Rage 2 Part 8: What A Twist!

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 12, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 53 comments

The last leader we have to meet is Dr. Kvasir. He’s a weird scientist guy from the previous game. The main gimmick with this guy is that he makes me… extremely uncomfortable. As with the previous entries, it’s really hard for me to express just how disturbing the whole thing is without spending thousands of words describing it moment-by-moment. Here’s the scene on YouTube if you want the full effect. For the rest of you, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Theater of the Macabre

When Kvasir hears that Prowley is dead, he picks up a dismembered limb and caresses it while lamenting that he never got to... whatever he wanted to do. I would like to officially recognize this as "'The most inappropriate response to the news from someone that their mother is dead" in history.
When Kvasir hears that Prowley is dead, he picks up a dismembered limb and caresses it while lamenting that he never got to... whatever he wanted to do. I would like to officially recognize this as "'The most inappropriate response to the news from someone that their mother is dead" in history.

As established in the previous game, Kvasir is paralyzed from the waist down. His lab is littered with dismembered limbs that he picks up and plays with from time to time. He rides around a horribly deformed creatureHe apparently named it “legs”. that wears a diaper and blows snot bubbles. He abuses it, despite its docile nature and obvious intellectual disability. I don’t know why the good guys are allied with a hundred year old man that abuses the disabled and plays with dead body parts. 

I mean, I get why they’re allied with him within the story: He’s a smarty-pants guy and they need his science powers to beat the Authority. I don’t get why the writer chose this as a character concept. They could have made Kvasir any way they wanted, and they chose this. 

The camera pans down so we can get a close look at this guy. Hey, remember that comedy-based marketing campaign this game sold itself on?
The camera pans down so we can get a close look at this guy. Hey, remember that comedy-based marketing campaign this game sold itself on?

I’m not against this idea in theory. The good guys don’t need to be nice people, especially in a game called RAGE with a faux-punk aesthetic. I’m fine with the idea that we have to ally with someone disturbing / creepy / sketchy. My problem is that the game presents this scene and nobody reacts to it. What is the player supposed to be feeling, here? Are we supposed to be squicked out? Offended? Amused? Morbidly curious, like someone leering at old-timey circus freaks? Intrigued? Walker doesn’t seem to notice. Is this supposed to be comedy? Camp? Body horror? Drama? 

I want to make it clear that I’m not offended or upset at the writer. It’s just weird that this setup doesn’t serve any purpose in the story and nobody reacts to it. A lot of time and effort was spent modeling and animating these two, and in the end I’m not even sure what the writer is trying to say or what the story intends us to feel.

I suppose this might be an example of story collapse. If this strange scene appeared in a smarter story, then I’d assume it existed for a purpose and I’d start analyzing and reading things into it in order to figure out what the story had to say. But in this random patchwork story of fumbled messages and missed opportunities, I just naturally assume this scene is just another pointless exhibition of weirdness and disturbing camp that doesn’t serve the plot or the characters.

Credit Where It’s Due

Kvasir has turned his back to us and is walking away. You can see someone put a lot of time and effort into modeling (and even animating) the over-full diaper on his mount.
Kvasir has turned his back to us and is walking away. You can see someone put a lot of time and effort into modeling (and even animating) the over-full diaper on his mount.

I guess I need to give someone on this team some sort of credit here. While I really dislike the scenes with Chaz and Desdemonya Cold, and Kvasir, I’ll admit that the designer has a flair for creating gross and disturbing imagery. It’s a million miles from the aggression-fueled power fantasy the series was designed around, it’s a billion miles from the wacky comedy the marketing campaign sold us, and it doesn’t fit the tone of the gameplay or the overall premise of the story, but the point stands that being able to consistently evoke an emotion takes a certain degree of skill. I mostly dislike the work of H. R. Giger, but I’d never suggest the guy is lacking in talent. Being able to make someone feel something is indeed a skill, even if it’s something I don’t want to feel.

