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If you have read any of my other blogs (there really aren’t that many), you may notice I am a proponent of stories in video games. Whether it is a first person shooter, a role-playing game, a platformer, or action-adventure; I want to see a story I can get into and characters I can enjoy (this is probably why I rarely play sports or simulation games). And my favorite part of a story is the plot twist.
Seeing a superb plot twist take shape in a story is like watching a great magician on stage. No, not the magician who had shots with you and your friends at the bar before he got on stage [true story], but one who pulls off an amazing trick right in front of you and you never have an idea how it was done. The only difference is a good plot twist will have shown you the solution earlier in the story, but it never clicked in your head.
In this entry, I would like to take a look back at some of my favorite plot twists in video game history and why I love them so much and some I really didn’t like. Also, I’ll touch on some of “those moments” in games that make you say “Holy ****, did you see that?!”
*This should be self-evident, but there are major spoilers for a series of games up ahead. So, ***SPOILER ALERT***
"That's not true, that's impossible!" - Luke
Star Wars: The Knights of the Old RepublicIt was on board Malak’s flagship, Leviathan, that we all heard those fateful words: "You cannot hide from what you once were, Revan! Recognize that you were once the Dark Lord—and know that I have taken your place!" Much as Luke Skywalker felt when Vader told him of their connection as father and son, I at first denied it, believing it to be a lie. But it all made sense, it all added up, but it was still a shocking revelation. Then the feelings of betrayal came because Bastilla kept it all hidden from you the entire time. The whole situation was a mixed bag of emotion for me as I decided what to do and who to become with my character who had once been the Dark Lord.
Because of the great story this was, Revan became one of my favorite Star Wars characters and his Mighty Mugg visage has a place of honor on my office desk.
Would you kindly...
BioshockBioshock represents one of the best role reversal twists in video game history in its Ayn Rand-ish world. As you stand over your father’s dead body after killing him with a golf club and realize you have been betrayed by Atlas/Fontaine and his “would you kindly…” phrases. Once I realized the truth, all I heard in my head was the Drowning Pool Bodies song…”Let the bodies hit the floor!”
A clean brain is washed brain...
Call of Duty: Black OpsI saw the general brain wash twist coming the second Mason had urges to kill the President, but I never once picked up on the concept that Victor Reznov had brain washed the character to kill Steiner and Reznov had been dead the whole time. Though, like any good twist, it all made sense in the end as I had seen it the whole time without really seeing it.
I need a map for this game's story
Metal Gear SeriesYes, the story can become difficult to follow at times, but every game’s story is filled with twists and turns. From the very first time you learn the truth about the DARPA Chief in Metal Gear Solid, you begin to question anything and everything presented to you. From you Master being your enemy (liquid) to the dead members of the Patriots and the truth of Big Shell to the existence of Big Boss and Eve, your only mistake would be to believe what is being shown, or told, to you.
Two twists in one great game
Final Fantasy VIIThe death of Aerith was one of the most shocking moments I can remember over my time of playing video games. I never once saw it coming and didn’t know what to think when it happened. As I look back on it now, her death makes sense from a story-teller’s perspective and it needed to happen for the purposes of the story.
Shocking as her death was, the loss of Aerith wasn’t the only good twist in Final Fantasy VII. When Cloud falls into the lifestream and is told the truth of his past from Sephiroth and through his flashbacks at Nibelheim, I was floored. This is why Final Fantasy VII still stands as one of my favorite video games ever made.
I'm gonna make, I'm gonna make it, I'm gonna make, I'm gonna make it,
Modern WarfareSo many games over time have involved the possibility of nuclear war, but few ever have the guts to actually detonate a nuclear weapon, and fewer still in a modern combat game. When Jackson’s helicopter was taken out of the sky by a nuclear explosion and the character killed, I was speechless. The entire time, I thought Jackson would somehow get away and escape, but I was wrong.
"The only problems we have are the pests. You see most places have mice or mosquitoes, we have....dragons!" - How to Train Your Dragon
SkyrimThere it was, the elk lined up in my sights. I pulled back my bow string, excited to get the leather off the beast and work on boosting my smithing skill. Just as I was ready to shoot my arrow the music started and a shadow raced by me on the ground. “What the **** was that?!” Suddenly, a giant dragon smashed the ground in front of me and coated me in a blanket of fire.
It was my first random dragon encounter, and I got owned. I wasn’t expecting random dragons, just boss fight dragons. That first time is a shocking experience if you aren’t ready for it.
[PageBreak]Now let's cover some of my picks for worse plot twists and attempts to make you say "Holy crap!"
Modern Warfare 2I already wrote a blog post about my issues with this game. All I have to say in this blog is: Captain Price in a Gulag and an unlikely nuclear weapon launch/detonation.
If you tell me that one more time, I'm gonna stew you on my alchemy table in Whiterun!
Super Mario Bros.After getting to the castle and defeating Bowser repeatedly, the worst thing in the world is to see the words on the screen: “The Princess is in another castle”. It was a line to evoke frustration and rage out of my eight year-old self every time it was on the screen.
Zelda? Nah, really?!
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of TimeI enjoyed Ocarina of time, don’t get me wrong. I think it is a great game and I will play it until I die. But anyone who was shown Sheik was Zelda and said “Holy crap!” or any other variation is missing something important upstairs.
"Speak sense Templar, or not at all!"
Assassin’s CreedI’m not even going to discuss the science-fiction twist in the Assassin’s Creed series. I look at that twist like I do Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I would rather like to point out that, for me, the reveal of the Assassin’s master, Al Mualim, being a templar fell flat on its face. I think it had a chance to be a bit more dramatic and surprising, but it just missed its opportunity.
Who the **** are you?!
Metal Gear Solid 2Yes, I already discussed the series as being the master of twists, but I want to touch on one particular twist that got me so angry, I very nearly didn’t continue playing the game: Raiden. The whole time the main story is about to begin, Kojima leads you on that you are Solid Snake, one of my favorite video game characters. Then, the second you get out of water you learn you are playing as a whiny gymnast rather than a grizzled veteran. Still makes me angry thinking about it.
I’m sure I missed some good ones out there, what are some of your favorites? Some of the worst?