Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Real Moments of Badassery

"Badass" is a term that's bandied about often and oftentimes without too much thought, being used as a simple descriptor for something otherwise positive or good regardless, being merely exaggerated a bit.  Of course, if you really look at things, there are still quite a lot of moments of legitimate, real 'badass' moments, and these are the things I would like to point out in these types of articles, appropriately named "Real Moments in Badassery".  (Which is totally a word now.)  I will preface this with a simple warning, which will likely be repeated in every entry:  Being that these moments tend to deal with story content in video games, there are spoilers in these posts.  There's no real way about it and, since it's fairly obvious as that fact, I won't be inserting a break.  You've been warned.  (Today's games, however, are far from new, thus you might know what's with them already.)

If I could put every moment of every Legacy of Kain game ever here, I would (besides the block puzzles in Soul Reaver 1), because really, the entire series is just littered with moments of badassery.  The majority of which are attributed to the wonderful voice acting and theatrics of the whole series which were miles ahead of their time when the games came out, not to mention the current day.  Kain and Raziel were just fantastic characters all around because of the bond they share, the moments they have with one another, and just how neither seems to tread on the good or bad side of the road, despite their narratives indicating that they might.  The games, the stories, are just made up of so much grey area that it -feels- like it was really thought out, and it's not contrived, not forced, just completely well-written in a way that you just don't see then or now.

This particular scene is pretty great because it explains the majority of the first game, Blood Omen, or at least, the most important bits, which set the tone and the setting of the entire series as a whole.  It also lets Kain be a super-badass, explaining things, albeit cryptically, that are confusing at first but totally pay off in the end of the series in a way that really, truly is amazing.  It really gives off the vibe that the story had, and I know this is a strange idea, but it feels like the story had been constructed before the games were a possibility, rather than the success of the first necessitating more and more.  The latter case, of course, meaning that the writers then have to literally make things up that sort of fit but were not intended to be as such in the first place.  Now, I don't know which case is true in this franchise, but it feels like the better of them at least.

Even without all the other moments making this one that awesome by default, the lines in here are simply fantastic.  "Let's drop the moral posturing, shall we?  We both know there is no altruism in this pursuit.  Your reckless indignation led you here; I counted on it!  ....There's no shame in it, Raziel.  Revenge is motivation enough.  At least it's honest!  Hate me, but do it honestly!"  And then the whole coin metaphor really, really signifies just how different the Legacy of Kain series goes, which is only exemplified with the final line.  "You said it yourself, Kain.  There are only two sides to your coin."  "Apparently so.  But suppose you throw a coin enough times....suppose one day...it lands on its edge."  It really drives home that even when there appears to be only two choices; the 'moral' one and the 'immoral' one, there is usually always a third option somewhere in between.

First off, skip everything from 0:43 to 2:01 because it's fluff.  The meat of the issue here is precisely this speech which is probably one of the most awesome intros for a rather 'eh' war game out there.  (Not my opinion as I've only played half of the first Killzone which I was largely 'eh' about.)  This is one of the many peaks of voice acting in the current generation, and I'm quite frankly amazed that it's for Killzone 2, but regardless of that, it's amazing.  And it's fairly in counter to the subtlety of the Legacy of Kain series as, where everything is rather grey there, there's only hints of it in the set of up Killzone 2 (which, I could be wrong about this, admittedly), but it compensates by making the 'evil' (Visari) so delightfully evil, that it works out spectacularly.  He -revels- in this, speaks it with absolute resolution, absolute belief, and it's glorious for how unashamedly brutal it is, by necessity.

I feel it would be doing it a disservice if I posted mere quotes of the speech without the entirety of it, so that's what I'll do, if just so that you get the full experience of it.

"My people.  Sons and daughters of Helghan.  This much I vow.  The history of these days will be written in blood.  By crushing the armies of our enemy, by seizing the weapons they thought to turn against us, we were fighting for our very existence!  But if there are those who deny us peace, refuse us our rightful place in the universe then we will unleash such terrible vengeance that generations yet unborn will cry out in anguish! [...]  The enemy may shatter our bodies, but they cannot break our spirit.  Even now, they advance on our home world to seize by force what they cannot claim by right.  They cannot imagine what awaits them.  We will Smite the invaders from our skies!    Though they sweep over our lands like the sands of winter, never again will we bow before them, never again endure their oppression.....never again endure their tyranny.  We will strike, without warning and without mercy, fighting as one hand, one heart, one soul.  We will shatter their dreams and haunt their nightmares, drenching our ancestors graves with their blood!  And as our last breath tears at their lungs....as we rise again from the ruins of our cities....They will know Helghan belongs to the Helghast."
There is not one single bit of that that is not fantastic and I can assure that the acting of Brian Cox just elevates it to that next level.  There's not really much else I can say about it that wouldn't be done better justice by just listening to it for yourself, even if you've heard it before.  It just gives me chills even now after listening to it for like, the fifth time in a row (the previous four to make sure I'd transcribed it correctly).  I'm not sure if it's worth getting in on the game just for that but, let's just say, it's a pretty damn convincing argument.

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