May 25, 2011

If you know the ending why bother playing?

*(Read with cau­tion, spoil­ers abound)*
I final­ly did it. After putting it off and off again I final­ly bought The Leg­end of Zel­da: Twi­light Princess. I know, I know the game has been out since 2006 and I am on my sec­ond Wii (sold the first); but I always thought shelling out $50 for a five year old game was kind of absurd (at least since it was still read­i­ly avail­able). Well, on Sun­day Nin­ten­do released their “hits” line in the form of “Nin­ten­do Selects” and Twi­light Princess just hap­pened to be one of the four titles they released for the right price of $19.99. So with a coupon and $15 gift card I got the game for free (tech­ni­cal­ly), and start­ed to play it. The only thing about this sto­ry is I have seen and played the end­ing of this game, so why buy it?
There is more than meets the eye….
Why do we play games? Is it for the escapism, the sto­ries, the game­play, a means to an end, or all of these wrapped up in a great expe­ri­ence? (Or we are bored com­plete­ly out of our minds?) I play for the expe­ri­ence, that encom­pass­ing whole that pro­vides enter­tain­ment and sat­is­fac­tion that movies, books, or TV can’t pro­vide. They all have end­ings but are they real­ly the most impor­tant piece? We all knew how Halo Reach was going to end, all of Noble Team would be killed and Reach would fall to the Covenant, but that did not stop mil­lions of peo­ple from enjoy­ing the great expe­ri­ence that pre­ced­ed the end­ing. I plan to pur­chase the 3DS ver­sion of Oca­ri­na of Time when it drops this June and I have played through that game mul­ti­ple times and I know the end­ing, but it is the expe­ri­ence of that game as a whole that takes my breath away (and to this day, I still con­sid­er it the sem­i­nal Zel­da title, I am going to get flack for this). Trans­form­ers: War for Cybertron is anoth­er exam­ple. If you’re a Trans­form­ers buff you knew Cybertron was doomed from the get go and that the Ark would even­tu­al­ly show up by the end of the game (and lead­ing into one of the great­est cred­it songs ever, next to “Still Alive”), but the great­est part was the raw juicy cen­ter with a tale that showed you the destruc­tion, brav­ery, and the ded­i­ca­tion of each fac­tion try­ing to reach their end goals. Some end­ings come as a sur­prise, some come as expect­ed, and then oth­ers are pure dis­ap­point­ment (Bioshock I am look­ing at you, Fontaine was shit; Halo 2 was a ball buster).
A wolf, a princess, a drag­on fight, and an epic end­ing…..
Buy­ing Twi­light Princess was to final­ly see the jour­ney lead­ing up to the epic show down with Ganon. I helped a friend play through the intro­duc­tion in Ordon vil­lage and the For­est Tem­ple. I came back into it around the City in the Sky and the fierce boss bat­tle with the drag­on Argorok and from there helped fin­ish the game, but there is a huge chunk of game that I missed, and I want to expe­ri­ence. In every sto­ry there is a begin­ning, mid­dle, and an end; but the mid­dle is what I find most intrigu­ing. Mass Effect 2 had a hell of an open­ing, with in the first 15 min­utes the savoir of the galaxy was dead, the Nor­mandy a float­ing piece of space junk, and the sur­vival of sup­port­ing char­ac­ters is in ques­tion. For the next 20 some­thing hours (and that’s if you rush through the game) you span the galaxy and beyond find­ing answers about who you work for and what the col­lec­tors and reapers have planned. Dur­ing this time I nev­er want­ed to sleep, eat, or put the con­troller down. The only gripe I have with ME2 was the end­ing; you face off against (drum roll please?), a human reaper that looks like an over­size ter­mi­na­tor and is just as lame as it sounds (queue the fail music from The Price is Right). ME2 was like a ham­burg­er, where the top bun was warm, fluffy, the size of a car tire, and topped with a pick­le. The cen­ter was a juicy medi­um rare del­i­ca­cy that was the size of New York City. The end­ing was a stale, mold infest­ed bun the size of a quar­ter. Need­less to say they could have thrown away the bot­tom bun and left a “to be con­tin­ued…” sign and I would have walked away pleased. But the mid­dle was good to the point that the end­ing real­ly didn’t mat­ter, that the sto­ry pro­gressed to an end­ing but nev­er real­ly had to. Open world games are great for this type of mod­el. Grand theft Auto 3 was a defin­ing game of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. The begin­ning of the game you broke out of prison and start­ed up a life of doing odd jobs and climb­ing your way back up the gang­ster lad­der. I had so much fun going from mis­sion to mis­sion, dri­ving around, what was then, a mas­sive city only to be dis­ap­point­ed with a crum­my end­ing. Open world games have such a huge mid­dle span in their sto­ries because so much goes on between the nar­ra­tive and sub plots that no mat­ter how good the end­ing is, at least in my opin­ion, I feel let down; because it does end. Open world games though can be a dou­ble edge sword though; you have games like GTA that have great and fleshed out nar­ra­tives and most of the time the open world is just the back drop. On the oth­er hand you have a game like Just Cause 2 which the nar­ra­tive is so lame it takes a back seat to how won­der­ful the world around you is and sto­ry mis­sions get left in the dust.
From 2006 and still hold­ing up…..
I am now around 10 hours in, I have fin­ished two dun­geons and I love every minute of it.  The game does look dat­ed. There are times where the game looks like a pre­mier Wii title and then oth­er times where it looks like a slight­ly upgrad­ed N64 port, I am enjoy­ing the style but some of the tex­tures look extreme­ly dat­ed. The game­play is what is win­ning me over and I can’t stop play­ing when I have the chance to thor­ough­ly enjoy it. The parts I missed are worth my time and mon­ey as to this point, from see­ing the end­ing I can tell I will enjoy the rest as well. I eager­ly await my time in Hyrule, sav­ing the good peo­ple of that king­dom and enjoy­ing my adven­tures until it is time to face the prince of dark­ness.

