MovieBob - Intermission
Quit It, Gaming Edition

Bob Chipman | 11 Mar 2011 12:00
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Or heck, forget the loopholes, what if the prophecy is just complete bunk? In the movie Drive Angry, a dead man escapes from Hell to save his infant granddaughter from being sacrificed by a cult of redneck Devil Worshippers. Funny thing, though - while the hero and at least one other character actually know The Devil personally ("A quiet man. Well-read.") - he actually has NO association with these guys: They're just nuts, their whole prophecy and belief system is malarkey, and the fact that they've come up against actual Hellspawn is entirely coincidental. Oops!
That's an exchange I'd like to see the next time I'm midway through an RPG:

Hero: "You destroyed my village!"
Villain: "I needed to destroy you! He who was prophesized to stop me!"
Wizard: "Say what? Dude, that prophecy is was a total load - we wrote that crap out like thirty revisions ago! Homeboy wouldn't even know who the hell you were if you hadn't burned up all his stuff!"
Villain: "...damn it."

Everything is illuminated... seriously, everything.

Am I the only person who doesn't like it when every melee-attack is accompanied by a big glowing "whoosh" of what looks like really sloppy light-writing? Here's a novel idea: Instead of turning the entire battlefield into a disco every time I need to shake people off me, how about you trust that I'll know it was a heavy attack by the tons of dead guys flying backwards away from me?

All comedy is Dane Cook

Brief memo to game designers: "wisecracking heroes" like Mal Reynolds, Ash Williams or John McClane work because those characters are actually funny. If you're going to make your hero an abrasive, flippant jerk - hire someone who can actually write comedy. There's nothing worse than a guy who only thinks he's the cleverest cat in the room, unless you're aiming to parody that sort of guy like Duke Nukem or Bulletstorm are.

Case in point: Nathan Drake is the most innately-hateful protagonist since Leisure Suit Larry. The second Leisure Suit Larry. Every time he opens his mouth, I want to kick his teeth down his throat. These are not endearing traits in a hero. (Incidentally, this is also why I worry that the people who keep clamoring for the movie version of Spider-Man to "joke around more" like he does in the comics are in for a serious "Monkey's Paw" lesson sooner than later.)

With his fist in the air and his head in the sand...

I am so tired of playing as the Angry Young Man. And not just in the sense that most game heroes are men, and young, and angry. I'm talking about the very specific species of petulant, spitting-mad little whiners at the forefront of titles like Infamous. I understand that developers (particularly Western developers, though Japan has its own variations) think that the real life versions of Cole McGrath are their target audience - which is a big problem in and of itself - but even then, why assume that even they'd constantly want to play as their own miserable selves?

The heading on this entry is from an old Billy Joel song, incidentally. Go listen to it (main song begins at 1:51), or just read the lyrics, and think about just how perfectly it describes so many gaming protagonists. That song is from 1976. How pathetic is that? Our modern badass heroes can be handily summarized by a disco-era ditty by the freakin' Piano Man.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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