Awesome Games With Terrible Storylines

first_imgStay on target We love video games here at We think they’re a great, valid modern art form. But one thing that makes video games more… unique compared to other mediums is the relative importance (or lack thereof) of narrative when it comes to the quality of the overall work. To put it bluntly, you can make a great video game with an awful story or no story at all. Kind of tough to pull that off with a movie or book.Don’t get us wrong. There are games with great stories, especially these days as designers tend to put more effort into them. Gone Home tells a touching queer relationship drama. Mafia III turns 1960s southern racism into a pervasive gameplay mechanic. And The Stanley Parable has players make choices to comment on the futility of choice in games.But if series like Super Mario can be (rightfully) hailed as masterpieces even as plot after plot revolves around a turtle stealing a woman, great narratives remain optional for great games. Here are some examples of awesome games with terrible storylines.Resident Evil 5As a game Resident Evil 5 doesn’t reach the landmark heights of its predecessor, the survival-horror third-person shooter masterpiece Resident Evil 4, but it is pretty good. However, the decision the set the game in Africa while making the main character a jacked white dude leads to perhaps the most racist AAA game we’ve seen so far, even if all you’re technically doing is fighting zombies. It’s a shame because with the right touch this could’ve been a real powerful premise, The Constant Gardener with zombies. At least “you were almost a Jill sandwich” has some ironic charm.Far Cry 5Far Cry 5’s expansive open-world and free-form shooter combat makes it arguably the most fun game in the series. But this is a game released in 2018, set in rural Montana, that has players fighting a religious death cult that actively avoids having any kind of political message, or message of any kind really. It’s empty and cowardly.God of War 3The first God of War (and the 2018 reboot) did an okay job being a bro gamer take on a Greek tragedy structure, what with Kratos’s ultimate failure to purge himself of his family slaughtering nightmares even after killing Ares. But God of War 3 ends with Kratos unleashing a plague on Greece before using the power of hope inside Pandora’s box to beat Zeus to death with his bare hands in first person. Classic God of War spectacle sure does look and play nice in HD though!Kingdom HeartsI feel bad for kids who fall for Kingdom Hearts. They think they’re getting a lighthearted adventure where Mickey Mouse hangs out with some anime folks like Cloud and Sephiroth. And the action RPG combat inside colorful Disney worlds backs that up. But what truly they’re signing up for is a nigh-incomprehensible juggernaut of nonsense fiction involving keyblade wars, multiple doppelgangers, extraneous fractions, and worst of all, lengthy stretches with no Mickey Mouse whatsoever.Super Paper MarioFor some reason there are legions of people who think Nintendo needs to maintain not just one but two entire Mario JRPG spin-off series. On the gameplay side, Super Paper Mario took things in a better direction by swapping turn-based combat with classic Mario platforming and an added dimension-shifting mechanic. But it’s weighed down by this interminable story about weddings and evil books and endless amounts of text that’s just impossible to care about in a boppy Mario game.Street Fighter VFighting games certainly have tons of great lore to tie their dozens of colorful characters together. But weaving that all into a cohesive story is easier said than done. At its core Street Fighter V feels as fantastic to play as you’d expect for the fighting game standard-bearer. But its attempt to ape NetherRealm’s new standard for fighting game stories is just embarrassing. It’s about evil moons and somehow setting the stage for Street Fighter III, completing the timeline Fast and Furious-style.Far Cry 3Before Far Cry 5 failed to say anything about American politics, Far Cry 3 failed to say anything about global politics. Folks love how this game took Far Cry 2’s open-world shooter philosophy and removed the more hardcore, restrictive mechanics only weirdos (correctly) got into. But it’s wrapped up in a story about dude bros crashing on an island flaunting their privilege so hard they literally have sex with crazy murderous native women (in first-person) to become the culture’s champion or something.NBA 2K16The NBA 2K series is the only name in town when it comes to basketball games. Secure in that knowledge, we appreciate how it tried to broaden its scope with a cinematic story mode in 2K16. Even more shocking, they hired Spike Lee, a true auteur filmmaker behind masterpiece films on race in America like Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X. Unfortunately, the tale of Frequency Vibrations’ rise through the NBA isn’t Lee’s finest outing. The Devil Michael Jordan opening rules though.Dead IslandDead Island is like Oblivion with zombies, with the bugs and open ambition that implies. In a vacuum, its story about a paradise resort beset by the undead is also totally fine. What isn’t fine is the gimmicky trailer that first tried to spin this as some somber, soulful, harrowing, heartbreaking tale about family suffering in a zombie apocalypse. In reality, the game is definitely more Dead Rising than The Last of Us.StarCraft II: Heart of the SwarmAs a whole, the StarCraft II story is big, operatic, goofy, pulpy fun that does a good job wrapping up all the insane lore the series built up in-between being an eSport. But the middle chapter, unlike in most trilogies, is the weak link. It sucks how part one is all about making Kerrigan human only for this game to undo all that. The game itself seems to know how pointless the human political squabbling is compared to the larger cosmic threat. And in general trying to spin Kerrigan as some kind of anti-hero feels like a lame retcon that’s in response to her Darth Vader-esque popularity. The StarCraft real-time strategy gameplay, of course, remains perfect.Blaster MasterPlenty of classic games have fever dream plots written on the fly by whoever was putting together the manual in that particular country. It’s the perfect fit for abstract visuals and contextless gameplay challenges. Blaster Master is a fantastic early example of the Metroidvania subgenre that’s split between action-packed tank shooter levels and exploratory on-foot levels. And it’s all about rescuing your pet frog Fred, which is awful or awesome depending on your point of view.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Trade In Your Nintendo Switch For a Better Battery (With a Catch)Get Used to ‘Fortnite’s’ Powerful Mech Suits last_img

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