Gray Decisions

So I’ve mentioned previously that I’m currently working my way through a nice hefty stack of Xbox 360 games I’ve been wanting to play for… well… years.

One of them was Fallout 3, which I’ve successfully milked dry thanks to the “Game of the Year Edition”.

One of those addons is The Pitt.

This week, Heavy Rain was released for PS3.

Why do I bring these up?  Because they both deal with gray decisions.

Take my word for it.  If you’re into game lore, and you enjoyed Fallout 3, but never tried out The Pitt, go play it.  It’ll only take you a few hours to beat it.

The teaser tags for The Pitt talked about your character needing to make decisions that wouldn’t be so cut and dry.  I gave the typical, “Yeah, yeah, you wish.  You say that every time.  Shaddup.”

Here’s a typical game’s “gray” decision:

Do you want to:

A) Save the Kingdom.

B) Save yourself.

Yeah…. edgy.  /golfclap

This all boils down to a much larger underlying problem.  Namely, “Video game writing typically sucks.”  Why?  That’s a matter for another post, but it has a lot to do with hiring math geeks to do an artist’s job.

Some studios get it right.  Blizzard of course… and Betheseda (sometimes).

So, back to The Pitt. I sat down, started playing, and here’s what shocked me:

I was playing an all out good guy, and I actually got to a fork where I was stumped what the right decision was.  Both were quasi evil.  Both were quasi good.  Some bastard over at Bethesda actually figured out what a gray decision was and had dumped it in my lap to deal with.

Now this isn’t jaw dropping.  You’re not going to scream for your friends to come in and watch.  But it shows something.  Games aren’t as black and white anymore.  They’ve claimed to not be for ages, but they’re finally over the past couple of years finally beginning to live up to those claims.

So like I said, “Heavy Rain” came out this week.  I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but all I’m hearing from everyone is how gray the story telling is.

Wonderful. It’s about time.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dangablad February - 2010 at 7:14 am

I love Fallout 3, and especially the Pitt expansion. I had a lot of fun with that one.

2 Ravine March - 2010 at 1:17 pm

Many of the decisions that you can make as you play through the game really do fall under this category. (While I don’t want to spoil it, there are two parts in particular that made my roommates and myself stop and ask which choice should we make.) What’s interesting about Heavy Rain is that some of the choices you make aren’t done so by prompts placed on the screen. The game hardly ever waits for you to come to a decision, so even just standing around and letting things happen is considered a decision that you made.

Another game that comes to mind in regards to making gray decisions is Bioware’s Mass Effect series—but ME2 in particular. You may be playing a generally paragon, or renegade Shepard, but unless you’re like my roommate that plays to be a full Paragon or Renagade, there’ll always be options where the choices aren’t always so cut and dry.

*leaves two copper on the soap box*

Leave a Comment