3 Video Games that Beat Cinema at its Own Game

December 2, 2012 6:00 pm

Video games have caught up with the rest of the world. No longer are we subjected to painful acting, implausible storylines or dull narrative devices featured in some of the earlier video games (I could give an example for each, but the early Resident Evil games serve well as an umbrella example). Recently I have been playing games and being taken into the story in a way I would usually expect in the cinema. Below I have provided three key examples that do this, but feel free to add any others in the comments below.

3 – DEAD SPACE

  Dead Space is a horror game like no other. You play one of three engineers answering a distress call from an abandoned spaceship. When you get there, the team is ambushed and separated by aliens that animate dead bodies. Cue twelve terrifying levels of you, on your own, making your way through a spaceship, monsters about to attack you at any given moment. Just when you think you’ve become accustomed to the horror, the game throws a new creature at you, complete with its own pulse-pounding theme music.

One problem people have with horror films is the principal character being hard to relate to. But in a video game, you are the principal character. You cannot criticise the hero for walking into an obvious trap, because it is you walking into that trap. You physically have to expose yourself to the terror. Dead Space is a perfect example of a game using its advantages over film to make itself a contender for Best Horror.

2 – SKYRIM

It is hard not to add Skyrim to this list. The size of the world that Bethesda (the developers), have created provides almost limitless storylines and possibilities. Not only can you pretty much follow any strand of storyline you, as the hero, chooses, but the world reacts without you. One time, I stumbled across a fight between a Giant and a Dragon. I merely walked in on this altercation. It made me wonder how often such events happen without a witness; this world carries on without you, exactly like the real world. The prospect of this is mind-blowing. This game has arguably created a world much more intricate and real than any movie universe shaped in the cinema.

1 – THE WALKING DEAD

Telltale Games released a game series to accompany the TV programmes of the Walking Dead in late 2012. The game doesn’t do much towards action, as the controls are mostly reflex-based (tap X before the zombie bites you). The unique selling point is that the actions your character takes changes the way the story develops. Choices you make in the first episode could unravel in three episodes time to kill a certain member of the group. It is exciting.

However, the reason this series can compete at a cinematic level is down to the writers. Bearing in mind that, because each player has made different choices so the writers have no idea where we are in the game, they have done a very good job at second-guessing our state of mind. They know which characters they can kill off to elicit the most emotion from your character. There are echoes of Derren Brown style manipulation and psychology. The emotion is so high, it is so much better than any zombie film I have ever seen.

You do not even need to go out and buy it; it is downloadable via Xbox Live. It is worth the money. The ending is… phenomenal, masterful, quite simply breath-taking.

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  • Myles Cowper-Coles

    What about mass effect? I think I’d put that in there above skyrim. The other two are great though

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