It is no secret that a lot of videogame plots are absolutely ludicrous if you think too much about them. Too much often being simply “at all”. A recurring plot in modern military shooters is that the US gets invaded. Crysis 2 has the alien invasion. Modern Warfare 2 and 3 have Russia invading. In Homefront North Korea invaded and won. Insane ideas played completely straight.
Though as I was replaying Red Alert 2 I was reminded that this is an idea that has been done before. In RA2 the Soviet Union performs a massive invasion of the US from all angles at the same time. It is highly implausible and the game is very self-aware of this fact; embracing its madness and making the best of it.
So I’ve been pondering. Would the games in the first paragraph have been improved if they had been more self-aware and less serious? Spoilers ahead.
Perhaps I was a little unfair to include Crysis 2 on the list, because that game does seem to be aware that it’s a bit silly and just goes with it; never making a big fuss, but also not minding that it’s there. And from what I’ve heard the story is too convoluted to easily dissect, so since I haven’t even played it I won’t make the attempt here.
MW2 and MW3 are easier targets, especially since I’ve actually played MW2, though I couldn’t say for sure what it’s actually about. Wikipedia ahoy! So yeah, tensions are high between Russian and American authorities, and the CIA decide it’s a good idea to get a man on the inside of a Russian terrorist cell that wants to stir up that tension until something goes boom. Shit hits the fan, the plot contrives a way for the Russians to launch a ‘surprise’ invasion of the US because they suspect them of backing terrorists (surely no one would really invade on such a notion, oh wait); quickly taking Virginia and Washington DC. Then in the next game I’ve been told that Russia invades all of Europe at the same time like a day after the next ‘shit hit the fan’ episode. For so-called ‘realistic’ shooters, these stories are among the most unrealistic I’ve heard of.
Homefront really drives the unrealism up to 11. North Korea, a nation lacking in both resources and manpower, somehow seizes control of the whole of the USA. Yes, I read the back-story stuff on Wikipedia. No, it doesn’t really help matters. So first they took over South Korea. Then Japan. Then most of Southeast Asia. Then they launch a satellite that detonates a nuke above the US which knocks out all electronics everywhere before they jauntily march in and take control. Makes perfect sense.
And both franchises do their best to play this completely straight. Oh, these are real people. Feel bad for them! Watch them die! Don’t you feel bad?! All is doom and gloom! See these guns? These are real guns. They exist. We will let you shoot them. Shoot at the men that made you feel bad! Here, have some explosions! Predator drones! Gunships! Nuclear Fucking Weapons! Are you feeling emotions now?
In Red Alert 2 they don’t care much about realism. Oh, you want to play as Allies? Have a magic car. It can drive really fast. If you put people into it, it will magically transform. Look, it got a crane! OMG, now it’s a sniper car! Isn’t it cool?! Also, you can have these guys. They don’t walk anywhere. They friggin teleport. They can erase stuff from time itself. Make them never have existed. You wish you could be this awesome. And while you’re at it, why not summon a couple of thunderstorms? We don’t mind. Amphibious assault from Canada to Chicago? Yeah, sounds like a good plan.
You’d rather play as the Soviets? Okay! See these dudes? They can shoot lightning out of their fists. Take them to Paris. Have them charge up the Eiffel Tower so it shoots lightning at all the enemies. Oh these guys? All they do is friggin mind-control whatever gets close to them. Soldiers, tanks, cars, whatever. They’re yours now. Your toys! And in the water you can train giant squids that wrestle battleships! We have also invented flash-cloning. It’s a thing. You can use it. We’re not gonna lie, it is kinda awesome. Set up a structure to mind-control the entire world? Why not?! It’s fuuuuuuuuuuuuun.
So would the overly serious modern military shooters be improved by allowing themselves to be a little more crazy? Quite possibly. The serious shooters do have their place, but I’m a little concerned that they’re being over-saturated. I guess I just wish there was a little more crazy now and again.
Any other games you feel contrast eachother similarly? Any other genres or specific games that could have been improved by adding more bonkers? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. 🙂
Posted on August 21, 2012, in Games, Thoughts and tagged bonkers, Crysis 2, fun!, Homefront, Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3, plots, Red Alert 2, SPOILERS, stories, videogames. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.