In any case, I wonder how these scenes came about. Was this squick-fest something the writer pushed for, or was the original script intended to be goofy before the art team took it in the direction of campy gross-out body horror schlock?

Anyway, if Walker would just react to this somehow, then that would give us some conflict / drama / jokes / questions to work with. Instead, Walker ignores the overwhelming imagery we’re being shown and instead acts out of character.

Walker is apparently annoyed that Kvasir wants her to go out and murder a bunch of bandits / mutants to obtain the next MacGuffin. This feels weird since I got the impression that Walker enjoyed her job as a freelance murder dispenser. Like, isn’t that what she signed up for? Wasn’t that the whole point of her desire to become a Ranger? Isn’t this exactly what she wanted?  What did she think was going to happen here? Does she expect someone else to go out and do the shooting?

Her character is paper thin. She’s basically just a single attribute: Aggression. I feel like if your protagonist only has one trait, you kind of need to be faithful to that trait. 

One Good Joke

I haven't spent much time talking about the art / graphics in this series. For the record, I think the outdoor bandit outposts are often too repetitive, but some of the interior spaces look fantastic and have solid level flow.
I haven't spent much time talking about the art / graphics in this series. For the record, I think the outdoor bandit outposts are often too repetitive, but some of the interior spaces look fantastic and have solid level flow.

I know I’ve been really hard on this writer. As a gesture of goodwill, let me point out that there’s a joke here that I really like. 

Eventually Kvasir sends Walker to an Old World base to recover some old tech for reasons that aren’t worth getting into. Walker can’t get in the front door because she lacks security clearance, even though this security system is pre-apocalypse and everyone who ever had clearance is dead.

The graffiti and the lighting changes make sure that the building doesn't feel repetitive. Whoever made these levels needs to visit Bethesda's Wolfenstein team and give them some lessons.
The graffiti and the lighting changes make sure that the building doesn't feel repetitive. Whoever made these levels needs to visit Bethesda's Wolfenstein team and give them some lessons.

Kvasir hacks the computer system. Rather than messing around with elevating her security clearance every time you come to a new door, Kvasir just uses the brute-force solution of elevating her to the rank of “Madam President”. It’s fun when the facility reacts to your presence as a presidential visit. Even better, this rank sticks with you once the mission is over. If you visit other Old World installations after this mission, the security systems will still welcome you as Madam President.

It’s not much, but it’s a cute gag that works. I think the game would have really benefited from more of this and less of… whatever Kvasir and Desdemonya Cold are supposed to be.

Skip to the End

We're going to skip over this scene where you infiltrate an Authority base and General Cross executes Klegg Clayton in a cutscene. Once again this dialog makes me wonder: Was the writer a non-native English speaker? Who talks like this?
We're going to skip over this scene where you infiltrate an Authority base and General Cross executes Klegg Clayton in a cutscene. Once again this dialog makes me wonder: Was the writer a non-native English speaker? Who talks like this?

There are several missions I haven’t covered, but most of them suffer from the same problems I’ve been going on about: The story has no tension, the protagonist has no agency, the dialog has no wit or drama, there’s no sense of raising stakes or a building threat, and the dialog is in desperate need of an editing pass. Rather than bloat this series out to 20 entries by tediously cataloging every shortcoming, let’s just fast-forward through the rest of the story and jump to the end.

Eventually Kvasir announces he needs the DNA of General Cross. So Walker assaults an Authority base, plows through waves of mooks and a couple of bosses, and eventually reaches the Big Bad himself. She kills him and cuts off his head.

Okay, Cross is immortal because this machine prints out a fresh copy if he's killed. Fine, but I'm right here. Why can't I just destroy the machine? Are there others? What are the rules here?
Okay, Cross is immortal because this machine prints out a fresh copy if he's killed. Fine, but I'm right here. Why can't I just destroy the machine? Are there others? What are the rules here?

