The Top 7... gut-wrenching choices

The choice: In addition to crime and capitalism, GTA IV is a game about contacts. Without the many acquaintances on Niko’s phone list, the story would not progress. His path is determined by their plans. So what do you do when one contact asks you to kill another? And vice versa? You stare down the barrel of your virtual gun for a long, long time…

The paralyzing thought process: Halfway through the game, Playboy X orders you to assassinate his old friend and mentor, Dwayne Forge. Since Playboy is a rising criminal superstar with aspirations to build up his local community, and Dwayne is a suicidal mope who wishes he was either dead or back in prison, why worry? Visiting either man’s apartment – Playboy lives in overprotected opulence while Dwayne resides in grimy tenements with a lone, seemingly homeless bodyguard – may change your mind.

Later, in an even murkier moral dilemma, two brothers beg you to make the other disappear. Both are selfish, both are corrupt, but both also have redeeming qualities. Francis McReary is a police officer and the only member of his family to lead a (relatively) legal existence. Derrick McReary was an Irish freedom fighter, and after years of paranoid exile, (possibly) deserves a chance at peace. Suddenly, though, you’ve got less than a minute to choose who lives… and who gets an action-packed funeral in the next mission.

The aftermath: Outside of some divergent dialogue and newspaper headlines, GTA IV leaves the impact of the latter decision up to the player’s imagination. You never see either brother again, though killing Derrick does enable you to blackmail Francis into calling off police chases now and again. As for Playboy versus Dwayne? Playboy betrays you and abandons you; Dwayne befriends you and gives you Playboy’s luxury penthouse suite. If you can reload a save file, the choice is obvious.

The choice: Somewhere in Africa, a government has failed and a country is at civil war. Two factions struggle for control, both using you as an invisible pawn. When one side eventually wins, however, its leaders will want to erase any evidence of wrongdoing… including you, your mercenary friends and, for some reason, a village full of innocent locals. Naturally, there isn’t time to protect them all.

The paralyzing thought process: Far Cry 2 gives you one, and just one, primary objective – kill the Jackal. Everything else in the game is a means to that end, and if you must become as ruthlessly immoral as your target in order to finish him, so be it. At least that’s what you tell yourself… until the game actually puts your cynicism to the test. The villagers aren’t merely villagers, you see. They’re a congregation of churchgoers! Whose preacher has been keeping you alive with malaria medicine for days now! Damn.

Hmm, okay, so maybe let the other mercenaries die? They’re heartless murderers like you; hell, they’re loitering in the bar at this moment, slowly drowning themselves in cheap liquor. But wait… they’ve saved you from death countless times, dragging you back to safety every time you’ve fallen. You really won’t return the favor when you have the chance? Crap.

The aftermath: Surprise! Hope you didn’t soul search for too long, because no matter which side you pick, the friends are toast. They’re always gunned down at the bar; the only difference is if you’re there to witness it or not.