Sticking almost exclusively to consoles has left me malnourished in the good stories department and my opinons hugely suspect. But I really liked:
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: great characters, and a very cute and convincing developing romance sold me on this one, but it’s the end and beginning framing sequences that really make this feel like a story.
God of War: It’s not a particularly deep story–it’s kinda like a bunch of 15 year old metalheads tried to write a Greek tragedy by looking at their favorite ablum covers–but it’s an affecting one.
Metal Gear Solid 3: I thought this one had the best balance of absurdity, melancholy and urgency out of all the MGS games. But I loved the insane failed ambitions of Sons of Liberty, too, so caveat blabbity-blab and all that.
Manhunt: Hey, if someone can pick Max Payne, I should be able to pick Rockstar’s Manhunt: it’s like playing a (lesser) John Carpenter movie and the story was what kept me going once the gameplay flatlined.
Resident Evil 4: Yeah, okay, actually the story was pretty much ass, but as the first RE game I ever played, it did an amazingly good job at keeping me on the edge of my seat, and getting me interested in the entire RE mythos (which is probably nonsensical horseshit but felt incredibly deep and detailed at the time).
Romance of the Three Kingdoms games: I kinda dig creating my own character or taking a character from the mythos I hardly know anything about and creating a life that runs from wanderer to warrior to poet-diplomat–then when I accidentally trigger some event that’s actually in the books it seems particularly resonant. Why can’t we have a LOTR game like this?
I dunno. Like I said, I’m a console 'tard. Doesn’t anyone else play video games to get away from having a story jammed down your throat? Sometimes I like the emotional life and backstory I privately give to my Wipeout pilot or Quake II marine far more than what Joe & Jane Programmer would cook up if they had the chance…
Trying to think of something not already mentioned, and I’m not sure if it’s due to the mists of time, or the rose-colored glasses of my first PC gaming love, but I really liked the storyline for Ultima Underworld. Yeah, on the one hand, it’s the old “guy is unjustly accused and thrown in prison” story which is no great shakes. But once you’re inside the prison, there are a host of smaller, more personal stories, that you run across: the woman with a photograph of her husband, waiting for him to return. The man trapped in a cell who you can free. The goblin factions - it’s all a bit hazy, I admit, but I was drawn in by that game like no other.
And though there’s only the bare bones of a story, I liked the ‘story’ behind X-Com (even though you “write” a lot of it yourself. But certainly, when you make discoveries, you unearth the story behind the aliens, piece by piece). Or am I confusing story with incredible gameplay?
I was just replaying it last night. Any game that gives you a reason to fight annoying house wives, hippies, and cups of coffee is a plus in my book.
I agree with everything mention here as well as Okami. For an action adventure game, the plot was really great. The story could have ended at different times and the game would have still been good. Ending was very satisfying.
Quick list of games:
Toy Commander ( One of my favorite games so I had to include it)
Disegia 1( Very off the wall story.
Someone mentioned Bioforge, which was a good one. I didn’t think about it much then, but the way they had you come to grips with the whole, “Look what they’ve done to you” Frankenstein angle was pretty neat.
Beyond Good & Evil. Okay, the overall story was a little predictable, but like all the best stories it was driven by characters who really made an impact. Jade was a fantastic lead, and I liked the way her relationships with her friends play out.
Neatest part of Alpha Centauri. Creating your first mind worm unit, it shows a small amount of text describing how you picked your brightest pupil to become the first candidate for controlling a mind worm.
If you let the mind worm unit die, you then received another small amount of text reporting the death of said pupil.
I always kept the first mind worm unit at my home base, just in case.
It’s about to get cool again - there are some lengthy step and fetchit quests in the middle of PST that bog it down, but then it’s a rollercoaster ride to the end. There’s one extremely protracted quest which gives you nothing but a few memories and was in retrospect skippable - PM me for spoilers.
It’s curious to me how many console RPG games I’ve seen my friends play that come from Japan attempt to tell complicated, epic stories involving large casts of characters that do absolutely nothing for me. Overly complex, hinging around mystical artifacts and transparent one sided cardboard people, is it just a cultural particularity I’m not tuned into? I do slightly better with their film and anime, but not by much. I’m not saying western games have better story, most of that too is terribly cliche in our own way, but it doesn’t stimulate as much of the eye-rolling or blank incomprehension. Except Knights of Xentar. That side plot with Little Red Riding Hood was riveting, or at least it was when I was 13…
The beginning and the last third or so were probably the strongest, but if you aren’t enjoying it, it’s probably just not your thing. Alas. I found characters like Fall-From-Grace and Nordom compelling. (How can you not like the brothel for slaking intellectual lusts?)
[/li][li]Baldur’s Gate 2 (not so much for the overall story as for the vignettes)
I liked FF X, so I guess I lack taste. Sure, it was a bit schmaltzy, but parts of it were quite entertaining. Still, it’s not at the top of the list.
Freespace 2 had a nice story. FS1 was a bit cliche (two foes unite against a common enemy), but FS2 was pleasantly twisted, with the entire mighty Terran-Vasudan alliance reduced to the status of an insignificant speed-bump.