No blog about gaming is complete without an official list of game cliches and the games that most exemplify them in action. Right? It’s an industry requirement or something. Because it’s required by both the MMO Game Blog Guild of Secret Handshakes and the Gamers With Too Much Time On Their Hands Association, here’s the official Killer Guides list of lamest game cliches that gotta go.
This has gotta be my personal biggest pet peeve in story lines. It’s one thing if some elements of a game require teamwork (instances, team quests, etc), but when the whole game is based on the idea? Lame.
This kind of plot line was fine when we were in the 5th grade and hadn’t discovered DC Comics yet. I might be dating myself, but in the 5th grade, I thought the A-Team was the bomb. That was a show about team work (and the magical ability to fire 10,000 rounds per episode with nary a gunshot wound). Today?
Hell no. We want games full of heroes. Specifically, our hero, the coolest character in the game, no matter if there are 100,000 other Dark Elf Warlocks in the MMO or not. Ours is unique, dammit, and we wanna go solo and open up personal cans of whoopass on the evil doers and cliche-driven NPCs that annoy us.
“Oh, you’re a conniving merchant, are you? Take that, foo’!” *Hammer fist to the top of the head*
I seem to have gone on a little tangent. Sorry about that. Back to the show.
The games with the most “it’s all about friendship and love” plots are usually Japanese RPGs and Manga-style lame-fests. Ya, we’re talking to you, Mabinogi.
For some reason, a lot of people are obsessed with post-apocalyptic stories. Ya, our world kind of sucks right now and sure, there are tough times economically and such, but comon. How many games about after the world ends do there need to be? Really?
Even in the 1960s when we were a minute away from midnight, there weren’t as many people obsessing about post-apocalyptic times. Heck, for most of the Cold War, the world was just a button push away from total mayhem and annihilation and Batman and Spiderman were still just fighting people who wanted to take over the city.
Why can’t we have more MMOs with villains trying to take over the tri-state area or just a single city? How come it has to be shattering the entire planet (whatever planet the game happens to be on)?
Perhaps this has something to do with escalating expectations. I mean, sure, a few years ago, you could save just the Elves or just the Dwarves from certain destruction, but eventually, at about level 50, things had to start looking bleak for Middle Earth as a whole or your hero ego might not get stroked enough.
Remember Mario saving the princess and that’s it? We need more of that sort of thing.
If you do require us to save the world in your game, at least give us a good reason to do it. Who cares if the end of your world will mean a lot of Gnomes and Fairies get blasted? What are they to me?
It’s getting old when the “hero” or the “main character” or the “guy you talk to most often” in the game is a cheap imitation of Bruce Willis as a 1980s professional wrestler. It doesn’t help that they’re always bald (or have a shaved head) and usually pictured with gigantic weapons, probably meant to make up for some other personal failing.
Being badass is one thing, but if all you have to offer the story as far as characterization goes is the size of your biceps and a snarl.. you suck.
OK, nobody’s asking game writers or designers to have Space Marines quoting Shakespeare or something, but really.. if a main character to a plotline has no more depth than a scar on his cheek and a single lame Willis-like tag line, then not enough thought went into the game’s story. Seriously.
Pretty much every space-based shooter has this problem. It’s endemic.
Look, guys (and maybe some girls) like looking at scantily-clad females and it’s a staple in games that, while cliche’, isn’t necessarily a horrible one. It tends to sell the game, like it or not. Still, many games that do this tend to go overboard.
I mean, is a female medieval knight really going to wear a chainmail bikini? Why would that evil witch bent on destroying the planet wear a dress with a lot of holes in it to strategically reveal her fem bits? Do you honestly expect me to take that half-naked guerrilla fighter woman seriously as she unfolds plot elements?
If the girl in the game is meant to be the helpless, “please come save me, hero!” fem fatale, then being mostly naked is one thing. But when she’s supposed to be someone with depth and meaning and who will actively be participating (even if it’s only implied) in armed combat with bad guys… comon.
Every anime and most fantasy RPGs are guilty of this cliche.
(Note: Wonder Woman gets an exception to this rule. She’s Wonder Woman, damn you. Linda Carter was my first crush too. I loved that show.)
OK, look, if your game is about an ex-cop or special forces guy or whatever going out to save his 8-year-old daughter from kidnappers, then it’s fine if that daughter is a helpless female. She’s friggin’ 8. But a fully grown woman who can’t even walk herself out of a flimsy wooden cage you just spent 3 hours getting to and now have a convenient, instant exit from thanks to a gaping hole in the enemy’s security? Please..
Let me put it this way: if I save someone from a place and he or she is not seriously injured, I expect them to pick up a weapon and help me get them out of there.
There are some exceptions to this. In simple games like Mario, we didn’t really need story to explain the game play to us. It was a 2D console game, for hell’s sakes. Mario saving the princess from the evil end-screen big boss was the entire story line.
But in a long, story-driven MMO? Please…
There are plenty of other annoying, but not nearly as horrid cliches in games today. Excessive amounts of gore as the game’s sole selling point seems to be a common one now, but most people can see through that lame-ity right off and either don’t play the game or only play it in F2P.
What’s your most hated game cliche?