Monday, February 11, 2013

Overthinking : Dead Space 3 and Disposable Heroes

Welcome to Tau Volantis.
"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well."
- Isaac Clarke, to John Carver

So it's been a month since I've held a gaming console - thanks to Spec Ops. Fortunately (or unfortunately), a combination of someone getting a copy of Dead Space 3 and me getting stuck in the house for a couple of days (due to work) gave me a rare opportunity to play again. I managed to beat the game in two days (or around twenty hours of playtime - something I'm not supposed to be proud of) and I guess I wasn't disappointed at how EA wrapped up Isaac Clarke's epic trilogy.

I noticed that there seems to be a trend with video games lately - protagonists are becoming more expendable with each new release. Every game I've finished in the last few months had someone built up throughout the course of the game (or in some cases, throughout several games) but end up getting snuffed out to add drama to the story's conclusion.

There's the aforementioned Spec Ops where, according to the most sensible interpretations, Martin Walker relives his trek through the ruined city of Dubai like some sort of self-inflicted purgatory. Desmond Miles (of Assassin's Creed 3) sacrifices himself to save the world after five games (and quite ironically, dooming it to another threat). Jason Brody from Far Cry 3 gets killed in one of the more interesting endings as he accepts his fate and embraces the island that changed him as a person. Alex Mason (from the Black Ops series), as well as Mother and Rabbit (from the Tier 1 series) got offed after being built up with arguably the best military fiction to date. Piers Nivens chose to save Chris Redfield - and the only way was by ingesting the virus to stop whatever it was that was trying to hunt them down. And Shepard, beloved as he (or she) was, had to die.

I guess I'm not going to get used to seeing the good guys dying anytime soon. I think the difference between video games and other forms of media is that players are given the illusion of control over their characters - however linear it may be at times. It just sucks that sometimes the antagonists are written out as incredibly powerful beings that they manage to take out everyone else in their death throes.

Maybe I miss the old days when there was a clear line between good and bad. I think that's why Link is my favorite game character of all time. There was something relatable in the simplicity of his struggles - beat Ganondorf, save Princess Zelda.

Simple. No pretenses. And elegant in its own way.

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