Sometimes, a character doesn’t have to be fleshed out, like an NPC shopkeeper. Then, there are times when characters are mistakenly thought and/or written as though they have character, but are just one-dimensional, line-spouting, animated cardboard cutouts. Let’s revisit a character that was written with character, especially when it mattered.
Let’s overview Moira Burton. She’s a playable character and co-star of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and daughter of Resident Evil veteran, Barry Burton. So, quick talking points on what (can) make a character come off as a developed one (hopefully, fully):
- Morals & Ethics
You know, the basics. If there are connections and pay-offs to these setups, then more power to the character and writers. Thankfully, there’s a lot more that goes into Moira’s character here then check-listing the essentials.
Revelations 2 was directed and executed competently to dole out the information slowly without going full-on and heavy with exposition that a lot of writing – be it in movies, books, or games – happen to pitfall into.
MOIRA’S INTRO & SETUP
Moira is first introduced in an almost contrasting way. A cheerful greeting across the room between her and Claire, Revelations 2’s other protagonist, while dressed in a rebellious, emo/punk wardrobe.
Claire and her co-worker, Neil, mention Moira’s relationship with her farther and not to mention it, followed by Moira checking her phone and commenting on whatever it is that her farther did. “Fucking, Barry.”
An easy thing to spot is Moira referring to her farther by his name rather than a casual term of endearment such as, “dad.” Not something to get hung-over on, but the little touches like these are appreciated so the character is more detailed.
I won’t go over every line and mention between Moira and her relationship with her farther, and throughout the game, lines of dialogue are slowly trickled out that play a part the game as they do in the story.
Moira uses a crowbar and flashlight instead of firearms because of an event in which she almost killed her sister when she was younger. A bad relationship that spawned since her farther, Barry, constantly blamed Moira for it.
Moira has a setup that connects with past characters (Claire & Barry) and uses the backstory of being a big-sister when consoling a little girl Moira and Claire comes across named, Natalia, who is essentially a child that can sense zombies though walls.
She has a motivation to do something outside of surviving and getting off a prison island, which is to not use guns because of a past event and constant scorning from her farther reminding her of it.
It also changes up the cooperative feature of Revelations 2 to be more about supporting each other rather than two fully-equipped bad-asses that can light up everything with bullets and ninja kicks (ala Resident Evil 5 & 6).
MOIRA’S MORALS & ETHICS
Due to her past mishap, Moira has morals & ethics. She won’t use guns because of the past and she stands firmly on this. Though, it can seem kind of dumb from a survival perspective, it’s admirable that a character had a background story setup and then not-so-easily tossed away.
She starts out rough. Almost unlikable. The way she acts in the beginning reflects the way she dresses in a stereotypical sense. Constantly cursing and freaking out, displaying how green she is when confronted with life-and-death situations against mutated monster zombie people things.
Being notified that she was injected with a virus that could turn her into a monstrosity doesn’t help either. By the way, there is nothing wrong with using stereotypes, so as long as they are utilized or implemented well.
As the game progresses, she tones down quite a bit, becoming less frantic and spouting less rants. Her language her lack of experience and maturity. By the near end of the game, she’s more affirmative and supportive in her actions and observations. It’s almost as though she’s developing through these experiences!
MOIRA’S CONFLICT & CHARACTER ARC
Finally, Moira has a character arc that deals with one of her internal conflicts. If you chose to do so, Moira will pick up a gun when monstrous Neil is attempting to finish off Claire, and pump him full of lead with it.
She’s not thrilled about it either, saying, “Fuck guns.” as she picks it up, before telling the boss to jump on a dildo. Good stuff, and I say that with no sarcasm. That line made me burst out laughing, and at that point, Moira won me completely over.
To be clear, Moira is a solid character, and a great addition to the Resident Evil franchise. She’s not a mold-shattering or brilliant character by any means, and that’s fine. She’s as competently written and developed as Revelations 2 is as a game.
Both the game and the character, and how they are utilized in the whole, are done well. I’d go as far as saying Revelations 2 campaign and co-op were great, and that if Revelations 3 were to be green-lit, I hope Moira returns as the main protagonist.
She was, after all, a new recruit in Revelations 2, then went through a horrifying life-or-death situation and came out alive. Sound like someone else in the franchise? Leon (cough).
Call me crazy or cynical (and I’ll take no offense to either since I’m both), it is always a pleasant experience for me when I play through a game that attempts to have characters with depth and succeed.
Hell, the Doom Guy in the latest Doom had more character than most of the generic plastic dolls of some big name RPGs (not going to be specific); and that’s a genre where characters and story play a much larger and integral part to the experience.
So, kudos, to the person(s) that wrote Moira’s character. You did good. So good, I wrote this entire article of over 1000 words. And just to be clear: Moira being a solidly written and developed character was only a tiny fraction of what, I think, made Revelations 2 a great game.
There are so many factors that come into play that writing anymore would earn me a doctorate in no-lifery (it’s not a word, but I will make it one by adding it to my PC’s dictionary). So, cheers, and may the next revelation not also be an epiphany.(..?) That didn’t make sense but sounded good in my head as I was writing it. Oh, f-ck it.