Five Characters That Will Be Mourned From The Last Generation
So, this generation has finally managed to make us feel. I don't mean the usual feelings of frustration on encountering a tough portion of an action game or the joy of completing a particularly challenging game but actual feelings. I'm talking about making a connection with characters in games almost to the point where they might be considered friends and, more importantly, to the point where we feel genuine loss when these characters are killed.
It is one of the wonders of this console generation that we've actually begun to connect with characters within games. No longer are they one-dimensional characters that exist purely to fulfil a role within a game's narrative. Now characters have finally been realised in a more realistic fashion, fleshed out as more realistic characters with histories and lives beyond the confines of the game and it is glorious.
Throughout the Gears Of War series Dom provides a bit of sensitivity to the testosterone-choked world that Epic has created. The journey of him coming to terms with the loss of his wife and family at the hands of the Locust manages to put more of a human face on what is an incredibly macho experience by giving a more relatable context to the war between the humans of Sera and the rising Locust.
The camaraderie between Dom and Marcus acts like fuel driving players forward and giving them something to fight for other than mere progression in the game. So, when he gives his life to help the rest of the squad escape and the Lambent infected town of Mercy I felt a profound loss. A companion who I had fought alongside of in the borderline futile war was gone.
And with that Epic proved that Gears Of War is more than a tough meat-headed cover shooter.
I was introduced to Thane in a dossier in Mass Effect 2 as a assassin; a cold-blooded killing machine to aid Shepard's fight against the Collectors. What I got was a man wracked with regret over missed chances to live life on one final mission to seek redemption before his body is consumed by a degenerative illness.
To begin with it seems pretty cliched but, as we spend time with Thane we learn what makes him tick. Flashes of his perfect memories of times with his son and his wife's funeral offer a snapshot of his life beyond the confines of the Normandy and a connection to a real character.
After fighting alongside him in ME2 we meet him again in ME3 after his illnes has finally caught up with him. Thane is living day-to-day but he has enough strength to save Shepard's life one more time in fighting Cerberus's chief assassin Kai Leng so that he can save the Council once more.
Sitting by his beside, praying with his son as he succumbs to his injuries I feel the loss especially when his son says the prayer was for Shepard.
Telltale's The Walking Dead series has traded very well on getting you emotionally invested in characters before killing them off.
Kenny was one loss that I felt deeply. At the beginning Kenny seemed wide-eyed and hopeful, a positive force within the game looking out for his family and friends with fierce loyalty. Standing by his side as he lost his family was a watershed moment though.
I saw him change and over the next few episodes I watched him hide from what he had lost until one perfect moment where he makes the ultimate sacrifice to try and help the party, dying trying to save another. Hearing that one last gunshot as he took his own life rather than becomign a walker himself.
I've only felt the loss of one character in The Walking Dead more than Kenny's death but everyone who's played it knows who I'm talking about...
Malik is Adam Jensen's daredevil pilot who enjoys base jumping in her spare time. But, in spending time in Lower Hengsha you get to know her better especially when you help her find her best friend's killer and bring him to justice.
She manages to become more than just another hero's pilot, she became a friend in a game where Jensen is alone. She's a beacon of honesty in world that is drowning in its own lies and that makes her most valuable character in the game.
When the VTOL is shot down by Belltower when I returned to Hengsha I fought against the waves of PMC security forces that converge on the crash site to try and save her and when I see the wreckage explode under a hail of Belltower bullets my gaming life became a little emptier. Finding her body on Tong's slab later on made the pain even more real, especially when I realise that there's nothing more I can do for her.
Mordin Solus is quite possibly the most complex NPC that has ever been created. I tip my hat to the work of BioWare for bringing the amazing Salarian scientist to life.
One of my enduring memories of Solus comes from Mass Effect 2 towards the end of the game. When I finally got to know Mordin he regales me with a Salarian-themed rendition of a Gilbert and Sullivan number. It was the last thing I had expected and it threw an immense amount of flesh onto the bones of a character I hadn't quite gelled with up until that point.
His moral struggle with his actions in working on the Krogan Genophage created a real moral conflict within him that was more than just a textbook dilemma to solve. His struggle carried over into Mass Effect 3 and caused him to make the ultimate sacrifice to cure the Krogan and atone for his previous sins.
As he lives out his final moments disseminating the cure to the Genophage over the surface of Tuchanka his voice is raised in song, "I am the very model of a scientist Salarian..." It's the perfect way to remember him.