Weekend Update

Having taken a well deserved break after the conclusion of NaBloPoMo, I recently discovered that Holidailies is taking place in December. This is apparently another post-every-day contest, but one that’s a little more elaborate and established. Since the deadline for entry is the eighth, I would have joined if I hadn’t taken a break. C’est la vie.

This Sunday, I was at a birthday party, where I encountered Rich . The conversation turned to the Wii (which, barring an act of Santa, I’ll start shopping for in January) and then to video games in general. What sorts of games do I play? I couldn’t formulate an answer quickly enough and the conversation turned to other topics.

However, I’ll share my belated answer with you, my dear readers. Although I do like a good simulation or strategy game, such as Sim City, Caesar II, or Warcraft, I also enjoy a good puzzle game, such as Tetris or, um… that one with the pipes, or… eh. Maybe I’m not that much into puzzlers after all. I also enjoy adventures, like Robot Odyssey and Metroid. Some people would classify Metroid as more of an action game, because of its shoot-em-up nature, but to me, its focus on exploration and the surmounting of obstacles, places it squarely in adventure country.

Do I like Role-Playing Games, then? Yes and no. Yes, I enjoy having a sense of plot (and when it twists, all the better.) I enjoy interacting with characters that are more than just caricatures. But no, I don’t enjoy being all but required to perform obsessive-compulsive side-tasks in order to gain the equipment and power that is all but necessary to complete the game. For example, I enjoyed everything about Baldur’s Gate and Final Fantasy IX until I reached the end of each game and was just too weak to continue.

Do I like action games? Yes and no. I do not like spawn-and-die first person shooters. As I’ve said before, in a test of reflexes between myself and the computer, the computer will probably win. Playing such a game in single-player mode thus does not appeal to me. And that makes playing in multiplayer mode less than thrilling, as the more experienced players usually pick me off before I have time even to figure out where they are. Hence "spawn-and-die."


One of my favorite action games was True Crime: Streets of LA, which was actually three action games in one. You play a plainclothes detective. If you get into a car, it becomes a racing game as you try and chase down bank robbers and carjackers. Say you run the bankrobber’s car off the road? Both he and you can get out of your cars and continue the chase on foot, or you can whip out your pistol and make the game into a shoot out. Or if you’ve lost your gun, you can continue in the format of a kung-fu fighting game.

What made TCSLA interesting to me was that you could play Good Cop or Bad Cop. That is, you could commandeer vehicles, search and attack random pedestrians, et cetera, but eventually SWAT would come after you. Compare this to City of Villains, in which pedestrians are for some reason off limits. I could see having them be zero-level peons, not worth the effort, but untouchable? That hardly makes sense.

Anyway, another of my favorite action games was R.A.D. It was basically a massive 3-D fighting game that went like this. First, a huge robot falls from the sky. Everyone then acts all surprised, although it’s been raining robots for the past week. Another huge robot then rises from the ground. You, the high school aged chairman of a corporation, fly yourself to a rooftop to get a better view of the first robot and then you take remote control of the second. The robots, despite interruptions by newscasters, mad scientists, and Japanese schoolgirls, proceed to beat the stuffing out of one another until one of them explodes.


Why did I like this game? Why, besides the giant robots? Well, the robots behaved much as you’d expect a colossal metal machine to. They were clumsy and slow, and the street shook when they walked. They could step on pedestrians, kick over elevated railways, punch down buildings, pick up and throw vehicles, and nobody, except for the newscaster, even seemed to care. Well, there was one schoolgirl who would get a bit upset if you destroyed her place of employment. But if a stray missile hits the high school? Whatever! Your giant tank runs over dozens of fleeing NPCs? Well, they should watch where you’re going!

I also liked the game’s sense of scale. There were nice uses of heat shimmer and simulated telephoto lenses to convey distance. The buildings felt building-sized, probably because you saw them only from a human-sized perspective.

So my ideal action game would be a combination of the previous two games, with perhaps a few door missions thrown in to give it some sense of plot. And they should call it "The Negotiator."

Which Big O character are you?
Which Big O character are you?

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