The process of weaving a solid narrative in videogames is something that has come under much scrutiny over the past few years. Many critics argue that games fail hopelessly to engage players in a way that movies can achieve; we as gamers know this is rubbish, although that doesn’t mean the medium hasn’t offered its fair share of clunkers. Indeed, while games like Call of Duty can survive quite happily on a paper thin plot just to give you an excuse to massacre hordes of grunts, other games aren’t quite so lucky.
We happen to love a good story, and as such we’ve decided to list five PlayStation 3 games that are fundamentally solid titles (at least in our humble opinion), yet concurrently possess some of the lamest narratives we’ve had the misfortune of digesting. Whether they’re recycled, unoriginal or just plain daft, you’ll likely find them here.
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Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil games have always supported an intricate, albeit cheesy B-grade plot that to be fair has kept us pretty hooked since its inception in 1996. After RE4 rebooted the series introducing brand new enemies and the deadly Las Plagas, RE5 came along and did little to differentiate itself. Sure, we got a new location, enemies and baddies, but the whole thing is woefully generic and just a rehash of the previous game. Albert Wesker gets his comeuppance at long last but the once enigmatic villain of past games is replaced by an over-the-top cartoon baddie hell bent on destroying the world. His cronies aren’t much cop either, from mad cap Ricardo Irving and tits-on-legs Excella proving about as original as a cheese sandwich. The dialogue is pretty ropey, the plot predictable and everything feels exceedingly rehashed; like RE4 in the sunshine with a HD facelift. The ‘twist’ involving Jill Valentine being converted to the Dark Side could be spotted a mile off, rendering the impact of her inevitable rescue meaningless. A shame too, as the game itself is a solid third-person shooter and one of the best co-op games out there.
Yes, we did think that Resistance 2 was actually a solid game – as did most of the critics at the time. The Black Sheep of the Resistance series, Nathan Hale’s 2008 swansong boasted a great multiplayer and didn’t skimp on epic boss battles and set-pieces, but seemingly forgot to stand in line when the devs were handing out storylines. Unlike the original game’s methodical sludge through war-torn England that provided a tale of hopeless and despair, Resistance 2 felt less human and more mechanical. Hale was infected with the Chimera Virus and the plot only served to give him a reason to shoot up legions of mutant foes with a variety of highly-destructive weapons. Hale himself was always a stoic chap but managed to get away with it somewhat in the original due to a great support cast, but here he falls completely flat. You are never really given any reason to care about his exploits, and half the time we forgot we weren’t playing as a faceless avatar.
Gearbox’s seminal RPG-shooter hybrid is one of the greatest co-op outings of this generation, but its minimal plot leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, there’s some compelling characters involved and witty dialogue, but in all honesty, you wouldn’t really be missing out on anything if you turned the sound down during the story segments. All you really need is an excuse to explore the alien planet of Pandora, gobbling up loot and shooting bad guys wherever they may be encountered. Obviously, the solid shooting and RPG mechanics are what make Borderlands the classic it is today, but there’s a feeling of being short-changed at times due to the sheer lack of being captivated by a decent narrative.
Yeah, we know what you’re thinking – who in their right mind purchases a beat-‘em-up expecting a decent plot? Not many, but that since Tekken is one of the most prominent fighters to push the story to the forefront of the action – with Tekken 6 featuring its own campaign mode – it doesn’t escape our list. By this point the cast has become so bloated that it’s impossible to keep track of everyone’s antics, and the core plot focuses on a robotic chick with pink hair teaming up with newcomer Lars Alexanderson, the illegitimate son of Heihachi Mishima (who is so badass in this he can stop a bullet by catching it with his teeth). What you have is the usual power struggle between the Mishima’s with Kazuya, Jin and Heihachi all fighting for world domination, woeful dialogue and ridiculous excuses to interweave the plot with every single character on the roster. It’s a pointless addition and distracts from the overall package; the gameplay isn’t much cop either, which adds insult to injury. What happened to the days of just competing against the world’s finest brawlers for a large cash prize?
Final Fantasy XIII
Square Enix caused quite a stir among long-time fans when it released FFXIII; after all, the game eschews many of the traditional elements of previous titles in the venerable RPG series, and is noticeably more linear. However, buried underneath is still an objectively solid game, and PSU.com in particularly were very impressed with it. Still, the storyline definitely raises some eyebrows, as is the case with its sequel. Lightning is a decent heroine, but the supporting cast can’t hold a candle to some of the brilliant sidekicks from previous entries, and largely consists of stereotypical pretty boys and girls. The narrative itself is a convoluted mess, with intimidating database entries and an overall plot that feels more like a soap opera than a Final Fantasy title. It doesn’t help matters that to fully appreciate and comprehend the story, one feels they must consult additional material outside of the actual game – not exactly a great selling point. Overall, it’s extremely poorly portrayed and unequivocally one of the worst stories of any Final Fantasy title to date.
Do you have a game that fits into this category that we didn't include here? Let us know in the comments section below.