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SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:30 am
by Gradius
Little late for a story review yes, and I'm sure many of you probably agree with the ideas expressed here, but I just wanted to get your guys' thoughts on this. When I first played WoL I couldn't quite put my finger on why I didn't like it. After discussing with people on other forums, this editorial is really my culmination of the reasons exactly why:

http://sclegacy.com/editorials/7-review ... of-liberty

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:38 pm
by RazorclawX
It's a lengthy read, but I tend to agree with it.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:56 am
by Falchion
Well, nothing new. Just a review of what we already knew.

And Gradius, might I ask why you didn't speak of the absence of FENIX in WoL!? (The protoss fighter name won't be accepted as an excuse!)

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:39 pm
by Thalraxal
I think you've covered most of it. You're a lot more harsh on Blizzard for the various sci-fi clich├ęs they embraced than I was, and I think I was much more accepting of the gameplay and plot segregation that WoL had.

My main gripes were the needless retcons (The Overmind was a hero all along!) and the mood whiplash. I ended up finishing the Rebellion and Artifact campaigns at the same time, so I went from the "YEAH! WE STRUCK A BLOW AGAINST THE DOMINION! PARTY TIME!" to "We're all depressed and sad 'cause of everything and moral is so low right now.". While the attempt at non-linear storytelling was interesting, Blizzard dropped the ball on it. There was no consequences for any of your actions, and completing or not completing a storyling was meaningless storywise. And when they did present you with a choice? Doesn't matter, whatever you picked was the right choice all along.

There does seem to be a general sense of "let's ignore the events of Brood War as much as possible" in WoL. Mostly because I think they really detract from the plot Blizzard decided that they wanted to tell in SC2. Kerrigan reaching her point of no return in Brood War makes it hard for them to convincingly redeem her, Jim swearing to kill her makes for all kinds of awkward for that whole Jim/Sarah romance sub-plot Metzen felt SC1 was all about, and the UED weakens the Dominion considerably as a despotic galactic power. Brood War pointed the plot in one direction, but WoL ended up going in a completely different one.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:54 pm
by RazorclawX
It almost inspires me to work on the Dominion-centric idea I had. Almost.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:51 am
by Lavarinth
RazorclawX wrote:It almost inspires me to work on the Dominion-centric idea I had. Almost.


Save us.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:29 pm
by Hercanic

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:11 pm
by Master Jademus Sreg
Thalraxal is trope savvy, haha. I'm inclined to agree about the moral event horizon crossed by both the Overmind and infested Kerrigan; even with an explanation that recontextualizes their actions as contributions to a "greater good", the actions and in turn the actors are not redeemed.

My criticisms of the WoL campaign are few: sparse progress options and extremely low difficulty.

Ah, but what about the retconning? I don't care. Sure, some of their narrative decisions are silly, but all Blizzard games' stories are trope stew, and some silliness in WoL's story is no worse than any of the others. The narrative provides a set of forms from which the designers draw the objects of play; it is at once both integral and disposable, to the designer and the player respectively, in that it informs the shape of the game, but knowledge of the story is not important to the gameplay.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:14 pm
by IskatuMesk
I am of the belief that all elements, be they gameplay or otherwise, should exist to drive the story.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:39 am
by Master Jademus Sreg
(Copy-paste from a conversation I had earlier. Edited for clarity.)
Ken: Well gameplay also factors into story elements, and the way I see it, it's usually a scale. Either you sacrifice gameplay to tell the story, or you have compelling gameplay where the story is only there to support the gameplay.

Jademus Sreg: I think that assertion appears right only because the perspective frames it as a sort of zero-sum conflict between competing interests.

Ken: so I'm curious, I know you're one who appreciates interesting and challenging gameplay, but what are your impressions of narrative in games in general

Jademus Sreg: I regard narrative (or in the absence of narrative, setting or theme) as the material that informs the shape of the game. Imagine a game without a narrative, setting, or theme. As a mental exercise.