As she’s finishing the job, a freshly-baked General Cross pops out of the nearby clone-o-tronMy word. I don’t think the game gives this device a name.. The idea is that THIS is the problem we need to solve. The Authority leadership are immortal because they have machines that will crank out new copies if you ever kill one of them. 

I get that this is supposed to be our big “oh no” moment in Act III. I guess it works, but for the purposes of establishing stakes I would have put this moment / reveal way sooner in the story. Sergeant Prowley’s hologram warned us that Cross was immortal, but at the time I took that to mean “ageless” or perhaps “so strong he can only be killed by the player character”. This is one of the more interesting ideas in the game, and revealing it sooner would have shown that this isn’t a problem that Walker can solve by shooting shit. We spent the whole game working on Project Dagger, but the game didn’t really give us a lot of motivation for doing so. Until now, it wasn’t clear why we couldn’t just fix this problem by shooting Cross a whole bunch of times. 

In short: This is a fun reveal, but establishing stakes and giving the player clear motivation are more important. Don’t make the first 90% of your story feel aimless just so you can give the audience a tiny surprise just before the end.

With that out of the way, it’s time for…

Project Dagger

Walker gives Kvasir the severed head of General Cross, and they spend several lines of dialog trading Dad-joke style 'head' puns, even though that doesn't seem to fit the personality of either character. It's like the writer is trying to do every style of comedy EXCEPT the one marketing promised us.
Walker gives Kvasir the severed head of General Cross, and they spend several lines of dialog trading Dad-joke style 'head' puns, even though that doesn't seem to fit the personality of either character. It's like the writer is trying to do every style of comedy EXCEPT the one marketing promised us.

Disclosure: Due to a longstanding, egregious, game-breaking, well-documented bug that Bethesda has never made the slightest effort to fix – despite the fact that it’s a game-killing problem with no known solution or workaround – I was unable to capture footage for this part of the game. I have played through it. But my second playthrough is where I was gathering the footage for this series, and that playthrough is forever trapped on the threshold of the endgame with no hope of progressing. So some of these screenshots are swiped from random Let’s Plays on YouTube. 

Over the course of the game, Walker has gathered up a tank, some DNA, secured a supercomputer, and done a bunch of other stuff to get things ready for Project Dagger. Once you’re done with these chores, Kvasir gives you a weapon designed to stop General Cross for good. Let’s skip over the next twenty minutes of mook murders and jump right to the final showdown.

You beat General Cross, and then inject him with the “nanotrite virus” that Kvasir cooked up. This will prevent General Cross from respawning.

Wait, what?

Oh no, you poisoned my body that is about to die anyway. Somehow that stops the machine from 3D printing a new one. Curse my failure to maintain proper backups!
Oh no, you poisoned my body that is about to die anyway. Somehow that stops the machine from 3D printing a new one. Curse my failure to maintain proper backups!

How does damaging THIS body do anything to stop the creation of a fresh new one? How does this work? Is the new body going to somehow be infected with the same virus? 

I’m not saying that you can’t make a story where infecting someone with a virus will prevent them from being cloned. This technology is all random nonsense and it works however the writer says it works. However, the writer never established this rule ahead of time, and it doesn’t make any sense as presented. In fact, it reminds me of the deliberately nonsensical plot of Dangerseque 3, where the heroes had to recover a serum for Cutesy Buttons to prevent her from being kidnapped. The cause and effect are completely disconnected. That’s not really what you want at the end of your empowerment shooter.

There’s also the additional plot twist that the virus is also deadly to the player. Cross somehow knows this, and so he somehow coughs out a cloud of infection particles which your character somehow inhales because they’re still bantering with Cross for some reason. (This is the spoiler I alluded to in my video earlier this week.)

