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Breaking up (stories) is (not) hard to do

posted on September 30th, 2007 by christian

In order to break the monotony of playing the same opening levels of Halo 3 on co-op, my friend and I loaded up some Gears of War for a change. Both games are often compared, being the two premiere entries on the Xbox 360, but one interesting thing about both is never discussed – both have incomplete stories. Purposely incomplete, to be specific. In both cases there are often scenes and events that either don’t make much sense, or seem wanting for more backstory to provide an explanation. For examples, consider the intro to Halo 3 which shows all the characters back on Earth, or when Gears implies that Marcus Fenix had some past antagonism with General RAAM. In the case of Halo, we already know of a comic book series that will detail the events between Halo 2 and 3, and we also know that Gears will be a trilogy (with entry into other media such as comics and novels). It is no longer enough to play the game – now you have to fully immerse yourself into the ever expanding, money generating “universe” that your favorite visionaries plan on creating.

This trend drives me nuts. No matter how much explanation we get, I can’t help but feel this is entirely a marketing decision. I know they want to make as much revenue as possible, but I don’t like feeling like I am missing out on what should already be in the game because someone thought they could rip out key pieces of exposition and place them in an entirely different media. It also doesn’t do much to convince me that gaming actually gives a shit about telling quality stories. When they can be split up with so much ease, they probably aren’t very strong to begin with and when they stand so weakly without the additional exposition, I find myself less interested in understanding them. Nothing against them, but I don’t read comics, and I have many more important books than the Halo novels to get through. Then there’s the problem of the series never wrapping up, as we saw in Beyond Good and Evil, which has a plot of absolute swiss cheese without the rest of the saga.

So, enough with planning trilogies before the arrival of the first game. Enough with handheld side story games and the pulp sci-fi novels. Just tell me a story from beginning to end, and fill it all out later when you know you can. In short, be like Star Wars. You can tell a good tale and still whore the shit out of your IP.

5 Comments

  1. JonnyRo said on October 1, 2007:

    Amen!

  2. Weefz said on October 3, 2007:

    I’m with you there. Half a story is worse than no story at all.

    I blame Enter The Matrix, personally. I played it before seeing the 2nd and 3rd films and didn’t have a clue what was going on. (Then I saw the films and it made no difference whatsoever.)

  3. Cunzy1 1 said on May 28, 2009:

    You are hardly missing out.

  4. Cunzy1 1 said on May 28, 2009:

    Just imagine you are five and you had a school assigment to write about space soldiers.

  5. Cunzy1 1 said on May 28, 2009:

    That story is probably one hundred times more compelling, deep and thought provoking.

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