• December 21, 2014

I'm the daughter of a veteran who spent my childhood in Killeen. As of 2013, I have a degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. I'm a critic of books, films, television, and video games. Find me on Twitter: @rachel_knows

Will the silent protagonist please exit the stage?

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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 12:13 pm

Call of Duty: Ghosts is supposed to be about family, or at least the single-player campaign is. The protagonists are Sgt. Logan Walker and Sgt. “Hesh” Walker, who work alongside their father and a team of close companions. This happy family even has a dog named Riley.

I say "supposed to be" because halfway through the campaign, I’d literally forgotten the name of the player character. It wasn't until another character yelled it during a death scene that I remembered Logan’s eyes were the ones through which I was looking.

Logan is a completely silent protagonist. He never makes a sound aside from the occasional grunt. It’s not that the game doesn't like talking, as Hesh talks almost constantly on missions. He even narrates the stuff in between. Why can’t Logan do it?

I wonder how much different the story would be if Logan made only a pithy response now and then. While watching the cutscenes, I imagined myself, as Logan, delivering the occasional deadpan response to another character’s stilted exposition.

Here’s an example, with a minor SPOILER: When Logan and Hesh are trapped in a combat zone looking for their father, they are saved from certain death by a timely airlift from the Ghosts. Hesh protests that they can’t leave their father behind. The squad leader takes his mask off to reveal that he is Captain Walker, “our” father.

When Hesh expressed surprise, I, as Logan (though I’d already forgotten his name), snapped, “You were the only one who missed the signs, bro. Who else do you think would track us down in the middle of a big fight like this?”

In one of the trailers, Captain Elias Walker says, “A man who truly loves his country doesn't just give his life. He gives his sons.” This story is supposed to be about family, loyalty and sacrifice. I blame the silent protagonist for diminishing that. While I should have been attached in some way to my father, brother and even my character, all I could think was, “Where has that dog gone? He was the most interesting character!”

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2 comments:

  • Rachel Kaser posted at 11:03 pm on Fri, Nov 29, 2013.

    Rachel Kaser Posts: 6 Staff

    Dr. Freeman's voice wasn't necessary to build the world of Half-Life, and they actually drew attention to the fact that he was essentially a mime standing in for the player. Check out Freeman's Mind if you want to see a hilarious take on Dr. Freeman. CoD: Ghosts wasn't nearly self-aware enough to pull off something like that, so instead we get Logan, who would be considered a functional mute at best in the real world and who'd be pulled from any combat zone on the planet for not communicating his position to fellow operatives.

     
  • lvillasenor20 posted at 8:45 pm on Tue, Nov 19, 2013.

    lvillasenor20 Posts: 1

    But but but ... Gordon Freeman ...