A year ago an Easter break would have precipitated hours of casual levity with my PlayStation, reconciling after a long absence. Instead I’ve endured a 4 day weekend decorating, assembling various baby accessories and trying (failing) to perceive the intended meaning of the schematics of a child’s car seat, that requires a degree in engineering to construct. What a difference a 12 months make. “Busy, busy, busy!” My soon to be daughter (yes I realise she is the cardinal topic of discussion again!) has been a looming paradox for sometime, simply because technically she doesn’t yet exist. Only manifesting as a rigid protrusion that routinely positions herself on my girlfriends bladder or nestles casually on her back, you’re not fully cognizant of her as a living thing. That realisation is starting to materialise now as preparations to welcome her are nearing completion. The spare room, which has been reserved as my games room for nearly 3 years has now been successfully converted into a nursery for the impending usurper…er sorry, I of course meant welcoming the little bundle of joy. The television, now displaced to our room stoically commanding our domain, which now means I can game while laying down, snuggled in the encased warmth of our luxurious bed sheets. It gives you a whole new perspective, trust me. Still all my residual materials that had been clogging up this proverbial storage facility had to be relocated. In fact it was a necessity.
So we enlisted the aid of a few willing friends to participate in a kind of “paint party”, minus the fun and alcohol. Well with the exception of one friend who routinely douses her liver in any flammable liquid she can find. Our friends participation in decorating the spare room into something that resembles a nursery was a congenial collaboration of both haste and efficiency, and resulted in a well cultivated room for a human being that literally won’t be able to differentiate between it and our grubby shed. My girlfriend, unable to contribute to the more manual elements presided over us with authoritative instructions and provided much needed refreshments, such as alcoholic beverages to some attendants who got bored after 15 minutes, though I did appreciate her restraint; she normally gets bored after 5! Now furnished with all the amenities required for such a high maintenance resident, I finally began to understand just how significant this is going to be. My girlfriend instinctively sensed this and once the paint had dried, the room had been filled with various baby paraphernalia and our cohorts had departed (some drunk!) she allowed me, for what could be the last time for a while to spend an evening gaming.
My extended residency in what had become my refuge from…..everyone had proven to be fortuitous for much of my acquitted gaming. The deliberate isolation from my other halves penchant for trivial soup operas and talent shows strengthened our relationship. Honestly it did. She understands how important, not necessarily gaming is for me but how much I value my own space to just shut down. And this considerate appreciation, to provide me with one last prelude to the end of my facetious gaming days just demonstrates her magnanimous facilitation to think of others, despite the enduring severity of her aches and pains she is sustaining in comparison. And for that I thank her. You’d think that being forcibly removed from my space would leave me subjugated, that I’d resent gaming’s absence. In actuality I’m starting to appreciate the limitations because you really do take it for granted. Gaming is something that can be so accessible that prolonged stints diminishes the return, almost like a dog chasing a car; once it’s caught up to the vehicle it doesn’t have any idea what to do?! I appreciate the time I’ll get to play games, even in such restricted capacity. And most importantly appreciate that the spare room was never “mine” to begin with.
Apologies if this is worded as a scattering of confused thoughts condensed into one centralised cluster, but at the moment my mind is all over the place. It’s time for player 3 to enter the fold!
I’m the worst kind of online gamer, mutually abhorred by even my own allies that has only been exacerbated by my ventures into Bioshock 2, with only attritional contributions and subsequently only marginal impact. I’m that transient interloper that impedes progression, standing idle in the most centralised area for optimal exposure. The guy that generates mutual contempt, receiving verbal degradations that only encourages further nonchalance. Interlacing intertwined innocuity, interspersed with interlocking inactivity. Yes I am as convoluted as this sentence and invariably the archetypal fly in your ointment. But I don’t know why? There’s no cognitive functionality, no premeditated resentment for my interim confederates and no deliberately concerted effort to sabotage their endeavours. There are singular occurrences that entreat me to disrupt the rhythmic congenitally of the team and would be assailants, such as players with more skill than that feel inclined to do everything themselves. The pragmatic solidarity demonstrated by my provisional confederates, inclined to achieve the best result possible never motivates me the way it should beyond extraneous cajoling. When I’m in an environment that encourages active hostility I shy away from it as if indulging my own obscure protestations against the bureaucratic conformity of competitive online gaming. It doesn’t make sense, I realise that. Yet somehow I derive some sickathantic gratification from my reluctances. I do deploy adept ingenuity into my elusions however, devising ever clever yet aggravating methods of evasion, such as concealing myself behind partial walls and partitions with obscuring visibility. Standing idly appeared to trick some potential enemies into thinking that my inactivity was somehow dangerous. Even shadowing the opposition is surprisingly effective in deterring would be aggressors into thinking I was part of their team?!
