A seemingly inconsistent character?

#1 Edited by believer258 (11635 posts) -

I recently picked this game up, the GOTY for forty bucks. It's been fantastic so far, and I'm about seven hours in now. But there's something I've noticed about Marston - he at first appeared to be a fundamentally good man. Well, he is now. What I mean by this is that he no longer robs and steals just for the hell of it. For that matter, he begins the game as quite a believable hero, opting to give the big bad a chance to come peacefully instead of just automatically going in for the kill, despite the knowledge that Bill Williamson most likely wasn't going to surrender. His conversations with Bonnie and the Sheriff of Armadillo again paint him as a fairly decent individual, especially considering his surroundings.

But then we get further and further into the game. Now, I understand that people like Nigel West Dickens and Irish are both their own brand of horseshit, but Marston seems to be kicking them around and constantly threatening them like you would expect a bad guy to. Not only that, for such a big tough guy he's allowing himself to be jerked around by several different people, doing their less-than-wholesome bidding for some unclear reasons and ideas for taking down Bill Williamson. Still, I don't have much of an issue with that. Wouldn't be much of a game if Marston just beat the shit out of them, got what he needed, downed his old buddy, and then yee-hawed on out of there. It just feels like a bit of a plot stretch.

No, where my real issue lies is with his sometimes-unnecessary killing of men who had provoked no one. I had felt that the reasons for the shootouts were fine up to a point because, like before, the game needed a reason for you to carry those guns. But then Irish just asked me to walk into a mine and shoot everyone up when none of them had done anything worth really killing them over (at least, not that I knew about). It's not that I have a huge moral quandary over killing a pixelated mook in a video game, but when I'm playing as a character who is portrayed as at least having a heart of some good measure, I expect not only the plot but also the game to take that into account.

To sum this all up, I just feel like there's a slight disconnect in the character that Rockstar is trying to portray (a decent man that's just here to save his family) and the character that the game actually portrays (a man who just kills left and right to get what he wants). Marston's end hasn't really justified his means for me, at least not thus far in the plot. Did anyone else feel like this, or am I just being a bit picky?

On a very definitely final note, I do know what happens at the end, but I don't know what the meat of the plot contains. Please don't spoil anything past the acquisition of the machine gun ammo for me.

#2 Posted by BrockNRolla (1702 posts) -

Welcome to protagonists in Rockstar games. You identify with them right up until they shoot someone in the face when you don't approve, slap a woman around, or keep getting conned into doing bad things for bad people. It's unfortunate, but the reality of most of their characters.

#3 Edited by believer258 (11635 posts) -

@BrockNRolla said:

Welcome to protagonists in Rockstar games. You identify with them right up until they shoot someone in the face when you don't approve, slap a woman around, or keep getting conned into doing bad things for bad people. It's unfortunate, but the reality of most of their characters.

Ah. Well, this is indeed the first Rockstar game that I've committed to playing through to completion, so it's come as a bit of a surprise to me. Bollocks, they've got fantastic writing, it seems if they could only match up the writing and the gameplay for consistency's sake they'd have something far better. But then, that might require linearity.

#4 Posted by Vinny_Says (5686 posts) -

One night Nico Bellic was saying goodbye to this lovely girl after a nice date and then drove down the street, got himself a prostitute for hand relief and then drove her to the underpass and killed her.

INCONSISTENT CHARACTER!!

#5 Posted by Andorski (5191 posts) -

Rockstar completely ignores the fact that the player can (and will) break the character's personality the very moment they take control. I think they do it on purpose though. Having a consistent character in a free-roaming game is an impossibility.

#6 Posted by Commisar123 (1790 posts) -

It is one of the major issues with the game, and it is very disappointing

#7 Posted by believer258 (11635 posts) -

@Vinny_Says said:

One night Nico Bellic was saying goodbye to this lovely girl after a nice date and then drove down the street, got himself a prostitute for hand relief and then drove her to the underpass and killed her.

