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10/5/2013 10:36:00 AM
'Remember Me' relies on too much violence
This is a still from the the action-adventure video game
This is a still from the the action-adventure video game "Remember Me." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M -- Mature. (CNS photo/Capcom)
Catholic News Service

Tiresome propaganda undercuts the entertainment value of the action-adventure game "Remember Me" (Capcom) while an uncritical attitude toward the use of violence makes it morally unacceptable.

In 2084 Neo-Paris, a corporation called Memorize has developed the ability to share, control and delete memories. Not surprisingly, such powerful technology has been flagrantly abused, with government and corporate entities combining to form a horrific surveillance state in a misguided quest for utopia.

The player assumes the persona of Nilin, a prisoner in Neo-Paris' version of the Bastille, a fortresslike jail where inmates have their memories erased. With the unexpected assistance of a mysterious revolutionary called Edge, Nilin manages to make good her escape before her past has been entirely wiped out.

Edge is a member of the Errorists, an underground rebel group fighting to expose the death and destruction Memorize is inflicting, especially on the poor. Unfortunately, Edge takes the view that the Errorists' good ends justify all possible means, a profound ethical lapse into which Nilin is eventually drawn -- as too, by extension, is the gamer.

Thus, early on, Edge and Nilin collaborate to breach a dam. As Nilin only belatedly discovers once the structure has given way, however, the real objective of this operation is to flood a nearby city and kill as many of its rich inhabitants as possible.

Edge defends this outcome by maintaining that, through inaction and ignorance, the wealthy civilians they've drowned were complicit in oppressing the needy. It's troubling that this line of logic is never explicitly challenged, either by Nilin or by anyone else in the game. Edge's reasoning, after all, directly echoes that used by al-Qaida to justify its murderous attacks on office workers and Pentagon staffers.

One-on-one interaction is equally fraught. In a minigame in which the player must participate, Nilin changes the memory of a grief-stricken Memorize commander so that he now (falsely) believes he was at fault in the recent death of his girlfriend. He subsequently kills himself, allowing Nilin to advance to the next stage.

Meandering story developments -- through which the player is largely passive -- drag on for enormous chunks of time as the narrative seeks to say all it has to say without the player being able to take control. This might be more acceptable if some of the dialogue being exchanged weren't so trite.

On the technical side, the fighting mechanics are solid, and the platforming sections are adequate. But the gameplay provides very little of substance.

The gorgeous and intriguing landscapes of Neo-Paris beg to be explored. Yet the gamer's experience within them is linear and brief. That's an unforgivable defect considering that most current titles come equipped with enormous, complex worlds to explore.

With its aesthetic potential squandered and its moral compass out of whack, "Remember Me" is best left to fall into well-deserved oblivion.

Played for review on Xbox 360. Also available for PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows.

The game contains skewed moral values, frequent action violence with some blood, a suicide, sexualized imagery, at least one rough term and occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M -- Mature.

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