Saturday, March 11, 2006

A BLACK Friday




I did something pretty brainless Friday night....let me explain.

I picked up the PS2 game BLACK a few weeks ago. The first mission, Veblensk City Streens was pretty easy, the second, Border Crossing was pretty challenging and took me three or so days to play through. I got through missions three and four (Naszran Town and Naszran Foundry) very quickly.

I was feeling pretty cocky Friday night so I decided to head into mission five, Tivliz Asylum around 10:00pm. BIG mistake. I finally cleared the mission level around 3:00am. My head hurts. The screenshot above is from the last section of that mission. There were six "mission objectives" to get through and with a little help from my game-maps I got through the first three in less than an hour. The last three take place in a single room. Do the math on how many hours I spent gunning in that room.

My "noobie" FPS technique is generally to advance, crouch and pick of the targets at a mid-distance. Pick up ammo and health packs and advance. If you are patient (and I am) you can eventually pick off all the baddies and then advance on without being attacked. Unfortunately two issues brought that technique to a grinding halt: the Shield Troopers and the game designers. The Shield Troopers crouch behind riot shields that are pretty much bulletproof and grenade proof. To get them you have to flank all around them--but they shift position to face you. So you kinda have to dash around them, taking their submachine gun fire and then blast them from the rear. Takes a lot of lives to get past this technique. The second issue is that even though I had cleared out the primary targets in the main asylum room, they kept spilling out of windows. Around 2:30am I decided enough was enough. If I quit I would loose my progress point (one glaring weakness of the game is the wide distance between save points). So I tossed caution and patience to the wind. I just blasted my way through the troops, ignored the two Shield Troopers who kept blistering me with fire and lobbed four grenades in succession at the machine gun nest to blow it--taking heavy health point losses the whole time. It worked. The final "objective" after destroying a fortified machine gun nest is to...walk out the door! (Now is that lame or what?)

Mission over. Bed.

Oh my head hurts from lack of sleep. (Alvis woke up about an hour after I went to bed with a migraine.) I don't know if I'm up to any self punishment today. Lavie is going to eat my lunch when she reads this...I hope she doesn't ground me or take away my PS2 privileges for the weekend.

But then, mission six looks sooooo cool! The Vratska Dockyard. Boats, docks, heavy cranes...lots of "destruction objective" targets.

Maybe I'll just go turn our compost pile over to exercise, and watch the new My Neighbor, Totoro on DVD first.

In related news, Mandolux has a nice, earthy dual-screen homage to My Neighbor, Totoro I put on the pc today. Although it reminds me of those Dixon Ticonderoga yellow pencils for some strange reason.

Other pencil links: The Pencil Pages , and the Dixon Ticonderoga web site. I remember reading The Pencil, A History of Design and Circumstance in high-school (for fun-I was a weird reader growing up). It was really fascinating just how much history and design work goes into making a product we don't even think about when we use it.

My secret habit is collecting ink pens. Not necessarily the fancy or unusual ones, though I have a couple. No, I have a burning intensity to buy office pens--most notably gel-ink roller ball and porous point styles. Lavie has learned not to let me wander unattended in the pen section of major office-supply stores. (Has anyone noticed a tendency for the clips on these pens to break off more quickly?) I also like drafting/art grade drawing pens--all colors welcome. I have a giant box full of them. Alvis loves to try to dig into it and I get kinda possessive if anyone tries to snatch one. I guess it comes from a desire to be a Writer that I've had ever since high-school. They are fun and neat, but honestly I think I collect them out of a sub-conscious desire to write. I mean really Write...like short stories and novels and the such. Now if I can just break out of that fear-factor and do it.

My favorite J.K.Rowling quote: "You will meet, we've all met, a hell of a lot of people who stand in bars and discuss the novels they are writing. If they were writing they'd be at home actually writing it." From transcript of Mugglenet.com interview with JKR, Herself.

Ouch-Oh! That one both hurts and encourages me at the same time. I keep it close. What can I say? I'm a glutton for self-punishment....

Hoping you have clear skies.
--Claus

2 comments:

Jim Thompson said...

Sounds like fun. I haven't had time for gaming in AGES. I got the (then new) Prince of Persia PS2 game for Christmas in 2004... I still haven't got around to finishing it. *sigh*

Claus said...

It is hard, indeed. For some reason I find it easier to make time to play a pc based game than the PS2. We limit the number of TV's in our home (two is plenty) so playing the PS2 generally means needing to get the approval of Alvis or Lavie first to share some "screen-time." That's why most of the gamage we have is geared for multi-player/family style gaming. Since we all have our own pc now, it's easier to pick up and play a pc game.

Friday nights Alvis and Lavie have this routine they have done since she was a baby. Alvis gets to fall asleep with Lavie in the parental bed and Dad gets to stay up late. I generally use that time to catch up on anime I've taped, blogging, or PS2 gaming. Around midnight I usually decide to A) fall asleep on the couch, B) go toss Alvis back in her bed, or c) Push the envelope and do an almost-all-nighter.

Right now we are all working our way through the latest Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire PS2 game together (up to three persons can group-play at the same time). I have picked these HP games up before exclusively for the PC. This is the first console version. It is really different and I'm not enjoying the game-play as much. I don't know if that is the difference between the console/pc systems or this game design and the previous ones....If I wait a year, I generally can score the PC version of HP games on PC for around $15 or so--discounted at Target so I'll be waiting a bit longer before being able to write a comparison.

Black isn't my usual style of gaming, but it really is simple fun. Even Lavie likes watching me play it...how lucky is that?!