Outstanding - uhh - stories?

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People talk about plot and stories in games, so I was wondering, what are people's top three games simply in terms of the story they told - or the plot etc etc.

My three are (in no particular order)

Azrael's Tear - complex characters, plot and over all a tale as well
Grim Fandango - extremely well conveyed film noir inspired character development and story/plot
Full Throttle - short but sweet macho story-telling.

I can't really think of any outstanding FPS (although Azrael's Tear did have some shooting in it :)), RPG or RTS games, but I'd like to hear of some. Some honourable mentions in the other categories have to go to Deus Ex, Planescape Torment (contender for a top three up there I guess, but I haven't finished it yet) and a few others I can't think of. I haven't played through much of Realms of the Haunting, but that also looks good. Lots of games lately seem to have "plot" and some cliches, but no real story or character to it - anyone else agree?

lava monkey's picture

monkey island 1 and day of the tentacle
lucas arts adventure games in general probably had the best stories ever.

redwyre's picture

It depends really on what you mean by plot, a story before your actions, reasons for you to act, consiquences of your actions, events that happen as consiquence of your actions...

Maitrek's picture

Well it's a bit of an open ended question. Some people prefer more of the "reasons behind actions" plot kind of game, whereas others sort of look at the character interactiob/story driven reward structure type of game. I guess whatever you want really as long as you sort of tag on what you are judging by.
I judge with a bit of both. Plot - as in motivations and reasons - as well as story - which is more of a creative/artistic thing I guess.

redwyre's picture

Well, System Shock has quite a good story. It has a into movie at the begining, and there are constant references from different characters. Deus Ex is pretty much a copy but it has a more interactive story. Looking Glass Studios' games (and those derived from them) have the best plot and story lines... *sigh*.

Haegemonia (Homeworld-like space RTS) has quite a good plot and story, other than that I haven't really played an RTS since Starcraft though.

Maitrek's picture

I thought System Shock was a little thin when it came to the story department, System Shock 2, however, pretty much sucked - it did have a plot but it was paper thin. I thought Shodan was devilishly well portrayed in the original, which gave the game some depth. The characters were, in general, interesting and provided most of the motivation. As if Abe Ghiran made it up to the security level? What a champ :) Pity he got killed back on the level 3 (can't remember, what was level called again? Engineering or something?)

Starcraft allegedly has some story elements, but alas, I've never played through all of it :(

Meatex Salami's picture

Well for me it would be
Deus Ex
Silent Hill 2
Metal Gear Solid 1
Thos are the games i put in order as having the best stories
I just finished SH2 for the first time not 5 mins ago.
That game i thought was really good and strange.
SH2 has done mood and atmosphere really well and its scary without any of the RE series "cheap" scare where a guy just suddenly jumps out at you.

Pantmonger's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Meatex_Salami

I just finished SH2 for the first time not 5 mins ago.
That game i thought was really good and strange.
SH2 has done mood and atmosphere really well and its scary without any of the RE series "cheap" scare where a guy just suddenly jumps out at you.

SH2 also has the benifit of multipath endings based on your actions, not just your choices. Looking at that sharp knife in your inventory too much, the one someone was going to kill themselves with, you might be headed for the suicide ending. Looking at that picture of your wife a lot, hanging around with a certain woman whenever you can. These things all change the ending.

It is most cool.

Pantmonger

Maitrek's picture

Anyone here played Clive Barker's Undying? Seems pretty scary to from what I saw in the demo, but I don't know if the whole game has enough original scares to keep it going.

I haven't played Metal Gear Solid or SH2, but they look good. I need more hours in a day :)

And also - multiple endings can be a good and bad thing. I remember alot of people finished playing Blade Runner with dodgy endings that they didn't want, and other people got fantastic fitting endings...I'm not sure how well they do it in SH2, but it really is risky and you can piss some players off immensly if you screw up the way it's organised.

Pantmonger's picture

IMO multiple ending rock and increase the life of a good game due to increased replay value. Sure sometimes you get an end that sucks, but usualy that comes from sucky performance on the behalf of the player. I like the inclusion of sucky endings, makes you feel like you have a achived something when you get it right, rather then an inevetable you win, you are a a god style ending that requires little to achive.

Games that are more skill based (ie the better you are at aiming a shooting, or coming up with a good plan) its cool to have a generic, you win, ending. You fought for it and you deserve it. But in a story heavy game the ending needs to reflect the path you take and unless you want to be railroaded down the plot path, then multiple endings are important to reflect the choices you made.

I think that this kind of story telling in games can learn a lot from the 30+ years of paper RPGs. They made the mistakes before, and in some cases still make the mistakes (Have a look at a D&D module. You enter a room 10 x10 feet in size, there is an orc standing in front of a chest. "You will never get my treasure" he grunts.) But they have also got some things right. Looking at story strong video games, a lot of the time they are making the same mistakes that paper RPGs made and learnt from. I think its time to stop re-inventing the wheel and time to climb on to the sholders of some giants.

Well that my 2 cents anyway.

