The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

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Interlude: odds and ends

I’m too sick to handle any Xenosaga today, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to clear up a few things I’m given to understand have been left vague in my diary posts.

First of all, the main character (the character I refer to as "me" in the diaries). I’m the chief science officer responsible for creating the Killer Robot. And I’m a woman. I’m apparently absentminded and careless. The Killer Robot is also a woman.

The battle system seems like it could be interesting, but all my choices are exactly the same at the moment. I’m hoping that once I’m a bit farther into the game that will be less the case — in my experience with the Baten Kaitos games, combat starts out simple and becomes more involved later on. That may be the case here too.

Whenever I get an e-mail, it involves me literally having a conversation with my e-mail client, which is apparently a white floating rabbit with a visor.

Most of the characters have weird Japanese names, and the voice actors don’t know how to pronounce them. This leads to no end of stuttering and spluttering during the dialogue.


February 12th, 2009 Posted by | Masochism | no comments

Xenosaga: Episode One: Episode Three: The Menacing Phantoms

In this week’s edition of "Darien plays bullshit games," Darien actually had the opportunity to engage in some gameplay! That’s right, fans, toward the end of this installment, I actually get the opportunity to do something other than walk around and watch yet more cutscenes. Though I suppose what I mean is "in addition to" rather than "other than," since you better believe I’m still spending a hefty amount of time on it.

5:56 AM — Time to head back to my room. Oh, starting off the day right — with a cutscene! This time I have Commander Evil talking to his evil boss, which is probably supposed to be a surprise to stupid people. Hey, now I’m on the phone with my brother, and… apparently I’m threatening to put him in the home because he reads books? That’s odd. Oh, now I’m whinging about how he doesn’t think about my feelings. That’s wonderful.

6:02 AM — Before my nap, I figure I’ll wander back to the lab and see if there’s anything interesting going on there. Short answer: no. Long answer: no, but all the triggered events along the path from the lab appear to happen again when I go back to the lab. And then a third time when I leave.

6:06 AM — Okay, time for my nap. Apparently also time for my official nap cutscene. Did I just say goodnight to my necklace? That’s not even weird, game; it’s just lame. Well, I’m asleep, and here I am in the black-and-white graveyard with the necklace chick again. Somebody with crazy hair is coming toward me, but I can’t make it out; with my luck, it’s probably Cloud. Now that’s over and I’m back in the real world, and there’s the ghost of that chick staring at me some more. Then an ominous space shot. What could be the terrible secret? So now the camera’s floating around the ship and there are heartbeat noises. And then… we’re in the lab, listening to the science team fail to pronounce Commander Evil’s name consistently. Now we’re on the bridge, and — oh no! A warning signal! "I don’t think an external source is causing this warning signal," opines Ensign Extra. "Then what’s causing it?" asks the Captain. "It’s inside the ship!" I love that shit. Oh, hey, apparently whenever there’s a warning signal, all the monitors turn bright red and flash "warning." That doesn’t seem like a well-thought-out design. All of a sudden the music’s louder than the dialogue again, and it seems like someone has initiated the killer robot wake-up sequence! Who could that be? And where is Commander Evil? They are both a deep mystery. But, hey, at least the killer robot wake-up sequence is displayed on a red digital readout. Oh, here we go — now the giant evil space bugs are attacking the ship, and, wouldn’t you know it, those confounded blast doors in between my room and the rest of the ship are just getting in the way. Who would have guessed? Meanwhile, the science team, which is fortunate enough not to be getting eaten by aliens, is trying to halt the killer robot wake-up. But there’s a problem — "It’s being hacked! Impossible! That defies the laws of physics!" Damn, this cutscene just keeps on going. Now the space bugs are shooting big glowy balls at the dudes in the giant robot suits, and the dudes can’t shoot the bugs back because they’re all wavy and see-through. Apparently they’re "not in our world," so they can pass through walls and we can’t shoot them, even though the giant robots were designed specifically to fight these bugs. You’d think "weapons that can damage them" would be high on the priority list for designers of robots like that, wouldn’t you? On the bright side, I guess they’re sufficiently in our world that when they punch somebody it works, even though punching them back is a no-go. Okay, now the music is so loud I can’t hear the dialogue over it at all, but there’s Lieutenant Evil cackling maniacally and showing off his evil credentials by using the Realians as a meat shield. Oh, the bugs can pick people up and turn them into glass? And then they explode into zillions of pieces? That’s badass!

