Choices involving good, evil and morality seem to be the latest trend in games. In the old days, the only choice you had was whether to use the boomerang or bomb as a secondary weapon in The Legend of Zelda. But times have changed.
At first, the choices were opaque: in Grand Theft Auto III, when not in a mission, you could run around and kill innocent bystanders for no reason. Or you could abide by the law (except traffic laws) and just stick to the straight and narrow. I wreaked as much havoc as possible because that world is a virtual playground and I wanna play! It wasn’t a choice in the way we usually think of them, but it was there for you to decide.
One game that had a truly great set of choices was Knights of the Old Republic. Almost every quest had a choice to make: to stay on the Light side and do good or stray to the Dark side and be selfish. Usually, I take these on a case by case turn, but the writing and humor in KoTor was so great, I had to be a Sith Prick. Using the Force to make someone jump off a balcony? Check. Freeing a slave dancer only to put her back to work for me? Check.
But my favorite moment involved a soldier stuck on a ledge. There was an explosive that would kill him or I could deactivate it and get him down safely. I had not decided what to do when I walked over to it and he begged me not to press the button. The choices that came up were: “Do nothing” or “What, this button? (press button)”. Needless to say, that was too funny to pass up and I blew that guy back to Alderaan.
The same types of choices were in Fable. Most involved saving people or killing them, but one really struck me as a tough choice. Near the end of the game, you have the choice of saving your sister, which is what the whole game was basically about, or killing her and getting this awesome sword. When the time came, I stood there, looking at my sister and the sword and I realized something: I don’t really know this bitch from Adam and that sword is way too awesome to pass up. One slash later and the girl was down and the sword was mine. Totally worth it because pwned the rest of the way. Of course, it made my evil meter sky rocket so I looked liked Satan on steroids, but like I said: totally worth it.
Recently, games like Fallout 3 have given us similar choices, such as choosing to save or nuke the town of Megaton. I have yet to play this game as it will arrive when Santa brings it, but I can promise you that I will likely save the town on my first playthrough, but watch out on the second go round. Things are going to get messy.
The one game that has truly touched a nerve, though, is Bioshock. I am only recently playing this, but it is an awesome experience. I had heard so much from so many about the Little Sisters and how hard it was to not harvest them and blah blah blah. I thought, “What a bunch of pansies.” It’s just a video game and if that freaky little girl has got the goods I need to win, then I will take her down to Chinatown.
But once I came across a Little Sister, my heart melted. The way she was so scared and scurried across the floor, hiding behind a counter, begging me not to hurt her. I just couldn’t do it. I had rescue her and once she thanked me and told me I saved her, I knew I had to save every one of these ghoulish girls. But I did save my game so I could see what it looks like when I harvest them, hehe. I made the right choice because I honestly got a warm, fuzzy feeling everytime I saved one of the little tykes. Their utter helplessness swayed my jaded heart. It was the first time a video game made me feel protective of a character.
So what about you guys? Do you follow the path of the dogooder or the douche bag? And what makes you lean towards one path or the other?