This preferential and much more sporadic participation, contributing when inclination motivates me has become an indelible pursuit. Sometimes I’m encouraged by others prodigious progressions, someone that elevates my admittedly modest skills to a proportionate rigour that I employ into my endeavours, slowly gaining momentum. Often-times it just takes me time to find a rhythm. I’m like a metallic implement that steadily generates heat from the absorption of a hot substance, like a spoon in a coffee cup. But more often than not the robust dominance of a collaborator just aggravates me further with the simple and customary objective of any online game: winning! I could be sparring with the best of them one minute, then concealing myself behind crates the next. The expectant fervour of killing anonymous individual’s I’ll never meet is blighted by my frivolity as well as the enervating fatigue of doing the same thing over and over again, so I derive more enjoyment routed and diverted by other prosaic means. For instance protracted games of hide and seek that not everyone is consciously privy too. Leap frog is a recreational activity regularly occurring during my Bioshock 2 playthrough’s, which is essentially me jumping around opponents like Tigger in heat. I can’t express how much fun I had crouching through levels, particularly amusing to receive barbed verbal scalding from teenagers professing how they have all satisfied their carnal desires by banging my mother (she does get around it seems?). Yet again, I have to ask why?! Why do I continue to torture my team mates with monotonous pageantries? Why does this desire endure despite its clearly regressive sentiment? Boredom I suppose is a negligible influence and my moderate skills could be contributing factor, yet it could also be something much more innate. Or perhaps I’m just a selfish git with nothing better to do with my time. Tomato tomato (that really doesn’t translate that we’ll).
Commuting, whether by vehicular or other forms of transportation can depreciate the functionality of a games immersion, if it’s wholly dependant on a games more superior base functions. There’s a sudden jarring sensation as your thrust into precipitous situations, deprived of any cordial necessity and deliberately encouraged to partake in subsidiary activities or mini games, simply because a software technician decided that a level required the particulars afforded from complex mechanics to heighten the scripted ambiance with an impromptu race or escape. Often such ancillary compliances have a tendency to disrupt the rhythmic velocity of a game, with implementation for such automotive commutes severely impeding your progress if introduced with finicky controls or peripheral utilisation. GTA IV for instance established some of gaming’s most overly elaborate handling, that ultimately sullied the series once effectual, free-flowing driving. Yet sometimes, when applied correctly provides much-needed benefits that suitably diversifies and obliges a progressive alternative to a arbiters of games main functions. In actuality one of my favourite means of motility wasn’t motorised.
Red Dead Redemption gave rise to the power of, well horse power?! Credited with an exemplary capacity for story telling, I often feel it’s transportation is sadly neglected. There were no limitations relating to the spacial expanse of New Austin (and later the fictionalised interpretation of Mexico). I loved galloping from one rural location to the other without any distinct purpose to my voluntary forays. I revelled in covering hundreds of miles on my horse, a stallion I might add was procured from the very start and remained comparatively unscathed, thanks in part to a few cordial save points. The facilitation to simply abscond from bandits and thief’s made drive-bys seem almost heroic. Replacing the traditional steering wheel with rustic reins granted a purity lost with the introduction of industrial provenance. These were commutes ebbing with such formative grandiosity that I derived so much engaging fortitude from simply travelling between destinations that I’d almost feel glad if I had left something behind, just so I could turn around and retrieve it again! Whether or not you felt as encouraged by galloping around with earnest is subjective, but the compulsion to roam these isolated plains was further endorsed by the sense of assimilation of being a gun totting rebel in inhospitable territory, even in the maligned familiarity of such a resolutely staid environments. I was always left with a rapacious capacity to just ride off into the sunset, set up camp somewhere in waste expanse of the old West and just, well I don’t know, pretend that for a fleeting second was just a lonely loner on a lonely road. I can but hope that Rockstar officially formalise a sequel soon. Preferably immediately!
