September 2008 - petrostudio LLC
The Darkness. Kind of an under-the-radar title, which you can find on trade-in racks for cheap, this is actually a very fun ride. Sparing you most of the story summary, which you can find anywhere, you play Jackie Estacado, a mob button man who falls out of favor with Uncle Paulie, the local don. Why you fall out of favor is not exactly clear, nor is why the Darkness powers first appear, but it doesn’t matter.
Using the shadows, Jackie can summon a number of demon tentacles from his back. After a time, you gain more powers, fight bad guys, cross into the demon world (why? not so sure) then finally face Uncle Paulie’s minions and himself.
OK, more summary than I wanted. Needless to say, this is actually quite a fun (and pretty long, if you do all the side missions) game. Some of the most fun I had was to use the demon arm, a sharp, stabbing tentacle, to impale enemies and toss them into the air. Ah, impaling enemies. There’s also an impossibly overpowered black hole ability, which simply sucks any unlucky bastage off their feet and around in the air for a while, apparently scaring them to death. Use, recharge, rinse, repeat.
Jackie is dark, moody and has no redeeming values whatsoever. Go forth, my child, and kill. The plot leaves a bit to be desired – standard revenge story, really – but it’s enough to justify all the killing. And did I mention there’s a lot of killing?
Basically, you play Bourne from the movie “The Bourne Identity,” but you are not Matt Damon. Follow me on this one. The game follows the events of the movie with additional scenes/missions acting as flashbacks, as if Bourne remembers his previous life in flashes, and you play out the memories.
It is not a bad convention, and would make for an interesting story and game if it weren’t for a few major annoyances.
First, it’s short. Absurdedly short. I started this on a Tuesday and finished it Wednesday. And I work for a living. It was probably about 5-7 hours total gameplay, which is starting to be close to “standard” for action games, but with no multiplayer and no replayability, that’s just unacceptable for a top license game that costs $60. I’m sure it’s longer on higher difficulties, but only because you would die more. (Good thing I Gamefly’d it.)
When you get into hand-to-hand, you are locked into one opponent at a time. And you can’t get out until he’s dead. It’s fun to fight like Bourne, but there is a limited attack set, and it just devolves into a formulaic button-mashing until you fill an “adrenaline bar” and can do a “takedown”, which basically is just a theatrical “find-the-closest-object-and-jam-it-in-their-throat” kind of move, which you don’t control.
Bottom line? It’s kind of boring, in retrospect. I wanted more. I wanted to be more free in my combat moves. I wanted to control the “takedowns”, and I wanted to be able to be more mobile in the fight structure and even, heck, pull out my pistol and execute someone once in a while.
The last thing I’ll mention is the context-buttons. This is the worst gaming convention ever, and should be done away with. During cutscenes and even mid-action at times, a context button pops up and requires you to vigilantly mash it in miliseconds or else the scene fails and you must restart at a checkpoint. There’s no “Choose Your Own Adventure” aspect to this, allowing you to recover from mistakes, or choose one route over the other, it’s essentially a movie that you can’t really watch because your eyes are riveted on the bottom of the scene, waiting for the next button to appear.
Stop this. Stop it! Stop it! This would be like watching Star Wars and then being required to push a button on your remote when Luke fires his torpedoes. If you failed to hit it in time, you would have to watch the entire trench scene again just to get back to that spot. Fuck me.
So, big disappointment, Bourne. Now I have to wait for 2010.
OK. I think enough time has passed for me to get my mind around this one a bit. Here is a collection of my thoughts on the political spectrum for the last few weeks.
1. Palin. Here’s a small-town beauty queen who becomes governor of the 4th smallest state in the Union (believe it or not, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming have less people), and then gets picked to be a VP candidate. Why? Let’s not be so stupid or afraid of political incorrectness to say the truth – she’s a woman. Plain and simple. McCain (or, rather, his staff) picked her to be a little controversial and to attempt pick up the Hillary vote.
Now here’s the problem I have with Palin (aside, of course, from her politics): McCain has been campaigning on the “Obama has no experience” platform. But here’s a woman who has been governor for 1 month more than Obama has been on the campaign trail. Before that, she was the mayor of a town I could fart bigger than, and an unknown. And she comes on the scene and then delivers THAT speech after 5 days – berating and belittling Obama, just because she is riding the coattails of McCain. Shame on you.
And stop parading that poor infant around. He is a human being, not a show-piece.
And great work with the “abstinence only” sex education policies. Practice what you preach. So your 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. But, it’s OK, because they are going to have a shotgun wedding! See, we’re Christians! The hypocracy of that is almost too much to comment on. And guess what, Obama, families are NOT off-limits. You are a civil servant and a public figure – your home life is public as president. But, on the other hand, is Obama’s daughter was in the same situation, the Repubs would be all over him for it.
Palin is a pathetic role-model and choice as a VP. She’s a joke. Politicians, especially those who touch the highest office in this land, must be held to a higher standard than “they seem just like normal people” or “I could have a drink with them”. They must be BETTER than the rest of us. And she’s not.
Oh, and the Bush Doctrine? Google it. You know how to do that? Ask your buddy Ted Stevens, if you don’t. He’s an expert on the series of tubes.
2. Speeches. Which leads me to the speeches at the RNC. Venom. Namecalling. Belittlement. Every single speech was filled with hate. That’s all I need to say about that.
And not one word about policy. How about more of what you plan on doing, Republicans, and less of how much you think Dems suck?
3. Namecalling. Both sides need to stop this. This “go on the attack” politics that the TV is rife with right now. We are less than 2 months from election day. The intelligent among us want to hear more about the policies and issues that matter. Which leads me to…
4. Idiocy. I hate to say it, but most of us are dumb. Yeah, I’m talking about you. You fall for this crap. You don’t question it. You say “I like that guy, so he should be president,” or, “I read an email that said he’s voted for this and that, so it must be true!” Listen, a forwarded email with no chain of ownership from a guy with the email address “email@example.com” is not a reliable source for accurate information.
Question what you hear or see. Read about things. Research. Then make a decision.
5. Issues. I’ve found down here in Arkansas (as in many states) that often one issue, or a misunderstood and misguided explanation of a policy is make or break. Gun control is a biggie. “The Dems want to take my guns away” is often the definition of the words “gun control”. Mention it as one of your policies, and you lose the vote down here.
My uncle owns many weapons. He’s also a Republican and a staunch Bush supporter, bless his soul. And he believes in gun registration, though he is not currently required to do so. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
6. POW. Now, I know I’m going to anger some people with this. But being a POW does not make you fit to be president. It doesn’t even make you more or less patriotic than the next man or woman. It does make you worthy of deep respect and admiration. In order to be John McCain, you have to first be a soldier, which is something I could never be.
But these facts are not worthy of spending half of your presidential nomination acceptance speech reliving. And it does not make you automatically a better person, a better American, or a better candidate.
7. Experience. Obama’s campaign is attacking McCain for being in politics too long and being too old-fashioned. By my math, Biden is only 7 years younger than McCain, and has 14 more years in the Senate. You can’t have it both ways, boys.
But on the other hand, that means that the Obama/Biden ticket has MORE government experience that the McCain/Palin ticket.
So let’s all just STFU about it, and get on with the business of being the best candidates we can be, eh? Oh, I forgot, this is America.
For some great additional commentary, watch the Daily Show for the week of the RNC.