Angry Robot

Let Them (Re)Make Their Game!

You know exactly what I’m talking about. Making the ships look shiny and fixing some explosions is one thing. This is another thing entirely. How does Star Wars tie (hehe tie…) into gaming? Star Wars IS gaming, but that’s another story altogether. I’m saying that these dudes wanted to create the most awesome experience ever for their fellow gamers, but they tried to do so in the 90’s. NOT the optimum time to create the most awesome experience ever for their fellow gamers. It’s just the long and short of it. Tech was getting there but not there yet and it’s only just now even slightly reaching the point where immersive storytelling can really start to flourish the way many gamers want it to.

So what’s so wrong with Bioshock repeating the formula of System Shock II? What’s so wrong with a proven method being refined even further? You already knew the story? Um, Star Wars is the same story we’ve heard over and over again. The Lion King is widely known as Hamlet. Humans are always telling the same stories over and over again, what’s so wrong with games doing the exact same thing? Trying again and again with the same type of story while at the same time trying to perfect the delivery system and when that’s done, maybe new stories will come from that perfect method.

I mean Nintendo’s been doing this for ALL TIME. Remember when I said Star Wars IS gaming? Well, Link/Luke. The Force/TriForce. Zelda/Leia (they even have the same syllable count peeps). I’ve been playing Link/Luke over and over again. I watch the movies over and over again and I’ve seen so many different/exact same villages in Hyrule/Sea over Hyrule/Island near Hyrule/something something Hyrule it’s crazy but I love the experience again and again for a reason. It makes me happy! So what if I’m always playing a young boy who comes of age and must find and wield the master sword (coughlightsabercough) and save the Princess and stop the forces of dark (coughdarksidecough) from taking over? Throughout the different Nintendo consoles and handhelds I’ve played the same story in different ways. Sometimes extremely familiar, but also new enough that I want to keep playing. I mean SNES Link and Minnish Cap (god so cute) Link and the latest motion control Link are all the same, for sure, but also so different that I love each one independently and will play them repeatedly for that reason. It’s like a good book. You want to reread it even if you know how it ends because you like the way it read in the first place.

I think that the tendency to bash repeat game makers is because we want the new, the shiny, the future and we want it now. But we’ve always had to endure creative repetition. In film, books, music, everything is a cycle and a work in progress. Out of these cycles come bursts of creative uniqueness that go on to inspire future generations to greatness as well. I mean how many people did Lucas inspire and who will love him forever but also can never forget the emotional and creative scarring that was Jar-Jar Binks? Bungie did the same thing as Irrational Games (now 2K). From what Daragh tells me Halo IS Marathon. And Metroid is very akin to Marathon. Cycles…

Stories are told and retold, such is the nature of the human method. We learn, we love, we hate, we fear all from stories. When we play we want to experience all of the things we have been taught to expect from creatives and storymakers and world builders. Patience though, that’s something we’re supposed to learn as well. One day, a day far far away no doubt, all games that come to our consoles will be bursting with unique flavour and worlds and satisfying gameplay. Everyone will play immersive stories they’ve never before encountered and stories will feel fresh and new and wonderful. But until that day, can we please remember that we live in a time of tweaking? That our brothers and sisters who painstakingly construct these worlds for us do so out of love for the games and stories they’ve grown so attached to themselves? And that if you had a story you wanted to let others play through, wouldn’t you try to make it better, do it again in a better and more engaging way if you had the chance? I know I probably would.

So Bio/System Shock of old and new alike…I’m happy to play you and if I had played you before I’m sure I would enjoy the redux. Then again, it could just be the instinct of the brand loyal Nintendo player in me…Or the forgiving Lucas fan…Take your pick.

One comment on "Let Them (Re)Make Their Game!"

  1. D says:

    Hmm… That Zero Punctuation piece. The opening admits to bashing for the sake of, since people only like him when he’s mean. Then the rest of it is PC gamer snobbery, as if the whole hardcore / casual debate was not raging all around us.

    “Bioshock is just like System Shock II” is a version of “I knew about this when it was cool”.

    I haven’t played System Shock II, so I’d like to hear what has changed. The story has gone from cyberpunk to steampunk, say: did the original deal with objectivism? political criticism? Is it possible that Bioshock is an improved version? This is something that can happen with games, whereas in film you can’t remake your film from five years ago and expect people to pay to see it (although I suppose Director’s Cut double dipped DVDs slightly disprove that).

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