Another more notorious vehicular section that always resonated strongly with me on a kind of “game of thrones” level of depravity, was the secular brutality of Donkey Kong Country’s mine cart section. I shiver every-time I think about it! It was perhaps not the most conveniently arranged constructions, with segments torn out and the track strewn with vacated wagons, but that mine cart was distinct in its infamy. The farcical arrangement of the track felt about as secure as the Greek economy, with sections replete with impeachments that belie the intricate simplicity of the tracks velocity. The vulnerable trajectory exhibited a route that was the safety equivalent of juggling knives on a trampoline and the precision timing you needed to finish the final third frustrated me as a kid! But it was never dull. Every minor deviation, every delicate hop of the cart was subtlety reflected in your own nuances as your leg begins to twitch like a sleeping dog every-time you leap from one track to next. Leaning closer and closer to the television screen until your nose collapses on the rigid glass. It was exciting, mentally exerting, required proportionate diligence for someone who considered dry coco-pops a delicacy (and still do), yet highly satisfying when you finally departed the level. The frustration of failure dispersed when you proclaimed victory through adversity, and this was perhaps my first real appreciation for challenges in games.
But these are just a sample of my favourite driving sections in no driving games. More important is what your favourites are? It’s certainly a topic open for liberal interpretation, but essentially I’ll only accept suggestions that contain correlating associations with the contemporary definition of driving simulators, that aren’t defined as driving games or that don’t exclusive adhere to the specificities associated with driving games (so no Forza’s or Gran Turismo’s please). Comment below and let me know. Cheers.
In my dreams I find myself at a desk deliberating with a nebulous associate whose features are shrouded by dimly illuminated light, aligned immediately adjacent to me. I’m attending some formal congressional hearing, goaded by gaming’s punctually elected delegates on either side of me, that seek reparations for my extensive persistence in attaining my desired objective. These vestigial attendants are obscured by the viability of their silhouetted forms clustered around me, murmuring chastising discretions. The walls are studded with appellations of various enemies. The dragons, the vultures, the sentient plants. I entreat for peace to end the persistent stagnation, so I can finally fulfil my requirements and impede the story no more. For a moment their binary eyes wavered, flitting from aggressive red to a more sensitive blue. Did I observe a glimmer of sympathy perhaps? I continue pleading to broker a deal that could obviate this hindrance. There’s a solemn look of incredulity between these amorphous beings, even a brief recognition of pity that sadly faded as quickly as it began. Rankled by my distended reproach and their fingers laced together indicating that I would receive no compromise. Suddenly their faces begin to wane on one side, listless and flaccid as there’ll skin begins to peel. The table begins to rotate. Partially filled cups begin to slosh, water braced against the side of the glass, blank sheets of paper swirl furiously through the air as if coerced by the elemental emissions of some ethereal force. The perspiration that glistens my brow begins its listless decent down my face as I finally wake up. *Warning, dramatisation may not have happened!* The crippling lability afflicting my sedentary neurosis is soon curtailed by the precipitous intrusion of consciousness. I’m finally awake and shattered. No game has ever conditioned me for such torture, and worse still, it’s not even a difficult game. I have a capacity to trivialize, but what Tales of Xillia 2 has done to me, is fear playing games. My earnest capitulation doesn’t concern difficulty or glitches, but logistical encumbrances.
