Thursday, May 26, 2016

Violence in the Future

If you believe the games I've been playing lately, the future is a very violent place, and gets grimmer the further you get away from the present.

Overwatch is the closest of games I've played this week to being set in the present. It's pretty upbeat in presentation, but still shockingly violent. All these characters do is kill one another, over and over, in an endless war of attrition over a few square feet of ground. I didn't think I'd be down for this Blizzard game, but as it turns out, I was. I am. I may as well jump in with both feet; I'm going to try to play every character to some degree and enjoy myself at least well enough to get my sixty dollars' worth.

V game Vanquish is several more decades further out into the future, and really shows the beginning of the darkening of the timeline. There are moments of cheekiness and levity, mostly around our rogueish hero Sam Gideon, but also a dark harbinger of things to come, as he and his principal enemies pilot or comprise cybernetic power armor suits and renegade AI routines. Vanquish is superb. I don't know if I've played a 3rd person cover-based shooter that is as fun to play. The jet-slide mobility and bullet-time mode, decent and varied assortment of weapons, and lively pacing all come together for a very frenetic and intense game. To top it all off, it looks great, and runs like a dream on the PS3. I never noticed it dropping any frames, and it felt like a nice 60 fps the entire time I played.

And now to the far, far future, where the world is grim and dark, indeed.

Warhammer 40,000.

Regicide paints a picture for us of what war will be like in the future--turn based, and very much like Chess, but with the added deadliness of firearms and bludgeoning and ripping and tearing melee weapons. A frightful vision indeed. It makes for a fun and interesting game, though. You wouldn't think adulterating Chess with XCOM like tactical combat would be anything other than a mess, but it works, somehow.

Storm of Vengeance also represents for us future war in the abstract. It could be seen as a sort of supply lines  and logistics simulation, one supposes. It is also port of an iOS game that itself is like a rethemed Plants Vs. Zombies. Dark Angels Vs. Orks, you might call it. Not a lot of effort, relative to most games, was put into this port. It's not terrible, but you might call it bad and not be far off base. It's the type of game that doesn't do just a whole lot to justify its existence, unless you are that into the 40K theme it uses.

Dawn of War II is a recurring nightmare of a simulation of the horrors of conflict in the awful, dark future. The single mission I undertook was a horrific vision of brother Blood Raven killing brother Blood Raven to ends I could not fathom. A dark vision, indeed. More scrying will be necessary to gather more insight into what the future holds for our doomed species.

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