on Mar 7, 2012
I do like when games let you explore philosophical ideas like free will, personal liberty, euthanasia, justice, idealism vs. pragmatism, the nature of intelligence, and so on. I like it even better when the game doesn’t beat you over the head with a right or wrong answer, but simply presents a situation and allows you to come to your own conclusions.
I liked this sequence, but I think there’s something off with this Brent Radford conversation. I think the problem is that you’re not allowed to make the most reasonable choices. You can’t call him an ambulance, but must instead kill him or leave him to die slowly. You’re not allowed to leave him with the drug and let him self-administer the lethal dose, but must again choose between direct action or callous abandonment. You ARE allowed to deny him morphine, but it’s not clear WHY Jensen is doing it. Is it because Jensen wants the info, and doesn’t want Radford to nod off? Or is Jensen just really against drugs? Or is he just being a griefing jackass?
Having said that, this is a really interesting setup and I’ve spent a long time pondering it. Radford wants to die. He’s in fantastic pain. He’s suffering and begging for release. On the other hand, he might feel differently after some medical treatment. If he woke up tomorrow in the hospital, he might find himself with a newfound desire to live. It’s one thing to allow a person to kill themselves. It’s another to let them do it while they’re in terrible (but temporary) pain and flying high on drugs. That you gave them. On the other hand, if he wakes up in the hospital tomorrow and DOES still want to die, it’s going to be a lot harder for him to pull off. Maybe he really does place no value on life as a (in his words) cripple. Maybe it’s wrong to force him to live that life. On the other, OTHER hand, maybe he would discover life isn’t nearly as bad as he thought it would be. Maybe he would come to new conclusions regarding augmentation. Then again, he’s pretty old, so it’s not likely he’s got the vigor to snap back from this and find a new way to live life. Then again…
And so on. Aside from the missing choices, this is a really interesting setup. I’m impressed. It’s not often a AAA game really lets you explore stuff like this without it devolving into sanctimony or melodrama.
I’ll even go so far as to say this: Eidos Montreal is scratching an itch that, at one time, only BioWare could reach. BioWare has lost interest in this sort of thing over the last couple of years, and so this game is really a breath of fresh air for me. I’d even go so far as to say that this is the best dialog* I’ve ever seen in a game.
* Best voiced dialog. I think the old-school text games were probably
a little lot deeper, but we’re fooling ourselves if we think more text-based AAA games are in our future.