No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation
First Person Plot

Firefilm | 25 Jun 2012 12:00
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Last week the guys spoke about which FPS had the best plot ever and now they proceed with that discussion here for your enjoyment.

Chris: There tends to be a very distinct separation between the first person genre of games and all the rest when it comes to story. We've all got our favorites, but when we go to Best Story in a Videogame, we don't typically turn to an FPS (though Best Story in a Videogame is sure to show up on No Right Answer someday). Our debate had Kyle arguing in favor of Half-Life while Dan went with Bioshock, and I was sitting all alone in the judge's chair. Ultimately I went with Bioshock as the best, partly because I thought Dan argued it more correctly, and also because Bioshock just has a story that's permeated the medium of video games far better than Half-Life's story.

When I say "permeated," I mean that we instantly go to Bioshock's story first and foremost, whereas Half-Life and its sequels are touted as having the superior level design and combat innovations, specifically the Gravity Gun and such. When my associates turned to me after their drinking rounds failed to result in a spit-take, I was forced to give this explanation:

"Bioshock is the only game that has a GameFAQS plot summary that I passed onto my wife as it was so fascinating, ultimately causing her to retort in a conversation about science with a group of friends months later about how scientists have found a species of sea slugs that apparently have cancer-curing properties, only to have me point out that she was referring to Bioshock's backstory."

It may seem simple and anti-climactic to learn that about the decision, so instead I want to talk about the throw away comment I yelled from right off camera before getting shut down by Kyle. I can't in good faith argue this as being the best against anything else in the FPS genre, but Metroid Prime is still the FPS I jump to in terms of story and all around excellence. And yes I'm a fanboy, so let's just get that out of the way right now.

Why I'd personally go with Metroid Prime over so many more obvious choices is because I have the greatest personal involvement with it. I'd never played a Metroid game prior and only asked for it for a Christmas gift as sort of an obligation to want to play the big title from Nintendo that year. Thankfully, my parents were smart enough to make that my big, unexpected present that year, and then even more thankfully I decided to give it a go. My goodness, I've rarely had a more emotional experience in any other video game. The music for Phendrana Drifts can still make me tear up.

The reason for it all is just the general feeling of isolation and aloneness. Samus is on an entire world with a rich history, but she's utterly by herself. As with a lot of good game stories, the important details are given to you clearly, then the rest are left for you to discover as you progress. This creates a much more personal experience with the narrative as you haven't been complacent to it's existence. You aren't punished at all for refusing to scan sections of lore throughout the game, but if you decide to ignore it you'll miss the entirety of the game's real meat. This same method is used in Bioshock as well as Portal to some extent.

I'm just glad that we've shifted away from World War II as the definitive FPS story, though I am sad that we've moved instead to "conflict in the Middle East involving Russians" and "dude, space aliens be wack yo." Let's just hope that Bioshock Infinite brings us something truly imaginative already. You with me? Alright, wolverines!

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