This is portrayed as a betrayal on the part of Kvasir. Like, supposedly he sent you here with this nanotrite virus, knowing that you would die when it was deployed. It’s fine to have a plot twist where the extremely sketchy Kvasir turns out to not have your best interests at heart. The problem is that:

  1. This wasn’t foreshadowed. Foreshadowing is the key to making a plot twist work. You don’t need to tell the player what is going to happen, you just need to create a sense of uncertainty. Create a mystery, and then the reveal will feel like a payoff instead of an ass-pull. 
  2. This doesn’t make any sense or flow naturally, as I detailed above.
  3. This doesn’t really create a sense of betrayal because it feels so arbitrary. Based on what we’re shown, all you needed was to stab the virus into Cross and then walk away before he coughed on you. It’s not like the player’s death serves Kvasir. There’s no reason for him to want you dead, and it seems like it should be pretty easy to finish this fight without getting infected yourself.
  4. All of the above problems break the intended sense of betrayal. Did Kvasir knowingly send me off to my death without warning, or did Kvasir just absent-mindedly forget to explain how to  properly use this thing? Or is this whole situation Walker’s fault for hanging around talking instead of walking away?

It doesn’t feel like Walker was betrayed. It feels like the good guys were uncoordinated and disorganized. A betrayal requires intent, and this story didn’t set that up. 

First, we’d need to give Kvasir some sort of motivation. We can have him dislike Walker and Rangers in general. Perhaps he finds Ranger methodology distasteful. You could set it up like so:

(Walker has just gotten back from one of her missions for Kvasir.)

Walker: (Proud.) I took care of those Authority goons that were in the way. The supercomputer is all yours now.

Kvasir: (Unimpressed.) Yes, yes. You went in and shot everyone, I’m sure. A very Old World style solution. Hopefully the day will come when we don’t have to rely on such… brute-force methods.

Have him do this a couple of different times so the player notices the pattern. Then we’ll be in a good spot to set up this betrayal…

(Walker has just brought Kvasir the head of General Cross and now Kvasir is whipping up the nanotrite virus.)

Walker: (Sudden realization.) So that’s why you needed his DNA. Now you can make the virus target him specifically.

Kvasir: (Stammering, caught off-guard.) Uh… yes. That would be a perfectly reasonable expectation. 

(So now the player is thinking, “What did he mean by THAT?) 

Kvasir: (Awkward pause.) Very clever… for a Ranger.

(We’ve dropped the seed of this backstab. Now we just need to cover it with dirt and wait for it to grow. So we misdirect the audience by having Walker unwittingly change the subject..)

Walker: What’s your problem with Rangers? We’ve done a pretty good job of keeping the peace so far.

Kvasir: (Still hunched over his console.) Is that what you call it? To me it looks like you go around shooting everyone that gets in your way. 

Walker: What do you expect us to do? Let Cross walk all over us?

Kvasir: No, no. I expect you to deliver this to General Cross (hands her the techno-syringe of the virus) and let me handle the rest. 

If this was an RPG, this wouldn’t be enough of a justification for an end-game backstab. We’ve given Kvasir a reason to dislike Walker. He apparently finds traditional warfare to be an ugly solution and perhaps he sees it as something that should be made obsolete by… something else. In a full-blown story-based game, we’d have to explain or hint at what that “something else” might be. Perhaps we’d hint that he imagines the Wasteland rebuilt into some sort of Technocracy, with super-geniuses like himself in charge. He’s been living in this remote corner of the map all these years, and from a distance he thinks all problems look straightforward and simple. He thinks if he was in charge – and if people would just listen to him for once – he’d be able to fix everything without conflicts spiraling out of control and causing violence. 

That sort of complexEr, by the standards of THIS genre, anyway. motivation is a good thing, but it’s not strictly necessary in a broad action story. I’d certainly push for it if I was the writer, but if the designer wants to keep these cutscenes shortAlthough the intro of this game demonstrated that this designer doesn’t seem to value brevity the way they should. then we could skip these fancy moves and leave “something else” unexplainedAnd of course, you could always take the lazy way and hint at this stuff in a datapad..

