely based on a game with no evident story? Didn’t think so.

  2. Andy Turner avatar
    Andy Turner

    I love a good story to my games too…in terms of the too much vs too little debate I fluctuate depending on how much I like the story that is being presented…Metal gear for example I’ve happily let get away with scenes encompassing the best part of an hour (Provided they let me pause for a bathroom break or when someone insists on talking to me urgently.)

    But the one thing I can not abide is a weak ending I’ve played games that have had fairly solid stories throughout only to stuff up with a completely underwhelming “WTF it that it!” ending (Jericho I’m talking to you.)

  3. Rob avatar

    Bioshock had an amazing story. As did its predisesor/grandfather Systemshock. Shodan has to be one of the greatist villians ever. The story was very good even for back then

  4. Michael avatar

    Gears of War had a nonsense story!

    BioShock, on the other hand, had a story. The thing I like most about that is the whole game gives you choice while being inescapably linear and then it’s all crystallised in one moment of crazy golf! You’d never see breaking the fourth wall done so… curtly by Hideo Kojima!

  5. Duncan Aird avatar
    Duncan Aird

    R.I.P. Carmine.

    I loved you. 🙁

  6. Jonathan Grier avatar
    Jonathan Grier

    I have to agree with Micheal, Gears of war 1 seemed completely random. Just a big line of excuses for you to shoot things.

    The 2nd one is a different story however.

  7. Andy Turner avatar
    Andy Turner

    Duncan…I miss Carmine too

    I could have cried when…when….I don’t want to talk about it.

  8. Power Up avatar
    Power Up

    Didn’t Carmine number 2 say he had a couple of other brothers signing up for the COGs? There will be a Carmine in every Gears of War sequel, like the sacrificial guy in red in every episode of Star Trek or maybe Kenny from South Park. “Oh my God, they killed Carmine… you bastards”.

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