Monday, October 27, 2008

I Am The Law (You Won't Fuck Around No More)

The title is a lyric from the Anthrax song I Am The Law, referring to Judge Dredd, but it is also a nice fit for Crackdown. Check the lyrics:
Fifteen years in the academy,
He was like no cadet they'd ever seen.
A man so hard, his veins bleed ice,
And when he speaks he never says if twice.
They call him Judge, his last name is Dredd,
So break the law, and you wind up dead.
Truth and justice are what he's fighting for,
Judge Dredd the man, he is the law.

With gun and bike he rules the streets,
And every perp he meets will taste defeat.
Not even Death can overcome his might,
Cause Dredd and Anderson, they won the fight.
When the Sov's started the Apocalypse war,
Mega-City was bombed to the floor.
Dredd resisted, and the judges fought back,
Crushed the Sov's with their counter-attack.

Respect the badge - he earned it with his blood.
Fear the gun - your sentence may be death because...
And you won't fuck around no more - I AM THE LAW!
I judge the rich, I judge the poor - I AM THE LAW!
Commit a crime I'll lock the door - I AM THE LAW!
Because in Mega-City... I AM THE LAW!

In the cursed earth where mutants dwell,
There is no law, just a living hell.
Anarchy and chaos as the blood runs red,
But this would change if it was up to Dredd.
The book of law is the bible to him,
And any crime committed is a sin.
He keeps the peace with his law-giver,
Judge, jury, and executioner.


CRIME - The ultimate sin,
Your iso-Cube is waiting when he brings you in.
LAW - It's what he stands for,
Crime's his only enemy and he's going to war!

CRIME - The ultimate sin,
Your iso-Cube is waiting when he brings you in.
LAW - It's what he stands for,
Crime's his only enemy and he's going to war!

Apparently Drokk is a curse word in Mega-City, according to Urban Dictionary.

But yeah, this pretty much sums up a lot of what Crackdown is about: busting heads for great justice, due process be damned. And it's AWESOME. I can't remember the last time I had this much fun in one of these open-world sandbox games. The entire GTA series (yeah, including IV) feels like a run-up to a game like this in terms of sheer playability. Crackdown doesn't have the razor wit or characters you half give a shit about that GTA does, but it more than makes up for it with it's car-throwing, building-leaping, orb-finding superhero cop gameplay.

There's no bullshit here. No cutscenes, only the barest attempt at a plot, no annoying mission structure requiring you to do A, B, and C before D, and hence no annoying re-starting long-ass driving missions and skipping through the cutscenes just to get to the one staged chase that you keep getting fucked up on by street traffic. Death isn't a huge setback; in fact when you die you get to choose which spawn point in the city you want to start back at, and since they double as supply points, you get to reselect your weapons loadout, too. You have assassination targets that you are free to tackle in any order you wish, but taking down sub-bosses before each gang's leader helps by knocking out the gang's access to better cars, weapons, training, and the like. You aren't even limited to one part of the city at the start; you can go everywhere, but the 'more advanced' districts have tougher gangs. It's eminently playable.

One of the things that make it so much fun is the skill growth. You have 5 main skills: agility, driving, strength, and explosives. They go up by use, basically, but also by doing cool things using them, like finding orbs around the city hidden in little cubby holes or on top of tall buildings, or completing races or just by blowing stuff up. Agility is the most fun, because for each level it goes up, you can jump 5 feet higher. I spend as much time on the roofs in this game as I did in Assassin's Creed. Strength is also cool because you get to where you can pick up big concrete pipes or thugs' cars and hurl them across the city from on top of the nearest big building. Explosive skill widens the area of effect of grenades, rockets, barrels, and such.

Doesn't that sound incredible? I sat down with it the first night at 8 or 9 and I was up until 4 the next morning. Then I got up the next day and I had to tear myself away from the game so we could go run some errands. It's got that same 'just-one-more-little-thing' hook that I talked about with Assassin's Creed, but I think this is even better. Guns and explosions are more fun than swords and knives, but also the amazing mobility of your agent 1-up's Altair's parkour and climbing skills. Also like AC (and again, better), are the scavenger hunt items. Flags in AC didn't amount to shit aside from achivement points. The orbs in Crackdown up your skills little by little as you find them, meaning that you can then reach higher ones, and higher, etc. AC has a better plot, and better style, not to mention amazing graphics, but like with GTA, Crackdown just has more fun per cubic inch of the world. Check it out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


This week has been much the same as the last as far as gaming goes: lots of Halo online with guys I went to college with, a little Rock Band, and a little Nocturne. Most of my free time the last couple of weeks or so has been spent watching seasons of The Wire, but that's another discussion altogether, and I like to keep this blog focused on gaming.

The biggest thing to note is the progress I made in Nocturne; it was only a few hours' worth, but I made it through a couple of key boss battles and kind of got the momentum rolling once again. There was this gauntlet of 3 bosses ending with a battle against Thor, with no saves in between. Thor kept kicking my ass until started exploiting the game's battle system. Basically, if I go to fight him with a demon in my party who can null his lightning, then every time he uses it, it costs him the rest of his actions for that whole turn. So, finally I managed to down him, and go back to the save point to ensure I don't have to do it again, and lucky for that because the next time I set foot in that area, I get ambushed by Dante from Devil May Cry. It seems he's been set to hunt down a demon matching my description, and then he owns my entire party. Awesome cameo! Anyway, I came back at him with a bunch of phys-immune demons and beat him back so that now he's either questioning his orders or reporting back to Lucifer that I've passed his test. So now I get word that there is a powerful fiend lurking nearby, and I search him out, and find Daisoujou, some kind of Necro-Buddhist monk with a mean sutra who is currently blocking my progress. I'll figure him out later.