In any case, these nine lines of dialogI realize some people like puns, but I think it would be better to spend those lines of dialog SETTING UP THE BIG TWIST AT THE END OF THE GAME rather than having a trying-too-hard pun-off between these two characters. would be enough to set up this endgame backstab so it would feel like a proper betrayal, which would get the audience emotionally invested. 

So Walker has defeated Cross for good, but now she’s stuck at the center of the Authority base and she’s infected with the Contrivance Virus. Next week we’ll talk about how she gets out of this and then wrap this series up.

 

Footnotes:

[1] He apparently named it “legs”.

[2] My word. I don’t think the game gives this device a name.

[3] Er, by the standards of THIS genre, anyway.

[4] Although the intro of this game demonstrated that this designer doesn’t seem to value brevity the way they should.

[5] And of course, you could always take the lazy way and hint at this stuff in a datapad.

[6] I realize some people like puns, but I think it would be better to spend those lines of dialog SETTING UP THE BIG TWIST AT THE END OF THE GAME rather than having a trying-too-hard pun-off between these two characters.



From The Archives:
 

53 thoughts on “Rage 2 Part 8: What A Twist!

  1. thatSeniorGuy says:

    Hey Shamus, I think you used the wrong image at the start of the “Credit Where It’s Due” section (the image is already used in ‘One Good Joke’).

    1. Asdasd says:

      For a solid minute I thought Kvasir was just beyond my ability to make out from the screenshot, like some kind of seeing eye puzzle.

      1. raifield says:

        Same, where is the mentally disabled mutant’s overly-filled diaper I was promised?

        What a strange game this is. It’s like someone wanted to make a grimdark Borderlands but accidentally opened a portal to Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 instead.

        1. Asdasd says:

          For some reason it makes me think of nu-Wolfenstein by way of Saints Row.

          This is strange and strangely unrelated, but I immediately recognised your username from your comments over at CRPG Addict, where despite reading since 2011 I’m currently only up to August 2013 (Keef the Thief). In the same way he’s getting through RPGs slower than the industry releases them, I’m getting through his blog slower than he’s updating it.

      2. joe says:

        I’m sitting here thinking; “I already need glasses, don’t tell me I’m colorblind on top”

    2. Adam Faulconbridge says:

      Given the textual description, thats one image I’m happy to be wrong!

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I am a father, and I have changed diapers for multiple nieces. I was content to let my memory fill in the blanks.

        Part of me was hoping the image would be the ‘Connection lost’ screen that pops up when you talk to Mr. House.

  2. Syal says:

    In a full-blown story-based game, we’d have to explain or hint at what that “something else” might be.

    Eh, I don’t think so. “Was rude to the player a couple of times” is generally enough for the player to want them to be a traitor so we can fight them.

  3. Syal says:

    Is the new body going to somehow be infected with the same virus?

    According to other media, the body has to transmit the data to be backed up if you don’t want to reset your brain all the time, so if you poison them it’ll back itself up with “terminally ill”.

    …spoilers for “other media”.

    1. King Marth says:

      Good thing the last backup wasn’t “full of bullets and missing a head”.

      This is why you always test your backup and recovery mechanisms. Of course, unless you’d like to delve into the philosophical and practical implications of printing copies of yourself, you might not want to look too closely at the magic clone-o-tron.

      1. Radiosity says:

        “Of course, unless you’d like to delve into the philosophical and practical implications of printing copies of yourself”

        Ohi, Soma.

    2. Steve C says:

      Except every single time that it is printing off a new clone, it will be because the old one was “terminally ill.” Dying is the very definition of ‘terminal’ regardless of the cause. More nonsense on top of dumb world building.

    3. Narkis says:

      Well, in certain “other media”, mind backups are available. Even if you somehow pick a virus that corrupts the latest copy you can just use the one before and lose only the memories of the last day or however long it took you to take a backup instead of permanently dying.

      Seriously, backup your data folks, or you’ll end up like General Cross.

