Delsin using light powers

My Issue with Moral Choices In Infamous Second Son

Last week I planned on writing a review for Infamous Second Son.  My original plan consisted of finishing the campaign, writing the review, and posting it on the site for everyone to read. However, upon reaching the final mission, I had to make a change of plans. I was never going to write a review for this game.  What should have been the tale of a hero’s downfall, became a cautionary story of what happens when you limit a game’s morality.  I doubt I will ever finish Second Son, which kinda pisses me off because I paid for it, but I can’t finish it.  I’ve seen behind the veil and now it’s just another ‘video game’.

Spoilers Ahead! 

For those who have reached the last mission in Second Son, you already know the score. Hank has betrayed you, and after a narrow escape, Augustine kills your brother.  For the entire game I played the game as a hero. Saving people and redeeming fellow conduits. But when Delsin’s brother died it was time for revenge. I killed Hank…and while his pleas for forgiveness were heard, he had to go–even with his daughter calling his name. He betrayed my trust, and my moral compass will only go so far.  At this point I decided that even a hero has to get his hands dirty, and this was one of those moments.  After I killed him, I dropped a hero level but I didn’t care.  I had one goal in mind — kill Augustine. There was no other way it could go. Why take the hero’s route and expose her leaving an opportunity for her to return? She needed to die and I was willing to lose powers to make that happen. Except when it was time to actually start the mission I couldn’t take the “evil” route. I had to become evil before I could finish the mission. My good guy status prevented me from killing Augustine.

And therein lies the problem facing games with moral choices. The world isn’t black and white…there are shades of gray. Although a character might start with the best intentions, the death of a family member can change a character’s course. How do you allow Delsin the option to kill Hank, but not Augustine? I was a ‘true hero’ before killing Hank. I should have been able to finish that ride down the path of evil. Locking my last mission to my moral status not only kills the momentum but the character development as well. Instead of a story where people can make decisions across the spectrum of morality, we fall back into the game design ideals were players are left with a static choice because the developer knows “what’s best.”

It’s funny how we want games to push our emotional buttons, but we want to limit our responses to these emotional cues.  If you give me freedom of choice, then I should have the freedom to make decisions that fit my situation and moral compass.  I won’t always make the “good” choice, nor would I always make the “evil” choice.  Locking us to simple choices sends a message that gamers are not mature enough to make their own decisions.  That someone must tell us what is right and wrong.  But the irony of the situation is that we are smart enough to make our own moral decisions.  Maybe we are scared of what those choices look like…

Gameplay Screen shot

What Gives a Video game Soul?

If we acknowledge games as art, then we must talk about a game’s “soul.” The critical element of a video game that brings everything together. From Streets of Rage 2 to Fallout 3, games with soul often leave a lasting memories in our minds. When a game has soul, every element inside the game comes to life. The environment seems fresh and vibrant with the music setting the proper mood. The game’s action “just works” — controls are responsive and combat/puzzle solving/etc. seems like the natural fit for the world the main character inhabits.

However, there are times when we experience games that are devoid of that soul. Strider is one of those games. Surprisingly, it’s actually a fun game. I like the character design and some of the platform elements, but it doesn’t connect — The game’s elements never come together to create a cohesive experience. Even during the height of combat, it doesn’t click.

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out why a game like Strider is missing that crucial element–soul. Watch the video above and let me know what you think is missing. Or do you think Strider has that missing element?

Also, is soul crucial to the success of game? And if so, what gives a game it’s soul? Leave your opinion in the comment section below.

crazy cheese scene

The Walking Dead: The T Dog Report Special

Because of some outside circumstances I had to skip the T Dog Report last week. However we’re back discussing the past two episodes and a few themes that don’t sit right with me.

Thank You for Being a Friend…and A Nanny

I’m glad I decided to wait to discuss this issue to make sure it wasn’t an isolated case. It seems  the black characters in The Walking Dead serve two functions:

  • Background filler
  • Nannies

How is it both Michonne AND Tyreese get put on kid duty? Not only have they been placed on ‘kid duty’, the writers have changed their personalities as well. Two of the most powerful black characters seem closer to Mammy than they do survivors of a zombie apocalypse. Okay that’s a little extreme, but if you’ve been watching the show you know how dramatic their shift in personalities are since the prison break. You never see any of the other characters change their personalities when watching over the children. Even Carl kept up the tough guy act when he watched over the kids during the medicine run. But now Tyreese and Michonne have become these soft-spoken, somewhat “safe” characters.  And for what?

