I recently finished playing through Uncharted. There were so many things about that game that just impressed the hell out of me. The attention to detail in the environments, the character models and animation, the control scheme, and last but not least, the incredible voice acting. All the characters had interesting and believable dialog, delivered with perfection by the actors themselves. I just couldn't believe how good of a job they did and how much it added to the characters and story.

Nathan Drake truly came alive during that game. His movements and every other detail were great, but would you have been as interested in Nathan if he didn't speak? Would the game have been as compelling? Would you have been so involved in his quest if he never uttered a word? How would you even know who he was, really know, if he didn't speak? I don't think the game would have been anywhere as interesting as it was if Nathan was silent. From the first cut-scene, you really get a feel for all the characters. You get to see his sense of humor, his concerns, and how he reacts to the situation he's in. Instead of the other characters just talking to him, they talked to each other. To me, this was an important detail to add immersion and concern for the character to the game. This brings me to another character in another popular game, Gordan Freeman from the Half-life series.

I like the Half-life games, but I'm just not as deeply involved with them as I was with Uncharted. Granted, they do have some compelling characters. Eli and Alyx Vance are great, and I am interested in what happens to them, but the main character himself? I really couldn't care less. Gordon has no voice. Hell, he doesn't even have a face. How are we supposed to get into the character if you never get a feeling for his personality? I've played through two Half-life games, the first episode, and halfway through the second, and I still have no idea if I like the guy I'm playing. I can't tell if he has emotions, a sense of humor, trepidation of his mission in life, what he thinks of the creepy guy that's dragging him all over the place, or anything else about him. Hell, I'd be happy just hearing some pointless banter between him and Alyx. And just once, I'd like to hear Gordan ask, "Why me?".

Games have come a long way since the first of the Half-life games were released. At the time, the story, art direction, and graphics were all top notch. Today however, the standard is much higher. The Darkness is a recent first person shooter of note. This game has something that Gordon will never have--a personality. You feel what he is going through. You understand his struggle with The Darkness. You feel his pain when he sees the fate of his girlfriend. You want him to have his revenge. You want him to make Pauly and Shrote suffer. You feel the characters pain. You get none of that with Half-life. In episode 2 something very bad happens to Alyx. There is no reaction from Gordon, and because of that the Half-life series will never seem compete. It just feels half done.

I'll still play the Half-life games. The story is interesting. The world is full of life and conflict. The supporting cast of characters is amazing and they really do seem alive. I'm just not going to play because of the main character. I'll play because I want to know what happens to Alyx and Eli. I want to see where Barney goes from here. I want to see if the Combine get what's coming to them. Heck, I even want to see Dr. Kleiner and his damn headcrab. It's just a shame that I can't care about Gordon the same way. The lack of a voice for Gordon is the only reason I can't say Half-life is the best game out there. It just doesn't have the impact.


1 Response to "Silence Is Not Golden"

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