Good VS Evil

Today, kids, we talk about games with morality engines. Good VS Evil. The right thing VS being a complete dick. They’ve become quite popular in games, and since their early days, I’ve been very fond of them. Putting in my hands the option to be a good guy or a bad guy, a sinner or a saint, that’s my kind of thing. I get really excited about games that have this particular kind of structure. The more involved it is, the happier I am.

It’s just that, well, I tend to play instinctively. Which means, and here’s something that might just shock you, 99.9% of the time, my character is the bad guy the first go ’round. Even if it just ends up that the morality engine is so involved that I’ve managed to make choices that place me more along the lines of Chaotic Neutral (yeah, I’m that much of a prick), I’m certainly not the Knight In Shining Armor. I’m no Hero.

It kind of surprised me to learn that most of my friends are. Not even just friends, but people I encounter randomly and discuss games with. We that play our characters wickedly because it comes naturally – and it’s way more fun – we are a very small percentage of the world. Very. Fucking. Small.

Most players will go through their first plays of these games with golden hearts and halos that (somebody like me would shove up their asses given the chance) gleam with all the glory of the righteous. They do the noble things, the brave things, sacrificing themselves and/or their loved ones so that it might save an entire race of beings (barf). When the game is complete, then, and only then, will they traipse through the world again, this time choosing the dark side. The majority of players like this will not find these actions easy. You will see them struggle with themselves, even though they’ve made the decision to be bad. Oh, WHY is it that you people cannot see how glorious it is to walk on the other side of the tracks?

There are even some players, a fairly good fraction of those that are good at heart, who cannot – no matter what – bring themselves to play a bad guy. And some that, beyond that, can’t even be mildly morally questionable.

Okay, I will admit. I usually save the “white hat” run through for the very last. I don’t generally have as much fun being nice. I’m not into all that … self sacrifice and putting the good of the whole before the good of myself. I like being reprehensible. I like how the Dark Side alters the way one looks when one uses it too much (KOTOR). It makes me giddy to see that I’ve screwed somebody else over so that I can have an easier life.

But it’s not impossible for me to play through as a good guy. I do it. I do it to see different endings, to see how differently characters will react when you’re not threatening to burn down their village. I do it to see the changes and the subtleties. It’s still fun, just not as much fun. So why can’t those do-gooders see my side of it? Why can’t they just admit that for a little while, it’s kind of interesting and entertaining to be evil? Hm? I think it’s a little biased, really. I can play how you play, but you don’t even want to try it my way?

This is starting to sound a little … naughty, isn’t it.

Some people are surprised when they discover the nature of my gaming. Most, however, not so much. Once you get to know me, you really can’t ignore the fact that it bleeds over into real life. I am who I am. I make it no secret. I don’t lie about it. I laugh when people get hurt. I enjoy tasteless jokes. So my friends? Really not startled when they see my achievements always pop up with the “you won the game as a complete heartless bastard” first. Not surprised when I talk about the dark endings before I talk about the light ones. Not at all taken aback, but highly amused, when I rage quietly about accidentally getting the Light Side ending in Force Unleashed the first time I played it. ACCIDENTALLY GOT IT. SON.OF.A.BITCH. Yes, I’m still angry. I also harbor resentment and grudges, fyi.

All I want you people to do is try to see things my way. That’s all I ask. Is that so much?

Evil. Try it. You might like it.

Silent Hill: Homecoming (Frustrations)

I cannot even tell you right now how long ago I got this game. I borrowed it first from a friend, then decided that I liked it too much to not own it, and that it was going to take me a fairly long time to play through it, so holding onto his copy wasn’t really nice.

I have this frequent problem. Or I did. I am trying to correct it. It’s a bad habit, and it’s how I ended up with a giant fucking stack of games that were only somewhat played through. I would be in the middle of a game and something would come out that I was more interested in. Now, instead of buying said game and waiting until I finished what I was working on, I would play the new game, leaving the other sad and alone. Crying. On my shelf.