Team Break Down

So the group has splintered into various factions during the prison break. Each group has it’s various strengths and weaknesses and we break down each group to see who will live long enough make it to the new town.

Team Daryl

If Beth won the lottery by linking up with Daryl, then he definitely got the shaft. While there is strength in Daryl only having to worry about two people instead of an entire group, his partner puts him at a disadvantage. Beth has no skill in dealing with a zombie threat and she is too emotional with the loss of her father and Maggie. It’s likely (according to next week’s preview) that Beth’s unstable nature will put Daryl in a position where his strength and survival instincts become will have no effect on his chance of survival. The extreme of this team dynamic means that someone has to die in order for the other to survive.

Team Carl

Carl’s crew has the best chance of every team member making it out alive. They are the most evenly balanced in terms of strength and mental state. And while Carl is the weakest physically, he does have the heart to get things done. Michonne, finding her way, continues to serve as the muscle for the group. However, her attachment to Carl can definitely be her downfall as Carl could put her in a compromising situation. Rick, who is still on the injured list will play it cool, decreasing the chances of him acting stupid and putting the group at risk.

Team Sasha

Sasha’s group is something of a wild card. While Maggie and Sasha are capable, Maggie’s emotional state is going to put the group at risk. A prime example is how they handled the situation on the zombies on the bus. A few more situations like those, and someone is going to take a loss. I’m not counting on Da Mayor to make it out of this situation alive. Chances are he’ll have withdrawal symptoms (from lack of alcohol), causing him to make a simple mistake leading to his demise. I could see this group’s survival going one of two ways.

  • Maggie gets Sasha and Da Mayor killed looking for Glenn
  • Da Mayor does something stupid and gets himself killed

Team Everyone But Glenn

You already know I’m going hate, but it’s actually hard to find much fault with this group. Glenn (through an ass whooping) has aligned himself with some of the strongest characters in the group. Each one of them, with except the scientist, has some type of weapon/military training. Not only do they have supplies and weapons, but this group has also spent most of their time in a vehicle, freeing up their exposure to the elements. The only wild card in this group is the scientist. Something isn’t right about him and I’m sure he’s going to throw a monkey wrench in the plans.

Team Tyreese

This is THE WORST pairing of them all. I don’t understand how Tyreese ended up watching over the children and Carol…of all people! It’s not looking good for Tyreese at all. There are too many people in the group that he has to protect and none of them can take care of themselves. Not to mention they have Rick’s baby, which could be the only saving grace for Tyreese. I really don’t see Carol making it out of this situation alive. At some point along the way she’s going to tell Tyreese about killing his woman and he’s going go to work with that hammer. Or leave her for dead. Of course Carol’s reputation with T Dog precedes her and I’m sure she has no problem leaving Tyreese to the same fate as T Dog.

One Shall Stand…One Shall Fall

So we pretty much know where the story is heading. Everyone is going to end up at the new town and the story will take off from there. However, what we don’t know is who will survive long enough to be included in the next chapter of the story. The Walking Dead has never done well with large cast of characters, so someone is going to get the axe. It’s the reason we have different teams, so the weak links can get cut from the herd. Some teams are stacked while others are so weak it seems like the entire group will be cut from the group. It will be interesting to see how people team up and what happens to black characters. Will they find their place within the group or will they be written back into the background? Only time will tell.

 

 

 

Dark Souls 2 – ‘Dark Intentions’ Story Vid

The Dark Souls community takes the story and elements of the universe seriously. Pictures and videos related to Dark Souls 2 always get the most activity on my Tumblr Account.  In their latest vid, the creators of Dark Souls 2 give us a look into the story that shaped their latest game.  If you are a casual fan is the story enough to get you interested in the game? And if you are a veteran player do the elements of the new story exceed your expectations?

the mission one logo

Thief – Lockdown Mission Walk Through

Thief drops on the 25th of this month, and for those who need to decide if the game is worthy of  purchase, the dev has released a walk though of the first mission–Lockdown.  The video is 17-minutes long and full of spoilers, but if you need to know if this is something special or just a Dishonored clone this is your chance.

Who’s picking up Thief next week?