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Which games do you think represent the gold standard in story-telling? [roundtable]
 
Self-explanatory. I don't want to skew the discussion, so I'll be brief, for now.

Super Metroid, Ico, and Prince of Persia - Sands of Time. Arkham Asylum was also very strong, with judicious cutscene use. I will even give a shout-out to Maniac Mansion, for being an adventure game that amused me and had multiple paths to victory, instead of a series of roadblocks that required a FAQ.

As far as the worst - god(s), SO MANY. I'll just start with Metal Gear Solid and (post VI) Final Fantasy. I kind of want to throw Modern Warfare 2 in there, for completely failing to flesh anything out or follow anything up or even be interesting, but the CoD franchise actually has some cool storytelling touches, like perspective changes, and such. I'm also going to throw GTA onto the fire, because the linear aspects of the storytelling and progression are totally at odds with the open world nature of the game.

And, just to piss all of you off, I'm going to include Metroid Prime. Fuck scanning. To death. Retro (or whoever it was) ignored many of the best aspects of Super Metroid storytelling, and instead amplified the worst, most discontinuous mechanic in the game. I would only accept all of that flat, textual narration if it was Zork Prime.

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Posted: 01/06/10, 19:31:52  - Edited by 
 on: 01/06/10, 21:35:37
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GameDadGrant said:
Gold Standard = Chrono Trigger.

Worst? Hm. I'll have to think about it. I actually like Metal Gear's storytelling - haters be damned. -_^

I'm going with these two picks. I'm one of the few who loves those long cutscenes.
Posted: 01/07/10, 06:45:30
For all of the hatin' on games becoming movies I do, Uncharted 2 probably is the best game as a movie experience I have played, which is to say, it makes for a passable movie. Likeable characters, good voice acting/animations/etc. Not much depth, but it's a nice popcorn ride.

I liked Bioshock precisely because it wasn't a game as movie experience though. It cut out (no pun intended) cutscenes and focused on presenting everything to you in game. With that said though, I think the story itself is a bit overrated, it excels more in presentation than in actual storyline.

And sorry Anand you Metroid Prime hatin' hater, I loved its story presentation for the same reason. I didn't mind scanning and I don't mind reading.

I actually like the Metal Gear Solid series storyline as well, though I think, like Bioshock, the story is a bit overrated and it makes up for it with great presentation.

Chrono Trigger is, of course, one of the greatest story presentations in a game ever. And Lufia and the Fortress of Doom is one of the few games that has made me tear up.

Ico / Shadow of the Colossus show that minimalism can still tell incredible stories.

Honestly though... honestly? Hate me for it, but probably my favorite story in a game... the Phoenix Wright series. Awesome characters, hilarious yet touching dialogue, tons of twists that don't just exist to be twists but actually blow your mind when a totally coherent yet unexpected plot development happens...

Gah, there are probably so many I'm forgetting though.
Posted: 01/07/10, 07:44:05
Zero said:
And sorry Anand you Metroid Prime hatin' hater, I loved its story presentation for the same reason. I didn't mind scanning and I don't mind reading.

Hey, I don't mind reading... books!

Okay, comic books, but still.

It wasn't just the reading. It was the discontinuity of the whole thing. 2D Metroid was always fast, fluid, and kinetic (except when you used the Scan Visor), a perfect fusion of exploration and arcade action. Prime cleaved action and exploration into two separate halves (and took the arcade out of the equation).
Posted: 01/07/10, 08:11:54
Gonna have to agree with several different people who have already posted.

Adventure: The Dig

Action Adventure: Out of This World

Action Platformer: Prince of Persia Sands of Time

FPS: Half Life 2: Episode 2

RPG: Chrono Trigger
Posted: 01/07/10, 08:38:48
Just out of curiosity has nobody here played Deus Ex?

I mean it's seriously not just one of the best rpgs/fps games ever made, it's one of the best games ever made imo and my personal favorite of all time. It's sad that it never gets any love outside of the hardcore PC community. The storytelling is second to none.
Posted: 01/07/10, 11:03:01
I'm really loving how Cryostasis is handling the storytelling. It's had me hooked from the second I started playing it. Would I say it's the best in storytelling? I dunno. Not done with it and haven't thought about it that hard.

As for worst... CoD: MW2 in recent memory. The story itself was terrible, but the way it was presented to me made it confusing and annoying. It jumped around too much and what good is storytelling if no one knows what the fuck the story was when you say "the end??"
Posted: 01/07/10, 13:36:42
Final Fantasy 6


That's all folks, nothing else to see here.
Posted: 01/07/10, 14:34:41
Simbabbad said:
I don't know if it should be a standard, but for me:

- Majora's Mask

etc etc etc
.

