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. 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
  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. 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

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