As much as I love the Elder Scrolls series, I never think “good story” whenever someone mentions a game in the series. The games were always about the freedom, the expansiveness and the mythos behind everything, rather than enjoying a good story/plot
Yet one thing that always struck me about Elder Scrolls stories and plots is how much they relate to the real world. That’s right, a fictional fantasy video game series with Orcs, Dark Elves and lizard people tells more ‘worldly’ stories than your average modern warfare game.
Ever since Morrowind, each entry in the Elder Scrolls relate in some way to the player’s culture and society, and tells us stories that connect with the player on levels not present in most other games.
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Messianic figures are a recurring element in works of fiction, and you can find Christ figures in varied works, ranging from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ to ‘Robocop’ (yes, that Robocop). However, it was indeed strange playing Morrowind for the first time, and noticing that the game’s story contains a Christ Figure as well.
Let’s take a look at Morrowind’s story. The Dark Elves are living under the vicious rule of the Tribunal, and they are awaiting the return of their hero, Nerevar, to make things right. Nerevar was a legendary Elven hero who led the the Dark Elves to their new land, but disappeared under mysterious circumstances. When Morrowind takes place, the Dark Elves are waiting for the prophecized reincarnation of their hero, the Nervarine, to save the Dark Elves from the tribunal, and stop the return of the evil deity, Dagoth Ur.
There isn’t a shortage of “save the world” plots in RPG games, but Morrowind takes it one step further. You aren’t simply the hero, or the “chosen one”, you are the Messiah. Your character has already existed, and he has returned once again to save his people. While this isn’t really groundbreaking, it does add a lot of substance to the story and player character. The figure of the Messiah is prominent in many cultures and religions around the world, and because of this, Morrowind connects with the player on a new level, where the player could start seeing parallels between the game and real world religions and cultures. While you always knew that you were going to defeat Lord Evil McFinal Boss at the end of the game, the discovery of your role in the conflict throughout comes gradually as you progress through the game, and the more you learn about who you are, the more invested you are in the game.
Again, this isn’t anything ground-breaking, and pop culture is riddled with Christ figures (Superman, Neo, Froddo Baggins…etc), but I don’t recall it being present in a game, especially where the player character is the one.
While Bethesda gave us a pseudo-religious motif in Morrowind, they decided to go with a story that is a lot more timely…
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Let me tell you a story: A powerful, imperialistic cosmopolitan state is being attacked. The attackers are a violent religious cult who are prone to suicide attacks, as they believe through martyrdom, they can meet their maker in paradise.
If you thought I was talking about the War on Terror, then you are wrong. Sane, but still wrong. The above is the story of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, a game that attempted to rework the war on terror into its own story, and the similarities couldn’t me more obvious. Cyrodill (which forms the heart of the empire) while initially based on the Roman Empire, corresponds with America. A powerful, cosmopolitan state that views itself as the beacon of progress and culture, but whose imperialistic tendencies caused suffering in other regions. Then you have the Mythic Dawn, a very small religious sect led by a charismatic leader, who see the empire as the cause of everything that is wrong with the world, and have launched numerous attacks on the empire, including assassinating its Emperor. They also fear no death, as they believe that through death, they shall go to “paradise” and meet their God.
While the war on terror isn’t a new topic in games, this is probably the first time a political event was represented this way in a game. This is Bethesda’s unique way of tackling current affairs, and like with Morrowind, this little twist adds another layer to what would’ve been a standard ‘save the world’ story. Unfortunately, the story was still lacking in depth, and this was pre-Fallout Bethesda, so the company has yet to discover the joys of Moral ambiguity. We never see things from the point of view of the “other”, we never hear or understand the Mythic Dawn’s own reasoning for their actions, and we are only told they are bad by the game.
But when it comes to Skyrim, Bethesda’s post-Fallout title, the game certainly upped the ante on moral ambiguity.
When this year first started, it showed a lot of promise as far as the entertainment industry goes and that doesn’t only fall under the video games that were announced. Even the movies that were coming out showed a lot of potential. I mean, come on, when movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor, Fast Five, and Transformers are all coming out in the same 6 months you get pretty excited. Only to get disappointed that none of them were close to being up to par with their predecessors (in Thor’s case you may compare it to other Marvels like say…Iron man!)
2011 wasn’t even kind enough to give us some decent games to enjoy until the giants came to play with us come this winter…Of course there were some “good” games. But that was pretty much it.
I do know one thing that kept us gamers busy this summer though. The Battlefield 3 vs. Modern Warfare 3 debate that has been taking place ever since both game trailers were released. The fire was first fed by EA’s arrogant approach towards “destroying” the Call of Duty franchise while Infinity Ward took the “we really don’t care so much about this trash talk and would rather have the games speak for themselves” approach.
My take on this whole issue is…why would an apple want to destroy an orange?
I’ll elaborate on that shortly but first let’s have a look at what Modern Warfare 3 has to say for itself. Coming for a very strong background of Call of Duty experience (Golden AK in MW1 and 1300 hours of MW2 multiplayer) I seem to be pretty much a CoD fanboy without the “boy” part. You cannot help but compare the games together. And this was the smartest thing to do. I did not compare MW3 to other games like Battlefield 3 since they are both amazing in their own playing style and scale. Activision’s main competitor was not EA, it was themselves! Modern Warfare 2 was the game to beat, not Battlefield, and that was the right approach in my opinion.
Let’s start with the Campaign shall we?
Too Linear. Must Wait For AI Teammate To Open Door. Enemy AI Stupid As Ever. No Co-Op Mode in Campaign.