Ken: Well it would be at its purest form of gameplay, unless you're abstracting it as far as saying a game like Checkers and Pong still has thematic roots, in which I would say it would be difficult to concieve

Jademus Sreg: Precisely.

Ken: though what I'm asking is more of a question of your opinion of directed narrative in modern games, such as storyline in Starcraft 2 or Portal

Jademus Sreg: Narratives, settings, and themes inform the shape of the game, shape being used here in the broadest sense to refer to the sensational and semantic qualities that encapsulate the gameplay and, by doing so, effectively give those presentational elements utility, where the sensational and semantic qualities provide the player with an intuitive apprehension of gameplay mechanics. With that said, I can assert that narrative and story are interdependent, and that treating them as competing interests misses the point.

Ken: Ahh, I see your point

Jademus Sreg: A game can appear narrative directed, or not. It's an important design question, absolutely, and one that is worked out through an interdependent relationship in the best case, and treated as competing interests in the worst case.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:59 am
by IskatuMesk
I don't think you should ever need to sacrifice anything for anything. If it comes down to thinking you're sacrificing something, I think you have approached your design incorrectly to begin with.

I also think that "telling" the player the story is also the wrong way to go about things. In fact, I don't think a game should ever need a direct narrative.

To clarify, if a game has an introduction cinematic telling you all of the history, this is already starting off on the wrong foot.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:02 am
by mark_009_vn
The way I see it, the story, the gameplay, the sounds, graphics, everything, all contributes toward setting the feelings, the mood. It does not really affects each other in any specific ways, the story doesn't "encapsulates" the gameplay by default, nor does the gameplay drives the story and sets it in motion, it only does when you made it to do so. Those feelings and mood are jumbled with pieces of information by the human mind when we plays video games to give cohesive sense. As such, these feelings could be MOLD to what ever you wants, you could make every element contributes to the gameplay, or the story, or even graphics (which is sadly most Hollywood movie makers do these days to make big bucks), it doesn't matters. For example Haft-Life, as in the original Haft-Life, the connection between the story and the gameplay was, while exists and are pivotable to it's success, is extremely vague and it does not centralized on either elements. Everybody who plays Haft-Life knows the game literally have no story at all, and knows that the gameplay is nothing entirely new, it was just an average FPS with puzzles and platforming here and there. Yet it was big success. Why was Haft-Life successful? It's because it was immersive. The gameplay didn't contributes to the story, it contributes to immersion. The story did the same thing too. Immersion in Haft-Life case, is the medium that drives the game, every single elements of Haft-Life is interconnected upon each other, they depends on each other, but those connections are indirect, they have to go through the immersion medium. Thus, making the game focused upon the immersion, sacrificing neither story nor gameplay. So the idea here is, you don't need to sacrifice anything to bring something up, you only need to know what to focus on, what to design on, what to do to translate your ideas into a cohesive game, how to express your creativity through your creations. That is what matters.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:31 am
by Master Jademus Sreg
IskatuMesk wrote:I don't think you should ever need to sacrifice anything for anything.

Precisely what I said. Haha

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:04 am
by IskatuMesk
Personally, I think WoL did a good job of staying away from gameplay elements that could detract from the story like stupid gimmicks and minigames. I think that, gameplay-wise, it was a decent amateur attempt at telling a story through the game. It's just that their execution of the story itself was so astoundingly poor that I will remember it for decades to come as one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever forced myself to endure. Nothing, not even THQ or EA games, not even bad twilight slash fic, can compare to the disgust I felt playing this game. It was not simply ineptitude that gnawed at me, but the conscious decision to destroy the last fragments of any dignity the series had left in only the most foul and grandest of manners possible by human hands.

Re: SC:L Wings of Liberty Review

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:48 am
by Master Jademus Sreg
I awarded the Worst Contemporary Narrative In A Game to Command & Conquer 4, awarded for retconning Tiberium's environmental devastation with an asspull technology, and ending the series and Kane's character with a big nothing.