I’m a completianist, with most trophies requiring protracted concessions to achieve, its easy to venerate certain trophies, instilling anxious foresight for achievements that will cause you problems down the line. This was a scenario I had arranged resolve early, mitigating latter complacency. One condition was admittedly an interference, requiring dedicated concessions to attain, but nothing that couldn’t be alleviated with minimal negotiation. Characters were in statistical proportion, perfectly balanced to defeat the enemy and more importantly subsidise attacks to extend the length of battle for successful utilisation for the specific task I wanted to perform. The title was called “Spicy Chain” that required an explicit number of hits that would ultimately culminate in an enemies demise. Oh, and it had to be successfully performed 10 times before the title would unlock. Once vanquished preparation could go into refilling special attributes and repeating the process. Several failed attempts to expedite some civility had resulted in a prolonged failure. Sutured rigidity applied to my endeavours clearly required advanced flexibility to successfully implement my desired goal. Configurations, utilities and various alternating parameters have been altered beyond all recognition. The passivity of my weapons fragmented my performance and my supporting characters have been commanded to resist intervening in any of the encounters. I’ve engaged with the recipient enemies with precise specifity, yet….I keep failing. I keep telling myself it’s a glitch, it has to be! Yet research into to this systemic malady has yielded no reciprocal reports that account for this issue. I’ve watched videos that competently defines the requisite parameters required, yet despite strategic variable deviations in the hope that one aberration might yield an alternate source of productivity. 1/10. Okay, try again. 1/10. Again. 1/10. Again! 1/10. Come on! 1/10. There’s no negotiable parity, just a difficulty spike of such steep verticality that you’ll require the assistance of a sherpa to guide you safely over. There are no definitive distinctions that clarifies the precise deference between what I’m doing and what the video’s show. I’ve evaluated the video and my performance and can can establish no discernible contradictions between our actions that are clear or even subtle.
The studious delineation of my own play-style and the facilitation of the videos every prudence was invoked to the point of obsession in an attempt to resolve a painstaking grievance. Yet what makes these failed incidents worse is that I did succeeded once, but have since been unable to replicate similar results. Several hours of organisation, coordinated attacks that would preserve the encounters longevity, granting distributive parity to our attack. Restrained, disciplined executions that imitate the videos to precise imitation still haven’t conferred the appropriate dispersal of success. It’s sanctioned stipulation to manipulate has placed me in a position of such frustrating vulnerability that I’m actively discouraged by its surreptitious presence. The encompassing retinue of anxiety is not sourced from the fear of failure any more, I’m used to that, it just feels like my eligibility to perform, to forge ahead with determined perseverance regardless of the games deflecting mandate just isn’t enough. The mental exertion has diminished any residual collusion between succeeding through strife, when the prevention of nourishing success is absent. Where’s the incentive? There’s being defeated, there’s continually being defeated, and then this. It’s like Mike Tyson entering a spelling competition. I have never been so purposely averse to a game because of such errancy. As a result of Xillia’s erstwhile hindrance my PS3 has remained dormant, a venerated disciple of obstinacy. I’ve contributed more time than I have any right to expedite, I’ve scoured the Internet for viable solutions, but it feels churlish to argue with its preserved obstructions.
Tales Of Xillia 2’s wilted prestige has imparted karmic fidelity and vindicated distraction, as I now cavort with less domestically abusive games like the Witcher 3. Its been placed back on the shelf, displayed is such a manner that demonstrates my resent, by depositing under a huge stack of less infuriating games. I still catch sight of it though, with peripheral glimpses of its inanimate enmity. I Knocked over a stack of games, only for it to come sprawling out with vitriolic derisiveness. This is sadly one tale that doesn’t have a happy ending.
What games have driven you to give up? Let me know. Cheers.
Can you hear that?…….That tranquil nebulous sound? The vacuous ambiance? The rasping whisper of serenity? I don’t really understand why my mind interprets serenity as a personification of an elderly man with respiratory failure, but it does damn it! What I’m trying to say is that for the first time in a number of months I have the entire household to myself. Just me, my PS4 and enough sugar to put me in a diabetic coma! Of course my Girlfriend asserted with admirable verve that of course my domestic duties weren’t completely negated by her absence and my extended convalescence. This concession was by no means ignored, as I did eventually scoop up a bit of fluff that had been securely stationed in the darkened crevice of my upholstery. *Sigh* What a great couple of days it was. A weekend of excessive indulgences, of nutritious concessions and of intolerable cruelty (I’ll get onto that in a minute.) Now some people are averse to the emancipation afforded through solitary isolation, but I love it. My earnest desire for solitude really stems from my lack of society aptitude and the colloquial monotony of everyday interactions. Besides gaming with impunity is only possible with the abdication of prying appraisals. This was my time to self indulge in gaming that I haven’t really done since I was about 15, and I took full advantage.