Aside from that, I've just been looking at how much I'm going to have to spend to get a nice gaming PC sometime soon. I'm thinking that I'm going to work on cleaning some more of my backlog out over the next few months, and then sometime around my birthday in February, get a nice rig to play some of this stuff on PC I keep hearing so much about. A quick list of stuff I want to get:

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. & its expansion Clear Sky
Sins of a Solar Empire
Half Life series
Team Fortress 2
Left 4 Dead
Fallout 3
WoW (maybe)
Oblivion (maybe, for mods)
past games going back 10 years or more
future releases like StarCraft II & Diablo III

There's tons of stuff on PC, and I'm looking forward to, for once, having the capability to dabble in some of it. For now, though, I have to try to save up some cash, or at least refrain from spending too much while I've still got this massive glut of things to work through.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Current Rotation

Most of this past week I've been going back and forth between Halo 3 multiplayer and Rock Band 2, with a little bit of Diablo II and SMT: Nocturne thrown in there for spice. This is the current status quo, and it's hard to imagine it changing much in the near future. Three of those games are the perennial type, ones that you can just keep coming back to forever and ever. The fourth is one of those cursedly long JRPGs that eat my life for months at a time. Perhaps for the sake of progress I should spend more of my time on Nocturne per time spent on the others.

I've gotten a number of remarkable achievements in this Halo 3 Indian Summer I've been having, including the Double Double (2 Double Kills in a ranked free-for-all game) today. I actually had 4 doubles that game. Relatively speaking, I was on fire. I still finished in the bottom half of the scoreboard, though. Tough crowd. Halo multi is a ton of fun, but it's a good thing I don't give a shit about my kill/death ratio, because it's terrrrrrrible. I'm the type of guy that like to just jump on a mongoose and go headlong kamikaze into the other team's base just for the thrill. I also like sticking guys with plasma grenades and blowing up warthogs with rocket launchers. This is making me want to go play some more.

Oh yeah, Tokyo Game Show was this past week. Yeah, I almost didn't know it either, with the lack of just about anything to speak of there. We got Halo 3 Recon announced, and.... ... .... Bayonetta looks kind of cool? Aside from that, the biggest story seems to be that Capcom's RE team is apparently pulling their head out and giving us somewhat of an intuitive control scheme for RE5. Sucks that it's co-op centered. How the hell am I going to find anyone to play with when all my friends are either on US Central or Japan time, and we've all got full-time jobs to boot? And I for one ain't going near an AI-controlled partner. I'd sooner play her with my toes on my guitar controller.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Squad Battle

I've been playing a lot of Halo 3 multiplayer over the last week or so, trying to rank up and get some achievements and medals--just for fun, really. With the new title update that came out last week changing the EXP rank system, 7 new maps I hadn't seen (and more coming soon), and this Keep It Clean--whatever it may be--being teased, now seemed like a good time. It also makes a good compliment to Diablo II and SMT: Nocturne.

I've been sort of drifting from one playlist to the next trying to find something that clicked. I spent a lot of time in the Double EXP Team Snipers list this weekend (and I totally sucked there). In the past I played some of the Lone Wolves playlist, but that just makes me tense since it's a big free-for-all and I kind of suck. Tonight I tried the Team Objective playlist. Huge mistake. You don't go play something that requires a lot of communication and competent teamwork with a bunch of strangers (half with no headset) on XBL. It just does not work.

However, tonight I also discovered the Squad Battle playlist tonight, and I think that's the one for me. It's typically six-on-six Team Slayer and first team to 100 kills wins. It's a huge chaotic mess, and it's a blast. You're usually on bigger maps with lots of vehicles and heavy weapons to play with, and since teams are big, the impact that one great or one sucky player has on the overall outcome of the game is somewhat mitigated. Also, the action seemingly never ends since there are so many people around, and it's so crazy and unpredictable that you never seem to get into that arch-nemesis mode with one particular guy, which does nothing but piss you off . They also throw in some Capture the Flag game variants and probably King of the Hill and Oddball, too. Fun stuff.

I did play some more Nocturne over the weekend, too. I've put in like 10 hours with the game so far, and it's OK so far, but hasn't really grabbed me just yet; it's still early plot-wise. I made it to just past what is apparently one of the toughest encounters in the game, an early boss that is a choke point for many people, the Matador. It took 5 attempts, and a couple of hours of level/money grinding so that I'd be able to fuse a demon I needed for my party and buy the "magatama" I had to have to withstand his attacks (it's a demon thing that fuses with the main character to grant immunities and skills). This game is quite a bit harder and less forgiving than your average Square Enix RPG. Come to think of it, so was Etrian Odyssey, and they were developed by the same team at Atlus if I'm not mistaken.

I need to get farther into Diablo II Act V, Lord of Destruction. I've only done like the first zone and quest so far. I'm trying to experiment with new ways to play my Assassin, but skill points are becoming much further in between as I hit the level 30 range. To this point I've kind of done a one-point-in-everything jack-of-all-trades approach, and so nothing I have is especially powerful just yet. After I finish the game I want to try a Druid or Necromancer, I think.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

September Pick-Ups

Don't look away; I haven't turned my back on my effort to cut back on game spending. I have my eyes focused on my goal and I am looking very intent and giving off a general air of badassery.

Kinda like these guys:

God Of War I & II were picked up cheap, and Yakuza 2 was cheap fresh upon release. Should be a solid dose of testosterone all in all.