While I did this with Silent Hill: Homecoming, I did manage to pick it up again fairly quickly after I finished whatever wondrous thing had floated my way. I was playing along quite happily, too. Enjoying myself. Yelling at the television when things wouldn’t die. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have a potty mouth. It’s not just when I write.

Then the most horrible of horribles happened. The one thing that every gamer dreads and curses the sky for.

I got stuck.

I did it to myself. I can wholly admit that. It was all entirely my doing. No question. I went into an area with maybe two bullets, a quarter of my health, a crowbar, an axe, and a flashlight. No medical kits. No health drinks. Just wandered on in, didn’t even think about it. Didn’t consider that I’d just found something pretty significant and maybe, just motherfucking maybe, I should take a moment to gather myself so that I wouldn’t be walking into the massive clusterfuck of assrape that I did. No. Not me. I’ll just go right down this pretty creepy ladder here, and… oh. What’s that? Boss you say? Can’t go back, you say? Fucked myself, did I?

I did.

I literally spent weeks trying to find a way to defeat Scarlett with what I had on me. I can admit that I didn’t even come close. Not even mildly. It’s actually pretty laughable how not close I came to killing her and proceeding with the rest of the game. I would laugh, except it’s my problem. Laughing at yourself often gets you a white padded room and a special jacket. Or maybe that’s just how hard I would be laughing, and with the release of emotion might come some added screaming and…

Let’s move on, shall we?

I have previously talked about my quest to wrap up the above noted games, bringing my backlog into some realm of sanity. Coupled with the vow that once I have picked up a game, I will complete it before starting another. (This vow is hard to keep. Obviously I was not made for vows. Or with much willpower when it comes to video games.) The time for Silent Hill: Homecoming did roll around, and lo, I picked it up and with heavy heart did erase my previous game, thus confirming the restart that was fated to occur.

I’ve been enjoying it… I suppose I should say that I had been, had being a very key word here… I had been enjoying it during the replay. There had been enough time and enough other games in that time that I didn’t remember the story perfectly, I didn’t automatically know how to solve the puzzles. It was a little new despite how far I’d gotten. It was okay. It really was.

Until I started thinking about getting to that boss level with the goddamned giant fucking puppet of massive sphincter bleeding. Then I started to get upset. Not with the game, though, with myself. I kept thinking of all the things I could have done differently to prevent this replay from happening. Replaying because you want to is one thing. Doing it because you’ve shoved your own head up your ass is entirely different. It’s just aggravating.

I had to stop playing again. Now it and GTA 4 are the ones staring at me from my shelves, asking me why they aren’t yet finished. SH:H pleading with puppy dog eyes and little whimpering noises. “Just finish me, I’m a good game, I’ll show ya, you enjoyed me before, just pick me up, we’ll have a good time together, promise”. Bastard.

I’m just so annoyed with myself over things that I’m taking it out on the game. I have to get over it, that’s what it comes down to. I have to, and I will. Somehow. Because I cannot just let it linger. It will drive me crazy (obviously we’re significantly down that street, aren’t we?).

There will be another update on this when I finish the damn game.

Bioshock (finished)

I am proud to say that shortly before I made my massive cross country move, I managed to finish BioShock. Not that it took a lot of effort. As it goes with games that you’ve fallen in love with, the time slips by unnoticed, you’re startled and confused when you see the sun coming around your curtains or peeking in through the little window in the kitchen door. Really, if I’d only had one day to go through this whole game, I would have done it. Even if it meant driving 26 hours with blurry eyes and the inability to think about anything but Little Sisters and if I should Harvest them.

Overall, a very enjoyable game. Very enjoyable. I will be playing this game again, there is no doubt about that.

Despite my small inability to save the Little Sisters, as I spoke about in a previous post, I did not regret the choices I made or the actions I took. I can play it again and try to save them this time, instead of saving one and then harvesting the next three on reflex. Or… I can try and fail. We’ll see.

