10 FAMOUS VIDEO GAMES THAT HAVE HUGE PLOT HOLES
Video games have yielded some truly remarkable narrative experiences over the years, with some exemplary stories coming about even in the last decade. From being shunned and scorned by TV and film buffs in times past, video games have started to shine as a medium of storytelling, to the point where more and more games are being optioned for movie spin-offs.
Don’t believe it? Well how do the likes of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or Bioshock grab you? The reveal about the player’s identity and the history of Darth Revan in KOTOR is probably one of the greatest Star Wars stories ever told, and the detail around the maddened underwater world built by Ayn Rand fanatics are just two examples of how powerful and effective these stories can be when told well.
Not all famous video game stories are as flawless as those of KOTOR or Bioshock, mind you, and some have enjoyed a seriously charmed life to be as popular as they are.
With glaring plot-holes piercing the veil of their believability, here I have ten video game stories that can be broken in half by some ludicrously simple questions…
10. What Is Eagle Vision Actually Representing?
Variations on Assassin’s Creed’s ‘Eagle Vision’ mechanic have become commonplace in numerous third person adventure games these days. When the tool became so prominent back in the original Assassin’s Creed game, it was deemed to be a useful addition that helped players assume the role of the master assassin.
In the context of the events of the series, however, asking just what Eagle Vision is actually representing raises some pretty big questions about the story itself. Given that the technique allows players to mark targets through walls, around corners and even from a few floors below, just how is the protagonist able to pull off such witchcraft in real life?
It’s never suggested that the assassins are genuinely able to see through solid walls, so how are the developers justifying the mechanic in-game? With the suggestion being that it’s simply a dormant sixth sense that all humans have, it seems tremendously suspicious that only relevant heroes have been able to make use of it.
In the original game, the mechanic was also described as being the Animus’ visualisation of an assassin’s heightened observational skills, making it slightly paradoxical for a user of the machine to be able to see it too. If the Animus user gets the benefit of an occasional and supplementary ability at all times and uses that to complete their tasks, isn’t there a bit of a chicken and egg scenario on the cards?
9. Why Was The Locust Horde’s Leader A Human Woman?
Whatever you think about the quality or entertainment that Myrrah brought to Gears of War 3 aside, isn’t it really hard to understand just why the leader of the Locust Horde is human woman? Adam Fenix even questions her appointment and origin himself, but that still leaves us none the wiser as to what makes it a believable idea.
For a start, we have to wonder why the Locust Horde would so easily become devoted to their self-proclaimed queen? The game does a good job of making her out to be some sort of idealistic freedom fighter for the downtrodden Locust early on, but would a race whose fate forced them to revile humanity truly be so quick to put their faith in one?
Myrrah makes for a solid antagonist, and by the end of Gears of War 3 she’s just despicable and power-maddened enough to really make you want her dead. While the dust settles on her perforated corpse at the end of the game, it’s still so difficult to get to grips with the idea that the Locust would’ve allowed a still-very-human woman to lead their plight.
Surely an overly intelligent Locust brute would have been easier for players to accept?
8. How Many “Last” Metroids Are There?
Everybody knows that the Metroid series is one that’s enjoyed more than its fair share of entries over the last three decades, especially during a particularly congested period in the early 2000s. For fans of the series this is obviously welcome news, but it has also done some pretty terrible things for the continuity of the story.
The setup “The last Metroid is in captivity, the galaxy is at peace…” essentially forms the basis around which the series’ narrative is conceived. The galaxy is, of course, not at peace, and its this last Metroid that proves to be the problematic element that forces protagonist Samus into action.
More problematic still, however, is that Samus has killed the “last” Metroid numerous times by now. This event seems to have taken place three separate times across the series so far, and several other named enemies have been killed multiple times in between.
Is there actually a stable, chronological narrative at the centre of the series, or are we simply playing an ultra-violent, space-based version of Groundhog Day?
7. Where Did Jack Marston Get His Experience?
John Marston’s death at the end of Red Dead Redemption is probably one of the most traumatising and emotional video game moments in history. The fact that the outlaw hero’s death doesn’t also spell the end for the open world game is somewhat of a helpful mitigant, and taking over as John’s son Jack does provide a little comfort.
Jack takes up pretty much exactly where his father left off and, three years later, takes to the Wild West with all of the same weapons, motivations and abilities of the man who raised him. Sounds fair enough, right? Wrong; John Marston’s – let’s say – unsavoury career as an outlaw is a big part of what turned him into the deadly frontiersman that players took control of, but Jack has had none of that same experience.
It makes so little sense for Jack to be as adept as John, especially given that a ton of the pair’s interactions earlier in the game show Jack to be a mild-mannered intellectual. Just how was he able to become a dead-eye sharpshooter without the helpful guidance of his father during those intermittent three years?
At the very least it would have made sense for the time-slowing Dead Eye mechanic to be removed from the game when playing as Jack, but making things easy for players was deemed more important than a considered approach to the story’s final stages.
6. Why Is Cole Phelps Such An Infuriating Mess?
Despite proving himself to be exceptionally intelligent and a methodical thinker in his time with the LAPD, Cole Phelps was infuriatingly flawed and managed to cause himself an awful lot of hurt during the course of L.A. Noire. But for such a smart man, how did he manage to do this?
Cole’s ultimately fateful digression is to get himself wrapped up in both his affair and in plots by members of the SRF. A tenacious thirst for justice forces Cole into action against the crooked Suburban Redevelopment planners, yet he was supposedly completely oblivious to the very obvious ways in which the criminals could hurt him in turn.
