For the first time in my life I completed a video game. As in roll the credits we are outta here. Don’t snicker. It’s true, I’ve never played a game where no matter how many times I died or how complicated things seem to get I couldn’t get enough of it. Well played High Moon Studio’s, well played. I hope Deadpool‘s take over won’t affect the quality of the games. Though I doubt he gives much input. Oh . . . you didn’t know he took over? He announced it in person at ComicCon 2012. No seriously.
Anyway, this isn’t about Deadpool. Really. No. It’s about Transformers. Specifically this game:
I can count on one hand the times I’ve paid full price for a game. I paid full price for this game and it was worth every sandwich I slapped together at Subway. The game play was nearly seamless, the graphics incredible even on my ancient CRT TV. Technical things aside, what made this game so much fun was the fact that you sometimes played as an Autobot and sometimes as a Decepticon. I enjoyed both honestly. But what struck me the most was the dicotomy between Megatron and Optimus. Oh sure I’d always known it existed but usually it was just: Autobots=GOOD, Decepticons=BAD.
Yet the lines, while clearly drawn, were sometimes a bit fuzzy and grayer than I’d remembered. At one point Megatron taunts Optimus saying that he was the reason Cybertron was uninhabitable because he’d drug out the war by not surrendering. That Optimus was at fault for allowing the war to continue when he could have ended it and the suffering and ultimate decimation of their home world.
Optimus counters that freedom is worth the price. Freedom from Megatron’s tyranny is worth the sacrifice. And it’s a huge sacrifice. Their home planet is incapable of supporting life any longer. Optimus makes the difficult and not uncontested decision to leave their planet behind. The war is a stalemate. Both sides have lost. There isn’t enough energon to fuel the planet and even the Well of Allsparks has gone dry. There are no new transformers. Their world is dead.
Was it worth it?
Their civilization is gone and with it nearly all their advancements in culture, art, science and technology. Was Optimus right to make that decision for the whole race? Was he right to fight Megatron until literally every last resource had been depleted? Should he have tried to find another way to end the war and save their planet? Should he have conceded defeat to Megatron to save their world from destruction?
Sometimes, waiting for a tyranny to erode from the inside only brings more pain and suffering and you still end up in the same place you would have if you had opposed it.
So what was Megatron’s impetus for continuing the war? Obviously he believed himself and his ideals to be right. Right enough to fight for hundreds of years to ensure they were implemented. Megatron wanted to end the caste system that had been in place for millenia on Cybertron. He wanted freedom to determine his own status as a Cybertronian. So where did things go so wrong?
His methods. He was impatient, ruthless, driven and unwilling to negotiate. While his ideals might have been lofty and well intended. His means of getting there decried any possibility of his rule being a just one. He became obsessed with power which lead to his use of the Dark Energon and his exposure to its corruptive influence. He refused the advice of his lieutenants to leave Dark Energon alone and went ahead with his plan. This was extreme hubris on his part.
His background as a gladiator did him no favors when it came time to lead. He was too accustomed to crushing anything that stood in his way. This just one area where he and Optimus differed.
Before he became a Prime, Optimus had been Orion Pax, a data clerk. His approach to things was academic, with careful research and weighing of all sides. Sometimes, during the civil war his close friends and advisers felt he was too cautious, too reserved and unwilling to take necessary risks. Where Megatron would rush in headlong guns blazing, Optimus was more likely to observe and debate the necessity of action.
They are polar opposites and yet they are both passionate about their ideals. Both of them have lofty aims that are not in themselves wrong. At one time they agreed and were even friends, but their difference of opinion in the method to reach those goals lead to their current animosity.
Their story is a tragedy of epic proportions that spanned eons and millions of light years. There are lessons to be learned from it. Both from a societal viewpoint and a personal one.
Yup, all that from a video game.