I was very happy, very very happy, when I got to put on a Big Daddy costume and lumber about. There are certain sounds that I’m attracted to in games, and I can’t quite explain it or even really know when a particular sound is going to grab a hold of me and make me adore it. The sound of the Big Daddy is one of them. So the fact that I not only got to dress like one, but that I ended up sounding like one, well, it really tickled me. If I could have had more time with that, gone back to some old places and just kind of kicked around for a while, killing those fucking weird ass half dead junkie assholes wantonly, I think I would have been a happy girl for at least a few hours without further need of plot or direction.

I don’t know how I escaped knowing about that particular feature of the game. It’s not like (even though it may at times seem so) I have been living in a cave. People around me have been playing and talking about this game since it came out. SINCE IT CAME OUT. Yet, I had no clue. Somehow the spoilers of this joy flew by me like greased pigeons. I was well and truly surprised at the discovery. And joyful. I cannot go on without saying the word joyful some more. Joyful.

I’m excited to play the next game in the series, whenever I can get my hands on it. Which, given how long it took me for this one, might very well be right around the time they’re making the fourth. I would roll my eyes at myself, but then I’d have to get up and go look in a mirror, and I’m just not that into moving at the moment.

There is nothing more that I can really say. Truly. Love. Deep, penetrating love, filled to the brim love, a little glad I’m behind so I don’t have to wait for more love. Play this game. Play it a lot. Never sell it. Not even if you’re going to starve to death if you don’t.

Kameo

Let me tell you a little bit about my history with Kameo. It needs to be said, or I don’t think it’ll make much sense, my feelings about this game. My inability to truly feel much about what’s going on.

Once upon a time, I decided to try GameFly. I thought that it might be a good idea, renting games, getting to see what I might like and what I might hate without paying for a whole game. In theory, it’s brilliant. I suspect that for most people out there, it’s a wonderful tool. For me? Utter failure. Complete waste of time. Even though I didn’t pay anything at all for my two week trial with them, I feel like I wasted a lot of effort.

I tried games that I thought I might like, and when I did like them, I went out and bought them anyway. With my track record of games I like when I buy them VS games I hate, there’s not a lot of risk there. I could see where it would be risky for people who just pick up every game they see and give it a try. GameFly would be great for them. So you can see, effort wasted. Time wasted.

One of the games that I tried with GameFly was Kameo. I did like it pretty goddamned quickly, and it also happened to be at the very end of my trial. So I sent it back, went to the store with the intent to buy it and promptly saw something shinier. I can’t tell you now what it was, just that I had to have it more than I had to have Kameo.

Months later, I was back in the store, and lo – Kameo. Cheaply. So I picked it up. Why not? I’d had fun the first time, though I hadn’t gotten very far at all. I took it home and put it directly into my machine, happy as a clam.

And I shit you not, the next day something came out that would once again eclipse my playing of Kameo. And once again, I cannot tell you what that thing was, just that it was bigger and bolder, and called to me so deeply that I ignored the small cries of this newly bought game as I pried the disk out of the tray and shoved it back into it’s case, then onto the shelf. I should note here that I got exactly as far through the game as I had the first time.

A year later. Kameo again. Again it is usurped.

Forgotten in the stacks of games to play, I finally came upon it this year in my quest to finish every half touched game that I owned. I decided that now was the time to let this game shine. Now was the moment. I placed it where it needed to go and sat my ass down on the couch, ready. I restarted my game, because by this time, I had no memory of what I’d learned – however little – and what had happened in the story.

After about a half hour, I realized that I hadn’t gotten very far at all and caught up to where I recalled leaving off very quickly. Kind of sad, really, given all the efforts I’d gone to previously (*cough*). It also occurred to me that not once in my former tries had I ever gotten further than this into the game. Always, something more had come forward and taken my attentions away. For a few hours, I played with fear and trepidation. What if something fantastic were to fall into my lap as I held the controller in my hand? What if it demanded to be played instantly and once again Kameo was thrown to the wayside?

