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In my opinion, story is the one thing that will continuously make me come back to a game regardless of anything else. If a developer can create a story that is good, with characters I truly care about then there it is almost guaranteed that I will never put down said game (at least till it is finished). Now while this is a list, it is not a top 10 or whatever, it is just some of my personal favorite stories from games that I have played. Now with this I have also included background stories (for multi-part games, or ones with backstories that are not included in said games) because to me that matters as much as the story inside of the game. As such there will be disagreements, but as with all my blogs feel free to comment and leave a note on some of your favorites. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite stories in games.
I know what you're thinking as you read this first one. I know that there is about a 90% chance you'll disagree with me. I however do not care. For me personally this series has been the first shooter game that truly made me care about the story and the characters in it. And the best part of it, that the characters that I cared about weren't always the good guys. In fact my favorite character of the game is the main 'villan' of said game, Scolar Visari. The way the two games on consoles open up, with his voice actor (sorry, the name fails me for now) spouting off an epic speech that sends a chill down your spine as you open up is enough to make me want to fight for him. Let alone his speech at the end of the second game. If he had a larger role then I have no doubt that he would have won an award for best voice acting because he turned Visari into not just the ultimate villian, but a man that you could literally feel the charisma coming off of him as you played.
Add all of this to a universe story that in all honesty is amazingly detailed in every single step of what happened, and one that shows you just why each event that is taking place at the current time and you have a well-rounded story that goes from being your typical "they are bad, we are good" to a much more grey and dark story where the true meaning of good and evil comes into question. That is what guerilla games delivered with Killzone, a story that while straightforward in delivery also asks the player a lot of questions and forces them to accept a role as a common foot soldier who starts to question everything by the end of the game.
Final Fantasy VIII
If I was asked to describe this game's story in one sentence it would be 'The epitome of a coming of age romance.' In all honesty that is exactly what this game is, a tale where you connect to one character and watch as he grows up right before you and falls in love. The tale of those two characters and the interactions between the two of them as the game goes along are absolutely perfect and show a true emotional struggle where Squall starts off trying to be detached from everyone to avoid any more heartbreak but then slowly opens up.
And then you have the ending of the game. Personally while the ending doesn't ever go into details about a lot (for example why does the final boss have a GF named after your ring?) it leaves a lot to speculation, and leaves it for interpretation (the way X should have ended IMO). While it is a happy ending, you are left with this feeling of "what now?" that Square left for you to come up with your own theories. As such, I enjoyed it infinitely more because that is a pet peeve of mine where a game will answer everything despite the fact that some things just are better left to speculation.
It's the second heavy-roamance story on my list, but despite the fact that I have yet to finish the game (On the final two battles of the story so sue me) it has easilly captivated me more than 90% of the other games in my collection. The story of Welks, Alicia, and Squad 7 is a captivating tale that brings the player in and leaves them breathless multiple times. There have been at least six moments where my jaw hit the floor from what happened and as such it has been the most recent story that I have not been able to put down.
I'm going to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but the twists during the gameplay are done well and they don't do too much with them. They occur, they throw everything out of wack leaving you speechless and wondering what will happen next, and then they wrap it up nicely afterwards quelling any fear you had that the story would get out of hand. The emotional moments are done right, and the dialogue between characters is well written and feels very natural for the characters. All pluses in my book.
Final Fantasy Tactics
As a note this story so far has been the only one to ever make me refuse to pick up the game after I completed it. That however though is not a bad thing because it means that I got so emotionally attached to it that I couldn't bear it when the ending scenes played out. I always knew it was going to be sad, but what they dropped on the player at the end of that one was just heavy.
I can't go into many details about it again, but with who they kill off, when they kill them off, and how they describe each death made me actually very sad when I read it each time. It was a first for any game to do that to me as I was expecting a happy ending and then they threw this out there. I will say though, that it is because of this story that I refuse to trade it in and as such will be keeping it for a long time to come (at least till the next PSP).
This only applies to the original Red Faction for the PS2/PC due to the fact that quite honestly, the story for Red Faction 2/Red Faction Guerilla was terrible. As though Volition completely forgot what the story was and just started making up random cr*p to make sequels. The original wasn't about super-soldiers or guys who were super-powerful and able to take down entire armies in one go, it was about a single guy who was just trying to get off Mars. Parker to this day remains one of my most liked characters in any game just due to the fact that he doesn't feel special. He is a rather ordinary guy who gets caught up in the middle of a rebellion and fights for his own survival. Granted during this time he does some rather extraordinary things, but at no time do you ever feel invincible.
It was as much about survival as it was about killing, and in the first one they got the balance perfect. The campaign brought you all over mars, to every area that you could go on the desolate red planet that was being used as a mining structure. It made you feel for these miners who were being treated as though they were animals and as such made you feel like you had to do something. So that when you had the chance to, you took it full force. The shame of it though has to be that they ruined the franchise with just one sequel. Where the first was epic the second one was cartoonish. Completely taking out any personality from the main character is terrible, especially when your first game had a main character as epic as Parker.
Shadow of the Colossus
Arguably a game that is nothing but a million questions, the story of this game is completely up to the player. It tells you almost nothing but in return you get the most pure story of any game of the PS2 generation. It's simple, it's beautiful and it is well done. You never even need to understand the words in order to know what is going on because everything is layed out in front of you. And then add to that the final two boss fights in the game and you have a story that tells itself.
Simple and elegant, is the only way to describe it and honestly I would not have had it any other way. With team Ico's next one coming up I hope to see more of the same because if there was one game that defined my PS2 experience it was that one.
Ace Combat Zero
I know it's another game on here that is going to make people look at this and wonder, but I don't care. The story of Galm Squadron and their fight as mercenaries to fight off invaders from a much larger country was just as enthralling to me as the gameplay was. As you flew through the missions and you shot down more and more enemies you could literally feel the war turning and you felt invincible. Granted they never immersed you into the character the cutscenes where they had 'enemy' pilots talking about you with each actor delivering lines based on what path you took during the game was more than enough to get you to care.
That's not even mentioning the twist in the game where the world goes from pretty straight-forward to a whole mess in literally a split second. Where everything turns upside down leaving you with one of my favorite ending levels to any game. There is a reason why the game is on my top games list and story blended perfectly with gameplay is a big part of that.
These are my favorites from games that I have played. I hope to be adding more to this list (Heavy Rain and FFXIII) but we shall see. I do want to hear from others though on games that they got into the story for and their thoughts on my list above, so please feel free to comment. As such though please state why you liked the story because that is what I am interested in hearing more than "I loved teh haloz storiez cause they is teh bestest." I personally don'l mind any story being liked, but I would like to hear reasons why.