Oh god YES. Not so much the main story of the game (which yes, was still done well) but the stories of everyone IN the game. The realtime element of the game allowed Nintendo to create this amazing dynamic town full of characters who unlike the static NPC's of most games actually had their own lives and stories that went on regardless if you were there or not. And all of them coming together in this incredibly detailed web of interaction.
That game was truly 4-dimensional, and it's a shame that the time limit mechanic scared off quite a few people from playing the game and discovering just how deep it was.
Posted: 01/07/10, 15:16:09
There is a gold standard?
Posted: 01/07/10, 15:17:11
@Oldmanwinter

I tried to get into Deus Ex towards the end of my PC gaming period, and I quickly got frustrated with the whole "can't walk two steps without tripping until you upgrade your shoelace-tying skill" thing. Had the same basic problem trying to play System Shock 2, except I think it was even worse in that game because of the weapon degradation thing on top of it.

I dunno, I might try and give Deus Ex another shot now that I'm playing games on PC again, I still have the CD somewhere. Any tips? I'll try not to worry as much about my character's complete inability to do anything this time around.

BTW, just a guess, but are you JC_Denton on the IGN boards?
Posted: 01/07/10, 18:32:42
I was going to respond intelligently to your thread until I read what you said about Metroid Prime. Not every Metroid game has to follow Super Metroid to a T. I loved the scanning in the Prime games and I'm glad Nintendo didn't listen to the whiners who are too lazy to read. :)

@Pandareus
Uhh...I'm not sure what game you were playing, but there's no tripping in Deus Ex. That game rules, and you should absolutely play it.
Posted: 01/07/10, 18:39:19  - Edited by 
 on: 01/07/10, 18:41:28
I'm not going to lie... for me NSMBW wins. I loved how it was short to the point and I hate long videos in video games.

If there was one game that I actually enjoy getting the once a play through scenes, its Rune Factory.
Posted: 01/07/10, 19:37:35
@bpumpkin777

It was a joke example. I was refering to your characters' inability to do the most basic things, like aim, without leveling that ability up.
Posted: 01/07/10, 19:38:32  - Edited by 
 on: 01/07/10, 19:38:47
Pandareus said:
@bpumpkin777

It was a joke example. I was refering to your characters' inability to do the most basic things, like aim, without leveling that ability up.
Right, but keep in mind that Deus Ex is an RPG, not a shooter. There's different expertise with light, mid, and heavy weapons.
Posted: 01/07/10, 20:38:44
Pandareus said:
@Oldmanwinter

I tried to get into Deus Ex towards the end of my PC gaming period, and I quickly got frustrated with the whole "can't walk two steps without tripping until you upgrade your shoelace-tying skill" thing. Had the same basic problem trying to play System Shock 2, except I think it was even worse in that game because of the weapon degradation thing on top of it.

I dunno, I might try and give Deus Ex another shot now that I'm playing games on PC again, I still have the CD somewhere. Any tips? I'll try not to worry as much about my character's complete inability to do anything this time around.

BTW, just a guess, but are you JC_Denton on the IGN boards?

The game is actually more like Fallout 3 combat wise without the freeze time and guarantee a headshot deal, where your character is weak but passable in the beginning and as you level he becomes a complete bad ass with the nano augmentations and upgraded skills. Believe me the payoff is there if you stick with it, however yes, you are fairly weak at the beginning... but it's an rpg, in all rpgs you are.

As to how to play, I guess just figure out how you want to play the game and go for it. This is one of the few games I'd recommend reading at least how the skill portion of the game works because what you pick cannot be undone. Basically there are 11 skills, all of which allow you to play the game differently. I'll tell you right off the bat the rifle skill is incredibly useful just because it allows you to use a variety of guns, aka shotgun/sniper, etc. What makes the game special however is that as long as you somewhat focus your skills into a certain play style there is no way you can choose wrong, however you will have to play as the character you spec, ie if you put lots of points into say environmental, lock picking, computers and low tech weapons, your offense is limited to melee and weapons that stun opponents and your strengths will obviously be stealth and finding alternative means of acquiring your objective. Vice versa if you go high demo, rifles, heavy weapons and medicine, you are going to be playing much more like a shooter... and you can do that. I've beaten the game twice, once as heavy combat and once as a stealthy guy and both are very fun, though as you may guess the combat focus speccing is much easier. Or you can try a hybrid character however imo it's not going to be as effective.

All that aside the game gives you a tremendous amount of freedom. The graphics by today's standards are dated, I believe its the original Unreal engine, however you can approach any scenario with multiple strategies and be successful which lends itself heavily to replay value. Secondly the story and characters are as good as anything I've ever played in a videogame. I wont ruin anything for you, however the storytelling is just great if you appreciate sci-fi at all.

Anyhow it's not for everyone, this is definitely a western game and it doesn't do a lot of hand holding. You choose how you want to play and try to unravel the plot. For my money though it's to this day probably the best game I've ever played and easily the best example of free form western game making I can think of, primarily because unlike say Oblivion there is a definite story arc that you are a part of and care about. You influence it in various ways and there are multiple endings, however you feel like you are a part of something as opposed to operating in a vacuum like Morrowind/Fallout 3/Oblivion and really most wrpgs for that matter.