6:20 AM — Well that’s finally over. Now I’m trying to get to the lab, but the gnosis (which is, hilariously, what the bugs are called) are in the way! So I have to fight them. Only I can’t hit them either, so the battle ends as soon as I take an action, and then we go to a cutscene — which is nice, since I was starting to jones (interjection: what the fuck?) for one during that thirty or forty seconds since the last one — where I run past them and press a big red button that makes stuff fall down and get in their way. Thank god there was a cutscene for that so I didn’t have to do it myself. I’m not playing this game because I wanted a job!

6:21 AM — Oh good. A whole gauntlet of sneaking past mobs. And not even Metal Gear sneaking; no no, this is the kind of sneaking where you need to figure out the gimmick. And here’s a sneak preview: the gimmick almost every single time is "run to the flashing red button and press it." It’s a good thing the space bugs are so stupid that when the red button closes a door they forget they can walk through walls. Or when the red button turns on the TV? They forget all about me and go attack the TV instead. Pretty handy.

6:25 AM — So after three or four minutes of almost-gameplay, the game gets tired and needs to take a cutscene break. Now I’m watching the science team get all worked up about the killer robot and its waking up and all that. They decide maybe they should call me, since I guess I’m an expert at what to do when your killer robot is waking up and you don’t want it to. Dude calls up my number, and then the whole science team stands there, not saying anything or doing anything, listening to the phone ring. And then what happens? My cell phone starts to ring — it’s sitting on the chair right next to them. I’ll be fair here; this is actually a pretty funny scene, and I laughed at it, and I’m even pretty sure it was supposed to get a laugh. The phone rings a few too many times, though, and then the crew’s reactions are all wrong, so the ending kind of flops. But we don’t have time to worry about that, because all of a sudden the lights go out, which is another effective moment. And then… and then… annnnd thennn… IT’S ALIIIIIIIVE! The killer robot’s pod slowly opens, and it slowly sits up, and then slowly stands up, and we’re given enough time while all this is slowly happening to wonder why the science team built its killer robot quite so well-endowed. I guess, hey, you may as well! She starts stalking toward the team, and then we fade out.

6:29 AM — I’m back to sneaking past invincible wavy space bugs now. I just opened that emergency bulkhead I mentioned before, and wouldn’t you know they designed the thing so that it stays open just long enough to suck the evil bugs out into space before automatically closing. Also, I reckon they designed my shoes pretty well, since they have enough grip to prevent me from moving at all, even when I’m about fifteen feet from an open door leading out into the vacuum of space.

6:33 AM — Hey, now I have the magic destructo-ray! That means I can break crates. Thank god. You’ll be unsurprised to learn that even 40XX years in the future, that’s still where we’ll be keeping our ammo and health.

6:37 AM — Remember me bitching about the tag minigame? Well, I would have bitched about it even more had I realised that it would be one short playsession until I have to play the exact same stupid, insulting minigame against invincible mobs. And, by the way, don’t think you can open the emergency hatch and suck those mobs out into space also, because I tried that, and it doesn’t work. Apparently the emergency hatch has a "safety mode" that prevents it from being opened. Which means that, yes, instead of putting the fucking thing in safety mode in the first place, they had been leaving it in danger mode and paying a dude to stand there and yell at people if they tried to press the button.

6:42 AM — Cutscene. Took a while for this one; I’ve been doing non-cutscene-related things for a whole thirteen minutes now. This one starts with Lieutenant Evil’s whole squad of giant robots opening fire on me with machine guns from about fifteen yards and spraying for a full five seconds without ever actually hitting me. Oh, and I was standing still, too. Frankly, if they suck that badly, I’m not going to feel bad for them when they get eaten by the space bugs, since it’s really their own fault for skipping all their range time. Oh, hey, apparently I’m offended by the insensitivity of giant robots shooting at me while I’m obviously in a hurry, so here I am giving them a piece of my mind. And, hey, here come the monsters, once again walking right through walls whenever the dude they’re trying to attack isn’t me. Now I’m standing there in the middle of a firefight, and I’m having some type of emotional crisis, and I’m trying to get one of the Realians to abandon ship with me. Apparently I’ve forgotten all about that whole "get to the lab and see what’s up with the robot" thing.