    4. Darker says:

      Maybe the writer was a fan of FTL :)

    5. Paul Spooner says:

      It would be a fun reversal to have to infect Cross with the virus, and then keep him alive long enough for the backup process to finish. Maybe not fun gameplay, but perhaps a neat little twist.

  4. Lino says:

    Are we supposed to be squicked out? Offended? Amused? Morbidly curious, like someone leering at old-timey circus freaks? Intrigued? Walker doesn’t seem to notice.

    I haven’t played the game, but based on the linked cutscene I think Walker is very uncomfortable with Kvasir’s general appearance and dialogue. Every line by Walker is delivered in a very awkward tone of voice, which feels appropriate for meeting and having to request help from such a character.

    That being said, though, your general point for why the scene is there in the first place still stands.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      I just watched it, too, and I agree with you for the beginning of the scene. Walker looks away from the mutant and tries to focus on anything else. (I’m assuming the view in that part was not player-controlled.) But I really don’t feel like he’s showing much unease after that.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      For me, the scene meeting Kvasir seems at least half like an omage / easter-egg / reference to other media. I don’t know what the little robot on Kvasir’s shoulder is supposed to be, but Kvasir himself definitely seems like a reference to Hannibal Chew from Blade Runner, and Legs seems like an omage to (Master-) Blaster from Thunderdome. Walker seems a little grossed out, but I guess that’s because it is (or seems to be) mixing comedy / homage, with the gross-out, and the two themes aren’t really gelling together well.

      1. Decius says:

        Kvasir rule Bartertown.

  5. Thomas says:

    Did someone link to an interview a few articles back that showed the writer _was_ a non-native English speaker? I don’t know why you’d employ someone like that to write dialogue.

    1. ElementalAlchemist says:

      Because it was developed by a Swedish developer? Presumably the entire dev staff were non-native English speakers.

      What you should be doing is blaming Bethesda for not doing proper QA, which as publisher is one of their jobs.

  6. Hal says:

    Hm, you have the graffiti picture twice instead of the “full diaper” picture.

    I mean, I’m not dying to see that, but you wanted to show it to me, so I thought you should know.

    1. Shamus says:

      I was so proud of myself for remembering to put in the page break so the whole article wasn’t on the front page, and then I wake up to discover I’d done this.

  7. RFS-81 says:

    I don’t think your motivation for the betrayal fits with Kvasir’s attitude towards Walker’s mother. What I’d suggest is that the virus is supposed to do to Walker whatever Kvasir wanted to do to her mother. Maybe Kvasir secretly is a wannabe General Cross, but he’s trying to mutate humans into a higher life form rather than sticking metal bits into them. There have been some … setbacks along the way, of course.

  8. RFS-81 says:

    There’s also the additional plot twist that the virus is also deadly to the player. Cross somehow knows this, and so he somehow coughs out a cloud of infection particles which your character somehow inhales because they’re still bantering with Cross for some reason.

    Remember to cough into your elbow, everyone!

  9. John says:

    Dear Shamus,

    I have no particular interest in or feelings about Rage, Rage 2, or the Rage series as a whole. I just wanted to thank you for giving me an excuse to watch Dangeresque I: Dangereque, too? again.

    So thank you.

    –John

  10. Dreadjaws says:

    I don’t understand what passes through the mind of these writers. Like, in a Michael Bay Transformers movie the writing expects you to more or less forget previous entries in the series, to accept characters changing personalities for the sake of a bad and predictable joke and to not have much understanding of science.

    But this? This takes it to a whole other level. This game expects you to entirely forget previous scenes in the game, to accept characters changing personalities for the hell of it (sometimes in the middle of a sentence) and not have any understanding of even the most basic of sciences. It feels like the whole plot was ad-libbed and the reason this “twist” wasn’t set any earlier in the game is because they only came up with it as they were wrapping up.

    Alternatively, maybe they gave chunks of the game to different writers and didn’t let them collaborate. “Yes, what better way to show a chaotic future than by having chaos in the writing team? We’re geniuses! Pass me a cocaine sandwich.”