INCONSISTENT CHARACTER!!

@Andorski said:

Rockstar completely ignores the fact that the player can (and will) break the character's personality the very moment they take control. I think they do it on purpose though. Having a consistent character in a free-roaming game is an impossibility.

I understand that, but this was a plot-relevant mission in the game that I'm talking about. If you're talking about the possibility of shooting everyone in a small town, then yeah that's entirely possible, but it's up to the player. It's not something I was doing because it would have been out of character. To compare, killing everyone on a street corner in Saints Row is not only fine, it's par for the course because the protagonist is established as having no issues with random murder. It's different here because Marston is established as being unlike that.

#8 Posted by BaneFireLord (2909 posts) -

@believer258 said:

@Andorski said:

Rockstar completely ignores the fact that the player can (and will) break the character's personality the very moment they take control. I think they do it on purpose though. Having a consistent character in a free-roaming game is an impossibility.

I understand that, but this was a plot-relevant mission in the game that I'm talking about. If you're talking about the possibility of shooting everyone in a small town, then yeah that's entirely possible, but it's up to the player. It's not something I was doing because it would have been out of character. To compare, killing everyone on a street corner in Saints Row is not only fine, it's par for the course because the protagonist is established as having no issues with random murder. It's different here because Marston is established as being unlike that.

To be fair, the people he kills in the story missions tend to be outlaws and jerks (with that one huge, disconcerting exception of the innocents baying for Nigel's blood after his snake oil peddling went wrong).

#9 Posted by mandude (2669 posts) -

That did strike me in the same way as it did you, but at the same time, I do expect a certain amount of leniency when it comes to justifying the quantity of gameplay sequences.

#10 Edited by believer258 (11635 posts) -

@BaneFireLord said:

@believer258 said:

@Andorski said:

Rockstar completely ignores the fact that the player can (and will) break the character's personality the very moment they take control. I think they do it on purpose though. Having a consistent character in a free-roaming game is an impossibility.

I understand that, but this was a plot-relevant mission in the game that I'm talking about. If you're talking about the possibility of shooting everyone in a small town, then yeah that's entirely possible, but it's up to the player. It's not something I was doing because it would have been out of character. To compare, killing everyone on a street corner in Saints Row is not only fine, it's par for the course because the protagonist is established as having no issues with random murder. It's different here because Marston is established as being unlike that.

To be fair, the people he kills in the story missions tend to be outlaws and jerks (with that one huge, disconcerting exception of the innocents baying for Nigel's blood after his snake oil peddling went wrong).

Ah, yes, that one... I didn't mention it because it was after the whole issue started creeping into my mind, but that one probably is the most disconcerting thus far.

#11 Posted by Aegon (5403 posts) -

The miners had a gatling gun. Why did they have a gatling gun? 

#12 Posted by NegativeCero (2976 posts) -

It' might be a long stretch, but you might be able to say that Marston does the awful things he does to get his family back. But, yeah, I agree that this is a problem in all Rockstar games.

#13 Posted by hoossy (932 posts) -

@Andorski said:

Rockstar completely ignores the fact that the player can (and will) break the character's personality the very moment they take control. I think they do it on purpose though. Having a consistent character in a free-roaming game is an impossibility.

This.

Unless you want the game to put severe restrictions on you and how you can use your gun.... I don't see another way around it. I choose to ignore that point because the game is just so damned fun.

#14 Posted by MrKlorox (11206 posts) -

Tommy Vercetti called himself a psychopath at the end of Vice City. That seemed to be enough for me at the time. Playing characters who see themselves as upstanding individuals hasn't made sense in a Rockstar game since (with the exception of LA Noire, but that's because of intentional story twists and the way they slowly reveal who the character really is deep inside).