Pantmonger

souri's picture

Clive Barker's Undying was VERY scary.. very atmospheric and spooky. I have to admit, there were stages where I was glad I got out of.. [:)] I didn't get to finish it, so I can't comment completly on the story, but what I experienced was pretty good.

Silent Hill had a rather interesting paranormal story - but it was seriously let down by the shoddy voice acting. And plenty of awkward pauses.. I guess they just didn't edited the cut scenes for the English version after the translation.. it's definately enough to ruin a story though.

Metal Gear Solid 2 has some brilliant voice acting, but I have to say the story itself stunk. I've taped it, and watched the video a few times, and I still don't quite get the story.. It's full of unecessary twists which in the end you don't really care about anymore.. GW is one thing, then it's another, then it's another. There are plenty of other things that I don't quite get either, but I've moved on [:)]. The big problem with Metal Gear Solid 2 was that there was too much story to sit through. Heck, the dialogue before the last fight went on for over half an hour!!!

I agree with what someone said earlier. Half Life was great because you experienced the story, rather than watching it happen.

Oh, and multiple endings - I'm the type who hates them.. well, if they were done the way Silent Hill 1 did them.. I missed some syringe containing blood (that was stashed on a bike!!) at some point in the game... so because of that, I got the bad ending.. It was a tough game, and I sure as heck didn't want to go back to an old save game and go through all the same ground/puzzles etc I went through again just to see a different ending.. That's not replay value to me.. that's just darn annoying!

Multiple endings from multiple paths = good. Multiple endings from doing things slightly different = bad.

Meatex Salami's picture

SH2 i think is pretty much the same as SH1 except with most of the problems fixed. (You can get problems with the cameras sometimes and other times the camera won't look where you want it to - though that often isn't because of bad camera coding its cause the designer want to freak you out. you hear noises and you desperately want to see whats making it)
SH2 uses sounds really well and the textures were really impressive.
The voice acting was better than in SH1, but there are still some pause in odd spots.
Also it seems as though the characters mouths don't close properly :)
SH2's story was very complicated and was told through less cutscenes than an MGS type game. And generally the cutscenes aren't too long.
I do like it how you can miss certain items and yet keep playing without the game going "oh you mightt want to back here and investigate. there might be some usefull items there."
Although i haven't tried you could probably play the game without getting the map.
As for endings sucking you can be assured that the ending where you leave silent hill to "live your life" as mary says is the one you will most likely get. The others i think you have to do specail things to get.
But i liked how the plot was layed out to you (you were told bits related to the plot) but then you could find out info about the story. The story wasn't ever told to you (when i say story i mean how silent hill got so farked up) you had to find it out and peice everything together yourself. The story, i thought, was very open to interpretation and i like that.
Anyway i would recommend people playing it cause it is worth it. And the guys who designed this game must have some serious issues :)
I can't wait for silent hill 3

Soul's picture

Ahh, this is one of those questions where it's almost impossible to stick to the requested number of answers, so I won't... [:)]

Grim Fandango
Final Fantasy VII
Gabriel Knight 1 & 2
Azrael's Tear
Sanitarium
Planescape: Torment
The Dig
Ultima VII parts 1 & 2

Also, I agree with Maitrek - most modern PC games seem to rely too heavily on cliches and "hammy" dialogue.

Maitrek's picture

quote:


IMO multiple ending rock and increase the life of a good game due to increased replay value. Sure sometimes you get an end that sucks, but usualy that comes from sucky performance on the behalf of the player. I like the inclusion of sucky endings, makes you feel like you have a achived something when you get it right, rather then an inevetable you win, you are a a god style ending that requires little to achive.

Games that are more skill based (ie the better you are at aiming a shooting, or coming up with a good plan) its cool to have a generic, you win, ending. You fought for it and you deserve it. But in a story heavy game the ending needs to reflect the path you take and unless you want to be railroaded down the plot path, then multiple endings are important to reflect the choices you made.


Bringing out flame thrower for a second here. In regards to the first paragraph, from a design point of view that really is a not-too-good way to make up for a weak reward structure in the game. Also, how are we going to get people to play games if we give them not so good rewards if they aren't as elite as experienced gamers? Not everyone wants to play the same game twice, or thrice etc etc.

Also I'm also a bit cynical about multiple plot paths. The amount of game-play material that is different between plot paths is minimal, however sometimes you get slightly different interactions with NPCs in "cut scenes" and endings etc. It doesn't really add to the game as it should.

Aside from that. Back on topic....I'm still not convinced that in Half Life you "experienced" the story. The story was still delivered in a non-interactive way - scripted events that couldn't be changed, all it did was change the look of your enemies now and again. It doesn't so much add to the game as polish it a little, provide some miniscule background as to why you are now shooting at thing x.

How many people here have actually played Grim Fandango?

Gldfire's picture

I liked Final Fantasy 7 because it had a really good storyline and a great atmosphere, Interstate 76 was also another great game good plot, and all the old cars battling in the dessert and the large selection of upgrades, made for some great gameplay.