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Photo:  Fallout 3/Bethesda

At the end of Fallout 3, the player is tasked with a difficult choice. Someone has to enter an irradiated chamber, sacrificing their life to decide the fate of Washington DC’s water supply. This task can be carried out by the player, or delegated to one of several companions. One thing’s for sure though, whoever enters the chamber will quickly die from radiation poisoning.

While this is certainly dramatic, it’s not the most sensible of conclusions. In the player’s travels, they have likely befriended Fawkes, a super mutant who is immune to radiation. If Fawkes is present for this pivotal moment, it seems reasonable to ask her to go enter the code, as she’s the only one who won’t die from extreme radiation exposure. However, Fawkes says she doesn’t want to rob the player of their destiny, and openly refuses to help.

To rub it in a little more, when one elects to go in place of Fawkes, she says that she wishes she could repay her debt to the player. Apparently, saving the player’s life isn’t a good way to even the score.

Photo:  Assassins Creed: Brotherhood/Ubisoft

The lore of Assassin’s Creed gets pretty outlandish, as it’s eventually revealed that humanity is controlled by alien gods. Luckily for the franchise’s heroes, any individual who is a member of the assassins’ bloodline is immune to their control.

In the end of Assassin’s Creed: BrotherhoodDesmond — who is a descendant of the assassins — finds himself under the control of the goddess Minerva, who forces him to  kill Lucy (another assassin). Considering how big of a plot point this is, it’s a little shocking that the other games go to great lengths to suggest that such a feat would be impossible. However, by this point in the franchise, the writers were already so far off the rails that perhaps they just stopped caring about continuity.

Photo:  Heavy Rain/Quantic Dream

Heavy Rain is a cinematic game released in 2010 by Quantic Dream, that follows the hunt for the elusive Origami Killer. Unfortunately, the writers undercut the story’s drama in the game’s final scenes. While the game presents players with countless choices, pretty much everything that happens can be seen as a red herring, and the final plot twist is impossible to see coming.

The game begins when the main character Shaun starts having blackouts; each time he comes to, he’s holding an origami figure. Obviously, the player is supposed to think that Shaun is the killer. While this turns out not to be the case, the game never bothers to explain what Shaun gets into when he’s blacked out. The sole purpose of this character trait is to trick the player, as the Origami Killer turns out to be entirely unrelated to the blackouts. For a game that prioritizes story over mechanics, it’s kind of sad that the writers could only achieve a “mystery” by flat-out lying to the players.

Photo:  Mass Effect 3/Electronic Arts

In Mass Effect 3the Citadel is the source of all the Reapers’ power and knowledge. Conveniently (for humanity, as least), when the Reapers learn that humans have discovered the whereabouts of the Citadel and are going to try to destroy it, they bring the Citadel to the humans.

Up until this point, the Reapers have spent centuries hiding out in deep space, yet they inexplicably decide to bring their most precious space station directly to their arch enemy, who is more than happy to destroy it. For a group of super-intellegent machines, that’s some remarkably poor military planning.

Photo: Batman: Arkham Origins/Warner Bros. Interactive Media

While it is the third game to be released in the franchise, Batman: Arkham Origins serves as a prequel to the first two games. Since Bane is unaware of Batman’s true identity in Arkham Asylum, it stands to reason that he’s also clueless in Arkham Origins. However, this is inexplicably not the case.

In Origins, Bane discovers Bruce’s alter ego, which prompts the villain to bomb the Batcave. However, Batman and Bane have numerous run-ins in both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City (including a temporary, fraught alliance in the latter), but the story gives no indication that Bane knows who the Dark Knight is.

On an unrelated note, it’s a little awkward that Batman wields advanced gadgets in Origins that he doesn’t have access to in the other games. While the discontinuity is explained offhandedly — the game essentially says that Bats has access to every tool, but chooses to only bring a select few with him — the whole thing comes off as pathetically slapdash.

Photo: Final Fantasy VII/Square Enix

In the world of Final Fantasy, Phoenix Down is a magical item that has the power to bring people back from the dead. To finish any FF game, players are basically required to stock up on them. This begs the question: why is the death of Aerith — a major Final Fantasy VII character — not immediately rectified? Aerith is one of the first characters players are given access to, and prior to her getting permanently murdered, there’s a good chance that she’s already been revived multiple times via Phoenix Downs.

With this in mind, it seems utterly ridiculous that she can’t be saved, just because her death happens to come at a dramatically pivotal moment in the game’s story. This disconnect mars the series’s storytelling as a whole, but is also unavoidable, as no one wants to play a game that ends the first time the player dies.

Photo: Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots/Konami

As Guns of the Patriots reaches its climax, there’s a scene in which someone must traverse a corridor irradiated with microwaves. Raiden the cyborg could easily do it, yet for some reason this duty is assigned to Snake the human, who will almost certainly die in the process.

As Snake crawls down the hall, his body literally cooks, and the player is forced to continue on as the character suffers. Snake’s robotic protege would have been totally fine, yet Snake is insistent on sacrificing himself. The scene makes no sense, but it comes at the end of a remarkably emotional narrative, so it’s still enough to bring the waterworks.

Photo: Gears Of War 3/Microsoft Studios

The locust horde in Gears of War hates humanity, and wants nothing more than to eradicate them. With that in mind, it makes absolutely no sense why their leader is revealed to be a human woman in the franchise’s third installment.

The antagonist of Gears of War 3 is a woman named Myrrah who leads the push to destroy humanity. But how did she come to find herself in this position of power? At no point does the game explain how a human comes to lead a species whose entire existence revolves around overthrowing and killing the humans. Did she just fool them by dressing kind of like them? If that’s the case, then the conflict should have ended when Marcus and Dom don locust armor in one of Gear of War 2’s bonus scenes. 