    1. Kylroy says:

      I strongly, *strongly* doubt the writers on this game were being paid cocaine-level money.

      1. Lino says:

        What?! Don’t you know how business works? When it comes time to hire a writing team, you hire a bunch of graduates fresh from college, you pay them peanuts, and use the rest of the budget to buy heavy drugs and easy women (or the other way around, if you’re into that).

        Then, when the writers fall behind schedule, you give them some coke, so they can hit their deadline (or until they go insane; whichever comes first).

        1. BlueHorus says:

          …use the rest of the budget to buy heavy drugs and easy women (or the other way around, if you’re into that)

          Please, they’re called ‘Company Assets’.

          Also, whaddya mean ‘give the writers some of your drugs’?! Drugs are expensive and writers are cheap!

          You underpay the writers, put them under a load of pressure so they do bad work, then fire them and hire NEW writers for the next game!

          1. Lino says:

            Wait, so I’ve been doing it wrong all this time!?! That explains why your yacht has two helicopter pads, while I’m out here, slumming it in a yacht that only has one…

            1. Hector says:

              Posers!

              My helicopter pad has two yachts.

  11. shoeboxjeddy says:

    Maybe the virus poisoned the player because that’s what happens in Bioshock? If it happened in a game people say was well-written, then putting the same plot twist in your game will make your game well-written! QED.

    Seems to be about the level of thought these guys would have.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Maybe the virus poisoned the writer, which would explain a lot of things.

      1. Gautsu says:

        Foxdie isn’t that indiscriminate, it has good taste

    2. RichardW says:

      Speaking of BioShock, the idea of the “big bad” being invincible because he essentially has a Vita Chamber on hand, reminds me of a wonderful re-imagining of BioShock 1’s final boss that Tom Francis came up with a long time ago…

      https://www.pentadact.com/2009-04-15-ending-bioshock/

      To have the ability you’ve probably used a hundred times to get through the game (if you’re not a pro) suddenly turned against you, and then to twist that around so that it’s the most poetically evil end for Fontaine… I really really wish we could have had something like that for the actual denoument of BioShock. It’s kinda become my head canon. Better than just duking it out with another naked muscle man.

  12. Karma The Alligator says:

    Holy crap, do you get the character’s backstory every time there’s a character card on screen? At least in Borderlands the card spoke for itself, or the short backstory was given either before or after, not while the card was up, and it wasn’t such a long monologue, either.

  13. kikito says:

    Oh this could have been a really good story.

    The machine uses DNA sequencing to identify its main “subject” (the immortal). The cloning machine drivers were written in plain C, hand have not received security updates for a while. The good guys have access to a (broken/dismanteled) machine with the same drivers. They discover a vulnerability in the form of an unchecked char * pointer in the DNA sequencer library.

    So they engineer a virus which modifies the DNA of the bad guy, making it longer than expected. When the machine is checking the bad guy’s identity via its DNA, it copies it to memory… But now it’s bigger than the allocated string. So it keeps copying over memory. It keeps going, until eventually it overrides a trivial part of the machine UX code (which shares memory with other non-critical-for-cloning parts like the DNA sequencer).

    The final part of the DNA ends with the opcodes equivalent to “press esc, esc, tab, tab, 1, Y”, which is the sequence for “restart in maintenance mode”. This happens to not require a password, as the only way to access this menu would be to have physical access to a display that no longer exists.

    Biological retroviruses work way more slowly and unreliably than their digital counterparts though. It would probably be more realistic to “snipe the general with this dart/mosquito. Then wait a few days, and then go and kill him”. But that would destroy the pacing, probably.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Would be a good excuse for a stealth section though. You have to poison the general without him noticing, then find a spot to hide and wait while the technovirus does its thing, and then sabatoge the backup, forcing Cross to make a new one, and then finally kill him.

