Note: After making his debut on Playthroughline earlier this year, John Keefe returns to sink his teeth into Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. You can read his Script by following the link at the top of this post. In addition, fellow contributor Ed Smith has kindly allowed me to pipe in his thoughts on the game. Check out the link below, where Ed pretty much tells Hotline Miami 2 to shut up.
So reasonably, I ought to be using this space to talk about the game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. What makes it a brilliant game that balances amazingly smooth gameplay and first-rate storytelling chops, that sort of thing. But since I'm allowed to talk about whatever I like here, I'm going to indulge myself by going waaayyy off on a tangent and ask the age-old question: why can't we get a decent movie based on a video game?
Note: The effervescent Ed Smith made his debut on Playthroughline with a no-holds-barred beatdown of Red Dead Redemption and now he enters the ring again to face 1998's Metal Gear Solid. The result is a tad different from what you might have come to expect from the Scripts on this site. Please do find out for yourself, and afterwards, if you're eager for a more direct appraisal of the Metal Gear franchise from Ed, there's some of that below. It's quite direct.
Hideo Kojima is a sexist, untalented, copycat hack whose status within the gaming industry is nothing more than proof of what dire straits videogames are in. His games are clumsy to play, aesthetically derivative and written like fan fiction. And in the words of Agness Kaku, who worked as the Japanese-English translator on Metal Gear Solid 2, Kojima "wouldn't last a morning in a network TV writers' room."
Note: Craig has officially completed his first trilogy on Playthroughline! All three Max Payne games have now been lovingly bestowed with Scripts. We also had a little back-and-forth regarding our interpretations of Max Payne 3's ending, which I have reproduced below. Take it away, Craig.
I don't envy anybody the task of taking over a property from the people who created it. Especially when the creator has, for better or worse, invested the work with their own distinctive voice. Do you give the property your own voice and hope for the best, à la John Wells taking over from Aaron Sorkin on The West Wing? Or do you try to mimic the writing style of the creator, as I preemptively imagine will be Rhianna Pratchett's strategy? Both of these approaches seem fraught with peril.
Note: I am honoured to announce yet another contributor to Playthroughline! John Keefe is one of my fellow authors at The Editing Room and when I asked him if he wanted to abridge a game, he set his sights on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. I'm not a fan of Lord of the Rings, so thank Ilúvatar someone else tackled this game. Please enjoy his glorious contribution and if you'd like to read more, there's further thoughts from John below.
Shadow of Mordor proves just how spoiled we are as gamers. It was not so very long ago that any game with even a whiff of movie tie-in was utter crap, that "open world" was just code for "big and padded," where story came to you in walls of text and combat involved two buttons for attacking and one for a dodge. Fast forward to the glorious future of 2014, and Shadow of Mordor has fixed all of those problems and yet somehow feels weirdly B minus.
Note: I'm pleased to announce that Playthroughline has laid claim to another contributor. The inimitable Ed Smith first came to my attention with his sublime takedown of Watch_Dogs. When I asked him if he would like to contribute a Script, he kindly and voraciously put one together for Red Dead Redemption. His work makes for a great addition to Playthroughline and there'll surely be more from Ed in the future! Below you can read his extended thoughts on Red Dead Redemption and how it compares to BioShock Infinite, which he announces in the first sentence.
Red Dead Redemption has a lot in common with BioShock Infinite. Both games have something to say. Their remarks are obvious, and directed, adolescently, at a nebulous entity you could only really refer to as "the system," but still, they each have higher narrative ambitions than most big-budget videogames. And ultimately, they are both ruined by the mechanical systems that they are tied to.
Note: Craig has already contributed twoscripts to Playthroughline and last week he pleasantly surprised me by coming out of left field with one on The Last of Us. You may have noted that I only tackle PC games, so this addition marks Playthroughline going multi-platform! My humble thanks to Craig for widening my horizon for me.
After a while of reading and writing parody scripts, you get used to one central concept: there are flaws and there are flaws. Which is to say, almost any piece of media can be picked apart to reveal plot holes, stupid character behaviour, unlikely coincidences and so forth. Maybe even extensively. But for every flaw, the question must be asked: does it matter? Sure it's a flaw, but is it a flaw that actually makes the experience any worse?
What I'm trying to say is that The Last of Us may actually be perfect.
Last time I was here, doing a short script for the first Max Payne, I mentioned that I had a stock rant about linearity in games but wasn't going to bring it up because Max Payne provides a poor example. Now, however, I'm dealing with Max Payne 2, which fits much better, so hold on while I get this bee out of my bonnet. For a long time now, linearity has been regarded as something of a gaming sin. And there are certainly reasonable arguments to be made against it. After all, interactivity is supposed to be gaming's thing. If you remove player freedom and exploration, force the player to follow explicit directions every step of the way, you might as well just be watching a movie, right?
Hello, people visiting Playthroughline! My name is Craig and I'm an author of abridged scripts on The Editing Room, where Joannes’ movie parodies are published. Joannes has kindly allowed me to contribute a Short Script to his site, and I have chosen the classic third-person shooter Max Payne. I was originally going to use this space here to go through one of my recurring video game rants, to be specific, a defence of linear gameplay. After all, games don't come much more linear than Max Payne. But the thrust of that particular rant is the idea of tight narrative focus, and in abridging Max Payne, one thing I realised was that "tight narrative focus" is not a term you'd use to describe it at all. If it were to focus on its story, it'd probably last about half an hour. Instead it rambles, inventing an endless series of feeble justifications for action set pieces which have nothing whatsoever to do with the central story. The restaurant fire, the robbery of the Charon, the parking garage showdown, the hotel drug deal, all of these things and more could be lifted right out and you'd hardly notice the difference.
And the more I thought about it, the more this little diatribe changed its topic to the bewildering question: why in the world do I like this game so much?
Welcome to Playthroughline, a personal blog focused on the implementation of stories in games. In addition to general musings about narrative design, you’ll also find a collection of Scripts that basically do for videogames what The Editing Room does for movies.