Photo: Grand Theft Auto IV/Rockstar Games

When it was first released, Grand Theft Auto IV was hailed by many as “the Godfather of video games,” thanks in part to its complex, sprawling story. In the game, players take control of Niko Bellic, an ex-soldier who served in the Yugoslav War, and who is trying his hardest to escape his bloody past. While the cutscenes do a good job of expressing the character’s motivations, all bets are off when the player actually gets to take control of Niko.

Ludonarrative dissonance is a term used to describe instances wherein the way a player interacts with a game’s world does not align with the stated plot of the game. Grand Theft Auto IV serves as a tent-pole example of this phenomena, as no one who is playing a GTA game wants to avoid violence the way Niko does. As a result, players can mow down large crowds of pedestrians mere moments after the protagonist finishes reasserting his pacifism.

This issue comes to a head about a third of the way through the game, when the player is forced to kill one of two individuals. In the context of the story, Niko is horrified that he’s forced to take a human life, but it’s likely that the player has already killed over 100 civilians without even thinking about it.

Photo: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End/Naughty Dog

One particularly maddening scene in Uncharted 4 finds Drake in a populated city in Madagascar. After making his way through crowds of people, Drake winds up in the inside a clock tower. Shortly thereafter, Drake wrecks the tower’s inner-mechanisms, and falls several stories as the gears of the clock come apart.

Drake barely survives the fall, and is seen coughing amid the ruins of the clock tower. However, when he opens the door of the tower, he encounters a bustling market of people who apparently didn’t even register the destruction. It’s a super cool scene to play through, but that doesn’t mean it makes any sense.

Photo: Destiny/Bungie

Destiny begins with the player’s Guardian being brought back from the dead via an AI Ghost that remains the player’s companion throughout the game. Even in the zones where respawning is not permitted, the ghost faithfully stays by the player’s side. Wait, if the ghost can revive a Guardian from death, why do those “no respawn” zones even exist?

Of course, Destiny doesn’t bother trying to connect this design choice to the story. These zones exist solely to increase the game’s difficulty level, and are not rationalized with even the flimsiest pseudoscientific facts. If only the devs had thought to separate the ghost and the player at certain times; fixing this plot hole really would have been that easy.

Photo: Bioshock/2K Games

The story of Bioshock centers on the conflict between two warring powers: those in support of Andrew Ryan, the city’s original founder, and the enigmatic Atlas, who at first seems to represent the workers’ unions. While the two groups’ struggle for total control of Rapture makes for an interesting framing narrative, one has to wonder why anyone would want to control Rapture in the first place.

At its peak, Rapture housed the world’s brightest (and richest) minds, and presented a stage for numerous scientific breakthroughs, such as the gene-splicing plasmids that give users superhuman abilities. However, by the time the player is sent to kill Ryan, Rapture has fallen on hard times.

The city is riddled with leaks, and the only inhabitants are drug-addled maniacs who prowl through otherwise abandoned establishments looking to get their fix. The only people who don’t fit this model are still unarguably crazy (Sander Cohen enlists you to kill all his students, and Peach Wilkins lives in a freezer) and it seems as though food supplies are running dangerously low.

Rapture is precariously close to total ruin, so why do its two most powerful inhabitants go to such lengths to take control of it? If Ryan has enough money to live comfortably in Rapture (even after it falls apart), why doesn’t he just flee to the surface to found a new, less problematic city? Even when Ryan is killed, the world that Atlas gains control of has zero potential for future growth. Don’t either of them have anything better to do?

Photo: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time/Nintendo

When Link visits the well in Kakariko village as an adult, he finds that it’s run dry, and a nearby man in a windmill is outraged because seven years ago, a “mean kid” caused the drought by playing a song on an ocarina. The man then teaches Link the song, which allows the player to go back in time to rectify the issue.

It’s heavily implied that Link was the kid with the ocarina, and that the windmill man learned the song from him seven years prior. With that in mind, it doesn’t really make sense why the man decides to teach it to the person he learned it from. This particular plot hole — known as the Song of Storms Paradox — is relatively famous, and many have desperately tried to provide a logical explanation for the issue. While some fans’ reasoning is intriguing, it’s more likely that the game’s writers just slipped up a little.

Photo: Red Dead Redemption/Rockstar Games

Red Dead Redemption culminates with a fitting end for gunslinger John Marston, who goes down fighting in a hail of bullets. Three years later, his son Jack — who is in his late teens — gets his revenge by hunting down and killing his father’s killers.

For the player, the change in characters is negligible; in terms of controls, Jack and John handle identically to one another. However, Jack is a studious, non-violent boy who is the polar opposite of his blood-soaked father. After Jack flips out and becomes a hardened gunslinger, the story glosses over the fact that John never actually taught him how to shoot a gun. So, where exactly did Jack become an ace killer? He must have spent every waking moment after his pa’s death shooting beer bottles, because violence seems to come naturally to the young lad.

Photo: Metroid Fusion/Nintendo

There are over 10 games in the Metroid franchise, and your primary objective in every single one is to kill the “last Metroid.” The issue here is quite evident; if there is more than one game, then Samus routinely fails to kill the last Metroid.

Except, at the end of every game, Samus does kill the “last Metroid.” There’s never really an explanation given for why the series is basically Groundhog Day in space. It seems like the story answers to some sort of canon (there’s a corresponding comic book series, after all), but creators seems happy to overlook the fact that there’s always another Metroid. Considering the wretched scope of some of these enemies, it must be exhausting for Samus to regularly find out that her job isn’t quite done.

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