Stories Overrated?

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VideoGameCritic
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Stories Overrated?

Postby VideoGameCritic » February 5th, 2021, 3:28 pm

Back in the 80's, the manuals for Atari games would tell a background story to get you in the right frame of mind for the game.

Lately I'm been playing Gears 5 (Xbox One) and it's clear developers are starting to pay a lot more attention to the storylines. The dialog and acting have definitely improved. There are a lot of long cut-scenes and plenty of drama.

Personally, I think video game stories are overrated. I just want enough to set the stage, or maybe explain why my space marine is traveling from one planet to another. I find myself skipping a lot of cut scenes.

So you might say story is more important to RPGs, but aren't they always just the same old story?

I'd like to hear your thoughts...

Zack Burner
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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby Zack Burner » February 5th, 2021, 3:33 pm

I think that all depends on what's being told. Some stories are simple like Contra III or TMNT Turtles in Time, some get interesting, and some get complex. I like rich storytelling that at least has a theme one can take away from it. In Legend of Dragoon, one gets the message of the dangers of power from this quote "Greed for power will only consume you, unleashing it only generates sorrow" Some VG stories offer some character development such as FF7 where Cloud slowly develops from a brash classical anti-hero with anxiety, guilt, and self-doubt to a real hero fighting for the planet. I do admit some storytelling doesn't make any sense such as in Clock Tower 3 with some convolutedness that doesn't exactly make sense such as why does a medieval castle exist underneath a stately mansion and why would a beloved grandfather who values virtue turn to a path of evil? That still confuses me.

newmodelarmy
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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby newmodelarmy » February 6th, 2021, 8:48 am

I would tend to agree in most cases. I played through Gears 5 and could not tell you a thing about the story. I could tell you about the Game, which I found to be a MAJOR disappointment but that is just me. However, I am currently playing Greedfall which is a 3rd person adventure game like Skyrim (but not as good) and to be honest, the only thing that is keeping me interested is the story, which I find to be rather interesting. However, overall I think the story is overrated in general. I either find them unnecessary or simply so convoluted that it is nearly impossible to keep track of what is going on anyway. It is hard to find the balance between accessibility and interesting when it comes to stories in video games.

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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby VideoGameCritic » February 6th, 2021, 9:19 am

newmodel - let me know your thoughts on Gears 5. I think it's okay but don't really have strong feelings one way or another yet.

Voor
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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby Voor » February 6th, 2021, 10:10 am

I like stories IF they are succinct time wise—dr Wiley made some evil robots and mega man has to destroy them. Or double dragon Billy’s girflfriend got punched in the stomach and kidnapped and he has to rescue her.

Anything time-consuming that goes in RPG land.

Another category is “cinematic platformers”, that kind of tell a story in bite sized pieces as it goes along. Those are cool.

Celeste is an example of a platformer that had a unique story, but waaaaay to much dialogue to get the point across. Less would have been more in that case

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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby newmodelarmy » February 6th, 2021, 1:58 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote:newmodel - let me know your thoughts on Gears 5. I think it's okay but don't really have strong feelings one way or another yet.


It's been a few years since I have played it but what comes to mind most is that I did not enjoy playing as the new characters. I want to play as Marcus (or one of the original members), not some lame female character that seems tacked on. Also I felt the action was just "same old-same old" and the story just limped along, not making any sense. I also thought the multiplayer was pretty ho-hum as well. One feature that I remember that could have been cool was the ability to upgrade your robot companion (forget its name) but I don't remember that working all that well. Anyway, not exactly in-depth analysis but keep in mind its been a few years since I played it. Oh and I remember roaming around on the Skiff which I thought was out of place and pretty lame. Gears 5 is the reason I bought the Xbox One in the first place and wow was I disappointed. One Gears game it doesn't look like you reviewed is Gears: Judgement for the 360, I found that game a lot more fun to play than Gears 5 so you may want to check it out. As an aside, in my opinion, Gears 2 is the pinnacle of the series for both single and multi player.

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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby Retro STrife » February 6th, 2021, 1:59 pm

Critic- I’ll be interested to see you revisit this thought if we can finally convince you to play Final Fantasy Tactics!