The bulk of my weekend was liberally dispersed between my rejuvenated lust for “Hotline Miami” and revoking the imposed limitations of alcoholic abstinence. Trust me, when you’re attempting to A+ every chapter in Hotline Miami you’d drink a ravine streaming with beer and JD! Unrestrained by the social etiquette of having to wear formal garments to conceal my natural nakedness around the house, with my girlfriend admonishing my congenial liberation from underpants because according to her it isn’t “appropriate” for me to stroll around our residence with my billiards hanging loose like swaying pendulum (I’ll just leave that image with you for a moment). I tried, oh did try to convert my ambition for A+ propagation into tangible success, but I was defeated more times than Newcastle United! Wraith was my consummate liaison, guiding me through each chapter with chortled belligerence. It was as though it had taken physical residence behind me, massaging my shoulders as I continually failed, urging me to relinquish my aggression and give in to the dark side, to which I complied by hurling cushions across the room with the resounding *poof* as they hit the floor. My convalescent peace was shattered by the barbed trolling I was experiencing from Hotline, as I moved from a reclined state of respite to being perched aggressively on the end of the sofa screeching with sniggering anguish. So I relied on a more affable contingency; food.
With the discretionary consumption of food already available to me, I began foraging through the wilted remains of our preserves. Sifting amongst the jutted remains of frozen suppositories I felt it best to bolster our sensible repository with a favourable supply of fish, chicken and pizza. Hastened by repeated gaming discontent I ventured out periodically to acquire much-needed sustenance, with no calculable barometer for just how much nutrition was being extracted from chicken wings and other reformed poultry. But who cares, you’re not my mother! There was no one there to restrict my consumption of these detrimental substances. Moreover there is no better food than chicken when trying defeat a game as nefarious as Hotline Miami. After devouring the breaded flesh of numerous unspecified chickens, with their splayed carcasses garrisoning my plate, I persevered with my exertion to at least obtain 2 or 3 A+ rankings. I had determined that achieving individual trophies would yield diminished returns, so I instead decided to condense my arrears into one manageable sum. After hours of hollowing, swearing and a few cushion throws my voracious gaming appetite was finally sated at around 2am, with no paramour to chastise the lateness of my completion.
Its been a long time since I’ve been presented with such ancillary time to dedicate to a computer game. It was akin to when your parents left you at home for the first time believing you to be a responsible teen, before you seize the opportunity to play ball in the house. Just with less collateral damage generated to family portraits and ceramic owls. Of course any evidence of my listlessness was now concealed, with all of her speculative accusations directed at my perceived sloth now just oblique, circumstantial conjecture. What a lazy, forget the hindrance of underpants weekend it was. But I’ll admit that being afforded such abstinence from the monotony of routine is refreshing, but the seldom allures of such isolation does help me reflect on just how much I do the miss the company of others. Just a little bit.
What has been your most memorable gaming weekend? Let me know. Cheers.
Want some do ya?! *Bang!* Take that mother hubbard! You want some too?! *Squish* Don’t you dare fire that gun at me, don’t, DON’T! I’m giving you verbal warning now! No? Right *smash!* All right, if that’s the way you want it, gather round, come on. Closer, little bit more……perfect. *Swoosh………Bang!* Now do you see what you get! DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU MESS WITH ME! Hey, old man……*Whollop!*
If nothing else Prototype 2’s absurdity for gratuitous violence is a great sedative for the stresses of any work day. Explosions, blood, infected humans, abominable mutations, tendrils seemingly composed of cartilage that elongate and consume…….people? It’s the equivalent of suffering an acute migraine during a carnival, but you know, in a good way?! You don’t even need to play the original to enjoy it. Subtlety is an observance that won’t be a pervasive factor in your direction, as you contract an adaptive range of powers, ascend vertical surfaces like an ice skater skirting down a sharp gradient and simply blowing everything up, sometimes accidentally. But amidst all the ensuing chaos lies a well-mannered veterinarian, trying to establish a practice exclusively for the aid of newts that suffer from debilitating heart palpitations. No, wait, sorry I read that wrong, you actually play as James Heller, a mercenary deliberately infected by a walking pathogen called Alex Mercer, who manipulates Heller’s grief over the murders of his wife and daughter by granting him super-human attributes and provoking him into vengeful recompense against the very militia he helped serve. I was close. As you can imagine, the conceit hasn’t exactly been adapted from the lost scriptures of Shakespeare, but it functions to a degree that can generally ignore the context of why, when and whom your mutilating. There’s no moral ambiguity nor diversion to accentuate a man beset by tragedy and malice, just a man purely motivated by aggression, a purely platonic Oedipus complex and seemingly aggravated by his very shadow.