3 comments

  1. DrPixel - May 25, 2011 11:05 pm

    I ignored the spoil­ers warn­ing and read on ahead. (Luck­i­ly only Halo Reach was spoiled for me. xD) Any­way, I total­ly have to agree with you. The amount of fun and the rich­ness of the game­play of a game can over­pow­er any intense open­ing, cli­max, or end­ing. Twi­light Princess is an amaz­ing exam­ple of this, and I real­ly enjoyed play­ing through it.
    I do have to say that the sto­ry of a game can also invoke some­one to play it again, just to relive the great expe­ri­ence that was shown/told to them. For exam­ple, a few days ago dur­ing a 1‑day free pro­mo­tion, I down­loaded a game on my iPod Touch called “Dirt”. To put it in short, the game was about a dead cat try­ing to find it its grave. The sto­ry comes into this because as you play and dig around in the dirt try­ing to find your grave, you’ll find cards writen from fam­i­ly mem­bers that say things like “Come back to us kit­ty”. Hon­est­ly Dirt was the only game that has ever made me cry, which just comes to show that the sto­ry of a game can com­plete­ly influ­ence the replaya­bil­i­ty of it.

    Reply
  2. CharcoalCoyote - May 26, 2011 8:49 am

    Yeah, Twi­light Princess was a great game. This is why 16 and 8 bit games have so much val­ue for me: A lot more work went in to the sto­ry than the graph­ics.

    Reply
  3. ScrotusKilmystr - May 27, 2011 7:25 am

    “looks like a pre­mier Wii title ” so this is a valid state­ment then? I thought the WII as only good for shov­el-ware and crap fit­ness games.….
    any­way you have learned well grasshop­per… “the jour­ney is more fore­fill­ing than the des­ti­na­tion” I think your so right about this! most games I play I to am dis­en­chant­ed at the end not beca­sue it sucked but because it’s over and now there a void to be filled .…on to the next title! (yes i’m a whore when it comes to games no alle­giance for more then the time it takes to play through the cam­pain)
    anoth­er great arti­cle Cab­bie!!

    Reply

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