Friday, July 22, 2016

This May Be The Scowliest Team Ever

Yes, even scowlier than those '90s Punisher/Ghost Rider/Wolverine team-ups. I'm actually surprised I'm sticking to an "every other month*" schedule with these made-up team posts. When I was making a list of possible XBox 360 characters to use, I noticed a lot of my games have similar protagonists. So angry, sullen, violent male protagonists for everyone! With a couple of outliers of course, see how long they can tolerate each other.

The Leader: Wei Shen (Sleeping Dogs) - Wei survived going undercover in Hong Kong gangs, and not only brought down some major Triad leaders, but also exposed corruption in the police force. And he survived, which is the most impressive part of all. Wei believes in the law, but also recognizes its limitations, which isn't the same as accepting them. He will step outside what's legal to extract what punishment he thinks appropriate. How long he could keep his badge under those circumstances is up in the air.

Wei's pretty good at driving, shooting, and beating people up, but I think the most critical skill he has for this circumstance is that he's very good at working with people and gaining their trust, even if he despises those people. That may be key here, him convincing the rest of the team he cares about them, and they can trust him, even if that isn't necessarily the case early on. If they all survive long enough, I imagine it will be the case, because Wei also seems to form genuine strong bonds quickly, whether he meant to or not. Which means if something happens to someone on the team after that point, he could get a little out of control.

The Rogue: Corvo Attono (Dishonored) - For the purposes of this, I'm going to assume one of the High Chaos endings, probably one where Emily didn't survive being abducted by Havelock. The game tells you that, in that event, Corvo ultimately abandons Dunwall and flees to who knows where, trying to escape his past. So let's go with that. He left, just kept using Blink until he was exhausted, then slept, woke up, and kept going until he felt he'd run far enough. He may have settled some place, but more likely he drifts. The Outsider hasn't spoken to him in years. Makes sense, Corvo hasn't done anything interesting in a long time. Corvo opted to focus on the revenge he felt he was owed, rather than attempt to pave a better path for Emily, and look how that ended up. So he avoids trusting his judgment whether to take action or not.

What he's going to get out of all this is unclear. A possibility of trying again somewhere else, a chance to end it with some higher goal. Perhaps it's that he's sees something similar in the other members of the group, and in this case, like attracted like. Or maybe he's noticed that even with his failing Emily and Dunwall, the world didn't fall apart entirely, and it's worth keeping it from being destroyed by outside forces. If he keeps taking action, though, the Outsider will probably start egging him on again, and Corvo might react badly to that.

Corvo and Wei are both experts on infiltration, though Wei's approach is more long-term, deep cover, while Corvo's more the type you turn to when you just need something stolen quickly. Still, the two could make quite a team, if they can trust each other. Given past experiences, both are going to be on guard against betrayal from within, which includes each other. There's no telling which way Corvo might break at a critical moment, and it isn't clear if anyone else on this team can stop a guy who can teleport and slow time, though he might not be the only one with that last trick. . .

The Muscle: Rita Mordio (Tales of Vesperia) - Rita isn't a scowly, broody guy, but she is temperamental, she is violent, as well as loud, smart, and fully confident in her abilities. And she's a pretty serious powerhouse with the spells she'd learned by the end of the game. Hitting people with tidal waves, meteor swarms, masses of darkness. The tradeoff is she's not the best at physical combat, and it takes time to cast. Good thing she's going to have an entire team of people good at killing with hands, blades, and guns who can buy her time. As it is, she's the smartest member of the team, and if they need a solution to anything related to sciences, she's the best bet. If it's going to require diplomacy, she's the one to keep well away.

Rita was 15 in the game. I though about maybe having it be Rita a few years down the line, a bit older, more powerful, but it might also sand the edges off a bit. But maybe not, she might have grown kinder to her friends, but she doesn't know these guys. She tended not to have a lot of patience for people she thought were stupid, or behaved foolishly, so this group might drive her up the wall. She is going to yell at and nearly blow up this bunch repeatedly. There isn't anyone on here that resembles the naive innocent Estelle was, which seems to be the sort of person who brings out Rita's protective nature. What's mostly likely to keep her with them is curiosity about the worlds they're moving through, or the threats they're facing. Possibly also the desire to keep her friends back home safe.

The Guy of Mystery: Sean (The Saboteur) - I do really poorly at picking this archetype. I suppose, with Corvo years on from the end of the game, I should have switched him and Sean. Oh well.

