Sunday, 25 December 2011

Game Proposal: Heraclitus and the Ginger Wig of Synchronicity

The pre-Socratic philosopher and renowned historical personage Empedocles lies dying on the streets of '70s New York, the victim of a brutal mugging conducted by a cross-dressing former nun called Dirk Adabach and an anthropomorphic talking weasel with psoriasis. As he lapses into unconsciousness, he dreams of his childhood in Acragas, smoking grass with mythological beasts and repeatedly failing to complete the Times' crossword. [At this point, the player will be challenged to complete a series of crosswords without answers. Upon failing, he will continue to the next stage.]

Rescued by the super-gay novelist Edmund White, Empedocles gradually recovers his strength and enters New York's vibrant cruising scene. [Here, the player will perform a series of graphic sexual sub games.] Unfortunately, he is arrested at the scene of an illicit gang bang and deported. In the prison ship he shares a cell with a notorious Hitler impersonator and medium know as Eggs Benedict, who shares with him his grandmother's recipe for banana and walnut carrot cappuccino cake. [The player will now have to memorize the recipe and reproduce it in the game. Failure will result in death.]

The ship encounters a storm at sea, and Empedocles is thrown over board. Shortly afterwards, the ship capsizes, and he is able to ride its upended hull to safety, becoming the only survivor. [This sequence will not be playable. However, it will be followed by a multiple-choice quiz on the court of Louis XVI of France.] Washing up on the shore of 16th century England, he opens an innovative cake shop and wins the approval of Thomas Cromwell, who is then murdered. On hearing of this, Empedocles swears vengeance and embarks on a tough training regime in order to transform himself into a martial arts master. [...] Having completed his training, he awakes to find that everything that has befallen him since his initial beating on the streets of New York was a dream. Edmund White rescues him again, and the two of them have sex for a week. [Playable.]

Batman: Arkham City

Gotham City. This venerable metropolis has been famously imagined and reimagined in comic books, cartoons, and films. Now, we have a new vision of Gotham, and it stands not just as one of the most unforgettable incarnations ever of the city that Batman is devoted to exploring, but as one of the most richly detailed and exciting environments ever seen in a game. Building on 2009's outstanding Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City sets you free in the neighborhood of North Gotham, a charming jumble of antique shops, delicatessens and independent art galleries. As the Caped Crusader, you wander the boulevards, sampling local delicacies and seeking out vintage furniture. With its atmospheric setting, ease of movement, immensely satisfying conversations, and tremendous assortment of secrets to discover, side quests to complete, and other attractions, Arkham City is a fantastic adventure game.

It's winter in Gotham City, but the streets of the part of town now known as Arkham seem pleasantly mild. A light, refreshing rain falls on the citizens who roam this place, making the asphalt shimmer with reflections of the neon signs advertising award-winning Spanish-Moroccan cuisine and fine wines from the New World. Gotham faced a prison crisis in the wake of the events of Arkham Asylum, and certain upstanding characters took advantage of the situation by acquiring the run-down neighborhood of North Gotham, walling it off from the rest of the city, and transforming it into a cultural center for the rehabilitation of socially-excluded unfortunates. It's a humane and moral operation; Batman fully intends to write a letter to the mayor, asking for the originators of the scheme to be awarded the key to the city.

The area of several city blocks isn't especially vast as open worlds go, but what it lacks in scale, it more than makes up for in atmospheric detail. Arkham City is home to an old courthouse, a former police headquarters, a musty museum, a disused subway terminal, and other fascinating places. These structures, with their faded portraits, old billboards, and plentiful other features, convey a sense of history. The exceptional art design draws on 1930s art deco and makes Gotham seem like a once elegant and shining city that has become charmingly dilapidated. It's clearly a work of imagination, but as you explore it, its richness pulls you in, and it becomes a world you can't help but believe in. That allure is particularly strong on the PC, where atmospheric details like blossoms visibly landing on Batman's cape make this charming, temperate environment even more convincing.

Batman has no choice but to explore the alleyways and underground tunnels of North Gotham. Within the city's walls, Joker is dying, and the Dark Knight, being a compassionate soul, is eager to find a cure. That quest brings Batman into contact with the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and numerous other members of Batman's social set. Each character is represented terrifically, with plenty of nods to their histories as established in the comics, and part of the fun of progressing through the story lies in seeing what character might make an appearance next. The excellent Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and the Joker, heading up an ensemble of voice actors who never miss a beat.


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Skyrim Review

Alun makes a character on Skyrim.

Me: "What's yr name again?"

Alun: "It's Hamas...Klemp. Yeah's not a very good name."

"I'm going up to the highest point in the world and AH!" (kills rabbit)

Tentatively kills two bandits.

"haha, you poor fool. You've gone indoors to use your arrows. I wonder what these idiots were up to. I've got an arrow right through my brain. Ohhh I don't want to explore this fucking place. There's a box at least. I want to get back to civilisation. How much is a lot of money in this world?"

"Why am I here? Why am I here on a mountain? I just want to go back to civilisation."

"Are these guys fighting a giant? I'm going to kill it. Oh, it's dead. I'll take all its stuff." (It has only an arrow).
"Oh, what?"

(this lady complains alun didn't help with the giant.)

"What? I don't care. They're all idiots." (he sighs) "Is this a tavern?"

"How do I get into this place? I want to return to civilisation."

Guard: "Halt. City's closed with dragons about."
Alun: "I have news about the dragon attack."
Guard: "Fine, we'll let you in."
Al: "Yeah, shut up."

"Can I ever have a bath in this game? Well I should be able to."

I leave for a minute. When I return:

"I seem to have broken into the house of the poorest person in the whole world. I've stolen a couple of bowls and that's it."

