Last week we focused on those loving romantic relationships, but as we have all no doubt discovered, not all relationships are quite so healthy. This week we look at a slightly different side of relationships, those that are a little more unhealthy, unnatural, maybe a little destructive, and in some cases just downright weird. These are the relationships where it is just easier to say, "It’s complicated," and leave it at that.
As always there are spoilers ahead, consider yourself warned.
Alma and Point Man - F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon Achievements
An honorable mention due to the fact that it was one of the first games to introduce and use the concept in such a way. During the game, the player takes on the role of the Point Man assigned to infiltrate an industrial complex and find out what happened to the previous squads. Whilst attempting this, the player is subject to nightmarish psychic hallucinations and phenomena featuring a little girl called Alma Ward, who looks reminiscent of Japanese horror films. In a genuinely creepy game, with Alma appearing just out of sight, as a shadow, or as something not-quite-there, the player is forced to fight his way through the game with Alma continuing to stalk them and causing no end of frights. In the final plot twist, revealing a certain degree of matriarchal dysfunction, Alma turns out to be the player's mother. It's safe to say that throughout the game, the player has not felt any motherly love from his long dead mother.
Andrew Ryan and Jack; BioShock (Xbox 360) Achievements
A strictly honorable mention due to the fact that the relationship was revealed and broken in one dramatic scene. Having fought through the first part of the game, the player finally faces off against the character whom he has been led to believe is his enemy. However, Andrew Ryan has already deduced what is going on and reveals himself to be the player's father, and shows how Jack has been manipulated by his arch-nemesis. However, there is no reconciliation between the long lost son and father, and no attempt to join forces and defeat their common enemy. Instead, Andrew Ryan uses the player's conditioning and orders his son to kill him. In the deeply disturbed world of Rapture, the father uses the son as an instrument for their own suicide.
TA's Top Five "It's Complicated" Relationships
#5 - Glados and Chell - Portal 2 Achievements
In Portal 2, Chell is once again trapped in Aperture Science testing labs, with the previously-defeated GLaDOS being accidentally re-awakened by the bumbling Wheatley. In the resurrection scene, GLaDOS recognises Chell and in a speech dripping with menace, welcomes her back (“Oh, it’s you”), and charmingly refers to her as “you monster”. Although the player expects the psychopathic computer to become the main antagonist in the game, the two foes become united against a new common enemy, and start working together, with GLaDOS actively encouraging and aiding Chell. In the final scene, GLaDos rescues Chell from certain death and admits that she is relieved to see Chell alive, along the realisation that all long Chell was really her best friend, and the surge of emotion she felt when rescuing her. Of course, that is all over in an instant, but in a moment of reluctant and perhaps grudging admiration, GLaDOS decides that Chell is too much effort to kill and takes the easy option of letting her go.
#4 - Juliet Starling and (part of) Nick Carlyle - Lollipop Chainsaw Achievements
It’s not unusual for girlfriends to carry a memento of their true love around with them, a photo, a lock of hair perhaps, but Juliet Starling, the cheerleader protagonist in Lollipop Chainsaw, takes this a little too far. In the quirky hack and slash title, Juliet’s boyfriend, Nick Carlyle, suffers an untimely demise at the hands (or, more accurately, the teeth) of a zombie. To ‘rescue’ Nick from zombification, Juliet executes extreme surgery and removes Nick’s head and with the help of a little magic jiggery-pokery keeps it/him alive. Thus begins the set-up for the rest of the game, with the pair taking on the zombie horde of San Marino, with Juliet armed with a chainsaw, and Nick’s fully conscious, aware, and talking head, dangling and swinging precariously from her waist. Macabre and bizarre it might well be, but naturally it does lead to some very interesting scenarios and dialog pieces.
#3 - Joker & Batman - Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360) Achievements
During the events of Batman: Arkham City, the Dark Knight enters into a some uneasy truces with a number of the villains in the title, including Bane, Mr Freeze, and to a lesser extent Harley Quinn. However, it is the ongoing relationship between The Joker and Batman that has our attention. Throughout the history of Batman, the two adversaries have faced each other countless times, and you would expect that two such foes would be glad to get rid of one another. Apparently this is not so, with Batman never vanquishing his foe due to his own ethical and moral standpoint. The Joker, whilst having no such qualms, has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep Batman and his identity safe despite having opportunities to find out who was behind the cowl. Joker clearly wanted Batman alive. In the finale of Arkham City, as Joker lays dying, we get a glimpse of the feeling between the two with Batman confessing, “I would have saved you.” In a final scene, he demonstrates this further by carrying Joker’s corpse out past the crowd of henchmen and places the lifeless body on the hood of a nearby police car. His face is grim, and not a word is said; sometimes words are just not necessary.
#2 - Prophet, Alcatraz, and the Nanosuit 2.0 - Crysis 2 Achievements
Whilst most of the relationships are based on some sort of emotional level, this one is purely symbiotic. In Crysis 2, the player takes on the role of a marine named Alcatraz who, during the course of the storyline is placed inside the Nanosuit 2.0 by the previous occupant, a soldier named Prophet, who then decides to retire himself, permanently. Over the course of events in the game, it becomes apparent that all is not as it seems, and all are inextricably linked together. In the end the player comes to realise that a strange and somewhat macabre relationship has been forged with the Nanosuit acting as the bridge. The consciousness of Prophet has been uploaded and stored in the suit before the soldier committed suicide. Alcatraz meanwhile is effectively brain dead, having suffering fatal wounds before being placed into the suit. The Nanosuit repaired the damage to the body providing a form of life support so that it could keep functioning and keep the suit moving. In a bizarre triangle, where none of the entities can be said to be truly alive, they become an almost indestructible super soldier, and the salvation of the human race against an alien invasion.
#1 - Little Sister and Big Daddy – BioShock (Xbox 360) Achievements
BioShock is a tour de force when it comes to gaming. It has delivered so many gaming moments and iconic characters, we couldn’t call this list complete without mentioning the stunning pair bonding introduced in the title, the Little Sister and her Big Daddy. The relationship between the two is anything but healthy, it is in fact artificially induced through chemicals and psychological conditioning but the feeling of attachment is intense. As many players and other citizens of Rapture found out, the Big Daddies would become psychopathically enraged if their Little Sister was threatened in any way and would fight to the death to protect them. This intensity was reflected in the Little Sisters who would wail incessantly over the body of a fallen Rosie or Mr. Bubbles. There were so many discordant parts to the relationship to be observed when just looking at the pair, the player could not help feeling that something was wrong. The obvious difference in size between the tiny girl and the huge giant. The apparent, albeit false, cuteness of the little girl with a ponytail, skipping along whilst singing nursery rhymes, compared alongside the lumbering monster armed with oversize industrial drills or rivet guns. The manufactured relationship worked well, but everything about it was wrong and twisted, and ironically reflected the corruption of Ryan Industries and Rapture.
The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!