Thursday, July 21, 2011

So I played this game...

Ramblings Post #153
I am multifaceted. I can engage in lively and spirited conversation that works the mind with its depth of field. I can hang out and make drinks, and idle with the best of them. I can find a tall glass of juice and some snacks, a good book and be satisfied for hours. And I can queue up a set of pixelated puzzles and ...well, read on.

What did I do on weeknights before law school? I wish I could remember, because right now it's like that two weeks after the football season ends where you try to remember what did instead of watch football. It's awkward because you have three to six hours blocked out mentally, and suddenly you DO have time to pull the weeds out of the garden and regrout the tile. Or I would if I had a garden, or tile to regrout. So, in this interim, instead of starting some huge project between summer and the fall classes and not getting done, I've cranked up the PS3 to high and taken the plunge.

FIRST...I play video games because I've played video games for a long as I can remember. We played Cannons in the lab back in high school, we had our baseball league on hidden drives on the school computers in college, and once I bought my own computer, it became a way to occasionally blur out the less than fair real world. And, since for $60 or so I can get a month or three out of the game play, it comes a very cost effective way to entertain myself and keep my brain functioning.

I bought some games last fall, and rather than try and play during school they've sat on my shelf just gathering dust. So, with no school and the newness of arriving at home at 6pm (a rarity) I went ahead and cracked open one of the dusty ones - Uncharted 2 : Among Thieves.

looks neat don't it?

Now, if you've never played video games, the first thing you need to realize is that most of them are just really fancy pixelated puzzles. You're given a task, say, find the magic jewel, and a playing space and much like a Soduku or you've got figure out how to get it done. A game of Modern Warfare is really nothing more than a maze with explosions and pretty backgrounds. The better games are the ones with multiple ways to figure things out, where you can either show up armed to the teeth or with nothing but a knife and play it your way.

Uncharted 2 is NOT one of those games.

The game I sat down to played through like a action movie script. The camera angles swung around so that things looked impressive and majestic, the cut scenes were long and full of exposition, the graphics were glorious. I was excited. Then, I started playing.... and there are few games I've played as completely singularly focused as Uncharted. Most games have the decency to hide the puzzle just a little. The makers of this weren't even subtle. Far too many times I surmised there was only one way, and one way only, to get through a sequence. Wait, let me rephrase. There was one way, and one way only to get through MOST of the sequences.

I don't know about anyone else, but this was annoying. I've played plenty games where you have to achieve X to get through a sequence, but most games give you some wiggle room. Some. Any. This game won awards. I'm still trying to figure out why. It's one thing to try it something one way, then try it from a different angle, or with different tools, and see what happens. This game boiled down to pressing the buttons fast enough. And until I pressed them at the right time, in the proper sequence, it keep repeating.

But it was semi-fun. And I'd already started. So I went on and kept playing.

Through the Parkour fetish, where every other two minutes involved a dive over a chasm or gap and a finger tip grasp on a ledge. Which every character appeared to be able to pull off with relative ease. And seemed to allow the programmers love for climbing street signs to re-emerge.

Through the maps so completely counter intuitive, that the game handed out hints like candy when you frequently got stuck looking for a way out of the little inescapable virtual play pit they'd conceived of for this part of the "game". Really. I was supposed to realize I was to throw the propane tank and shoot it in mid air to dislodge the car in the river to build the bridge? How was I supposed to even conceive of that when I'd never had any reason to shoot a propane tank before now?

The Ice caves were just stupid. There was absolutely no way that ...wait, I'm going to let that go.

It was the temple. Every search for the treasure game has a intact temple the size of a football stadium that the "ancients" built that still has working parts now, a thousand years later. Yeah. Right. But it's part of the story and I went along with it although it made no sense, until after jumping and spinning and diving all Parkour style over a virtual mile only to have the way blocked. On purpose. Then working my around to the point where, I tripped this switch...and I swear...a jungle gym arrangement rose out of the pixelated mist that had forced my earlier acrobatics. I waited a second then watched my virtual guide (who didn't speak English and had been "dead" ten minutes earlier) immediately swing around like an Olympic gymnast and turned that sorry piece of ...

...I turned the game off.

I can suspend disbelief. But I can't turn it off completely.

Barkeep. I wasted three days on this? If I ever get bored enough to finish....

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