And then I got over it, because I realized I am my own downfall, and if I didn’t go seeking new shiny games, they would not appear.

It didn’t take me long to get through this game. And I did have fun with it. But I just have this kind of apathy going on about it. I don’t care that I played it, really. I guess I’m glad I did, it’s done with, it’s not on my shelf anymore. It’s not waiting for me and mocking me every time I walk by. But I have no sense of satisfaction. I have no feeling of accomplishment. I didn’t put down my controller and think to myself “Holy shit, that was a good game” and I didn’t by any means desire to play it again. It wasn’t a bad game, it really wasn’t. Plus, I am an avid, nearly insanely so, replayer, thus my lack of desire to go through again was and is surprising and confusing.

I don’t know where this feeling – or lack thereof – comes from. Is it because I just let it sit for too long? Is it that I tried too many times to get into this game and it never happened, thus leaving me with an empty hole where my enjoyment should be? I don’t know. I just don’t.

I have passed this game on, a thing I don’t really do, as I like to keep them around so I can play them again at a later date. But I know that I will not ever pick up Kameo again. I won’t ever give it another go round. PLEASE. SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THIS. My world is upside down (I’ll get over it).

Beautiful Katamari

When I first got this game, I really adored the concept. I loved the story that set up what you had to do. Everything about it suited me just fine. I was excited to play it, and popped it into my machine as soon as I got it home.

I enjoyed it for about 20 minutes. A couple of levels.

After that, it was just tedium for me. I stopped being intrigued by all the things that I could roll up into a ball with me. Then, on top of it, the music started to make me feel like I wanted to put a hole in my head. There were all these little annoyances that I might have been able to handle individually, but all together, were just too much.

I put the game down for three years. I didn’t touch it, and I didn’t look at it. I didn’t even think about it. I’m not against giving something another shot after I’ve had some time away from it to cool down and maybe get out of whatever mind set I might have been in at the time. Look at it freshly, you know? Under different mental circumstances.

So while I was going through all of my partially played games, I noticed that it was still there, and decided to add it to the end of that pile. I figured by the time I got through all the other games, I would be ready for it again. I could give it that second change. Let it show me that I had been wrong, or just in a bad place for it the last go around.

It’s time finally arrived. I popped it into my Xbox and sat down to play.

I discovered that I felt the exact same way.

I went ahead and did a couple more levels, just to be extra sure. But nothing changed for me. I wanted to like this game, I wanted to like it so very much. But I just didn’t. I couldn’t even get halfway through it. There was no way to force myself. I ended up giving it to a friend who I knew would appreciate it more than I would, and she did. She played through it pretty quickly, actually. I’m glad that somebody got joy and enjoyment out of it, because I couldn’t.

There haven’t been any sort of large number of games that I have started and were unable to finish because of my dislike. In fact, the only two I can really think of are this one and Watchmen: The End is Nigh. Oh, and don’t get me wrong. My apathy toward Katamari is nothing close to my loathing of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh. I am of a general indifference toward Beautiful Katamari. I hated Watchmen deep into the core of me. There was nothing redeeming about that game, and I think if anybody handed it to me, I’d light it on fire.

It does actually make me a little bit sad that I couldn’t get into Katamari. I know that a lot of people had fun with it. It makes me wonder why I couldn’t manage to have fun with it.

Oh well. We can’t win them all, can we?

But considering my point of view compared to all the others out there, I can’t honestly say that anybody should or should not pick this one up. I feel as if I’m in the minority here, thus making me an unreliable source.

The Force Unleashed II

I know a lot of people who have played this game and found it to be disappointing. I have heard plenty of complaints about the story and the gameplay, that they were haphazard the both of them.

I, however, very much enjoyed playing the Secret Apprentice again. I thought the story made sense, and I thought that it was very interestingly played out. I didn’t have any issues at all with the game itself.

