I haven’t written for the blog in some time now and it’s mainly because I don’t play video games as much as I used to and because I’ve hit 30 (Now 32) and in life I often feel like a marble in a game Kerplunk. Precariously balancing upon the fine strands of existence, watching other marbles also try staying on top of the game, whilst unknown forces quickly swipe away at what gives you a great perspective, sending you and other marbles tumbling down into the void of nothingness. I didn’t expect to come back here and use a 1980’s table top strategy based family game as a means to explain hardship in life but if there’s one thing video games has taught me and that is that we live a number of lives in our existence and if you accept your fate and fall constantly into the darkness, then you’ll never adorn level 10 armour, make new friends, slay your enemies and save the princess to watch the credits roll to the cool music.
When picking out a game to play at length recently I have become incredibly picky, due to time constraints. The last game I completed 100% was Tomb Raider and the last new online game I had a crack at was RUST.
RUST is constantly being developed as time goes by, when I started playing it, it didn’t look much and it was about as glitchy as a dream NEO would have if you’d spilt coffee on him whilst plugged into the Matrix. Improvements happen every month but the game is really about what you make it. RUST is effectively a survival game in a huge sandbox environment, in which you craft items out of stuff to last as long as you can. Invariably life is tough in the RUST world, you’ll be stalked, maimed, taunted, robbed and eventually killed…usually by Russian ‘hackers’ unless you find a decent server. My first play through of RUST ended in the usual way of attempting to beat another man to death with a large rock.
You spawn into the world as a ‘naked’ this term is used for two reasons, one because you are a ‘N00b’ and two, you’re naked (apart from a white pair of briefs) There’s no story line, so that’s all left to your imagination and the other inhabitants of the world and trust me, you’ll soon find yourself in some kind of ordeal whether you like it or not. Armed with just a large rock, you must forage for life’s most basic needs…food and shelter.
Hiding under a rock in the rain doesn’t sound like a fun game but when you’re running from a naked man who is trying to beat you to death with stone, you’ll find your heart racing listening out for footsteps and voices in the distance. A new addition to my world of gaming is the advancement in communication, I use a set of headphones with built in mic to converse with other players, the sound travels as it would in reality now so people can shout over to you and it’ll be fainter, the further away they are. This is pretty unnerving when you hear people screaming or trying to make friends with you in an accent you can’t place…do you trust him? Or do you try beating him with your rock?
When night falls in RUST, it’s dark, if you haven’t found yourself a torch or built a fire, you’re going to be cold, hungry and blind. I often found myself sleeping on a cliff face in the rain waiting for death to arrive, sometimes you didn’t mind being put out of your misery by someone who found an axe, so you can start again and try to at least build yourself a shed.
I decided to end the solo missions and acquire a companion, after some tales of naked adventure, my best mate decided to download and plug in.
I’ve known my best mate for around seventeen years and within that time we’ve completed more games than I care to remember, this was going to be different as the game is an online survival, different was certainly a name for it.
The session began as usual with you and your friend trying your hardest to locate each other. The baron lands of RUST give little away in terms of landmarks so, sat there one Saturday morning in my dressing gown…two thirty year old men attempt to find each other, naked. Over the ‘radio’ chatter provides a lot of the entertainment as you describe what is either trying to kill you or talk to you as you do your best to avoid getting killed. It’s like two plane crash survivors trying to cheer each other up as you slowly starve, being chased by wolves and angry natives.
The contrast in feelings when you finally see each other and run towards your friend, tired and hungry is probably one fifth of what real crash survivors feel but nonetheless, it’s one of the reasons why this genre of game has taken off. So together we roamed, looking for supplies and potential allies to build a ‘base’ or to share some kit with…it wasn’t long before my friend and I were caught up in a surreal exchange, starting with the discovery of a fort.
As I approached the structure, we were aware there were shots being fired and people running through the forest, I was keen to get in cover and the fort looked like it was uninhabited. I found a ramp to one side of the fort which brought me to the top surrounding a courtyard down below. My friend decided to stay down on ground level and search around the perimeter for anything worth taking. As light was falling I decided to explore a little further but by doing so I fell off the edge of the walkway down into the courtyard…in my panic I spotted a door in the centre of the structure that looked like the main building. In RUST once you have your home build you can add a door, once the door is added you assign it a four digit code to enter, so you can allow others to come in and out.
I tried door several times but it was locked, this is when I discovered the fort wasn’t uninhabited.
I saw a name hovering above the character behind the door, it was Mr Wiggles…Mr Wiggles had a gun and I knew this because when he came to the door the graphics allowed the rifle to poke through when he got close. I turned and ran, I ran into the courtyard which was a square with a walkway around a recessed area, from what I could make out it was a shallow ‘pit’ of grass.
I ran all the way around to another door, I took a deep breath and tried the door to the outside, it was locked as well. Mr Wiggles hadn’t actually followed and so I hid myself in the darkened corner of the fort. I was talking one to one with my friend who was outside the fort trying to survive, mad men, wild dogs and bears are a few of the things you’re hiding from. Now it was really dark, Mr Wiggles exited the forts main building, he had a torch in hand and a shotgun.
