Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dale plays Red Dead Redemption and, as usual, is unjustly vilified after trying to do the right thing

News from the gaming front.

Okay, I admit I've been languishing in my comfort zone, playing World of Warcraft most evenings. Again, this is mainly because I have friends online who actually look forward to playing with me. Also, there is a set of cloth shoulders that my priest needs that just will not drop. I have killed the boss who drops them exactly twenty three times and the one time they dropped, they got ninja'd by some retarded, cheeto-eating ass-monkey of a warlock, who Needed on them to vend them for some quick gold. I mean, isn't it enough that, as a warlock, he's using me as his personal mana pool? Go back to the lame PVP realm you came from, jackass!

And that concludes tonight's episode of GEEK TALK. I hope you all enjoyed it.

Anyhoo, in the last month, outside of WoW, I have been playing a few different games.

The best one is Red Dead Redemption, a game I started right after it came out a couple years ago, but lost track of after putting in no more than a couple hours into it. I seem to do that with a lot of Xbox games. I start getting into them, but then find myself not playing them for awhile, often due to the console not being available to me for the reason of teen males in the house.

But, more commonly, it's so much work to go all the way downstairs, find the disc I need, eject whichever one's in the damn machine, put mine in, let it load, log in to the machine, and finally load up whichever level you were on. I mentioned being lazy in my last post. This may begin to illustrate the deverity of my laziness. I have actually had the moment from that Jim Gaffigan bit – the one where you're laying on the couch and your show ends, an infomercial comes on, and you reach for the remote but can't find it. You then look at the length of the path from the couch to the TV and say to yourself, “Well I guess I'm watching this then.” I told people that story long before I'd ever heard of Mr. Gaffigan, but it is comforting to know there are others like me out there.

The point is, when I find myself away from a game for more than a week or two, especially a game with a narrative, I lose my enthusiasm for it and feel like I need to start over since I've likely forgotten potentially important story elements. Because I am not only lazy. I am also dumb.

Now that I have an Xbox upstairs though, I can play whenever I want, plus I save a couple of crucial steps. No downstairs trip and the disc in the machine has a very good chance of being the one I left there last time I played. And at the moment, that disc is Red Dead Redemption.

In this game, you play a scarred gunfighter with a mysterious and checkered past. Not a big stretch since every single video game character in history has some dark back-story. From Mario and his alleged ties to the Gambino family to Sonic's suspected substance abuse , no video game character has ever been known for living the clean life (except for Pac Man, who has never raised a hand to his wife and whose reputation as a gentleman is above reproach).

But back to Red Dead. The game starts you off with a whole bunch of long cut scenes that involve you getting shot and rescued (and nursed back to health) by an attractive widow (I have no idea if she is actually a widow or not, but she might as well be). You do some work for her on her ranch to help you learn the basic mechanics of the game, and then you strike out on missions. The plot really doesn't matter, but in the few hours of game time I've played there have been a few notable moments.

Most of these moments deal with game mechanics that I didn't know were in place, so one time, as I was trying to search the body of a fallen bad guy I instead accidentally skinned his dead horse. This doesn't sound like such a big deal, but you have to remember this game is made by Rockstar, the people who brought you both the Grand Theft Auto series and Manhunt, a game which increased your performance rating based on the extremity and gruesomeness of the murders you performed. It was a delight that in no way produced a generation of potential Dexters.

My point is that, by accidentally hitting the “skin horse” button instead of the “search dead guy” button, I found myself suddenly awash in a crazy arterial spray right out of Kill Bill as my onscreen avatar chopped and hacked away happily. I don't think he was whistling, but I can't be sure. Blood was everywhere, including on the camera lens. Remember, it's a video game, so there is no actual camera. Somebody made the decision to spray the pretend camera lens with pretend blood.

But the absolute best moment so far was during some down time in the story. I was walking around a little town, exploring, when I heard a ruckus in a nearby alleyway. Checking it out, I discovered a scene right out of the opening of Unforgiven. An angry cowboy was beating on a prostitute, yelling at her. I think she may have laughed at either the size or quality of his junk, but can't recall precisely.

I step over and try to interact with him in some way; maybe open up a chat window with some dialogue options like, “Hey, stop beating the whore in this here alleyway”, or “Drop that there knife to the ground, real quick-like”. Oh yeah, by now he had his knife out and was cutting her up real violent-like. Within seconds she was dead on the ground so, like any paragon of justice would, I drew my gun to bring this villain in.

Immediately, the man ran away. Now, I had just done a mission where I brought a fugitive in, and one option was to take him alive. So when I fought him I was allowed to shoot him in the leg, incapacitating him and allowing him to be captured without having to kill him.

So, armed with this knowledge of the game and my newfound ability to take men alive, I drew a bead on the murderous scoundrel, lowered my aim to his legs, and fired.

The result? The dirty sumbitch drops to the ground, stone dead, and a game message pops up at the top corner of the screen, telling me that doing bad things will lower my reputation and people in the game will start closing their doors to me.

I remember, years ago, playing Age of Empires and sending my soldiers across the map. I would then check on my base and monitor whatever construction was going on, and when my soldiers should have reached their target I would check on them to find that they had not reached their destination. Was it because enemy troops had discovered and ambushed them? Nope, they were stuck halfway to their destination, marching in place, piled up into a cliff wall like that marching band in Animal House.

So even in this new age of sophisticated games and advanced AI, you still have to deal with dumb-dumbs.

Just like real life.

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