By MooseyMcMan 7 Comments
Before I write anything meaningful, I'm going to say that I had a better/more sensible title that I didn't have enough room for. Does anyone know why blogs posts have such a low character limit for titles, but forum posts can have super long titles?
Anyway, all of that is irrelevant, because I've been playing video games. A decent number since the last time I blogged (over a month ago), but I'm just highlighting a couple of the more noteworthy ones, because I've also been replaying several games that I've (probably) written about in years prior.
First up: The Walking Dead game, the first two episodes of which (as of this writing, the only two episodes available) were free on PlayStation Plus. But, before I get into my thoughts on the game, I think it's important for me to explain my history with zombies as a concept. I don't like them very much. The only zombie movies I like are either comedies that just happen to have zombies (Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland) or straight up parodies of zombie movies (Planet Terror). I think zombie movies are boring. Zombies as a threat just aren't interesting to me, and the whole, "man is the real monster" thing can be easily done without zombies. Look at Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. That's a fantastic post apocalyptic movie, and there's no zombies in sight. You don't need zombies to have man be the real monster. As a side note, I only referenced Road Warrior because Mad Max one is pre-apocalyptic, and Beyond Thunderdome is a bad film (but that's a blog for another day).
Zombies are slightly more tolerable to me in video games, because there are some games (namely Dead Rising) where it's fun to just mow down dozens of zombies within minutes, or hundreds over the course of the game (I don't think I ever lived long enough to get to thousands (or maybe I did, I don't remember)). But still, Dead Rising falls under the same category as stuff like Planet Terror. I don't like it because of the story, or because I think the zombies are a great idea, I like it because it's ridiculous and dumb.
Serious zombie games though? No interest. I'm of the point of view that the only redeeming qualities of pre-Resident Evil 4 RE games are the voice acting and FMV, and that's really only the first one (not to say the others don't have their moments in terms of bad voice acting, they're just nothing like the Master of Voice Acting that is the first one). And no, I'm not saying those other games are bad (though I definitely think aspects of them (namely the controls) are bad), so please don't attack me in the comments. I'm just saying I don't like them very much, but I can see why people would find them appealing.
So far as The Walking Dead as a franchise goes, well, I've never watched the show or read any of the comics. My dad watches the show, and I have a couple cousins who read the comics (and watch the show), so I know a bunch of people who are really into it. But prior to the game I had no direct exposure to anything related to it. All I knew going in was that there were zombies, and that it was set in the south.
So, I started playing one day, with the hopes that strong writing and player interaction would be enough to break past my anti-zombie inclinations. And you know what? It totally was! The Walking Dead game is great! The writing is good, the voice acting is good, and the situations they put the player in...They are messed up! I kinda want to say what some of them are, but I also don't want to spoil it for people who haven't played. I suppose I could go into a spoiler-filled discussion of my specific decisions throughout the game, but I think that would be better after all five episodes are out. I have no clue when that'll be, but keep a watch out for something I may or may not write about that in the future.
I am very excited for future episodes of this. I knew from the second I saw that the first two episodes were going to be free on PlayStation Plus that it was really just a ploy to get people like me hooked, and it worked. Assuming the remaining three episodes have the same high level of quality, Tell Tale may have made the best zombie game ever made. Definitely the best story ever in a zombie game.
That's not to say it's perfect though. There's definitely lots of moments that made me go, "No you idiot(s), why would you do that?" For example, and without getting too spoiler-y, there is a moment in one of them where two people are trying to fix a fence. They find a couple posts that have fallen over, and decide to put them up. One of them says, "I think we'd get better leverage on the other side." Even without knowing any context of the situation at all, you can probably see why this would be an incredibly stupid thing to do in a world filled with zombies. It's even dumber when you know everything that's going on. And don't get me started about all the times when people trip, or are too frightened to run or do anything. But these are just blemishes on an otherwise excellent experience.
I feel like I should have my dad play the game. I think it'd be interesting to watch someone else play this and try to make decisions on the fly. He'd be able to handle it, as he is no stranger to video games (though his heyday was in the arcades in the 80s). Maybe I'll do that and write something about that. Or not. Probably not. Maybe as part of the other aforementioned possible blog.
But before anyone asks, no, The Walking Dead game has not sparked any sort of hidden interest in zombies in me. I still have no interest in watching zombie movies or watching The Walking Dead TV show (or reading the comics). Part of it is that it's the specific characters and writing in this game that hooked me. I want to see the continuing adventures of Lee and company, not that sheriff guy in the TV show. And the other part is the player input. Watching characters in a TV show make a decision doesn't have the same impact. If I make a bad decision in the game, then I feel like an idiot. When a character in a TV show makes a bad decision, then I think that character is an idiot. And the best/worst part of The Walking Dead Game is that it feels like almost every major decision in the game has no right or wrong choice. It feels like everything is bad and will have negative impacts. And after playing lots of games like Mass Effect 3 where any time you have a decision there is a "right" choice, it's refreshing to see something that is so negative and awful, but in ways I love.
But that's not the only new game I've played recently. As you may have noticed, Darksiders II came out last week. And by being lucky with the Postal Service, my pre-ordered copy actually arrived a day early, meaning I got to play a day early. I started Monday of last week, and I just beat the game today. Overall, my opinion of the game is a little mixed.
But like with The Walking Dead, here's some back story before I get to it. I played the original Darksiders close to release a couple years ago, and I liked it a lot. Then a couple weeks ago I replayed it to refresh myself of the story. And, oddly enough, I ended up liking it more the second time. Maybe it's because I played the game a little differently, or maybe it's because I got all obsessive about finding all the items in the game (which I did). Either way, I think Darksiders I is a fantastic game in every way. Game play, story, and even voice acting (thanks largely to Mark Hamill as The Watcher).
Then I played Darksiders II. Overall, I think Darksiders II is a great game, and probably the best game of 2012 that I have played thus far this year. I just think the story in it is pretty lousy. I didn't think that until the end of the game, not because the ending is really bad (though it's certainly not good), but because I kept thinking there was going to be some great twist, or some exciting new development that would flip-turn the game on its head. But it never happened. There's certainly interesting aspects of the story that could have been great if they were fleshed out, and the game definitely implies that there will be more Darksiders games that I will probably play, but...I just didn't like the story.
The voice acting is pretty good though. I especially liked Death as a character, if only because he felt more like an actual person than War ever did. War suffered from what I like to call "Kratos Syndrome," which is to say that he was always angry. Angrier than Kratos, actually, because at least Kratos had a few moments of inner reflection and quietness in a couple of the games. Conversely, Death knows how to take a joke, and even make a few of his own. Not that he isn't serious, or that the game is suddenly a comedy, he just feels like a more fleshed out and believable character.
Game play, well, that's just more Darksiders. That's not entirely fair to say, what with side quests, and optional dungeons, but it still follows the same formula of going to a place, solving puzzles, and moving on. But this time it felt less like a Zelda game, and more like a Prince of Persia game. The dungeons revolved more around climbing stuff and things of that nature, and it felt very Prince of Persia-y to me most of the way through. But then again, I don't think I've seen anyone else mention Prince of Persia when talking about this game, so maybe that's just me not remembering the Prince of Persia game correctly.
There are other changes, like leveling and loot. There is a skill tree, but I only ever put points into two of the skills, so by the end of the game I had pretty much maxed out all the things I wanted for those skills and I stopped caring about leveling and getting skill points. Loot, on the other hand, has more of an impact. There's tons of different effects and whatnot that gear and weapons can have. But at the end of the day, regenerating health and getting health on every hit with a weapon are the best two things. At least I think so, so I ended up ignoring most items if they didn't have regenerating health or health stealing.
And there are possessed weapons, which work like MAGs. By which I mean you feed them, and they level up. And you can rename them, and I always made sure to give them names like "MAG AXE I" and "MAG SCYTHES I." You know, so people can see me referencing games that I've never played.
Hm. There's something else in the game I kinda want to complain about, but I'm not really sure I should because it's completely inconsequential and partly based on images of something in the game that plays no real presence in the game. Ah, what the heck.
Okay, Darksiders I was about War, and Darksiders II was about Death. Thus, we can assume that there will probably be two more games, each of which starring one of the other Horsemen. Now, I have two problems with the other two Horsemen. One is their names. Fury and Strife? Whatever happened to Famine and Pestilence? Or, if you want to be old school, why not go with Conquest? That'd be an awesome name! Or why not be like Metallica, and have one of them be Time? Think of the possibilities for dungeons if you're manipulating Time itself! But at the end of the day, names are little more than meaningless.
Now, my other complaint, which is the one I kinda feel like maybe I shouldn't voice, is the silhouettes of the other two Horsemen. Or, specifically, the one for Fury. By which I mean the fact that Fury appears to be a woman.
I went with a small image because the full size was just a tad too tall. Click on it for better detail. That should maybe work. And I should say that there's an image of her in Darksiders II with way more ridiculous looking "proportions" than that.
Now before you start calling me sexist, let me explain. They're the Four Horsemen, not the Four Horse-people. It just seems dumb to me that they would make one of them a woman when they're called the Four Horsemen, and (so far as I know), literally no other interpretation of them has ever had one of them be a woman.
I know what some people are going to say. "They've changed so many other aspects, what's wrong with them changing one more?" "You haven't even seen more than just a couple concept-art looking images, maybe she'll be really cool and well developed." "Maybe Fury is really a transvestite." Okay, maybe no one was going to say that last one.
Maybe I'm just being old fashioned, or sexist, but I just don't like it. Partly it's because the couple of images look so...sexual-ized, for lack of a better term. Unless I'm totally misjudging what their intent is, it looks like Fury is a lady just so they can have one of the Horsemen be a "sexy lady." I could be wrong, maybe she'll be a well written and intelligent character. But aside from looking "sexy," I doubt they had any legitimate reason to make Fury a woman.
How about this for an example. What if there was a new version of Charlie's Angels, but one of the Angels was a guy? That'd be super weird! And no one would ever approve that idea because it'd be counter to the spirit of the original, and because it'd be one less "sexy lady" to appeal to the theoretical person that would watch a TV show just for "sexy ladies." Oh, who am I kidding, there's probably tons of people who watch things like that just for that reason.
I guess what I'm really complaining about is that they felt the need to make one of the characters a lady just to appeal to the people who would want one of them to be a "sexy lady" just to have a "sexy lady" to look at. And I wouldn't not play a Darksiders game just because the protagonist was a lady. Just a few months ago I picked up Bayonetta on sale, and that game is incredibly fun, despite how overly sexual-ized and ridiculous Bayonetta is as a character. Though to a certain extent, that level of ridiculousness was part of what I liked about the game, so maybe it's not that great of an example.
Conversely, if it turns out that Fury was just a transvestite, that would be great. Not because I'm trying to be all forward thinking or anything, but because it'd make me think of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is a pretty hilarious movie. Or at least weird.
So those are my thoughts on Darksiders II. You should play it. Go buy it now and help support THQ. If they go out of business, then there might not be any more Darksiders or Saints Row games. Well, there might be, because some other company would probably buy the rights, but you know what I mean.
That's it for video games. Well, I started playing Outland today, because it was free on PlayStation Plus. I mostly like it thus far, but I've written enough for one blog.
I am, of course, still working on my book. It's closer to ever to being ready for the public, and I'm at a point where (aside from a few typos that I may have missed), I think it's pretty much done. Of course, I thought that last week, only to have a friend of mine read part of it and point out things that he thought should be expanded on (and I agreed, so I did). Nothing too major to the story, just background stuff to help flesh out the "world."
I've long since given up on getting it published as a paper book. Not because of quality (of course I think it's great, I wrote it), but because the process of doing that is too long and convoluted. So yes, impatience is the largest factor here. Instead I'm probably going to self-publish it as an eBook (probably through Amazon), because that seems like the easiest/best way to do that. I'm aiming for end of September at the latest, and I'll make sure to keep everyone updated on when that happens. Because I feel like if you read my long-ass blogs, maybe you'll want to read my book. I put way more thought and effort into the book. I just write these blogs without any planning or prior thought. Okay, maybe a little prior thought. No proof-reading though. That's how there was a typo in the title of my last blog post.