"Hybrid Heaven" (Client: Konami / Agency: INTAC / Circa: 1998)
Sample: Arrrrgh! I'm you! You're me!
Somewhere in Konami, there is a box where all Really Stupid Ideas go. It may be an orange crate, a novelty cookie tin, or just a sturdy cardboard box that looked too useful to toss. I am convinced that the box exists, and that it was opened sometime in 1998, because no other facts will adequately explain Hybrid Heaven.
Let's take a deep breath and get started...
Aliens exist. Some of the aliens are nice, and others are evil. Evil but wily. They want to take over Earth, which just goes to show how desperate the galactic real estate situation is getting. So one of the evil aliens infiltrates the mothership of a nice alien race on its way to peacefully explore the planet Earth. The ship arrives at its landing site under New York City (apparently, the Manhattan bedrock is a myth), evil alien enslaves good aliens, and starts creating an unholy hybrid (of what, is not explained) clone army to take over the planet. All this multitasking leaves him little time; hence he has no name other than 'The Master'. He also makes hybrid clones that look exactly like certain people (like the American president) so he can pull switcheroos. The technology for sucking out people's memories comes in real handy whenever a swap takes place. Luckily, a lone Secret Service Agent has nothing better to do than get in The Master's way...
Is there even a point in criticizing a video game for having an appalling plot, terrible dialogue, and barely cardboard characters?
My answer is yes. There's 'pretty bad' like Metal Gear Solid, which wants to marry Clancy-style political-military-adventure thriller to the Japanese giant-robot anime tradition (some traditions should be dumped, and widow burning and giant robots are two of them), then there's bad like a rotten egg. Metal Gear's bad writing doesn't get in the way of much that is good about the game, while Hybrid Heaven's stinks to—well, high heaven. Hell, given a team of good disciplined writers with a sense of humor, it would still be possible to write a decent Metal Gear game. Outrageous villains, great gadgets, cool hero, hot babes, lots of suspension of disbelief -- this is stuff of James Bond after all. Can't say the same for Hybrid Heaven.
The hard truth is, the game industry is indifferent to decent writing overall, and particularly deluded when it comes to action games. The culture of the latter is that of teenage boys who aren't particularly interested in anything except what mainstream pop culture dishes out to them, and it shows. Having translated and played a fair number of plot-intensive video games, I can say with confidence that most of these writers do not have a clue what they are doing. They wouldn't last a day in even TV or film, yet they're allowed to put out crap like "You are Nick Vrenna. It is the year 2009. You have been falsely incarcerated inside a high security underground prison where illegal genetic experiments are taking place" without anybody batting an eyelash. Good thing too. Blinking might get in the way of shooting, causing you to lose precious, precious points.
So what if a game has great playability, beautiful graphics and all the works? If you're playing a game and the hero's girlfriend/communication officer (note to Hideo Kojima: you don't know a lot of women, do you?) is bugging him about commitment issues while he's hiding from recon inside an enemy installation, point at the so-called writers and laugh at them really loudly. In public. So these game producers think you're that stupid? Swallow it, give it good reviews, fail to call them on the idiocy and you've proven that yes, you are that stupid. Bring on the sequels, feed me more of that non-nourishing, vaguely headache-inducing stuff. I wouldn't recognize quality if it came up and bit me on my numb-from-too-much-sitting ass!
Demand better. It's no coincidence that there's nothing but sequels and formulas coming out of this relatively new, multibillion-dollar industry.
"Hybrid Heaven"™ and its characters and images are the property of Konami Corporation. This low-resolution image is solely used to identify the game in question. No free equivalent of this image exists. This image does not allow users to make illegal copies of the software, and does not diminish the copyright holder Konami's ability to market the software.