Perhaps Cole Phelps’ flaws are part of a larger question about the follies of man, but in strict storytelling terms, his fluctuating intelligence severely affects the credibility at the end of the story. Phelps had managed to alienate nearly everybody close to him as the events approached conclusion, yet he was still caught out by trying to rely on those same people.
For the man who solved and deduced so much earlier in the game, this sudden stupidity is very difficult to understand, and it slashes the integrity of the game’s ending.
5. Why Doesn’t Outlast’s Reporter Break A Window Or Climb A Fence?
Outlast is undoubtedly one of the scariest video games of this generation, if not all time. Taking players on a first person tour through a terrifying setting populated by murderous psychopaths and supernatural nasties, the game was packed with jump scares and horrifying twists.
Playing as the trapped journalist intent on documenting the events inside the Mount Massive Asylum as he attempts to escape its horrors puts us in the unenviable position of trying to survive a painful journey to the underground core.
In truth, however, there were so many simpler ways of getting out.
The boundaries of the game’s mechanics mean that players are unable to do anything other than walk, run, hide and – very occasionally – climb. Stopping the protagonist acting like a virtual superman is fair enough, but do we really believe he’d be such a useless pansy in the face of life-threatening danger?
While some doors and exits are very clearly unusable, there are more than enough windows to break or fences to climb over across the course of the game. I may not be the best of climbers, all told, but if I were in that asylum, you can bet I’d be scurrying up a wall like a woodlouse before my camera lost its first full battery.
4. How Does Barry Wheeler Power Anything In Bright Falls?
While Mount Massive Asylum had numerous visible escape routes that were seemingly ignored by the protagonist in Outlast, Alan Wake suffered no such similar problems. Bright Falls is a veritable nightmare, and our hero’s inability to leave or even figure out what’s going on is backed by strong storytelling for the most part.
Working his way through the eerie town, Alan has to rely on the powers of light to work his way past shadowy figures under the influence of the mysterious ‘Dark Presence’. Light sources and battery-powered torches are, of course, at a premium in the town and Alan’s adventure becomes a series of mad yet measured dashes from one safe spot to the next.
Fortunately, Alan is not entirely alone, but that’s also where the events of a wonderful story sadly start to unfold. With his agent Barry Wheeler appearing periodically to offer aid, we quickly find that not everyone is bound by the same light constraints. Despite Alan’s struggle to re-light the dark areas of Bright Falls, Barry is always conveniently able to find something to illuminate things.
From a set of Christmas lights that never run out of power to the countless rooms and areas that he powers with ease, Barry becomes a plot device that advances the gameplay elements well. This comes as the expense of the story, however, leaving us wondering why Alan wouldn’t simply stay by Barry’s side if he’s always so immune to the dark?
3. How Does The Normandy’s Crew Escape So Fast In Mass Effect 3?
The “original” endings for Mass Effect 3 were considered contentious by many of fans of the series for a whole variety of reasons. Overstated senses of audience entitlement aside, however, there weren’t many of the ungrateful complaints that could be considered particularly appropriate, or even valid.
One question that does raise a major issue with the validity of the ending concerns the fate of Shepard’s crew. As you’d expect, these companions fight staunchly alongside their leader during the final stages of the game, making the relationships you forged with them over the endless dialogue and side-missions feel genuinely meaningful. Take your eye of the action for a second, though… and they’re all gone.
Making an apparently instant teleport back to the Normandy and seemingly managing to get thousands of miles from the Mass Relay blasts, Shepard’s crew pulled off one of the most insanely convenient – dare we say Star Trek-esque – escapes in sci-fi history. If such feats of speed are possible, how did anyone even end up getting killed by the Reapers at all?
There’s also the question of why our companions would abandon us so readily after all we’ve been through, but let’s not depress ourselves with that loneliness right now…
2. Why Not Use A Phoenix Down To Revive Aeris?
It may be a question that’s been asked by thousands of players over the years, but in the absence of a satisfactory answer it simply has to be asked again. Why, oh why was Aeris’ death at the end of Final Fantasy VII not preventable through action by one of the many characters at the scene?
More specifically, why couldn’t a Phoenix Down or similar spell have been used to revive her immediately. Given that a Phoenix Down can restore someone who’s HP has been drained to zero – and we have to assume that getting stabbed would do that to ya’ – why wouldn’t this have worked?
Tons of the items were available throughout the course of the game, meaning Cloud could easily have had one to hand when it really mattered. With this simple act, one of the most devastating video game casualties could have been avoided and gamers everywhere could’ve been spared a heck of a lot of mournful heartbreak.
1. If Your Ghost Brings You Back To Life, How Are Their “No Respawn Zones”?
The conceivable prevention of Aeris’ death may be emotionally-charged enough to score highly on this list, but it falls short in comparison to questions about a core mechanic that seriously devalues the narrative of 2014’s Destiny.
For all of the criticisms about Bungie’s MMO shooter, concerns about the story have been few and far between. There’s a big one sat right under our noses, however, and it’s a real doozy. Given that the Ghost is able to revive the player’s Guardian from the dead at the start of the game, how is the existence of any “no respawn” zone justified?
The Ghost doesn’t leave the player’s side when they enter these so-called dark zones, so what stops them being useful in these more dangerous areas? It’s not as if we ever see them getting destroyed by enemies, so why would being forced back to a more peaceful checkpoint make any conceivable sense in the realms of that story?
In truth the inclusion of Dark Zones are simply a mechanic to make the game more difficult in patches, but it’s a fairly lazy tool and one that has negative implications on the validity of the story and the lore around it. Finding some other way to up the campaign difficulty in these sections may have been more work for the developers, but it would’ve been worth the effort to preserve the narrative integrity of an apparently burgeoning new IP.