And no, I'm not J_C_Denton, though I do have him WUL'd on IGN;) If you lost your disks or it's scratched you can always get the GOTY version off of Steam for $9.99. Either way give it a shake, spend a good 5 hours with it though before you start to pass judgment. I'm actually kind of jealous of anyone that hasn't played this before, I can't imagine that if you beat it you wont be impressed.
Posted: 01/07/10, 21:11:37
I really enjoyed what I played of Deus Ex, but I didn't play that far, so I can't fully endorse it.

bpumpkin777 said:
I was going to respond intelligently to your thread until I read what you said about Metroid Prime. Not every Metroid game has to follow Super Metroid to a T. I loved the scanning in the Prime games and I'm glad Nintendo didn't listen to the whiners who are too lazy to read. :)

Like I said, I immensely enjoy a nice, quiet read. But not when I am playing a video game. And definitely not endlessly interspersed between the action-y bits.

Also, I prefer the original Metroid. (Not for storytelling, though.)
Posted: 01/07/10, 22:55:03  - Edited by 
 on: 01/07/10, 23:09:09
Simbabbad said:
@bpumpkin777

I love scanning in theory and a good chunk of what it actually is, but it's used WAY too much as an idiot guide or an unnecessary door/mechanism trigger. Scanning that pretty much tells you "shoot the boss here", "bomb that part with that weapon" or how to solve a puzzle needs to either go or be an option (like Silent Hill puzzle difficulty).

Optional scanning that tells a story or explains an ecosystem or tells you what the Pirate/Federation/aliens think, is extraordinary and can stay, and I think anand doesn't mind it. But scanning that you HAVE to do to solve basic stuff should go.
If you don't want to scan a boss to figure out how to beat it, you don't have to. There's no forced scanning on any enemy in any of the games. The only scanning you HAVE to do is stuff to open doors which isn't that often. And I would hardly call them "idiot guides". Echoes for example, is considered a pretty hard game. Even if you do know how to beat a boss, actually pulling it off is usually not easy.
Posted: 01/08/10, 03:43:27
EarthBound is the gold standard in story-telling. From the start of the game until the climactic ending, the game's story had me hooked. The plot may have been bizarre, but that's what made for an even greater telling of the story. The dialogue was as witty as it was emotive, and the cast of characters as endearing as they come. The story encouraged me in a subtle way to truly care about what was going on in this world I had now become a part of; to care about each and every character to a fine degree. Never did the story feel choppy, or forced, for it always flowed in a manner that kept at just the right pace, at just the right moments. The worlds were ripe with detail and the music utterly bewitching. So much love and care was poured into this game and the story therein, that it's impossible not to feel it whilst playing. And like any good story, EarthBound's is one that has stayed with me from the moment I began Ness' quest so many years ago. Beating the game was one of the most memorable moments in my gaming life. It was simply the best ending of any game I have ever completed, bar none. So many conflicting emotions, leading up to one heck of an experience. It was the perfect ending, to a perfect story. EarthBound is, and shall always be, the gaming love of my life. Nothing short of gold standard story-telling could have achieved such a bond.
Posted: 01/08/10, 04:26:32  - Edited by 
 on: 01/09/10, 06:53:14
Simbabbad said:
@bpumpkin777

Yes, but I like to find out that sort of stuff myself. The fact is flat out tells you when to attack the boss is weak.
But I like to read the SF background of creatures.

It wouldn't hurt to make the "how to" parts of the scans an option and remove any mandatory scanning. That way anand could play Prime as Retro intended it, and I could play Prime and the others without worrying about the scanning spoiling the puzzles and enemies.
As Retro intended it? The Prime games are just as Retro intended them. The strengths and weaknesses of the creatures IS part of their background. And it wouldn't make any sense having scanning if it didn't provide useful information. That's the whole point of scanning: to provide useful information that helps you progress in your quest. If I'm fighting a massive boss like Quadraxis and scanning provides no useful info on how to beat him, what's the point of even having scanning? Just stick the info of all the creatures directly into your log when you fight them so you can read it later then.

And it doesn't flat out tell you how to beat a boss. It tells you the strengths and weaknesses of the creatures which totally fits with Samus' abilities. You do have to be using your head and sort of put the pieces together yourself. It's not like it says 'OK, when he flashes red, shoot him with your missles!!'
Posted: 01/08/10, 12:43:19
Simbabbad said:
Retro made the game without scanning, then Nintendo asked them to add it in after the game was done to add collectibles for the Japanese audience, and a handful of people worked overtime to put it in before release.
Retro never intended the game to have scanning. I thought people knew that.

For the rest, what you say doesn't infirm what I just said.
I've never heard anything about that, but whatever. It was the right call by Nintendo to do that. Retro was going to make the game in 3rd person too before Miyamoto told them to change it. Complaining about scanning in the Prime games, games that revolve around EXPLORATION, is like playing COD4 and complaining that there's too much shooting.

You said that scanning was an idiot guide. I was just explaining what the purpose of scanning is in those games. It's not to lead you by the hand and show you how to do everything, it's to give you the info you need to put the pieces together yourself to beat the boss or solve the puzzle. And again, the vast majority of the scanning is OPTIONAL.
Posted: 01/08/10, 14:23:48  - Edited by 
 on: 01/08/10, 14:38:39
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