#15 Posted by BRNK (306 posts) -

I take issue with your description of John as "a decent man that's just here to save his family". I think "former murderer and bandit who's trying to escape a cycle of violence" is far more fitting. As I see it, the main theme of the game is that violence is cyclical and that John's attempts to escape said cycle with acts of violence are misguided, no matter how well-meaning his intentions. You'll see more fully how the theme fits once you've beaten the game.

I think it's also pertinent to note that John's constantly denying that he's a good man throughout the entire game. A small bit of writing that I feel goes a long way in alleviating the dissonance between the way the character is written and what's required of him to do in order to make the game fun to play (i.e. shooting tons of dudes.)

#16 Posted by believer258 (11635 posts) -

@BRNK said:

I take issue with your description of John as "a decent man that's just here to save his family". I think "former murderer and bandit who's trying to escape a cycle of violence" is far more fitting. As I see it, the main theme of the game is that violence is cyclical and that John's attempts to escape said cycle with acts of violence are misguided, no matter how well-meaning his intentions. You'll see more fully how the theme fits once you've beaten the game.

I think it's also pertinent to note that John's constantly denying that he's a good man throughout the entire game. A small bit of writing that I feel goes a long way in alleviating the dissonance between the way the character is written and what's required of him to do in order to make the game fun to play (i.e. shooting tons of dudes.)

John Marston has become a decent man, at least that's how the game paints him first despite his denials.

But I haven't finished playing it yet due to college finals coming up a little while after I got it.

#17 Posted by BankruptPaladin (5 posts) -

I also have a problem with Marston's bipolarity, if you will.

He's really nice to nice people, but he's not nice at all when it comes to people even bordering on scum. The gatling gun in the mine-quest is a real weird situation for me. The way I see it, you should be able to at least ask if you can purchase the gun instead of raiding their mine, shooting everything in sight, just because Irish is a drunken bastard. Whatever happened to diplomacy? Then again, as far as I understand, those miners belonged to a gang, the treasure hunters, right? Still, there's no reason we can't be civilized, is there? (None, sire!)

About the shooting of all the guys chasing West Dickens, I think it's crazy how many people wanted to kill him. I mean, hunt him down and beat him, sure, but to shoot directly, that's a bit aggro for me, just seems like the game gives you excuses to fire back at people. That, in my book, is bad. They shouldn't really be shooting at you, and you shouldn't be shooting at them, maybe a brawl or something, but not killing.

I don't like having tons of people chasing after me one second, and then they got no beef anymore because I got to a town. If we've got beef, then we've got beef, and the score should have to be settled by either all of them getting killed, or by them running away. The factions are just too infinite in this game, it doesn't seem real that a gang is larger than an entire settlement, and they all just keep coming at you until the mission's over.

That's all for now. I have more complaints, but none concerning this.

#18 Posted by JoeyRavn (4948 posts) -

@MrKlorox said:

Tommy Vercetti called himself a psychopath at the end of Vice City. That seemed to be enough for me at the time. Playing characters who see themselves as upstanding individuals hasn't made sense in a Rockstar game since (with the exception of LA Noire, but that's because of intentional story twists and the way they slowly reveal who the character really is deep inside).

I didn't think the big reveal was so bad, really. In the end, Cole is just a good guy who made bad decisions. He torments himself for it, he feels guilty, unlike most Rockstar protagonists. Then again, it was a Team Bondi game, not truly a Rockstar product.

... unless I'm missing something that actually makes him a monster, that is.

#19 Posted by kermoosh (911 posts) -

yeah it's especially bad with the whole honor system. you can kill people and chose evil options but in the cutscenes he's all polite and stuff

if you play as a good guy they kinda fit, play as a bad guy and he has split personality

also for seth and nigel west dickens, they are horseshit. they want money or something while martson is trying to save his family. i would lose my patience if i had to deal with those guys

#20 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

Whoa, necro'd thread. Hey, , ever finish the game and care to talk about it more? Or at least reach Act 2, where this issue really comes to a head?

