Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tomb Raider is the REAL Resident Evil 5 (in my heart)


I've transformed into a semi-hardcore gamer lately, or at least someone with the reckless budget title spending habits of such a nerdy fellow or fellete.

While I've had a lot of fun with various titles,* nothing gave me that special feeling. By that, I mean, that Resident Evil 4 feeling.

One could say it was MIND BLOWING. (eh? ehhhh?)

Though it doesn't fill me with quite the same sense of dread (not to say there aren't a couple jumps) and admitting that it handles like a Ferrari to RE4's jalopy, I realized after playing two or three more hours than I originally planned of "Tomb Raider" tonight that it scratches that specific itch better than any game since RE4.

(CERTAINLY better than the disappointing and icky-racist fifth edition and leaps beyond the train wreck of part six of Resident Evil itself.)

Many compare the "Tomb Raider" reboot to "Uncharted," yet my heart says it should be called "Resident Evil 5: The Version That Should Have Been."

Let us count the ways.
  • As you can see from the two screenshots, both have evil wolves.
  • Each title could be considered a serious "reboot" of a series that first gained traction on the original Playstation.
  • Tomb Raider doesn't really have a choice when it comes to making Lara Croft the star, but RE4 also returned a popular lead character in Leon.
  • Each game seemed a little obsessed with hair.

  • Each involves an island/town full of mysterious inhabitants who want to kill you. (Note: I've only played about 25 percent of TR, so the plot parallels might go even deeper.)
  • Both games were sequels, yet they represented significant departures from the series.
  • Quick-time events annoyed, but not to a game-breaking extent.
  • Each game have pleasant rest stations where you upgrade weapons and your skills in surprisingly satisfying ways.
  • There's a really appealing loop that basically goes: confrontation, then exploration, then item collection. You even break boxes to get money/stuff, although there aren't any rattle snakes bursting out from those item boxes in TR (yet?).
  • More broadly, they're both third-person action games where you go from feeling frail to like a killing machine.
  • Each protagonist dies in remarkably gory and elaborate ways.

Now, there are certainly differences (Leon's way hotter, amirite?), but even so, "Tomb Raider" feels like the spiritual successor to "Resident Evil 4." To me, anyway.

* - I cannot say enough about games as different as "Deus Ex: Human Revolution," "Hot Line Miami," and "Critter Crunch."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

An Ode to the Unconscious

Like many (TASTEFUL) video game nerds, I buried an astonishing amount of time into "Deus Ex: Human Revolution."

The game is fantastic, but anyone can tell you that. I want to focus on a specific facet of the game and many stealth games before it: the dudes you knock unconscious. Honestly, there are few sensations in gaming that can top "hiding a bunch of unconscious and/or dead soldiers in air vents."

DX: HR does a great job of giving you an idea of the worlds you're infiltrating, but I couldn't help but think:

"Man, I'd love to see what happens when those conked-out dudes wake up."

Can you imagine the confusion one would feel when you're working your shitty patrol job (you know those guys are paid peanuts, or else they'd be way better at their jobs) and the next thing you know, you're knocked out cold - if you're lucky - and you probably have a concussion and/or broken bones to boot?

You'd be pretty miffed, too, if you had to deal with the latest Gravely Voiced Stealth Protagonist.

(C'mon Jensen, I'm a goddamned pencil-pusher.)

(You know Snake's breath must just smell like murder. Screen from this vid.)

You know, there really needs to be a mercenary union. Those guys are the invisible Seaus.

Anyway, a greater portal into these soldiers' lives would be fun.

Wouldn't it be a blast to see a little cutscene of some of these soliders regaining consciousness inside an air vent? What about an accountant coming back from vacation to find some random Special Ops sap coming to with a log of shit in his pants? A cleaning guy notices a strange smell in a closet and some dope comes tumbling out the instant he opens the door.

I'd feel especially bad for the garbage men who find all the bodies that Agent Who Gives a Fuck hides in the "Hitman" games.

(Knocking out the help? That's kind of fucked ... via Non Fiction Gaming)

If nothing else, it would be cool to get a little back story on these guards you're flawlessly/sloppily dismembering and/or concussing. Would you feel bad about breaking 'ol Steve the Unobservant Security Guard's neck if you realize that his kids are one missed mortgage payment away from being on the streets? Perhaps that AI you're casually sneaking beyond will get fired by that dick villain you're about to face. At minimum, you should find the occasional wallet that says Bad Motherfucker on it.

Aside: Come to think of it, it could even be fun to play as the soldier who just gets humiliated by some Super Spy. Think of it as "The Baxter" of video games.

One of the big gameplay components could involve running teenage skateboarders down in a mall parking lot while grappling with post-concussion syndrome. Next-gen!

Chances are, it would be funnier than Paul Blart and somehow not as dark as "Observe and Report" ...

Extinct: And Deservedly So! - The Javan Tiger (by a Wild Boar)

Welcome to the first edition of Extinct: And Deservedly So!, where OMA features a guest animal author celebrating the demise of one of its predators. (Dark, we know.)