If you overlook the fact that this game is designed to be linear, then you would spend more time enjoying the cinematic aspect of it. The story may not be too deep, but it’s just about enough to make you PULL THAT THROWING KNIFE OUT OF YOUR CHEST AND THROW IT INTO HIS EYE!
Modern Warfare 3 had a lot of hype to stand up to, especially after the way the story took place in MW2, and I can easily say that I was highly impressed with what I got in Modern Warfare 3. The game took about 6 to 7 hours on Regular difficulty, and I did not want to bother playing on Veteran since there’s the multiplayer to go to, and there wasn’t much time to waste.
The graphics are nothing close to the monster EA has created, but it was far from bad. I actually believe they were beautiful and amazing. People may argue that the game looks like MW2. I actually thought so too…until I played it. The campaign has that same gameplay “feel” that MW2 had, but the graphics were different. They were smoother, more detailed, better. You are going to have to try it to believe it. The story was pretty intense and action packed, and begins with the whole world falling into war with Russia based on the schemes that ultra-nationalist Vladimir Makarov has been setting up. Cliché? Maybe, but that is not the question to ask someone that plays the game. Instead, you should ask them whether they enjoy every second of the game. Hell yes! That is what Infinity Ward offers you, an incredible gaming experience.
GameFest will be held at Geekfest 5.0 this Thursday at The Shelter on 24th June 2010. Expect loads of frantic LAN gaming action on classic FPS titles.
More info will be posted soon. Watch this space.
The fifth installment in the Splinter Cell video game series is our game of the month for April. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction follows the story of Sam Fisher, an elite operative who used to work for a top secret government agency. But, when Fisher finds his daughter Sarah dead, things might not be so clear cut as first thought. Fisher cuts all ties with his former unit, executes his boss and former friend and goes on the path for vengeance.
Microsoft has announced that USB flash drives will be supported on the Xbox 360. Here’s the official news from MajorNelson.com:
On April 6th, we will be releasing a system update over Xbox LIVE for your Xbox 360 that will allow USB flash drives to be used for storing profiles, game saves, demos and more. I’ve been testing this feature out for a few weeks, and I have to say it’s really great. Once you take the system update on April 6th, you’ll be able to connect your USB flash drives to your console and head over to the memory section to configure your new storage device. Once you do that, the system will conduct a one time performance and integrity check to confirm the drive is working properly. You will then be able to configure how much storage to use on the device, up to 16 GB. The remaining space on the flash drive will be accessible by your PC or Mac. USB Hard drives may work, but like flash memory, you’ll only be able to use up to 16GB of space. Since performance on flash based USB storage is usually better, I highly recommend using flash based instead of spinning media like a hard drive…it’s just going to give you a MUCH better experience.
We’ve also enhanced the memory management functions, so you’ll be able to have better control on what you want to copy or move between storage devices.
A couple of points:
* You can have 2 devices connected to the console at a time, enabling up to 32GB of simultaneous storage.
* The system won’t just configure the device once it is connected to the console. You’ll need to head to the memory area in system settings, select your USB Device, and choose from Configure Now (Format and Configure the Full Device), or Customize (you can choose how much memory you want configured for Xbox360 from the free space on the device.)
While any flash drive can be used, we are partnering with SanDisk to release an Xbox 360 branded USB flash drive in May that comes pre-configured out of the box and ready to go. I’ll provide links to those drives once they’re available. Until then, starting April 6th (when we release the system update) you can pop any flash drive over 1GB into your Xbox 360 and configure it as storage.
In Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the Bad Company crew again find themselves in the heart of the action, where they must use every weapon and vehicle at their disposal to survive. The action unfolds with unprecedented intensity, introducing a level of fervor to vehicular warfare never before experienced in a modern warfare action game.
The ‘B’ company fight their way through snowy mountaintops, dense jungles and dusty villages. With a heavy arsenal of deadly weapons and a slew of vehicles to aid them, the crew set off on their mission and they are ready to blow up, shoot down, blast through, wipe out and utterly destroy anything that gets in their way. Total destruction is the name of the game — either online or offline, enemies will soon learn there is nowhere to hide.
Thanks to EA, we have 5 copies of Bad Company 2 for the PC to give away.
The year is 2062 and humanity is at the brink of extinction. With only six years left until the mysterious crystalline structure Tiberium renders the earth entirely uninhabitable, the two opposing factions — Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod — inevitably find themselves in desperation for the same cause: to stop Tiberium from extinguishing mankind. The unthinkable becomes reality and Nod’s enigmatic leader Kane takes off for GDI headquarters. What is Kane planning in the heart of his enemies’ base?
In addition to the two campaigns on the epic battles of GDI and Nod, which players will get to conquer alone or in a cooperative mode, Command & Conquer 4 also features a new 5v5 objective-based multiplayer mode, promoting teamwork and cooperation and delivering a social real-time-strategy experience never seen before in a Command & Conquer game.
Thanks to EA, we have five copies of Tiberian Twilight for the PC to give away.
It’s bloody, it’s gory and it’s everything we could have ever asked for. However, thanks to its theme, God of War III will only be officially available in some parts of the Middle East.
Quantic Dream’s dark film noir thriller Heavy Rain is our Game of the Month for February. Unfortunately, we’ve received news that the game has been banned in the UAE.
Game Synopsis: Once again stepping into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, gamers command their crew on a suicide mission in space. Players must assemble their squad from amongst the galaxy’s most powerful mystics, geniuses, and convicts and lead them on a suicide mission to discover why humans are vanishing from the galaxy. The success of the mission hinges on the squad recruited and their loyalty to the mission. Shepard’s future depends on it.
Thanks to EA, we have four copies of Mass Effect 2 for the Xbox 360 to give away to lucky gamers.