After inheriting the same strain of infection that Alex Mercer possess, imbuing you with super-human abilities such as increased speed, resilience to projectile weaponry, the ability to emit a viral sonar which allows you track specified targets, wall running, temporary elevation, indiscriminate fatalities on civilians, the mobilisation tanks or Apache helicopters, command a horde of savage mutations and supplement your artillery with the consumption of humans or other “evolved”. Yes you can literally consume victims, appropriating their façades as a form of disguise bestowing access to previously restricted areas. The overtures in the absorption of a person is startling, as you pound the essence out of the cadaverous recipient, restoring dwindling health in the process. And as long as there is someone there to exploit then you’ll be almost invulnerable. You soon become a prevalent, parasitical infarction on the 3 segregated boroughs, zones quarantined into colour coordinated sections based on the severity of infection. Of course it’s all governed by the prominent militarised unit called BlackWatch who’s overt contingency is operating regulated control over the impoverished communities, for their own protection and preservation of course. Their inert plan however is the total eradication of the virus that has plagued the city and saving humanity! Mwhaha……wait? Their the good guys?!
Oh sure, BlackWatch is occasionally infiltrated by undesirables seeking to annihilate mankind at the behest of mutated sociopath, but they are attempting to formulate antigen. Whereas I’m eviscerating every in and around my path! As you progress you’ll only become more proficient in killing, and take enormous satisfaction in denoting it. Speed and diligence are necessary commodities and trust me the compulsion to eliminate compacted groups with a flurry of rapid parries is such a compelling allure. Heller’s retention of self loathing and projection of hate is effervescent and feels so damn good to unleash explosive ferocity on the malignant infected. Smash, bash and consume! Like a masochistic prostitute. Whereas games such as inFamous restricted your errant abilities, requiring moments of respite to consolidate your diminished reverence, here your almost unstoppable, relishing the clinical potency of your consummate enmity. But with great power, comes little resistance, especially in the latter stages. Even the most aggressively respondent of enemies are easily quashed by the severity of “Hammerfist”. If they aren’t immediately splattered into a cardinal fluid by the initial impact then they’ll at least be stunned, allowing enough respite to repeat the process. This powerful trajectory from the ascent and subsequent descent mitigates the danger of almost any threat, dispatching aggressors with haste and accuracy. Evasion, if required merely requires enough distance from perusing opponents. Once clear you simply morph into your alternative guise and merrily continue without being accosted.
The monochromatic cut-scenes are very refined and cinematic, the city and its municipal districts less so. Buildings and environments are all spurious, repeated patterns that reticulate throughout. I observed the same theatre sign adjoined to two singular buildings, both of which resembled dilapidated apartments. Vehicles are shunted off the road simply by taking leisurely strolls into them, further depicting your eminent influence. The principal story can be completed within about 8 hours, and certainly entreats you to engage with all the supplementary tasks or seeking consignments dotted around the cities that generate increased dividends to your vivacious array of abilities, which invariably brings me back to supplier of these extraordinary talents. On the surface he’s motivations are very procedural accordance’s; he desires revenge at any cost for the tragic murder of his family, offering glimpses of his receding humanity with an ordinance that only provokes further distance from sanity. But it becomes evidently clear that you’re not the hero, with even Heller openly chastising those that imply he is chivalrous. There is little regard or compunction for reforming the judicial aristocracy that clasps society and a reluctance to regard humanity with any relevance. What can be derived is that what little compassion he does inherit soon abscond’s with the regular intervals at which he is deceived by the people he does trust.
Whereas inFamous would depict colour coordinated resolutions that impact negatively or positively on your character, here decisions, or lack thereof are far removed and ponderous. On the surface every kill, every consumption of DNA appears inherently justified. I mean mutated abominations are trying to maim you and humans are attempting to shoot you! Until you begin to understand that James Heller is a selfish, troubled former marine, admittedly disposed by grief and loss, but ultimately becoming what he sought to destroy, evil! And boy does that feel gooooooood!
Prototype 2 is available for free to all PlayStation Plus subscribers.