Of course, there may be some that argue that this is due to my overwhelming love for Star Wars. But I can assure you, there are things within the Star Wars universe that I don’t enjoy. Like the first two prequel movies. And as a gamer, I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed a game if I only liked the concept of it. I play video games because I think they’re fun. If a game is not fun, I put it down. I have done this a couple of times, though for the most part I’ve been pretty good at picking stuff that I enjoy very much.

So yes, I genuinely enjoyed having Starkiller brought back, and I think that they made it so it could happen again. Both endings for Force Unleashed II open things up to another game. Which was something I was concerned about going in, since Force Unleashed didn’t exactly leave room for that. I didn’t know how they were going to pull off explaining how a second game could happen. But I’m satisfied with what they did.

I’m also happy with the mild changes in control of force powers and leveling them up.

On top of really loving this game, the fact that it’s Star Wars and the game itself, I also gained an added bonus for it while playing. I broached 20,000 gamer points with it.

Dante’s Inferno

Have you ever been really bad at a game you really loved? I haven’t. Well, not until Dante’s Inferno. And that sounds really arrogant, but it’s true. When I find a game that I adore, it’s like I already know what to do. My brain and my hands communicate perfectly, and everything comes extremely naturally.

Again, that was until Dante’s Inferno.

I picked this game up as soon as I could. The moment that it started to be talked about, I was interested. I am a huge fan of the Divine Comedy and have had multiple copies of it over my life. Currently I have an older set in a three book arrangement, and a giant copy complete with the woodcuttings. You can imagine that I was pretty excited to hear that they were going to make a game from this.

I knew, of course, that they wouldn’t be following the story exactly. How could they? And that things would be left out, other things would be added in that weren’t there originally. I made peace with these facts long before the game was released. The point was, it was going to be Dante’s Inferno. That’s all it needed to be, for me.

When I got the game, I was more than pleased with what I was seeing. I had no complaints to make, and happily worked my way through levels, deciding (of course) to damn everything as much as possible on the way.

The only problem was – I kept dying.

There’s something to be said for getting used to a game and dying a couple of times in the very beginning, but that wasn’t what was happening here. This was an extraordinary amount of dying. This was me kicking the bucket every few minutes. This was the sort of dying that makes you feel really bad about yourself as a gamer. It was getting to the point that I was only able to get through one level each time I played before I found myself extremely frustrated and having to quit. This is not the kind of thing you want happening in a game you adore. And despite my inability to stay alive, I was still in love.

It got to the point that I decided I was going to have to go for the easiest difficultly level. I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I went to the options and lo…

I have it set on the hardest. The hardest is called “Hellish”. Yeah. No kidding. It appears that Dante’s Inferno doesn’t work the way that other games do, with an “easy” “medium” and “hard”, but rather “Normal” (medium) “hard” (Holy crap) and “What the fuck” (dear god, save me). When I saw it, I thought that “Classic” was what they were calling “Easy”, so I skipped to “Zealot” which I thought was “medium”, and accidentally went down too far on the list, putting myself on “Hellish”.

You see, I do all my games on Medium. I’m arrogant, I’m not cocky. I know my level of gaming, and I know what I’m comfortable with. I like a challenge, but I don’t like to be constantly frustrated. Rarely will I go above Medium, and really, those times, it has to do more with getting an achievement. Like if you beat a boss on Hard and don’t have to do the whole game on Hard in order to get it.

So I’m pretty proud of the fact that I got through so much of the game on Hellish, but I was really happy when I knocked myself back down to Classic and stopped dying all the time. The game became fun, and my love grew. I could actually get through entire sections without a single death.

I enjoyed the game enough to play it through twice back to back, and loved all the interactions with Virgil (there could have been more). I loved the way that they made the circles look, there was definitely a feel of what kind of people suffered within them. There was no sugarcoating of what was going on, and the damned echoed (alright, and amplified) the kind of brutality that Dante wrote about. In the Divine Comedy, he certainly doesn’t give mercy to the souls he speaks about, and it was nice that the game didn’t either.