6:48 AM — Back to running away. This time I run for a little while and open a door, and then it’s back to cutscenes, and also I’m apparently right back where I was when the last cutscene ended. What happened to all that running and door-going-through I did? Well, turns out the alien mothership is a big whale, and we can’t attack it, because we’re too close to fire the cannons. Whatever that means. But we fire the cannons anyhow. Then apparently we sustain damage to our logic drive, causing me to wonder first if the writers have any idea what a logic drive actually is and why it’s not related to spaceship propulsion, and, second, if we also have an Infinite Improbability Drive. Commander Evil and X-face are apparently in league with the Evil Boss (incidentally, both X-face and the Evil Boss also appear to have the "commander" rank, which makes me wonder about the hierarchy of the Evil Organisation), and they’re trying to do… something with Dr. Deadmeat’s Monolith. Commander Evil is going to sacrifice himself to save X-face, which is the only smart thing anybody’s done in this whole game. Meanwhile, back at the bugs-n-robots, Lieutenant Evil and I are the only ones who survive the "FAE." I have no idea what an FAE is either, but something exploded. That’s really the best I can do here. Then I have another emotional crisis because Lieutenant Evil uses that override code to make the Realians suicide-bomb the space bugs. He brushes me off by declaring that civil rights are for peacetime, which is a pretty stock evil-military-dude thing to say, but then he actually quotes the section in the law that pretty clearly spells out that civil rights are in fact only for peacetime. So the government of 40XX years from now will make it much simpler for certain people to push their agendas. Then Lawful Good me and Lawful Evil that guy have a big argument about law while the space bugs kindly just stay put and wait for us to be ready for them. He blows up the Realians, but that doesn’t actually stop the bugs anyhow, and they kick his giant robot’s ass until it falls over and he falls out of it. His uniform’s all swirly and weird here, but nothing ever comes of it, so I think it’s just texture swim. One of the bugs grabs me and starts turning me into glass, and I see my life flashing before my eyes. Though in this case, actually, what I see flashing before my eyes is all the cutscenes that have happened so far, in case I didn’t get quite enough of them the first time around. Then Science Bitch and the Killer Robot bust through the wall and save the day. Turns out Killer Robot has an attack that makes all the bugs fully "real" so we can fight them. And I don’t mean all the bugs nearby — there’s a distinct shot of all the bug fleet outside the ship turning solid. Why the fuck doesn’t this ship, which is designed to combat these exact monsters, have a device like that? Clearly we knew about it and how to make one, since otherwise Killer Robot wouldn’t have it. And yet. Anyhow, she kicks all the bugs to death and we leave.

7:08 AM — But before we leave, we get attacked by a really weak boss! Then we get a short (thankfully) cutscene of Killer Robot shattering the spaceship’s window so all the bugs will get sucked out into space. But apparently she’s much too tough to get sucked out, since it just makes her hair wave a little. Though, given what happened earlier when I opened the hatch, I think this game just has selective vacuum that has no effect on good guys.

7:11 AM — From this point forward, I’m wandering around the ship hunting for treasure before I leave, since I get the feeling I’m not coming back. Lieutenant Evil is in my party, but, in the time-honoured tradition of NPCs in your party in video games, I can’t change his skills or equipment. Which is okay, since he’s obviously a bad guy anyhow, and I wouldn’t want to train him up too much, or he might be hard to beat later on!

And that’s the end of that. This day’s play ended with some rudimentary gameplay; I’m hopeful that next time will continue the trend. Hopeful, but not actually stupid enough to be convinced.


February 10th, 2009 Posted by | Masochism | no comments

Xenosaga diary day 2: mass confusion

So I grabbed myself some whiskey and a sandwich, and prepared to dive right in to another ninety minutes of the babbly confusing cutscene game. Before I start the diary, though, I’d like to mention a few things. First, the movement of the characters. It’s really odd and disconcerting watching the characters move during any of the many many cutscenes in this game. They all move very stiffly and inelegantly, even by six-year-old Playstation 2 game standards. I mean, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence came out a few months after Xenosaga: Episode One, and I raved about the believability of the character animations, so I know for a fact that the PS2 could do a lot better than this in 2003.

