Category: Games

An Open Letter to the Biggest Charlatan in Video Games Journalism

Sometimes I read something on the internet that makes me so angry that I have no choice but to retaliate with words. Today I hit that wall when I saw this travesty: Top 5 Most Irritating RPG Protagonists, by self-professed baby kidnapper Bob Mackey.
On the internet, there is no better recourse to the infuriating actions of a heretic than the open letter. I have produced the following to name and shame this disgrace to the good name of video game reportage:

Dear Bob “BobServo” Mackey,

You have just written the stupidest shit to ever grace the internet. I assure you, sir, that every game that you have defamed is actually Grade A art. The fact of the matter is, if you were to look up anyany, I assure you – of these games, on your very same website, you would find that they are universally loved by the entire gaming continuum.

If you cannot see that Crono, star of one of the single most beloved RPGs of all time (the game popularised talking frog knights and made the criminally blind Western World realise that Toriyama isn’t just “It’s OVER 9000 lulz!”), is an analogue of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ, then you simply did not play it right. I do not hesitate to point out that Crono spoke at length in one of the bonus endings of Chrono Trigger – although I suppose that you wouldn’t know about that because you’re a mere casual gamer.

Why don’t you go back to your Halo and, God help me, Madden (if only there was a way to make it clear to you that merely typing that word caused me to roll my eyes so hard they went into the back of my head and my mother thought I was having a seizure), and leave the serious games to serious gamers like myself.

I’m sorry, Bob, but we gamers have faced persecution for so long, and you’re doing nothing to help our cause. Do you know how hard we fought to gain access to even poorly translated RPGs to make their ways to our shores? If you could even begin to understand how far back you’re setting us with this, frankly, divisive article! As a result of your words, JRPGs are either going to stop being exported whatsoever or – arguably worse – they’re going to retool all of the protagonists into jocks, who go out with cheerleaders … and they’d probably fight, I don’t know, space alien bugs with chainsaw guns. But I bet you’d like that, wouldn’t you, you charlatan!

I therefore demand that you immediately retract this … article, no, strike that, this heresy and issue a formal apology. I truly expected better from 1UP but, time and time again, I have been shown to be the fool in that equation. Please consider my request or I’m going to be forced to go on another one of my hunger strikes. I assure you, with my blood sugar levels being what they are, it won’t be pretty.

Yours in Gaming,

Alex “Batrock” Doenau.

Alex Doenau to Jack Thompson: “Don’t Fuck with Us!”

Fallout 3: Karma Sucks

I got caught up, as I sometimes do, in a fever. Fallout fever. I had to have it, so I went out and bought it. Paid freakin’ $90 for the thing. I never pay so close to full price for a video game. I am renowned for my collection of unplayed, cut-price video games. I can afford not to play them because they were all cheap enough for there to be many of them. It means I rarely catch the zeitgeist, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from the internet it’s that the zeitgeist is full of flames and crimes against grammar and spelling.

Karma is the universal law of “what goes around comes around”. It’s what got Jason Lee hit by a truck instead of winning $100,000. The problem with karma is it sees everything. It’s even got a precedent in RPGs: I know firsthand that in Ultima V many actions affected your karmic rating (and because I was about seven or something, almost always for the worse). So now it springs at us in Fallout 3.

It goes above and beyond the Paragon and Renegade system of Mass Effect, and I’m not really sure what I think of that. I think it’s perfectly reasonable that you get different receptions from people when you say “Nice to meet you” rather than “Well up yours too, buddy!”, but I’ve got a little problem: why is it that I can’t be nice to someone’s face, and then steal all of their stuff and wreck their shit when they’re not looking without getting penalised? You know, like in real life? I went to a bar, said hello to the family that ran the place, then I went out back and attempted to hack their computer (and another thing: I have no idea how computer hacking works in this game. I wish I was playing Pipe Dream … over and over and over …). I failed, I got negative karma. I reloaded my save.