#21 Posted by falling_fast (2186 posts) -

all rockstar protagonists are like that

#22 Posted by phantomzxro (1565 posts) -

I have to disagree just a little bit in red dead. I feel that john was never a good guy which may be miss leading from the start. Mainly because he is not the a-hole bad guy you always think of. I feel the whole story is really about him trying to turn over a new leaf and leave his old life behind. Which others have said is the classic rockstar set up, but i feel it works a lot better here. John never acts like a dick (at least to decent people) and he believe if he can do this one task he will be done. Also it's simply not an emply promise because john's wife and kid is in the mix so he really can't turn down the offer that was presented to him. That's why i feel it works in this story as in other rockstar games you become the kingpin or drug boss or work for worse and worse people which is not quite starting over.

#23 Posted by huntad (1930 posts) -

I can't help being at a loss for words remembering how much fun I had with that game, and turning to these forums only to see a lot of nitpicking of all the different elements. Maybe I could just suspend my disbelief a little better than you and the others?

#24 Posted by believer258 (11635 posts) -

@Little_Socrates said:

Whoa, necro'd thread. Hey, , ever finish the game and care to talk about it more? Or at least reach Act 2, where this issue really comes to a head?

Not really. I'm not going to say that such a thing won't happen, but this game is very boring for me now. I was having fun with it when this thread was made, but now I'm just riding my horse between story missions and doing nothing else. I can definitely appreciate the game's atmosphere and world, and definitely the technology behind it, but at the end of the day the story on display here isn't anything truly special, I still think Marston is a bit inconsistent, and the actual game part of this video game is devoid of any reason for me to want to go back. It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it's just part of the same stew that Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3 are - perfectly functional but kind of boring, an odd phenomenon that has popped up this generation that probably deserves a bit more talking about.

I might finish RDR one day just for novelty, but I don't find myself wanting to go back and play it. For the record, I did make it to Mexico when I tried to pick the game back up a few weeks ago and did a few missions down there but I don't know if that is Act 2 or not.

#25 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

@believer258 said:

@Little_Socrates said:

Whoa, necro'd thread. Hey, , ever finish the game and care to talk about it more? Or at least reach Act 2, where this issue really comes to a head?

Not really. I'm not going to say that such a thing won't happen, but this game is very boring for me now. I was having fun with it when this thread was made, but now I'm just riding my horse between story missions and doing nothing else. I can definitely appreciate the game's atmosphere and world, and definitely the technology behind it, but at the end of the day the story on display here isn't anything truly special, I still think Marston is a bit inconsistent, and the actual game part of this video game is devoid of any reason for me to want to go back. It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it's just part of the same stew that Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3 are - perfectly functional but kind of boring, an odd phenomenon that has popped up this generation that probably deserves a bit more talking about.

I might finish RDR one day just for novelty, but I don't find myself wanting to go back and play it. For the record, I did make it to Mexico when I tried to pick the game back up a few weeks ago and did a few missions down there but I don't know if that is Act 2 or not.

Mexico is Act 2, yeah. I think Act 3 is where that game really earns its stars and stripes in terms of story, but Act 2 has significantly larger inconsistency problems when you consider the way he behaved in Act 1. Act 3 also has the game's best gameplay moments, so if you can, it is worth sticking it out to the end. I like the story in Act 1 and enjoyed those early sidequests, but Act 2 just reeeeally bummed me out for a very long time.

Maybe I'll do a write-up on games that are functional but disinteresting.

#26 Posted by Baillie (4039 posts) -

Red Dead Redemption is the best game this generation, with possibly the best protagonist. I fuckin' love you John Marston.