The second thing I’d like to mention is that, in between making Xenosaga episodes, Monolith (no, not that Monolith) made the truly superior Baten Kaitos games. No real point; I just thought I’d bring them up, since, so far, pretty much everything Xenosaga’s gotten wrong, they got right.

Diary commences.

4:15 AM — Got my whiskey, got my sammich, time to watch some cutscenes! So I have to make my way to the bridge. Wherever that is.

4:16 AM — Oh, hey, look. The game just told me to go back to the level I just beat, since apparently there was something in that box besides the lame cutscene, only I couldn’t get it last time on account of said cutscene. That’s pretty awful right there, game.

4:23 AM — Oh what the fuck. I went back through the level again to get the reward, and you know what it was? Can you guess? It was a goddamn minigame. The game made me go replay an old level so I could get treasure, and the treasure was a minigame.

4:24 AM — Okay, I went back to confront the dumb bitch who told me to go waste seven minutes getting a minigame, and now she’s giving me pointers on what I should do differently next time I go "encephalon diving." I’m pretty sure I know what that actually means, but… I also know what it makes me think. You know what? I like my version better.

4:25 AM — Ah, I found the door. This process was not helped by the game’s refusal to let me rotate the camera manually. You know what was on the other side of the door? A cutscene.

4:26 AM — Oh, hey, I got some e-mail. That’s… a little wack. And, hey, wait, it’s goddamn spam. It’s just some press release from some made-up futuristic company. They put spam in the game. I kind of want the thing it’s advertising, though, since apparently it "makes it possible to use imaginary machines" and lets me "make practical use of the computing power you are looking for as long as it’s within the RIOS’ bandwidth." No word on what happens if I look for computing power outside the thingummy’s bandwidth.

4:28 AM — Oh, hey, there’s a "Galactic Federation Government." Apparently it’s the central ruling body of — get this — half a million planets. In my experience, it’s not possible to rule half a million planets effectively even if your government is run by the God-emperor of Mankind himself, but we’ll let that pass. How long do you suppose it would take to settle that many planets? I’m thinking, since it’s the year 20XX right now, and this game is set in the year 60XX, and there’s exactly one settled planet right now, that means we’ve been settling 125 planets per year starting basically tomorrow. That’s almost exactly one planet every three days. Oh, and that’s assuming that no colonisation attempts ever failed, and no planets were ever lost to the Chaos Gods or whatever. Maybe I’m just being picky, but half a million just seems like an unreasonably large number.

4:31 — So I just went through the next door, and, bam! — cutscene. This one’s interesting. There’s like some lounge-y jazz piano noodling going on in the background while these two mobs talk about nothing. Actually, I guess it’s more accurate to say the piano noodling is in the foreground, since it’s noticably louder than the dialogue, and it would be kind of hard to tell what they’re saying without the subtitles. On the other hand, it’s all crap anyhow. This scientist dude is an absolute bitch. He’s whining at the other scientists to stop picking on him because of his huge, embarassing crush on the main character? Grow a pair, Mr. Sciencey.

4:33 AM — I go through a door, I sit through a cutscene. Again. I’m noticing a pattern. Wh– holy shit, that dude has a big purple X painted on his face, like he’s some type of crazy man, and… he appears to be in charge down here? Whoa, he kicks ass. The game should have less of the whipped science bitch and more of X-face.

4:34 AM — Suddenly I’m in some kind of flashback cutscene. I’m sitting in my lab, dicking on the computer, and there’s rain dripping on the windows. That’s very atmospheric and all, but it’s a goddamn spaceship. It’s in, like, space. You know, where the rain… isn’t. And, hey, that guy’s name is Kevin. That blends. Everybody else has some kind of crazy Japanese moon-name, and then here’s Kevin. Classic.