As I looked over the courtyard to where he was, the torch illuminated the grassy area in the centre, which revealed two dead naked bodies. There was nowhere to run, surely I was going to be shot to death and would join the other two victims in this fort flytrap. Mr Wiggles ran over to me and it was at this point I realised he was addressing me publicly via the chat function. “What do you want?” He said, “I just want to leave, but the doors are locked” I replied, but he kept repeating his first question, until after about the third or fourth time he said “Tell me a joke”.
At this point my friend is laughing hysterically at my predicament, I had to come up with something fast, my go to joke at the time was one of my own, I made it up whilst shopping at the supermarket a few days before…I had nothing to lose.
“What do you call a potato that can do martial arts?”…Mr Wiggles had the gun trained on me the whole time, other people were trying to join the conversation but this was between me and him. “What?” He replied. “Jacket Chan”. There was no other way to deliver it over a text conversation, all I could do now, was wait.
Mr Wiggles came forward with his gun still aimed in my direction, wearing ragged trousers and some kind of makeshift footwear, he appeared to me like man on a mission…you soon realise in RUST that if you meet someone with some clothes and a gun, they mean business. To my surprise he ran straight past me and unlocked the exit door behind. My life had been sparred by using a cheap potato gag but I wasn’t going to hang around for an encore. I bolted for the door as quickly as when I arrived, Mr Wiggles let off a warning shot in my direction…I didn’t need to be reminded, I knew my place, I was a naked, I needed to run.
For those who had followed the Gaming history up until now may remember that the original Xbox was soon to be replaced by the 360, I had my modified Xbox now with more games than you could shake your dick at. I had moved into a new place, no longer with a house mate but just my partner. My apartment was a new build, fast broadband built in and my new gaming setup was perfect. So perfect in fact I enjoyed nothing more than sitting on my new huge beanbag, getting baked and playing whatever I fancied from my extensive library. I had finished pretty much every game I was interested in for this platform but one…I had been recommended the game by a friend and because I knew nothing about it, I had left it until now. I had a day off, my lady friend was working and I was left to my own devises…breakfast, bong and games…bliss. I decided to take a look at Fahrenheit. The game certainly wasn’t the prettiest but what it lacked in visual loveliness, it made up for in all other areas. The game has a slightly unorthodox method of play, so the game begins with a tutorial hosted by the writer/director, so you don’t end up making mistakes and in this game, that could cost you dearly.
Fahrenheit is a cinematic, interactive drama action-adventure which has been awarded several times since its release, selling around 700,000 units in its life time. It has just been released on PC in a remastered state and I’d urge you to take a look. You play as one of the several main characters in this story of supernatural events and murder. You begin the game playing as Lucas after a graphic, yet well choreographed intro FMV sequence where by your character has killed a man with a knife but appears to be possessed…when Lucas comes around he doesn’t know why or how the man has died but can only assume he did it (noticing the blood all over his hands).
The chilling atmosphere is present from the word go, and as you progress you can’t help but get sucked in by the very authentic voice acting, coupled with great motion capture. Controls are basic yet intuitive and game play flows very well to help with the immersion. In the opening scene when controlling Lucas, I neglected to pick up and discard any evidence of the murder, as I was keen to get out of the diner, a school boy error…later you will control Carla Valenti and or Tyler Miles, two LAPD detectives who, as a pair are like chalk and cheese but the satire keeps things entertaining as they try to uncover the mysterious murders occurring.
Instead of health bars and inventory your character carries a level of stress and anxiety which you can ease by completing certain tasks or simply having something to eat or drink. During one scene where you play female detective Carla Valenti, you explore her apartment after a shift, it is here that you spend sometime in the personal space of a character of the story where there isn’t any action…you can grab a slice of pizza and switch on some music, it was here I was introduced to the beautifully haunting track by Martina Topley-Bird – Sandpaper kisses. If you haven’t fallen for the game by this time, the game isn’t for you. Don’t be fooled by the calmness though because later on you’ll find the characters weave in and out of each other’s lives, which brings them closer to the threat that surrounds them all. A gripping story line and well a crafted environment lead me to believe this title was truly one of the gems on this now otherwise forgotten platform.
The original Xbox bowed out gracefully but still continued to provide entertainment through its new ability to play retro 16 bit titles. The Xbox 360 came out with a bang and was quickly removed from the shelves, so fast in fact Microsoft blamed the faulty and often glitchy consoles on the fact they had sped up production. Gone are the days when you could accidently trip over your Mega Drive control pad cable, sending it crashing to floor and simply resetting it would bring it back to life. Whatever the problems, both the PlayStation 3 and the 360 battled this release head to head…each with their faults but to the diehard fans, they could see the potential here if these niggles were ironed out.
I think I knew deep down that supporting the cold, calculated army of Bill’s Microsoft empire would bring gaming some unwanted attention, but they had done well, they marketed a high spec machine with a good selection of games from some of the best publishing houses in the world, packaged up as a multimedia, online community based games unit.
It took me a long time to partake in the online experience as I’ve always been a bit of a solo gamer. I rapidly finished off any games I liked the look of on the system, including the highly anticipated Need For Speed Most Wanted. I’m not entirely sure what happened at this point, I think it had something to do with burning the candle at both ends, working too hard and or problems in my relationship…becoming an adult was tough and unwanted at times, I went through a lot of change and it was at this moment, I decided to give up gaming for awhile.
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