Today's piece is from the archives: Willy the Wild Boar dances on the grave of Javan Tigers in 1979.

(Research based on this list and Wikipedia. Because #science.)

Howdy readers, this is your guest author Willy the Boar. Please note that I do not like being called a fucking pig, OK? Let's set the goddamn record straight on that. *Snort*

Anyway, today I'd like to solemnly - *snicker* - I'm sorry, I'm deeply upset about the - heh ...

... Oh, who am I kidding. I'd like to present a celebratory roll in filth to the demise of those good-for-nothing douchebag Javan tigers, who recently went in extinct. Good riddance, you lousy, sharp-toothed fuck-faces.

Here's a photo of one of those dipshits in the only place they deserve to be other than out of the fucking food chain altogether: prison.

(Photo also via Wikimedia Commons. Amazingly, these irrelevant pussies have been documented. *Farts*)

Here's a summary of the Java Tiger by Listverse's Jamie Frater, with my own observations and reactions injected along the way:

Javan Tigers were a subspecies of tigers which were limited to the Indonesian island of Java. In the early 19th century Javan tigers were so common, that in some areas they were considered nothing more than pests. 

Wait, so there were places that welcomed them? I call bullshit.

As the human population increased, large parts of the island were cultivated, leading to a severe reduction of their natural habitat. Wherever man moved in, the Javan tigers were ruthlessly hunted down or poisoned. 

Hold on, let me crouch behind a bush to hide my boar-boner.

Natives carried much of the hunting out, a surprising thing since they considered the tiger a reincarnation of their dead relatives. The last specimen to have been seen was sighted in 1972, although there is evidence from track counts that the animal had lingered into the 1980’s. The last track counts to yield evidence of the tigers was held in 1979, when just three tigers were identified. The leading cause of their extinction was agricultural encroachment and habitat loss, which continues to be a serious concern in Java.

Possible alternate cause: they were huge dickbags.

Anyway, glad those shitheads are all gone. Now, can someone stop those leopards from eating my kids? Fucking sociopaths.

Editor's Note: Willy the Boar was eaten by a crocodile in 1982. His last words were believed to be, "More like Cockodile. Right guys?" And then gurgling and screaming.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

You've foiled me, FTL

It's seven a.m. and I'm playing a brutally difficult video game that cost me less than $5. And I'm not even winning.

Even for someone with a weird blogger schedule, that's a pretty deplorable situation. That's exactly the scenario I was in earlier this week, as I was getting my ass handed to me by this wonderfawful game, "Faster than Light."

"Tough" video games come in many breeds, but I've always appreciated the ones that reward critical thinking over reflexes. (Probably because I have opposite-of-a-cat reflexes.)

"FTL" is in that vein, although it adds an element that makes it kind of like life: unfairness. Cruel, cruel unfairness.

And at some point, I've realized that I plateaued at the game. That's right, "FTL," you've defeated me.

At least until I boot it up again and start the cycle all over again ...

A fantastic run-on and a worrisome phrase

The Internet probably hates Grantland because the Internet hates just about anything. Particularly anything attempting something vaguely high-minded.

Personally, I find Grantland to be one of my go-to leisure reading sites, whether I'm hanging out with nothing to do or on the John. Sorry if I lose hipster points, then.

(Self-defeating aside: I do call it Horace Grantland from time-to-time, if that helps.)

By sheer chronological luck, I've decided to single out Jordan Conn's piece on Bret Bielema (whose name almost seems like it's begging to be Dan Bylsma).

Overall, it's a great read - overcoming the fact that my interest in college football comes in at about a 4 out of 10 - but it contains one especially thrilling and fantastic run-on sentence a few graphs after an enraging phrase.

First, let's start with the phrase that drives me a little bonkers:

And now here we are, with the SEC more than halfway to a decade's worth of consecutive national titles,
(my emphasis added)

Look, I'm all for flowery language. It would be hypocritical for me to say that you shouldn't write or say things in an artsier and less efficient way.

On the other hand, as someone who merely views the SEC's rampage as a blur of Nick Saban's banality, I actually don't know if Conn means five or six years when he writes "more than halfway to a decade." I'm guessing six, but maybe it's five titles but the fifth one happened months ago so inawayit'smorethanhalfwayto10?

I don't know, because it's confusing.

Apologies if it seems like I'm picking on Conn, but it's really because the rest of the article is so damned captivating. This delicious run-on practically gave me, well, a different kind of -on.

It's a staggeringly efficient orchestration. There are men hitting each other, yes, but then there are men holding cards that instruct them how to hit each other, standing next to men holding clipboards to chart how well they hit each other, standing next to men who give them water to fuel their hitting of each other, standing next to men who yell for them to hit each other harder.

No, Mr. Conn, that run-on sentence was a staggeringly efficient orchestration. Bravo.

But, seriously, is it five or six years? I'm guessing it isn't seven ...