4:37 AM — So now I’m staring at that big monolith thing Dr. Deadmeat dug up back in Kenya 40XX years ago, and — oh, hey, the colours just went all screwy. Now there’s a crucifix swinging across the camera, and, hey, it’s black and white. I’m in a graveyard, and some chick is talking to me, but ain’t no sound. Close-up zoom on her crucifix necklace in case I didn’t already make that connection. Laying on the freaky a bit too hard a bit too early on, since I don’t have enough connection to anything to care at this point. And now — whoa, hey, there’s X-face beating the shit out of some poor maintenence worker. I’m back! Whoa, did he just uppercut that dude up into the air like in Mortal Kombat? I do believe he did. That guy rocks harder than everything else in this game all put together.

4:40 AM — So I’m talking to this dude, and he’s explaining how they make sure the escape pods are maintained "just in case." So now we know the ship is going to blow up sooner or later. Or maybe it’ll get eaten by creatures. Space creatures.

4:44 AM — I just went through another door, and, astonishingly enough, there is no cutscene on the other side. I can hardly believe it.

4:45 AM — Well, for fuck’s sake. This time I just had to take three or four steps into the room to trigger the cutscene. Game gets -2 for tricking me into thinking I’d get away without one this time. Ooo, ghosts! Pretty scary. Oh, nice, partway through my conversation with Mr. Science Bitch, the camera just sort of cuts away at starts pointing at nothing in particular. It’s just like a section of the wall.

4:49 AM — So somehow while I was fumble-fingering that last note, I hit the magical key sequence that puts Notepad in "right-to-left reading order" mode. I didn’t even know goddamn Notepad had that mode, but I sure don’t want it.

4:51 AM — So now I’m basically wandering around the ship talking to mobs. This guy’s text renders in the wrong order, which is fun, so he thanks me first and then, after I do the thing, he asks me to do it. Oh, and this other guy says — verbatim — "It’s going to blow up all sorts of things… heeheehee." See? Ship’s going to explode.

4:54 AM — Hey, look. A manual bulkhead switch that shuts a whole bunch of huge doors seperating my room from the escape pods. I’m sure that won’t become an issue, since the ship sure isn’t going to blow up.

4:57 AM — So I just got another e-mail talking about some dude’s "magnificent plan" that involves lots of weapons. Definitely not going to blow up.

4:59 AM — Hey, cutscene. So we have… programmable dudes here? Oh no! "He’s rejecting the data!" Fuck! Fuck! Oh, wait, I jiggled my hand on the keyboard and now it’s all better. That was a close one! Thank god I was there. Oh, hey, a dude with scars all over his face, and creepy dialogue about how much he hates everybody, and ominous music in the background. I’m almost hoping he’s not a bad guy just, you know, to show me who’s boss. This is… kind of a long cutscene, and they’re going on and on about how he thinks these "Realians" (the programmable men) are just weapons and I think they’re people, and, hey, apparently the government has granted them civil rights, so I guess we’re required to program them with free will? Oh, I see, the government still has override codes to control them with, but they can only be used "in an emergency." So they have civil rights as long as it’s convenient for the government. Sounds familiar. Oh, hey, apparently A.G.W.S. isn’t just a random hodge-podge — it’s pronounced "eggs." I’m not seeing it, but that’s how they’re pronouncing it. Fortunately, they’re also handing me a whole load of new acronyms to cope with, so I don’t feel too out of place.

5:08 AM — "Ill weeds grow a mace?" Why no, Inspector, I don’t believe I’ve heard that proverb.

5:09 AM — Oh, hey, a change of pace! The cutscene started right before I went through the door this time.

5:12 AM — This drill dude is off his nut. Wait, there’s a drill council? That, like, grades drillers? I have an idea of what this is — yep, drill minigame. For fuck’s sake, it’s like the stupid crane game where you try to pick up the stuffed animal, only it won’t let you put the camera in a sensible place.

5:20 AM — Hey, remember my android I’m building? Yeah, neither do I. But apparently that chick who was in my party before is an android. Her name is KOS-MOS, which is (I swear I’m not making this up) a recursive acronym.

5:32 AM — Okay, the spam from the in-game company was one thing, but this time I just got a spam from Namco about some other PS2 game they want me to buy. You’d think I’d be immune to this sort of thing, after years of Nintendo plugging its other games in every game, but I think the fact that I actually got a spam e-mail in the game makes it that much worse.