I agree with you for genres like shooters (i.e. Gears), platformers, etc., but overall I’m very big on story. Most of the games in my personal Top 10 are there largely because of their story/characters/etc., like FFT, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Metal Gear Solid 1 & 3, Final Fantasy VII, and Bioshock. And, basically, if I’m gonna invest anymore than like 10-15 hours in a game, it hopefully has a solid story pushing me forward to stick with it. Few games can keep my attention longer than that on gameplay alone.

BlasteroidAli
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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby BlasteroidAli » February 10th, 2021, 6:50 am

Gears 5 it is better than Gears 4... the worst of the series. I hate shooting robots. As if I am I have playing Terminator or binary Domain.
Here is the plot. Bad guys are out to bust up the gears again. The bad guys also kidnap someone close to the team's heart but wait is the a telepathic link between the bad guys and the good guys? What does this mean for world peace? Have they found more emulsion? What is the mystery surrounding the abandoned bases. I have not played it for a while but the story was great.

Tron
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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby Tron » February 14th, 2021, 5:43 am

Not very interested in stories in video games.

I like short cutscenes like Resident Evil 4 (RE 4). I like some interactive story scenes like the ones in (RE 4). I like it when the story gives the player an opportunity to make a choice that actually impacts gameplay like Tactics Ogre, where depending on your choice, it changes what maps you play.

I don’t like meaningless/pointless stories in video games.
I don’t like fluff where it’s for character development or just for story purposes only. I don’t like it when the game’s story gives you a choice that has no impact on the actual gameplay. Like those drawn out RPGs with boring stories that ask your player character if you like oranges or apples better and no matter what you choose it just goes to more story and the same gameplay.

One thing I really dislike is when the game gives the player the illusion of choice. In Skyrim the player goes to a town named Riften. In Riften all the townsfolk complain about the Thieves Guild. The way the story progresses it becomes common sense that the player would get to destroy the Thieves Guild. That is not how the game plays out. Instead the game forces you to either join them or ignore them. If you try to kill them you’re in for a rude awakening, because they can’t be killed.

The best story in games is told through the actual gameplay.

For example in Fallout 3 I was patrolling with my Tunnel Rats buddy. We got ambushed by the Enclave, a very powerful group of enemies in case you don’t know. We barely survived the battle. It was drawn out and intense. Immediately following that battle another set of Enclave soldiers spawned right near us. We had another great battle, but my buddy died near the end of it. Immediately I wanted to reload my game cause I liked my buddy and his death was permanent. I paused the game instead and thought about whether to reload or not. If I reloaded then those two awesome battles wouldn’t have happened. I decided to keep playing. I lost a buddy, but just had a great story play out and didn’t want to lose it.

ThePixelatedGenocide
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Re: Stories Overrated?

Postby ThePixelatedGenocide » February 14th, 2021, 12:16 pm

Stories are only as good as their writer.

Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Super Mario Galaxy all have stories that generally don't intrude if you don't care, but provide surprising depth if you do. They aren't afraid to let a moment breathe, without burying it in exposition dumps or making up ridiculous explanations for how every surreal moment is totally justified and logical.

That's generally the kind of story I prefer - the confidence to provide just enough brief character moments to make me care about the world I'm saving (Or destroying, in the case of Link's Awakening), and then make it clear what I need to do next.

And to occasionally reward me for having an imagination.

I can return to these stories again and again, while anything longer and more involved requires me to give it my full attention. Not that I'm against anything more involved (I just played a great game about the horrors of the Iranian revolution), but you can tell when a writer has no idea what they're doing.

Mashing the button to advance an abstract manifesto on nihilism didn't improve the final chapters of Chrono Cross any. And Final Fantasy VIII makes more sense if you assume everything after the failed assassination attempt is Squall's dying fever dream.

I'm told Final Fantasy XIII's story gets really good 20 hours in, and that's when I gave up on the series...

Plus, I miss the days when I could play a military themed AAA game without some edgelord's desperate attempts to justify invasions of privacy, torture, and civilian deaths. I play games to escape those horrors, thank you.

Besides -

The Sims did it better.


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