May 28, 2013

Lies within lies

I've told you lies, and I'll get to that; in the meantime, however, I want to tell you lies about lies, which I haven't coined the proper terminology for. Double lies maybe? Actually, let's go with True Lies.  It makes about as much sense as anything, and I liked that movie.

I like RPGs. I prefer western RPGs, such as Skyrim, Mass Effect, Fallout, and Baldur's Gate, but I've played a few JRPGs as well. Final Fantasy X is my favorite in that area, and it has a lot going for it, but the problem is every player has the same experience. You're always Tidus, traveling with Yuna, and Auron is your badass bodyguard. Western RPGs present opportunities for things like this, or even this. To be fair, that second one is to a 4X game (empire strategy) but the way it's narrated reminds me of the opportunities in western RPGs.

And because I like it, I want you to like it. So I'll write out some "game diaries" from the games listed above. This isn't straight fiction; instead, it's nonfiction stories from my point of view about fictional stories from the protagonist's viewpoint. Does that make sense? No? Good. Here's the first installment of True Lies, starring the original Mass Effect.

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Those are words you learn to live by in any game with cutscenes, or budget limitations, and Mass Effect had both. Not so you'd notice right away; but when a game dev team sets out to create an entire universe, a few planets and plots are going to get shaved down.

Which is why, as I rambled around in my minivan on some random planet, the oppressive, Venus-like atmosphere inviting me to step outside and play "crush the tin can", I knew something was wrong the instant I looked at my map. There was a spot of interest, you see. Normally, these are labelled "anomalies" or "debris" and they give you something. This one read: distress beacon.

I headed straight for it. Commander Shepard, while kind of a bitch, is a goddam hero, and she doesn't shirk her duty. Unfortunately, anti-vehicle mines were placed near the beacon. While really, painfully obviously a trap, Commander Shepard also doesn't fuck around. She grabbed her squad, exited the vehicle, and approached the last fifty meters on foot.

At which point several dozen Geth de-cloaked and fired every rocket in the universe right at my military-grade ass. I'd been playing for a while, and while my shields could take a lot of hits, I was still reduced to that pathetic sliver of health that blinks in Morse code to say: have fun reloading, asshole. I ran for it. Tali and Liara's corpses cheered me on as I yelled at the television: "Get in the van, get in the van, get in the goddam van!"

I made it, and apparently the van has a tractor beam and a defibrillator (beat that, Ford) because my squad was alive. Driving in ways that would make my bipolar driving instructor proud, I killed the Geth, turned off the beacon, and got the hell off that planet. I didn't have nukes, or I would have made sure no one would ever return.

 Epilogue: this sort of thing happens every few hours in the game.

Double epilogue: I promised a podcast this past Sunday, and didn't do it. This Sunday the podcast will resume, and I'll put up more of these and Fuck it, I'm busy's in the meantime. 

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