Gameplay vs Storyline

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A video game may be judged based on many aspects of it, for instance, presentation, level design, sound effects, gameplay, and storyline are some of them. I particularly prefer games with great gameplay and storyline. I have been always thinking which one is more important to video game greatness. A particular video game I played last year, which holds one of the best storylines of all time, makes me consider the gameplay far more important to gamers. The video game I played was The Walking Dead: Season One from Telltale Games. In terms of storyline, there’s no doubt TWD: Season One is an amazing game. However, it’s not enough to make the game a masterpiece. That gameplay based on point-and-click games from the 90’s doesn’t make the game interesting as it story does. The gameplay is slow, and even broken at times. I played that game more interested in the storyline set pieces contained in the cut scenes than in the actual game. Controlling the main character, which is an amazing video game character, was boring when needed.

After coming back to the Resident Evil series, I remembered playing one of my favorite games of all time: Resident Evil 4. RE 4 is one of the best and funniest third-person shooters of all time. Such an amazing gameplay Capcom has managed to create on that game. I am still wondering how a game can be as fun as RE 4. The controls are fast and responsive, and the shooting mechanics are just wonderful. However, RE 4 holds one of the worst storylines in video game history. It doesn’t make any sense at all. The main character is in charge of rescuing the USA President’s daughter in a small village in Spain. If it had actually happened in real life, it could be the third Great War against Spain. Human beings have done worst in the first two wars for less than that. Even though, I played RE 4 several years ago, I felt like that game storyline was unappealing and laughable at times. But, the plot itself makes room for moments of enjoyment. At the end of the day, the storyline was forgettable, but the gameplay was incredible in a way that I was always coming for more RE 4 (and still want to play the remastered version coming out to PS4 at the end of 2016).

Comparing RE 4 to TWD: Season One is a tough task, but I am comfortable enough to affirm that RE 4 is far better that TWD: Season One. One game is great on the storyline department and the other one has an incredible gameplay. But, as I write, I wish I were playing RE 4. The bad storyline does not make the game any bad to me, while TWD: Season One isn’t one of my favorite games of all time. It’s a good game, nothing beyond that. A real masterpiece such as The Last of Us is able to mix a great gameplay and an amazing storyline altogether. But, such a few games can match that achievement. Out of my mind, I think maybe Bioshock could be considered close to TLoU in terms of matching a great story and gameplay. To sum up, a great gameplay is keen for a great game, and a well-written story is important as well, but not enough to make a game a masterpiece. RE 4 is closer to be considered a masterpiece than TWD: Season One does.

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Some Tendencies Need to Die (Part II)

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Let’s continue our discussion of tendencies that should no longer exist in the video game world. This one is probably my big concern, but I’ve decided to write about it in the second part. What is very annoying about this one is that it actually has a lot of potential. When companies know how to use it, it offers to players such an amazing experience. I’m talking about DLC. A DLC can really enhance the gaming experience. We’ve gotten some pretty good stuff recently. I can tell The Last of Us: Left Behind and Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea are great games. Besides these kind of DLC most known as story DLC are pretty great for almost every game they were released. We can call it relevant DLC, even though the price is questionable for a bunch of them. Other relevant DLC’s come from games such as GTA V Online and Mario Kart 8. GTA V not even charge players for the heists content online, while Mario Kart 8 included new courses for a cheap price. I remembered when I was a kid how much I would enjoy having new courses in Mario Kart 64. DLC is amazing in that way, developers are able to expand their games offering new content for a fair price.

However, not every company is doing DLC right like Rockstar and Nintendo. Most of the video game developers are doing pretty bad actually. I’m very pissed with Season Passes. I think they can be relevant as long as the companies offer good content that could not be included in the game at release. The problem is that clearly developers are leaving behind content they could include in the game at launch for making more money selling Season Passes. Do they think charge 60 bucks for a game is not enough? Almost every AAA company is using this strategy nowadays. Most of the content is just cosmetic DLC. A new weapon color, a different costume, a new stage, so on and so forth.

The biggest problem is that many players support DLC. If it weren’t profitable, companies would no longer do it. We players should spend our money only in essential DLC, not cosmetic DLC by any means. This tendency needs to be used in the right way. DLC is cool as long as companies use it to expand the game and enhance gamer’s enjoyment. The industry will change only when players start not to support the unnecessary content.

Caring about Video Game Characters

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Even though a video game character can be as authentic and iconic as Super Mario or Link from The Legend of Zelda, it is difficult to imagine the player caring about them by any means. Someone can argue they don’t seem real, or they are not even able to show human feelings such as love, fear, passion, etc. However, the video game industry has been changing so much in the last few years. The last console generation is showing off amazing graphics that can even make people not know how to distinguish a game or a movie. Graphics are really important, but it is not enough to make a video game character believable. Many games are using graphics to make a character sound, look, and act more like a human being, but only one game has reached a level that it is almost impossible not to care about the characters in the game. This game is The Last of Us. For those who don’t know, The Last of Us is a Playstation exclusive title published by Sony and produced by their own studio Naughty Dog. The game was released in 2013 on Playstation 3. One year later, the game was remastered for the Playstation 4.

The Last of Us tells a story about a man named Joel, who loses his daughter at the very beginning of the game in a sort of zombie outbreak, and found himself 20 years later on a mission to escort a little girl across a devastated United States. She is supposedly the only human being immune from the bacteria. Looking at the plot, it doesn’t sound unique or compelling, but trust me, it is. What makes them believable are probably the things they’ve been through during the game. Ellie, the little girl, is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. She doesn’t know anything about our world; she was born in the middle of the apocalypse. For instance, her thoughts about the simplicity of our world are an incredible experience to think about. The world is shitty as you can imagine, and she is wondering why girls in our time are thinking about dating guys while life is so tough (at least for her).

Besides, the game even shows that the most terrifying creature in the world is not the sort of zombies, but other human beings. People usually kill each other just for the sake of getting a different pair of shoes or protecting themselves against innocent fellows. Furthermore, Joel, who is the sort of hero in this tale, is not the good guy who helps everyone else. Joel is a human, and has feelings just like you and me. His decisions are questionable, very questionable actually. He does his best to protect Ellie. They evolve a relationship that makes both forget the world they are living in. He treats Ellie as a daughter in the development of the game. In the player prospective, it is just amazing how it evolves. At the beginning of the game, you and Joel don’t know Ellie, but after losing his daughter, the player can feel a little bit what life means for Joel. Then, the game jumps 20 years, and after meeting Ellie, the player feels she could be a good reason for Joel to keep fighting for his and her life. As you can imagine, many bad things happen to them, and it just makes them stronger. At the middle of the game, the player cares about Ellie just as he was Joel. She is very special for him, and you (the player) are able to understand why it happens. No big spoilers ahead, but at the end of the game, you understand the questionable decisions Joel makes. He is not going to let Ellie die for the sake of saving the human race. She is too important for him. When I played The Last of Us, I totally understood Joel’s decisions, and felt they were right. As Collin Moriarty wrote in his review about the game at IGN in 2013, “The Last of Us is a masterpiece, a case study in how games can immerse you, tell a fascinating story, and make you really care about their characters.”