Mass Effects

Video games free people from the shackles of linear storyline, storyline can be moulded by the actions of the player. Thus the experience is customised to the player creating more involvement and hence more emotional attachment. The player feels a part of the story he or she created and the characters in it. Older games had no progressive stories other than movements like up down, left right, shoot. Modern games are different, story can unfold all around you.

 Story can happen in front of you and have nothing to do with you really, it’s just to add sub-narrative or atmosphere, almost like watching a film in a game. Narrative in games isn’t as limited as in any other form of media. In a book you read it and it enters into the processing plant of your imagination. In a film it rolls over your eyes and you take it in or you don’t but in a game you have to play with the story you have to interact with it and change it. Thus it becomes more involving and more engrossing and it achieves the ultimate goal of story which is suspension of disbelief.

Heavy rain is interesting because it’s a game that makes no bones about being a film, in fact Quantic Dreams last game Fahrenheit had a film introduction by it’s directors. Heavy Rain has no game play it takes more of a passive role, instead of you directly controlling the actions of the characters your part is more guidance using Quick time events (QTE) so it’s more of an interactive film than a game and is heavily story orientated with several different scenarios and endings.

The most important thing about Heavy Rain for me is that the game can change drastically through your own actions even to the point where the main character can die and the game can continue on using one of the other playable characters. Initially I just thought this was an interesting gimmick but throughout playing I realised that if I failed this mission the character I had gotten to know would be gone and I’d have to restart the game to play him again. This made every fight more intense, every encounter more shocking because I knew if I failed there would be no retry, that would be it, their lives are literally in your hands.

This one idea changed how I thought about a video game character. Before that point I’d been happy watching Leon S Kennedy get butchered by chainsaws or eaten by monsters because I could always just load and try again. Heavy Rain achieved something not many games have, they gave their characters lives value (Just the value of your time and emotions but still more than Leon got), just by simply making them like ours; Finite. I know there is an ending in the game where all the main characters or most of them die but I’ve yet to try it, because I just don’t want to see that, I’m happy with my ending.

Another such instance and the reason for this title is Mass Effect. I bring this game up is because I’ve played the first two games of the saga without replaying them because I like how the plot turned out and I didn’t see a reason for replaying the games and changing the outcomes since I had chosen the outcomes I wanted. Then my xbox broke and I bought the 3rd instalment on my ps3 and I started playing it and within an hour I stopped because it didn’t feel right, because how this game works is that is the sequels remember what you did in the previous games and it essentially just continues that plot from where you left off.

 So because I didn’t have all the saved data from my last games on the ps3 it was a fresh story, all the encounters all the relationships I had created didn’t exist, I told myself when I bought it; ‘It’s just a game, it doesn’t matter’ but it did matter and I couldn’t play it any more and my only solution is to get my xbox fixed and start over on mass effect 3. That’s the power interactive storytelling like this has, you stop being a gamer and you become a part of the story, you become a director and the main character rolled into one and that is something that no other media can compete with.

Aside from Mass Effect Interactive plot usually destroys sequels because the next game is unsure of its history. So Heavy rain 2 is virtually impossible because it won’t necessarily know who died and why but I think this is fantastic because it increases innovation. Sequels are black holes of creativity they should only be created if there is something to add and an entirely new experience on offer not because there’s more t-shirts to be sold. You see the way Mass Effect was designed was different, it was envisioned as a trilogy so they had already planned for two sequels and built their games around the story becoming fluid.

On the other hand stories are supposed to be based on irreversibility, just like life but games aren’t although they are in terms of the end result. You could for all good measure decide that you’re characters death in the spiked pit is apt and leave it at that turn off the console but you don’t, you want to progress and get the true ending.

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