I mentioned it before when I spoke about being a dick in Mass Effect, that I like being nice to people in video games where I’m given the choice. At the same time, because this game has a different scope, I’m counterbalancing it with my intense desire to steal all of their stuff. These two actions are directly tied to my perception in the game world, so to continue playing as the Post-Nuclear Envoy of Peace and Love, I can’t go around secretly doing evil shit.
In writing that, I just realised I’ve ruined my chances of ever being elected to high office.

There’s no left and right, up and down choice wheel here, though, although the tone of what you’re saying is clear. Your character doesn’t get fully voiced like Shepard did, so the choice of dialogue you make is exactly what the person hears, rather than Shepard’s artistic licence. Unlike in Oblivion, your character is given a history (more accurately, her family is given a history), but Clarabell feels much more impersonal than LL Shepard, my red-headed universe saving avatar, ever did.

Of course, I still don’t want people to think poorly of me, so there must be a level of projection. Certainly more than there ever was in Oblivion, where I essentially spat on everyone I could and they continued to love me unless they were railroaded by the script into hatred of my good self. Thus far I’ve only witnessed one action that had consequences, and I was so unhappy with what I had wrought that I had to reload to wash the blood of the innocent and idealistic off my hands.

Hopefully I’ll be able to play the game as I see fit, if there are instances when a response that would garner a positive karmic reaction seems inappropriate. Heck, diplomacy could only take me so far in Mass Effect before I got angry at the people trying to take my guns and I actively threatened them. A nuclear wasteland is rather different to intergalactic peace missions and incredibly boring dune-buggy travels, so maybe Clarabell will have to harden up and bust some skulls.

Side note: Fallout 3 features perks at every second level, that up certain stats or abilities and what have you. One of these is “Nerd Rage!”, described thusly:

You’ve been pushed around long enough! With the Nerd Rage! perk, your Strength is raised to 10 and you gain 50% to damage resistance whenever your Health drops to 20% or below.

Not naming any names, but that’s hilarious not just to the industry in general, but to the Fallout scene in particular. I may have laughed out loud when I read it in the manual on the train.

Fallout sucks

I’ve fallen on that old mainstay: the bait and switch. Thing is, Fallout might be a great game, but there’s no way I can know. I refuse to play it, because the damn thing won’t let me save. When big games like Fallout 3 are released, sometimes it’s the done thing to rerelease the ancient IP of the franchise in a cheap fashion.

So there I was, with my $18 collection of Fallouts 1, 2 & Tactics. I started up the game, and was impressed by the opening. It was very much like Bioshock, albeit eleven years ago. A fifties styled post-apocalypse is an effective apocalypse indeed: just ask Indiana Jones and his fridge.

I played the game for an hour, and cursed the days when there was no sort of configuration instructions held within the game, firing up the PDF manual and frequently consulting it (but still taking a year to figure out how to run). Then I saved it and went to bed.

The following day, I returned to the good people of Dark Sand, or wherever they lived (wherever it was, they were plagued by radscorpions, who wore hypercolour shirts). Being an obsessive saver, I went and talked to a few people, then attempted to save.

No dice.

Error Saving Game! You cannot save your game.

Yeah, well, this is an RPG, and I can’t rocket propel any grenade unless I can save the damned thing first. There seems to be a lack of documentation as to how to solve this problem, short of uninstalling and reinstalling.

I did that.

No dice.

Over the weekend, I might reattempt to fix the accursed game, and once again become a spunky Soviet gymnast spy girl. I’m telling you, if I can’t do that, what chance do I ever have of becoming a dog killa?

Bully Scholarship Edition: Stop hitting yourself

It’s difficult for me to maintain interest in many games long enough to finish them. It’s difficult for me to maintain interest in many games to take them beyond the point of having bought them, honestly. Yet some games, they unlock a power within me. A power I bring upon myself: the power of the masochist.
Bully is one such game – even though it got marvellous reviews when it came out, to me it was Grand Theft Auto without most of the fun, style or coherence.

I played the “Scholarship Edition” for 360, which is probably the first time anyone in Australia bothered to play it because when it came out as Canis Canem Edit for PS2, noone knew what it was and it was almost immediately discounted. Even as a 360 game it was released at cut price, and I got it for $40. Does that make it eight times better than Condemned? Heck no.