Monday, April 6, 2009

"I'd like to get my hands on the guy responsible for all of this."

I believe it's considered dramatic irony when one of the Barneys, Half-Life's ubiquitous security guards utters the phrase above. This may also be the first little inkling of trouble coming with the mute protagonist convention. I realize why they do it, but I'm never really put off when the Master Chief contributes to the conversation as any normal human being would. I don't feel disconnected or at odds with the way the narrative is unfolding, even when the speakers are lunkheads like Dom and Marcus. I may not like the character very much (Altair), but them having a personality adds to the experience in a way that, until speech recognition and AI are improved dramatically, casting myself as the main character cannot.

The mute main character bothered me in Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest, and others. It can be said to have worked in Portal, but how many characters are there in that game that are trying to have a conversation with you? A Portal with a character who wisecracks back at GLaDOS wouldn't have had the same charm, but grunts and sighs and exclamations of "a ha!" may have added something used sparingly. Think Samus Aran in Metroid Prime. By contrast, some of the most awesome main characters are the ones with a lot of dialogue; Solid Snake, Kiryuu Kazuma, Leon S. Kennedy, the Prince of Persia, even Lara Croft and the aforementioned Gears.

I completed Half-Life: Source this weekend. I'd heard that Xen was really frustrating because of the platforming, but I didn't have much trouble at all with that. It was those flying big-head bastards that got to me the most. I thought the big headcrab boss battle was cool as a level of its own, but the final boss was kind of frustrating in how he could kill you with outright with one of his attacks, and how he kept teleporting me away to annoying places where I'd have to make annoying jumps to get teleported back to continue fighting him. I fought him for probably half an hour before I realized he was absorbing energy from the crystals in on the walls of his chamber and blew them up. The thing is, I'm not sure that even really helped to kill him, since there wasn't much indication as such. It didn't seem to stop him from using his most annoying attacks, that much is sure.

I never knew that Half-Life had more than one ending, but I discovered both. The bad ending gave me flashbacks to the end of the shareware version of Doom, where the final telepad takes you to a room of demons that rip you to shreds. You buy the full version and the telepad then warps you to Deimos as it should. I never knew that Gordon Freeman was supposed to be "hired" by the G-man, either. I know next to nothing of the Half-Life 2 story, so I'll be interested to get into that series later on sometime. I think my next FPS has got to be Far Cry 2, though.

I messed around some more with Crysis last Friday night. I decided to bump my resolution one level down to 1920X1080, I think it is. Before it was 2xxxX12xx or something. I'm not great at remembering resolution numbers. At any rate, I couldn't tell any difference in looks, but the frame rate seems better, and there seems to be less v-sync issues. I think I'm sort of getting the whole power suit thing. I've been taking a stealthy approach so far, but setting the suit to strengh mode and then going and punching down buildings on top of enemy soldiers is fun, too. I get the feeling the game is meant to be as much an open playground as a linear progression through specific battlegrounds.

Finally, I played some WoW, levelling up to 37 and into some kick-ass new gear, a nice scarlet helm with bull's horns on the sides, and a viscious looking new two-handed axe. When I first concieved of my warrior, I intended him to be a tank primarily. Extreme damage seems to be the way to go for solo play, though--the quick way, at the very least. Just being a warrior grants me a suite of abilities to call on when facing multiple mobs at once, so that I can pretty easily survive 2 and 3-on-1 encounters with mobs at or around the same level. My cool new axe actually has a chance at striking nearby foes in addition to the one I'm fighting at the moment. Both of these drops came from Scarlet Monastery, which my brother-in-law ran me through alone several times and let me take all the cool stuff for myself. It was easy as breathing to his 80 rogue.

I did some exploring around Desolace and got the achievement for that, also did a bunch of mining and smithing. I have a problem--too many quests. My log is full. I think I'm going to go over to Hillsbrad and do all of those and maybe come back to Desolace or another appropriate zone later. There's just too much to explore! Since I don't see myself hardcore raiding at 80, I've been thinking I might roll and Alliance character and see some of the other stuff in the game. God knows when that'd be. I might want to try some other MMO by then.

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