Lovers in a dangerous time
Character development in video games has never been very…how shall I put this…developed? As hard as developers may try, many a character are still pretty two dimensional. Defeat the bad guy, save the day, maybe get the girl. However as that extra dimension of character is being added on, there’s always some unwritten rule that it has to be the love-angle. It sucks that the media’s portrayal of romantic relationships is pretty abysmal already, adding it to the mix can sometimes lead to a pretty awful turnout.
I understand that these are video games – they’re not real. For the most part, realism can take a back seat to fun any day. But there’s a difference when the game attempts to be gritty and hardcore, yet lead the characters to do stupid things or act ridiculous in the name of love. Or lust. Sometimes it just gets to a point where you can no longer accept ‘keeping the game fun without bogging it down in reality’ as a valid excuse.
Let’s forget about some of the obvious reasons why many of these portrayals are wrong. Many of these games that we play and love feature military and paramilitary organizations that seriously frown on fraternization in the ranks. As if that weren’t enough reason not to, the experiences that these people have gone though would make them pretty unsuitable relationship material. A little zombie killing here, a little shooting there, no big deal, we can overlook that. But most of these people have an airport’s worth of baggage. Some of the stuff they’ve seen would make you question the existence of a benevolent God. Hell, they’d make you question the existence of evolution.
Heavy Rain’s Ethan Mars has gone through a pretty rough spell. His son died, his wife left him, he was in a coma, he has recurring nightmares where he’s a serial killer and actually doubts his own sanity. To make matters immensely worse, his other son is kidnapped during a spree of child-murders. When the lovely Madison Paige comes into his life, to say it’s at a bad time would be an extreme understatement.
The writing for Heavy Rain might have had a few missing script pages, but overall I felt that the characters were believable and written quite well. Except for the fact that devoted dad Ethan, instead of out looking for his son, has sex with Madison Paige in a hotel room. After he finds out she’s a reporter. After he finds out that she sought him out under the impression that he’s the Origami Killer. After he’s been in a rather serious car accident and suffered broken bones. Shaun literally has hours left on the clock and he’s boning some stranger under the pretense that ‘she’s sorry.’
Not to mention that Madison Paige is letting this happen. Hell, for all she knows, Ethan Mars could actually be the Origami Killer. He might claim he’s not, but she’s already demonstrated that in their universe, lying about who you really are is a thing – it happens.
Mass Effect has romantic relationships scripted in too – but they’re all optional sidequests. Shepherd can gain every team member’s loyalty without having to go through gag-worthy dialogue screens. Even Ethan Mars can choose not to sleep with Madison Paige and instead go finish off the last of the trials and find his son. If you want that option, it’s there.
The same can’t be said for Resident Evil Revelations. The quibbles I have aren’t with lines that can be turned off if you want to go down a different route – it’s hardwired into the story. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the game overall. It’s a good survival horror and there are some genuinely scary moments. But Capcom seems to have continued a downward spiral with character development and interaction. There’s a lot to be desired in Revelations, but my particular gripe is the interaction between Jill and Chris. Their whole dynamic exists as if to hint some kind of romantic relationship between the two of them. Yes, this is different than the previous example, but it’s still just as annoying.
This isn’t something new, either – Resident Evil fans have been subjected to this ‘are they or aren’t they’ thing since the series started. Officially they’re not, but that doesn’t prevent Capcom from dragging on a long and unpleasant tease. And who wants that? Nobody wants to be lead on…for fifteen years.
Resident Evil 5 even added fuel to the fire. Chris grabbing Jill, holding her delicate frame in his well-toned arms. Almost letting Sheva fly out of the back of the fighter jet.
In Revelations, it felt as if this suspected relationship was being shoved down my throat. Of course once an idea is suggested, you actively seek out things to either validate or disprove the idea, but Revelations hammered the idea through my skull so hard I’m still seeing stars….HAH!
How bad is it? You can either play the game, or read below. Just know that there’s a gigantic SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT!
Jessica spends most of her lines in Revelations making rather obvious passes at Chris. Or, she’s just really that ditzy. Chris is obviously unfazed by this half-clothed woman making these advances at him with suggestive language because he’s got a mission to do, right? Well judging by how many times he says he has to save Jill, I guess that’s the mission. Jill also states that she needs to rescue Chris – repeatedly. That’s their entire character dynamic. When they’re not killing Wesker in other games or finding Spencer, they’re off saving each other.
After the two of them are finally reunited, Chris and Jill go off on their own, despite having spent the rest of the game paired up with another partner. Jessica laments that Chris didn’t get the hint and Parker suggests ‘maybe he’s already taken?’ as the scene shows Chris and Jill walking away. What the hell?! Is that supposed to finally drill it into my head that they MIGHT be in a relationship?
The thing is, I don’t even care! Why not just come right out and say it already? We can get it out in the open, why keep dragging it along? Does Capcom not want shipper fans to be happy?
So video games might not have the best character development, or story telling. Do you have an example of a terrible (or great) matchmaking in video games? Sound off in the comments section!