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Check It Out: Story-driven video games are new norm

January 19, 2012|By Allen Kesinger

Video games have come a long way since the days of Mario rescuing a princess from Bowser and Pac-Man chasing after power pellets while avoiding his ghostly foes.

In the last 15 years, video games have evolved into a story-telling medium, no longer about collecting the highest score. Much like a great film or an engaging book, the stories in games are fully developed with character development and story arcs.

This week's column will focus on video games that have tossed out scores and power-ups in favor of telling an emotionally engaging story. These games may be checked out from the Central Library with a Newport Beach Public Library card.

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Developed by Rockstar Games, "Red Dead Redemption" (Xbox 360, PS3) is the story of John Marston. Beginning in medias res, Marston has been forced by federal agents to locate the surviving members of his former gang as the government begins its final push to bring law, order and civilization to the Old West.

With the lives of his wife and son on the line, Marston must once again endure the life he so badly wanted to escape from. Marston's experiences will entertain and the emotional final hours will stick with you long after the credits have ended. "Red Dead Redemption" is rated M for "Mature," suitable for those 17 years and older.

What happens when you combine Ayn Rand with an underwater utopia? You get Ken Levine's "BioShock" (Xbox 360, PS3). Set in 1959, you control a young man named Jack, whose flight over the Atlantic crashes, leaving him stranded in the middle of the ocean near a massive lighthouse.

Journeying inside, Jack stumbles upon a secret world governed by a man named Andrew Ryan, who fled society with the best and brightest in order to create a civilization solely based on the philosophy of "Objectivism." This utopia seemed short-lived, as a civil war has broken out between anti- and pro-Ryan supporters. "BioShock" is rated M for "Mature," suitable to those 17 years and older.

In "Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars" (Nintendo Wii), George Stobbart is just your average guy enjoying a European vacation. While sipping coffee outside a Parisian café, he spies a clown running from the building just moments before it violently explodes.

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