Some of the best lines in movies are endlessly quotable, but it seems only lately that video games are catching up in this regard. I think a large part of that reason is that video game writing as a whole has gotten a lot more sophisticated over the last ten years.
Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of quotes from gaming’s earlier generations that I’d love to expound upon, and perhaps someday I’ll put together a list of my favorite quotes in gaming, period. But for right now, I wanted to explore my favorite lines from the current set of consoles, as we seem poised on the brink of a new set. They’re in no particular order here.
Keep in mind, I haven’t played EVERY game that came out this generation, so I probably missed some good ones, but if you’ve got a good one, share it!
Fallout 3 – “War. War never changes.”
This technically shouldn’t count, as the entire Fallout series has included Ron Perlman gently dribbling that iconic line into our waiting ears. And the first two Fallout games were most definitely not in this generation of games. But this generation has certainly resurrected the series, and I’ve absolutely loved both Fallout 3 and New Vegas.
Still, I guess you can consider this more of an honorary mention than actually making the list. It just feels kind of empty. Aside from Ron Perlman’s gentle tones making it far more badass than it needs to be, in the newer games, the sentiment feels forced, like they thought they needed some moral philosophy just for the sake of it. “Killing is bad, kids!” And then Fallout 3 and New Vegas almost delight in killing. Aside from rewarding you for it with items and experience, there’s the slow motion cam celebrating your bullets perforating someone’s skull. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome, it just doesn’t jive well with philosophical moralizing.
But I had to include it in the article, because Ron Goddamn Perlman.
Bioshock – “Would you kindly?”
It’s going to be very difficult to explain why this is on the list without spoiling too much, so bear with me.
It’s a completely innocuous phrase, really, perhaps indicating good manners on the part of the speaker. While its origins are somewhere in decades or maybe even centuries past, it’s common enough today that one thinks nothing of it, a colloquial quirk of Atlas’ manners or his Irish dialect perhaps – which is why it came as such a shock to me and many other players that that phrase would be so vitally important.
That’s not to say that there aren’t other great lines and phrases in Bioshock, “No Gods or Kings, Only Man”, and “A man chooses; a slave obeys” come quickly to mind. Andrew Ryan has a metric ton of brilliant soliloquies, like “Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? ‘No!’ says the man in Washington, ‘it belongs to the poor.’ ‘No!’ says the man in the Vatican, ‘it belongs to God.’ ‘No!’ says the man in Moscow, ‘it belongs to everyone.’ I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose… Rapture. A city where the artist would not fear the censor; where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality; where the great would not be constrained by the small!” Then there’s my favorite of them, “It wasn’t impossible to build Rapture at the bottom of the sea. It was impossible to build it anywhere else.”
But in the end, I chose those all-important three words, if only because of how one’s desire to be helpful to a friendly video game character completely overrode any suspicions I might’ve had.