"Cast iron pot, that's what I've been reduced to. Ugh. Nine gold coins. A roll of paper. 'A Brief History of' ughhh'. A bowl. A plate. Ugh."

"I'll break into this house. It's a hall of the dead??"

He's caught pickpocketing. Guard comes to arrest him. The guy he tried to rob is attacking him throughout the conversation.

"I didn't think he'd take it so personally since it was called ring of resist magic."

Pays off the bounty, walks outside. Someone says, "Uhh, you've got no clothes. You should get some." He had been wearing fine stolen clothes. His weapons have been removed. He goes into the castle to get them back.

He spends five minutes reading all the perks after levelling up from lockpicking a display case. Choose speech perk "Haggling". Then after ten seconds of silently looking at that says, "ok."

A child calls the guards when Alun trespasses. The bounty is five gold. He chooses the option, "I would rather die than go to jail!"

He is chased to the battlements of the castle. He almost jumps off, doubles back, runs out through the lobby and leaps over a flying arrow.

"It's all gone horribly wrong for Hamas Klemp."

"Ahhhh, ha, ha, haaaa. My crimes were only childish pranks."

His health is very low due to arrows.

He is hit by an arrow and killed, just one metre from the city gate.

"I choose not to wear armour because it doesn't look so cool. I'm jason bourne-ing my way outta here. Ow. I hate it when they shoot me with an arrow in the spine."

He has reloaded. And escaped! leaps from a wall.

"Can I steal a horse?"

He steals a horse. Arrows everywhere! Rides off across the tundra.

"Why is this horse so lazy? Faster, you piece of shit! Why are these guys? Guards! Can I run them down? No. They still missed, the idiots. Yeah, just canter along. My big escape. This all happened because a kid said 'get out' and I tried to. Well, this is a nice scene."

He stands too close to some mammoths and they go hostile. He runs away.

"Is that where I just came from?" It is.

"I've discovered a farm! I want to kill the inhabitants. And my horse."

"It's quite tough. I might have to use a weapon."

He is punching the horse.

"Goddamn stupid horse! Don't run away. I can't keep up with you. This is the battle of my life. Yeah horse. You asshole horse. I am a blood thirsty berserker. Now this chicken. A bounty has been added for the murder of this chicken."

He hits a guy, knocks him to his knees. Then the guy gets up fully healed.

"Oh, I can do without that."

He runs for a new horse. The horse runs away.

Me: "You need to use a potion."
Alun: "I haven't got a fucking potion."

He gets on the horse.

"I burned my bridges in that part of the map. I've already reached a point where I feel I can't recover."

Gets off the horse at a tower to kill a bandit. The horse helps kill the bandit, then runs round the other side of the tower and is found just standing there, staring at the sky.

Al goes into the tower. Horse comes in after and starts killing the other bandits. Alun mounts it, and cannot get off. He runs up the stairs and gets off. The horse kills another bandit.

Al levels up fighting a bandit chief. Upgrades haggling again, mid fight.

"Where's my faithful steed? There he is. He's killed several people. He's paying for himself. And I didn't even pay for him."

Al has stripped all the bodies naked.

"Do I want to go over there? Maybe I will. Give the horse its freedom. I have no idea why it would be so loyal to me after I only stole it five minutes ago."

Reads a book and gets a skill increase. "Great, what was it?"

"Ohh I want to climb this mountain. I want to be free. What happens if I fall off that waterfall?"

He dies. He reloads.

"Where's that horse? Now I have to run everywhere. I want a town. I want to sell things. I'll kill this baby fox. I don't even want it."

"Hey crab. Crab asshole!"

Goes into a dungeon. Steals 46 gold. Hit by enemy. Immediately catches vampire disease. Leaves back to the path outside.

Sneak attacks someone he meets. She nearly kills him. He eats all his food for health, i.e. raw rabbit legs. Sheathes his weapon to flee. The woman backs down.

"Yeah, thanks babes."

Finds a new city. Approaching the gate, "Oh, let me in you bastards."

Meets two Nords bullying a dark elf. She asks him if he hates the dark elves. "Yes, I do hate the dark elves."

"I just want to sell." He finds a guy who offers him a tour.

"I thought this would be a shop."

In game character: "Is it true? Is Aventus trying to do the black sacrament?"
Al: "it must be true, it sounds lame."

"I hate it, why can't I sell my stuff?"

"Market? No, it's a graveyard."

"What's this? Oh, the Atheron residence."

"Used wares, second hand stock. Ahhh."

"I'm so wealthy." (864 gold)

"Oh. I don't know why that's worth money."
Me: "It's a magic item."
Al: "Oh. Fuck it."

Alun has bought some more fine clothes.

"I look like a hideous queen. I feel very important. I don't want to fight anymore shit. I'm so tired. I want to start again. Nyeerr. Naaa." (He is making these noises to represent the face of his character.

He steals loads of stuff and tries to sell it, but cannot.

"Damnit. Damnit, damnit. I'm going to sell all my weapons."

Shopkeer: "Do come again."
Al: "No."

"I'm not at all satisfied with Hamas Klemp. I find her a petty, ugly, dirty woman."

He attacks someone after he fails to break into their house.

"Ow. I'm a woman. I can't believe you'd attack a woman after I tried to hit you after breaking into your house."

Hammas beats the guy to death.

"Now I can get into his house."

"What can I steal? What can I steal before they kill me? Oh, he's a farmer. He's poor. Oh. Shit. Oh. Five gold c- Hardly worth murdering this guy. These guys are terrible archers. Dogmeat. I stole the dogmeat. Nope. Nope. I just want to look into this dresser."

Hamas is shot to death by arrows.

"Noooo. Ok. That's enough of that. I'm done. I'm done! Hamas is a bastard. I hate Hamas."