Where's My Morally Grey? - AshaMan3000 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Where's My Morally Grey?

We've gotten to play more than a few games that offer player choice this most recent generation.  Whether it's multiple endings, branching pathways, or 'Choose Your Own Adventure' style plot differences, several games have offered us reason to play through them multiple times.  Failing that, they've at least given some meaning to the choices we've made throughout our time with the game.  It's something I've come to love about the past several years of gaming and with the announced titles so far, looks to be a trend that will be continuing into the next generation of consoles.

D&D made choosing an alignment feel so right!

While I always choose the 'good guy' path for my first play-through of titles that give me the option, I do like to go back and pursue the 'evil' path if the quality of the game merits it.  Bioware's been doing a good job of offering player choice in regards to the personality of your character for many years now.  Taking what they learned working with the Force for Knights of the Old Republic, they evolved the idea into the paragon/renegade systems of the Mass Effect series.

Sith Lord or Jedi Knight?  There is no other option!

I agree that most fantastical tales require (or at least benefit from) a strong moral protagonist and an equally strong opposite force for story-telling reasons.  Finding that middle ground is not only difficult, but can be tough to convey in a compelling manner to the audience if found.  Most linear tales, be they movie, book, or game, are well-served by having well defined heroes and villains.  In the seemingly ever-changing world of gaming however, where the experiences are becoming more and more interactive than ever, there appears to be space for a middle of the road kind of choice as well.

A Shepard who's motivation is that saving the galaxy is easier than not would be sweet!

Why wouldn't an industry that's already taken so much away from what D&D brought to the table NOT borrow the alignment options offered?  So few people in this world are what I'd refer to as 'lawful good' or 'chaotic evil'.  Seriously, at least 90+% of us fall into some degree of neutrality in regards to how we live our lives.  Why wouldn't we have the option of not really caring while playing our games?  Possibly a 'hero' who just keeps getting sucked into the action regardless of his or her's true feelings about the overall plot going on?  It could be cool and would give us yet another slight variation of the tale being told to give a shot.

Other studios besides Bioware have been making in-roads towards allowing us to play the hero or villain of our dreams while gaming.  Sucker-Punch in particular comes to mind with their Infamous series.  Choosing the 'good guy/bad guy' path and sticking with it was a cool way to encourage players stay true to their choices by making the most powerful upgrades match your degree of good or evil.  It felt liberating to have the various options but at the same time constrained me into one style of play in order to fully flesh-out my powers.  

Feed stray puppies or burn down a church?  Again, no other options!

How cool would it be if there was a third path you could choose for the Infamous games?  One similar to the Red Mage role in the early Final Fantasy titles.  You could access all of the skill trees but couldn't use the most powerful of any of the abilities which would give you more, if less powerful options to play with.  They could even let you use one or the other based on more recent decisions made forcing you to constantly re-evaluate your play-style depending on which way your alignment leans at any given moment.

To my recollection, only one game has really offered a 'neutral path' for players to take and that was Fallout 3.  Even that wasn't as well done as it could have been as staying neutral in the Fallout universe is nearly impossible.  The only way I've ever managed is by making all of the good guy choices throughout the game while giving my character a mean case kleptomania (lying regularly during conversations helps also) to keep from going 'full-on good'.  Even with the option to choose something different from good or evil, Fallout 3 still didn't take it nearly far enough.  Imagine playing a game of Fallout where the decision to not back a horse in the war between two of the groups allows you free access to both camps (and quests) as opposed to only one.  What if the two groups would try to sway you towards their way of thinking with the rich rewards of a previously unseen quest?  

Don't pick neutral!  Good or evil are both much easier!

I really like the options given to us with more recent titles.  The idea of playing as the 'bad guy' has always appealed to me as an option and the extra life these different choices give games makes them hard to argue with.  My one hope going into the tail-end of this generation and the beginning of the next is that our options continue to be expanded.  Where the options aren't just 'knight or dragon', 'cop or rapist', or 'god or devil'.  It's cool to have a choice, but every once and a while I'd just like to play as the guy who saves the world accidentally or because events just turn out that way rather than some self-important or hate-spewing (depending on your choice) cardboard character cut-out.  There's room to improve while still offering a compelling way to tell tales and I hope someone out there's listening.

I was always chaotic good or neutral in my D&D days!

With all of the open-world releases this fall we'll get our fill of choices soon enough...

Thanks for reading boys and girls!


 

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