But at least with Corvo, I can sort of envision what he might do after his game ended. With Sean, I'm not sure. I can't see him staying in Paris, he'd patched things up with Veronique as much as he was likely to. Would he return to car racing? British Intelligence hinted that Sean had a checkered past back in Ireland, so he might be able to go back home (unless all that killing he did for the Brits in the game caused them to look the other way.) Sean is going to swear constantly, drink and smoke constantly, and want to blow things up. He will probably have some idea initially about needing to protect Rita, because she's just a kid/girl, until she blows something up (possibly his car), at which point he'll mostly abandon that impulse.

Like Wei and Corvo, Sean can do the sneaking thing, although his approach always started with breaking a soldier's neck and stealing their uniform. Not sure how applicable that will be. Probably better to rely on his facility with driving and explosives. Between him and Wei, there could be some pretty great driving sequences for this crew. Have Corvo Blinking from a car, over to a different vehicle to kill the driver, then back before it crashes. Or Rita popping up out of a sunroof to unleash some destructive attack. Sean's never one to pass up making a smartass remark, so he's probably the one who loosens things up from time to time. The others may have their own sense of humor, but most of them don't show it much.

The Man with a Boat: Nigel West Dickens (Red Dead Redemption) - I couldn't resist putting this goober on a team. Dickens was a snake oil salesman, but clever enough to be useful to John Marston on occasion (and clever enough to get a lot of help out of Marston before providing assistance). Despite Marston saving his neck multiple times, Dickens was never happy to see him. Because John Marston was an exceptionally angry, violent man with a short temper, who didn't entirely like Dickens. Still, as penance for all those people he swindled, he can be saddled with three John Marstons. Though Rita is the one most likely to torment him. She'll see through his spiel right off, and while she may not have much sympathy for the people he suckers, she'll be entirely contemptuous of his nonsense.

It's really a crappy carriage drawn by some poor horse, so except in certain circumstances, they'd probably ought to rely on Wei and Sean's cars, or whatever else they can scrounge up. Dickens is going to wind up in this entirely by accident, but be unable to safely extricate himself from the situation. Like it or not, the safest place for him is next to these people who have the capability of protecting him, if not necessarily much interest in doing it. So how is Nigel West Dickens going to earn his keep? The carriage is, if a slow conveyance, at least an unassuming one. And there might be times you can't use a car or whatever. Also, for all that his medicines don't actually help people, he does have that sort of fictional idiot savant ability to stumble into something useful. His zombie repellent did precisely the opposite, but there might be an occasion where you want to attract the undead. And he must know something useful about medicine or chemistry that could come in handy.

While he's not as smooth a talker ass he likes to think, he does have some skill at it, or he wouldn't have survived as long as he had before encountering Marston. Wei is good at working undercover, but only when posing as a tough guy. The sort of, "Hey, I'm good at breaking legs, why don't you let me join your gang?" thing. Which is useful, but not going to work in every circumstance. And Sean and Corvo aren't that different. They can't play harmless. Dickens can probably serve as a distraction, simply by not shutting up long enough to be told to scram. And if he really needs to, he can play an unassuming old man quite easily. There would have to be a scene where he and Rita have to work together, her as the clever and exasperated young girl, accompanying her sweet, slightly addled grandpa, and use that to get into somewhere, or past a border crossing, or something. Dickens' nerves, and Rita's impatience would make for a fun combination.

The Wild Card: Nathaniel Renko (Singularity) - I haven't decide whether Renko is part of the team, or the initial antagonist. He brings them together either way. In the ending I like best, Renko killing Demishev and Barisov and keeping the TMD - the game says Renko vanishes, but there are rumors of someone wielding considerable power building a new empire in the ruins of the U.S. That wasn't how I had interpreted my taking that approach - I thought of it as Renko simply being tired of these two Russians trying to jerk him around - but we can go with it.

Armed with a TMD with unlimited energy, it wouldn't be difficult for Renko to recreate some of the horrors he faced on Kartorga. If he keeps mucking about with the TMD's ability to warp time, maybe he punches holes through into other universes. All the other characters' worlds (except Sean's) had some aspect of the supernatural or bizarre. Demons, witches, zombies, a world-spanning octopus-looking thing made of energy, you name it. And after dealing with Nazis, Sean may not be fazed by the science-spawned horrors anyway. This team is comprised of the people who encounter these tears, and while exploring them or fending off what's emerging, they run across each other. Except for Dickens, who blundered in while fleeing angry townspeople, but whatever, he's there, and escape isn't going to be easy. They'll have to decide whether to try and defend their homes first, or head for the source of the problem. And Renko may not be content to stay in one place, and try to take the fight to their homes directly. Or try to take them over while they're running around in his world.

* I looked it up, and "bimonthly" can mean either twice a month or every other month? That explains why I'm always unsure when to use it. Just an awful decision by the English language right there.

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