      And then the cloning machine starts spitting out copies of Kvasir. Walker swears. Smash cut to credits.

  14. Thomas says:

    This is basically the plot twist of Metal Gear Solid 1, but bad.

    Making your plot more nonsensical than Kojima is an achievement.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Sure, but are the cutscenes in Rage 2 forty-five minutes long?

  15. modus0 says:

    For some reason, I read your re-write of Kasvir’s dialogue in the voice of Asher Mir from Destiny 2. It seems to have the same disdain for violence and non-intellectual pursuits that Asher expresses, along with the (initial) distaste for having to deal with the protagonist.

  16. Mersadeon says:

    It seems so easy to explain the virus in a datapad that I’m seriously offended they didn’t do it. Like, they could have made up a dozen variants of a simple explanation there by just broadly saying how Cross’ machine works and how this gums it up.

    Maybe the machine makes a scan of his brain at the moment of death (so he gets “reborn” with all his memories intact) and the nano-whatever-virus screws up this process so the machine doesn’t have a scan to enforce on the brain. Or it disrupts the wi-fi around him so he can’t upload his consciousness or whatever. Or it kills him in a way that the machine doesn’t recognize as death, a loophole in the code.

    Whatever. It would have been so easy.

  17. Jabrwock says:

    I’m not saying that you can’t make a story where infecting someone with a virus will prevent them from being cloned.

    Wasn’t that the plot of some SciFi murder mystery, Carbon or something? The super rich could upload their personalities into backup, so their body could just be cloned anew. So the bad guy was defeated by infecting them right before they uploaded their “self” to the backup, so the backup was corrupted and so therefore death became “permanent”.
    Although that was slowly established over the whole series, so it wasn’t some ass-pull solution at the finale.

    1. Mersadeon says:

      Sort of, but you should probably put this into spoiler tags.

    2. Higher_Peanut says:

      And so we all learned a valuable IT security lesson. Not having more than one backup of critical data is dangerous and the dangers of connecting the one backup you have to an external source. Doing that sort of thing was called out as illegal but it’s a cyberpunk dystopia kind of setting, the rich tend to do what they want. It can’t be that hard to hide a single stack with rare updates.

      1. Cynic says:

        I’m not going to go into the spoiler territory, but the thing that was illegal wasn’t creating multiple backups, you’re in the right grove, wrong tree.

  18. silver Harloe says:

    “Next week we’ll talk about how she gets out of this”
    I’m going to hazard a guess that whatever the initial or final part of her escape entails, the middle involves a whole lot of shooting dudes.

    I, too, am not a fan of “killing the bad guy just makes him respawn, so you just kill him a slightly different way and he doesn’t”

    I would have liked a scene were you plug the virus into the cloning machine, then shoot Cross to death so he comes back infected and a reveal that he’s now trapped in a loop of dying and respawning constantly with never more than a minute of life in between (maybe he can play “minit”) until someone finally puts him out of his misery by destroying the clone-o-matic.

    Oh, hey, why didn’t you just destroy the clone machine and then behead Cross again?

    1. Syal says:

      You have to pilot a nanomachine and shoot the virus out of yourself.

      1. Higher_Peanut says:

        That sounds like something that would happen in a Trauma Center game. It’s an outrageous, surgery by way of anime, series of games if anyone hasn’t heard of it.

  19. Sartharina says:

    I imagine a virus like that would target whatever RAGE’s equivalent of Eclipse Phase’s “cortical stack’ – whatever it is that serves as the seat of consciousness and personal identity of a person that allows them to maintain a continuous consciousness. While not mandatory, it’s a safe assumption that there’s SOMETHING like that to prevent independent armies of a person wandering around. So that even though Cross can come back as clones, there’s only one General Cross consciousness. And, seating that consciousness in his active body is more dramatically appropriate and understandable than having the body just be a remote drone.

  20. Pink says:

    Having not played the game, I can’t help but picture Walker as Kate Walker from Syberia.

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