#27 Posted by The_Nubster (2047 posts) -

Marston himself addresses this a lot. If you hang out in the horse rides with major characters, it becomes apparent that he is a hypocrite in denial. he preaches to other people about their evils, but when someone mentions the shit he does, he plays it off as a remnant of his past and talks about how he's trying to turn over a new leaf. Someone else mentioned Tommy Vercetti calling himself a psychopath, and Marston is a lot like that. He doesn't acknowledge that he's a fucking monster, but he treats himself in such a way that excuses himself, in his mind, of any moral implications stemming from his wrongdoing. I think you, as the player, are supposed to be a little bit disgusted and put off by the way he treats people he thinks are beneath him.

#28 Posted by TeflonBilly (4713 posts) -

@damnable_fiend said:

all rockstar protagonists are like that

Bully's Jimmy Hopkins managed to stay rather consistent with how you were playing him if I remember correctly. Then again it's been ages since I played that game. Still my favorite Rockstar game with RDR being a close second.

Man, I wish they'd make a sequel for Bully. I remember someone suggesting a sequel take place at summer camp and think that would be a fantastic setting for Bully 2.

#29 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3749 posts) -

@TeflonBilly said:

@damnable_fiend said:

all rockstar protagonists are like that

Bully's Jimmy Hopkins managed to stay rather consistent with how you were playing him if I remember correctly. Then again it's been ages since I played that game. Still my favorite Rockstar game with RDR being a close second.

Man, I wish they'd make a sequel for Bully. I remember someone suggesting a sequel take place at summer camp and think that would be a fantastic setting for Bully 2.

It's a lot easier to pull that off in a game about being in school rather than gunplay in the wild west. I love Bully, just saying the subject matter makes it a lot easier to pull off.

#30 Posted by kgb0515 (411 posts) -

You know it's funny, I've never finished this game either. I have started over from the beginning several times, but I never make it past Mexico. I love the game, and I agree about Marston's moral character, but it's better than the alternative of having a completely silent protagonist. I always fail to connect with characters that are built as empty vessels like that. I'm all for role playing, but give me something to go on.

#31 Posted by Hunter5024 (5542 posts) -

I totally remember that mine mission. I honestly tried to tie them up but got totally sick of it, especially as they kept shooting at my face parts. I guess Marston may be the one starting it, but at a certain point he is shooting in self defense.

#32 Posted by BRNK (306 posts) -

To those of you who haven't finished the game: Stick to it, it's worth it. RDR comes around to address it's central theme in a really strong way at the end. I think it's the best game/game story of the console generation. If you wanted to get all academic about it, you could even say this game's story and themes act as an analogy to the relationship between players and games... in a different but similar way Bioshock does.

Specifically:

The theme of not being able to escape the cycle of violence, even over generations is very relevant to games. I could see an argument made here that no matter how hard players and developers try to ascend beyond the base and brutal draw of violence as the main crux to hang gameplay on, we are continually lured back in by our lower impulses, ensuring another round of games based on rote savagery. LOL. Like I said... that's some faux-intellectual collegiate wankery for you right there.

#33 Edited by ArtisanBreads (3749 posts) -

@BRNK said:

To those of you who haven't finished the game: Stick to it, it's worth it. RDR comes around to address it's central theme in a really strong way at the end. I think it's the best game/game story of the console generation. If you wanted to get all academic about it, you could even say this game's story and themes act as an analogy to the relationship between players and games... in a different but similar way Bioshock does.

Specifically:

The theme of not being able to escape the cycle of violence, even over generations is very relevant to games. I could see an argument made here that no matter how hard players and developers try to ascend beyond the base and brutal draw of violence as the main crux to hang gameplay on, we are continually lured back in by our lower impulses, ensuring another round of games based on rote savagery. LOL. Like I said... that's some faux-intellectual collegiate wankery for you right there.

I think that's right on, the Epilogue really drives it home

The way the whole game with Marston seems to be about the end of an era of outlaw cowboys and the wild west, yet Jack, who loves to read and is a nice child, ends up down that path only drives that home further that it may not be escapable. Even if you don't kill all the people you come across in the epilogue, you have to kill to accomplish it. Says a lot.

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