The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

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Everything I have to say, I say through somebody else’s art.

February 7th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | 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