5:34 AM — Wait, now there’s a tag minigame? I haven’t found the main game at all yet, and it won’t stop with the lame minigames.

5:39 AM — Hey, look, an "emergency bulkhead" that opens straight into space without an airlock or anything. And what’s to stop just any old random dude from opening it and killing us all? Well, they’ve stationed a guy next to the control panel to yell at you if you try. I’m serious. That’s the whole security system. It’s a big button that apparently anybody can just press and expose the entire contents of the ship to hard vacuum.

5:47 AM — I finally found the bridge! So now I get the bridge cutscene. Captain Father-figure and Commander Tight-ass are arguing and yelling and on and on, and, hey, then the Commander’s cell phone rings and he’s just all "I have to take this" and up and leaves. I don’t want to tell the captain his job, but if it were my ship, I’m not 100% sure I’d put up with subordinates just bailing while we’re having a high-powered meeting.

That’s all I can handle for one night. Tune in next time when, with any luck, I’ll have something to do instead of just wandering around the ship and making fun of the cutscenes.


February 7th, 2009 Posted by | Masochism | one comment

Masochism!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I’m kind of a moron. Sometimes I’ll read reviews of a game and I just know I’ll hate it. That’s good, yes, but then that game will be held up in front of my worldwide readership as an object of mockery and scorn for years and years afterward. And you know what happens? That makes me want to play the goddamn thing. It’s kind of like, hey, I need to find out for myself if this thing really is as terrible as I tell me it is.

What I’m getting at is that I threw four bucks at half.com a while ago and picked myself up a copy of Xenosaga: Episode One. You know, the stupid talky cutscene game I’ve been complaining about for as long as anybody can remember. Yeah, I’ve done the unthinkable: I’ve decided that I hate that game so much I’m actually going to play it.

Because I’m a moron. Like I said before.

But I’m not just going to regular-play it. I’m going to keep a diary of my experiences while I’m playing this game, so everybody else can suffer through it with me. I started playing the thing tonight, and I have to say, my first impression was a little bit negative. I mean, my disc was all scratched and shit. What kind of terrible game is this that it comes on a scratched disc? Fortunately — perhaps! — it ran anyhow, and my next impression was that it takes a long damn time to load. But maybe I’m just out of practice with waiting for PS2 games, so I’m not sure I can hold that one against it. Further comments timestamped:

3:00 AM — I’m starting the game. There’s a cutscene, shockingly. I’m apparently in Kenya, which is something of a surprise, and it’s the year 20XX? Hey, maybe I’ll run into Mega Man. There’s this archaeologist dude straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. He’s digging up a big… thing. No pulsating magic crystals yet, but I have my eye out for them. They won’t sneak past me.

3:04 AM — Hey, the game’s first song with vocals. I dunno, though; I’ve heard worse. Apparently the big thing the dude was digging up had a slot for this little thing he carried around with him. Then it made a bridge appear and killed a lot of his disposable native workers. So much for that.

3:05 AM — Title card: "4000 years later." That one almost made me spit wine out my nose. Ever spit red wine out your goddamn nose? It isn’t fun. They need to stop ambushing me with randomness like that.

3:07 AM — Now we’re on a spaceship, I think. There’s this thing out there that looks like the thing the dude dug up, and… somebody just stepped into it somehow. It’s not really making very much sense. Ooh! Red digital readout!

3:11 AM — The chief somebody-or-other is logging into the R&D mainframe. Her password is "ye shall be as gods." Never mind that it displays her password in readable plaintext as she’s typing it; that’s a really weak password anyhow. I’d expect that in 4000 years people would have learned something about password security and how to make sure evil villains don’t sneak into your important universe-destroying cyborg… thing. Or whatever that is.

3:12 AM — So now we’re talking to a robot in virtual reality. I think. The robot has just given its model number of "00-00-00-00-1," and you better believe it pronounced every single one of those zeroes. The subtitles tipped me off, so I was prepared this time and didn’t snork any wine. So now the android is the second voice actress I’ve met, and so far they’re both terrible, as appears to be the way of these things. Anybody have any insight as to why that is?

3:15 AM — Hey, the intro cinematic’s over already. That wasn’t so bad. Now it’s time to play the battle tutorial. Hey, I recognise this — turns out combat’s a lot like it was back in Xenogears, though without the main character actually being Goku like he was in Xenogears. The tutorial’s pretty good at explaining the weird system.

3:27 AM — Tutorial’s over, so I reckon it’s about time we got back to some cutscenes! The game doesn’t disappoint. This one’s pretty short, but it introduces the third terrible voice actress, and this one’s much worse than the first two.

3:30 AM — Hey, the game’s starting. I better pay attention. Let’s see… I’m wandering around, I can blow up boxes, I can go fight that mob! It’s… oh goddamn it all, it’s a spider. My two choices are a) go blow up crates or 2) go fight spiders. Maybe that’s just so I remember it’s a video game.

3:45 AM — I just went through the menus. Holy shit. This whole game’s a bunch of buttons. Every menu has menus underneath it, and there are like all kinds of different points I can spend to improve all sorts of shit in weird ways I don’t really get. It doesn’t help that the designers have some queer acronym fetish and half the buttons are labeled "A.W.G.V." or some damn thing.

3:49 AM — I just got back from the bathroom. Apparently in those three minutes I was able to forget everything about how to play this game, since I immediately charged into combat and pressed all the wrong buttons. This is a good sign, I think.

3:58 AM — Another cutscene, leading into another tutorial, and, hey! Giant robots! I was wondering when I’d get to play with the giant robots.

4:01 AM — Okay, back to the game. I save, and then I have to walk really slowly so the mobs don’t hear me, since now this is Tremors. Graboids! Get up on the roof!

4:13 AM — I tiptoed to the key, and then I found this red door with a star on it that just told me it was "#10" of something when I tried to open it, and then didn’t do anything. I hope I haven’t missed nine of these damn things already — game’s only had four screens! So I go in the big door to my mission objective which is, of course, a cutscene. So I watch that.

4:15 AM — Cutscene’s over, and now I fight a boss! Looks pretty scary to me. WTF? He’s just defending over and over again. And after he stops defending he… dies in one turn. What a shitty boss. At least I retrieved the sacred cutscene for the space police!

4:17 AM — I don’t get why they wanted this cutscene so badly. It’s not very good. There’s some Matrix-y shit, and then I almost get TRAPPED IN THE MATRIX because I overrode the security features. Fortunately, this other dude I guess can just reach his damn arm right into the Matrix and pull me out. I’m tempted to bulge out the vein in my head and shout "computers do not work that way!," but, actually, nothing works the way everything just worked in that scene, so I can’t really pick one thing. I guess reality is just different "4000 years later." In the year… 60XX.

4:20 AM — Oh, good. Some giant, phallic spaceships flying out of a wormhole. I was just thinking this game was a bit lacking in penis imagery.

4:22 AM — Hey, terrible voice actress #4! Join the fun!

4:23 AM — … And number five, also. They’re packing the TVAs in mighty thick in this game. I would like to call attention to the fact that we haven’t had a single non-terrible voice actress yet.

4:24 AM — I… wait, is that dude reading the breaks in the subtitles? Like you know when there’s no more room and so the subtitle has to get cleared away and they start drawing the next part? Yeah, he’s pausing in those spots and waiting for the subtitle to continue before he continues his lines. That’s… not so good.

4:25 AM —Finally! Captain Subtitle Breaks was close, but no cigar; we now officially have our first terrible voice actor of the game. It’s about time; the women were leaving you dudes in the dust.

4:29 AM — Aaaaand that long-ass cutscene wraps its ass up at last. I still don’t have any idea what’s going on, but I’m pretty sure I’ve met the villain; he has tall eyebrows and a deep voice, and he’s always saying ominous things.

Well, that’s all I can do for one night. So I spent almost exactly ninety minutes playing tonight, and I sat through thirty-five minutes of cutscenes. That’s less than a 2:1 game:cutscene ratio even if you count the time I spent ratting around in the menus. And my bathroom break. Without that time, it’s pretty close to 0:1. Which way will the numbers travel? Only time will tell!


February 1st, 2009 Posted by | Masochism | one comment