Schindler's List. The Godfather. Casablanca. Each of these films have solidified their standing in American culture as the most widely accepted works of art of the past century. Each film offers the most brutally realistic vision of its respective theme while at the same time delivering a lasting message to their audience. For instance, Saving Private Ryan engrossed the viewer in some of the most hellish battles of World War II while also offering a masterfully-written narrative that explores the concept of brotherhood, sacrifice and basic human instinct. These films are successful because no matter how old their viewer, they communicate their message effectively and challenge us to compare the morals and decisions of the film's characters to our own. They have earned the right to be called, "great".
Herein lays the double-edged sword of video game narratives: because gamers assume control over a character or group of characters for the title's duration, unless the game's code forces you to perform otherwise, gamers make the decisions to kill or let live (most often the former), to forsake their companions or save their lives. Why did Corporal Upham fail to assist his fellow soldiers in their hour of need? How does Captain Miller rationalize losing the men he's spent the past three years with in the pursuit of an unknown? These are amongst the critical questions video games have not yet posed to their audience. Quality cinema has consistently left a lasting impact on the viewer because he or she becomes emotionally invested in its characters. If we know nothing about a game's protagonist(s), or we dislike them to the point we wish to turn the game off completely, how can developers expect us to care for them?
-Brian Paterson, Reelgamers.com