I would like to take a few minutes of your time to rant (what else do I do...) about a little something I saw on our beloved Destructoid's front page a couple of days ago: the killer Jack the Ripper, arguably the most infamous murderer in history, was getting a game based around him/his story. Interesting, I thought, I wonder if it'll be an adventure-style game or perhaps a horror game; this sounds pretty cool!
A day later and I see this:
"When you think of Jack the Ripper, you think of a psychopathic serial killer right? Well, what if everything we knew about Jack was wrong? What if Jack the Ripper was actually a good person, killing to save other peopleís lives?"
Huh...that's kind of weird. Where might they be taking this? My mouse scrolled down the page to read some of the most frustrating words I've ever read:
"Thatís the Jack our sources tell us you're going to experience in The Ripper. Heís a supernatural slayer protecting people from demons, vampires and other evil monsters. And seeing as how this is Visceral Studios, donít expect your typical, played-out demons. Instead, imagine a cross between the monsters from Dead Space and Danteís Inferno. Jack will have an assortment of over-the-top weapons to take on these demons, and we're told gameplay involves a special ability that lets him slow down time, too."
"What do you all think of this potential re-imagining of Jack the Ripper?"
Well, let me tell you how I feel: alright man, where are the cameras? Seriously, you got me, that was pretty good, but the joke's over, come on, come out and tell me this is a gag. Please...Please come out and tell me this isn't true! This has got to be the dumbest thing I've ever read! Really, I'm dead serious, show me the cameras, or I'm suing the producers for brain damage, because this is the dumbest shit I've ever read.
You, Visceral Games, have the opportunity to make, one of the few games to ever be based upon the infamous Ripper slayings, one of the single most studied and followed crimes of the 19th century, and you want to make it a God of War
clone? Are you shitting me?! Really sink this into your heads people; not only is Jack the Ripper a hero, but he's also fighting demons for the sake of all Britain and the Earth itself. Awesome. Why don't we just make a game about how Osama Bin Laden is actually not so bad a guy and goes back in time to defeat Robot Hitler before he takes over Eastern Europe? How about we make a game about Stalin leading his armies to defeat an alien invasion. Oh wait...
Not only is this basically the most ludicrous thing I've heard in a while, and believe me, I've heard some pretty crazy shit, it's also one of the most offensive things I've ever heard. They're making a serial killer a good guy and making him fight demons? Do I even need to continue to tell you how stupid this crap is?
Now let's be fair here, the killings are almost 200 years old, we've had time to grow up. While we're at it, it's still in good taste to make jokes about 9/11 right? I mean, it's been a few years. The holocaust? Game on, I'm down. Hell, let's just go on and say it; fuck the slaves, what a bunch of dumbasses. Why get onto a boat full of white slavers and then bitch about being enslaved? Idiots.
See how offended you'd be if I made that joke in earnest? American slavery was around way before and much longer than Jack the Ripper, so why shouldn't the idea of turning Jack the Ripper into a good guy not offend you? Now I know the death of five prostitutes isn't really on the same level as the enslaving and abusing of an entire race of people for hundreds of years, but really, isn't a tragedy a tragedy?
Sure, the game hasn't come out yet, in fact, not much is known at all about it, but the concept itself is just so dumb. Is there any intelligent way to approach it? Let's think of several ways a game based around Jack the Ripper could be played:
1. You are, in order, from Mary Ann Nichols to Mary Jane Kelly, the victims of Jack the Ripper. In this horror game, you take up the persona of each girl and each night ends in your death by the hands of the Ripper. You must run, scream, seek help, and even try and fight the Ripper, a cloaked man with the presence of a ghost, but no matter how much you try, you die in the end by the Ripper's hand. It could be incredibly atmospheric, with it being set in the cobble-stone, fog-laden streets of Whitechapel.
You could even have different visions of Jack each time, with one girl seeing him as an impenetrable, unstoppable mountain of a man (she, as in you, can stab him multiple times to no effect, perhaps even resulting in him laughing it off) while another sees him as the devil himself, taking a psychological horror approach as she hallucinates horns coming out of his head.
2. You play as a Whitechapel Metropolitan Police Officer who follows the murders of the Ripper and seeks that justice is carried out upon him. The officer is depressed though; he is going through an abysmal divorce with an abusive and terrible, completely irredeemable woman, who actually berates you and contacts you to insult you and others throughout the game. However, there's a twist; there would be a moral choice system in which you could frame various people whom you know to do evil things throughout the game.
First it would be a thief who killed a shop owner out of fear of being caught, then it could be a pedophile, then it could be a doctor who poisons patients, or any number of other things, like a doctor who sells cadavers to necrophiliacs. The game would keep pushing you to put these people away for crimes they didn't commit, truly asking you to define justice. These people would have various reasons why they would not be caught by the police at a later time, meaning they would escape if you don't frame them.
You would be split; do you put away an "innocent" person for crimes they didn't commit, even though in the players mind it would be for crimes they actually did commit, or do you let these people free to seek the actual Ripper. The ultimatum would come at the end; you never find the Ripper, but instead you find the right amount of evidence to put away the woman who has made the Officer's life hell for years. It's the pinnacle of the framing system; do you put away this truly evil, violent, vile woman, or do you stay on the path of justice to inevitably turn up empty and let the crimes go unpunished?
3. You play as fictional brother of one of the murder victims, and you take up the duty of capturing the maniac. You prowl the streets at night, shake people for information, even get into a couple of fights (Not too many, this isn't Yakuza
...) with the scum of the streets, and gather information about the Ripper. There would be an intimidation system in which if you press too hard, people will lie to you to get you off of them, or if you aren't hard enough, they'll lie to you to get you to go away.
Some of the information you collect could even be fake for other reasons; people don't see well, incriminate the wrong people, and you could even end up finding, even killing, the wrong person because of people that lied to you or gave you false information.
That's just three, and don't those sound pretty cool? I'd like to think they do, and I'm pretty certian that they are more mature, more interesting, and just plain better ideas that "Jack the Ripper is Dante/Kratos." The real issue with the idea is that there's no reason for it to have anything to do with Jack the Ripper. They went out of their way to choose an already famous subject for a most-likely crap action game. Why?
Sales. They could have picked any number of ways to have an action game in 19th century England, but they chose Jack the Ripper because people will buy it. Sure, other people have made successful steam-punk aesthetic action games, but instead, they chose to put that concept onto a historical event that has no business being associated with anything of that nature.
Not only that, but they choose to glorify a murderer? Sure, in the game, he probably won't be, but then why choose the Ripper in the first place?! No one knows who he/she was, so the only interest people have in him/her is who the fuck they were and why they killed people! Sure, Wolfenstien
and Bionic Commando
had Hitler in them, but at least he was still evil! They went out of their way to turn a psychopath into a hero, when they could have very well just done the same thing with a fictional character, which would be a thousand times less stupid/offensive.
This idea is so dumb, I actually almost forgot to bitch about the single-most overused gameplay mechanic of all-time: slowing down time. We've played the hundreds upon millions of games that allow you slow or stop time. Why is this still around? No game that uses it today does it well, and when you think about it, did any game ever do it well? Time mechanics blow, moving on.
EA, next time you want to contract out to make an action game, why not choose a story or an event that is conducive to actually being an action game? Sure, Dante's Inferno
is a stretch, but at least it was based upon literature, not a real-life serial killer. Not only that, but did you executives actually read, I mean really read
, the description of the game? If that didn't strike you as the most offensive, ridiculous, and insensitive thing you read that day, then come see me; I'll knock some fucking sense into you idiots.
LOOK WHO CAME: