By Sparky_Buzzsaw 6 Comments
By gum and by golly, it's that time of the week again when I rock your eyeballs with some talk of gaming nonsense. No clever opening today, I'm afraid. I'm running a mile a minute around here, and I'm too exhausted to even try to be clever. Or whatever passes for "clever" in my Updates. Anywho, this week, we're going to talk about my 2nd proudest achievement to date, Gears of War 3, and cat piss in a bag. Hooray!
I Hate Cats
OK, really, I don't. But around seven years ago, I was in the middle of a flurry of moves, from college to home to another school to home to yet another school... it was a crazy time. Needless to say, some stuff got lost in the shuffle. One of the things I had chalked up for lost was a duffel bag containing, among other things, my slim PS1 from my college days as well as a bunh of PC games from about 2000-2003.
Today, I found that bag. And I'm not pleased.
Let me be up front about this - what happened is no one's fault but my own. I know how to keep electronics, games, and the like. But this time, I was lazy. I threw everything into a duffel bag, left it somewhere in my parents' house, and ran to do... well, whatever the hell it was I was doing back then. Probably getting drunk and hitting on married women, which was usually the case. Seriously, guys, if you want to make a woman smile, go up to a married woman and shamelessly flirt with her. Never take it further than that unless you want extra holes in your body, but it's the most fun a guy can have at a bar if there's no real game - and half the time, it'll make the single women rethink your scruffy, unshaven looks and the Mario t-shirt you unwisely chose to wear that day.
Back to the point.
I found that bag today. Huzzah. That bag was full of years-old cat piss. Boo. Thankfully, none of the games were worth much. In a way, I'm sort of relieved about that - if it had been my long-lost copies of Quest for Glory, Leisure Suit Larry, and my LucasArts collections, I'd have been upset. As it is, I'm kicking myself for doing something dumb, but oh well. We live and learn.
Chainsaws of War
I really enjoyed Gears of War 3. I need to preface this whole thing because at times, it's going to sound like I'm shitting on this game when I'm really not. I don't need to tell you why it's fantastic - the combat is fuckin' crazy and awesome, the characters are all kinds of cheesy machismo grunty types straight out of shlocktacular military science fiction (something I adore), and the game looks and feels spot-on for this generation.
It's also a deeply moving testament to how far we've come this generation in terms of how accessible games have become to those of us with vision problems. Due to my shades of color blindness, all the baddies in the first game had a tendency to blend into the backgrounds. The game was virtually unplayable for me. This game, though, has rectified that, especially when it comes to the Lambent. Their day-glo yellow body parts make them unmistakeable, but even the Locust have more colors and more details to make them stand out against the background. It's remarkable. In no small way, this game kindles my faith that on some levels, publishers and developers will continue to make games accessible for all while still keeping the heart and soul of the gameplay alive. That's a pretty damn cool thing.
I'd be lying, however, if I said Gears of War 3 was without fault. It is superb in almost every regard, but that quality almost makes its weakest portion stand out glaringly - namely, the story and pacing of the middle third of the game. While opening incredibly strong with Marcus and Cole's unique struggles against the Lambent (as well as Cole's awesome return to his glory days - one of the best moments of the game) and ending in a pitch-perfect moment, the middle third feels like a by-the-numbers affair, completely predictable and incredibly derivative. While some of the environments and gunfights are great, there are moments such as an entire town of infected, zombie-like people that made me roll my eyes. You've seen this in a dozen different sci-fi military shooters, from Halo's Flood to Resistance 2 & 3's infected populaces. Even the "desperate miracle cure" story is played out. It's super frustrating because you can see lots of moments of greatness, and the dialogue is both ridiculous and kinda great. Bro-tastic moments such as Cole's story are met in turn with quiet, reflective moments such as when Marcus Fenix and the character voiced by the great Claudia Black (who, it should be noted, has become one supreme voice actor) share a moment together. Marcus asks the Claudia Black character, "Are you okay?" After a long, heavy silence, she replies, "No. And neither are you." It doesn't sound like much, but there's an absolute ton of levity put into those couple of lines.
So it's a shame then that the individual moments don't quite add up to a better story overall. But Gears of War 3 is still a fantastic game, and a testament to the willingness of publishers to give a pat on the back to those of us with visual problems. Thanks, Epic.
One Hell of An Achievement
I beat Forza 4's career mode like a redheaded stepchild this week. Other than that ridiculously insane Arkham City achievement that required you to fly perfectly through a tiny corridor, this is my proudest achievement on the 360. It takes a hell of a long time, and yet, it's only a fraction of the time required to get the "All Gold" achievement. I may never obtain that one, but at least I can hold my head up proud and say, "Hey! I got a completely meaningless award in a video game time will forget when its inevitable sequels arrive!" Booyah, bitches. Booyah.
-Star Ocean: First Departure continues to be an unexpected delight. I'm a huge fan of the skill system. You essentially have skills that you can invest points into. On their own, these give you minute bonuses and change your stats slightly. But investing into certain combinations of skills grants you special abilities, such as cooking or the ability to dictate your rate of random encounters. It sounds convoluted, but it awards exploration, grinding, and experimentation like little I've seen before.
-On dankempster's recommendation, I've started the His Dark Materials trilogy. So far, I'm enjoying it. More thoughts to come later, but the world is cleverly designed, the dialogue is intelligent, and the novel never feels as though it's condescending towards the reader. That's a solid foundation!
And here's your Internet randomness for the week. Enjoy!