Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Archive for January, 2009

Awaken the Horde

Posted by deckard47 on January 31, 2009

Strangely, up until last night I had never played Left 4 Dead in versus mode (wherein 4 players control the survivors and 4 control special infected zombies). I guess I thought it would be annoying and would take all of the fun out of co-op play. Silly me. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it made the co-op survivor play an entirely different game. Instead of Hunters being mostly avoidable nuisances (who can be easily dealt with), they become a constant, undermining threat. When three Hunters spawn at once, and everyone is down, you realize how good the class can be. The Boomer is less useful than you would think: he calls the horde, sure, but experienced versus players normally don’t have that much trouble with lots of infected enemies. Then there’s the Smoker. Like the Scout in TF2, the Smoker can be a very dangerous opponent, when used the right way. The best smokers are always dragging you into hidden spots or hiding behind the edge of a building: it’s tough to get them off. As you can see, you have to be prepared for all kinds of wily human strategies. You quickly learn where the  good choke points are, and where he less likely, surprise attack points are. The Tank of course is still a beast, but he’s best used to knock players around (hopefully down), and it’s a mistake to beat on one enemy alone when playing him.

All in all, the survivor experience is great. Not better, necessarily, but it’s fun, and forces you to think, not react (as the Director more often forces you to do). Playing as the Infected is really great. It can be very annoying (I can never do long range smoking… Why can everyone else?), but when you time a Hunter ponce perfectly or spray every g survivor with bile, it’s really amazing. Why exactly, do we not get Death Toll and Dead Air as versus maps? Maybe they aren’t structured well for versus play? Who knows. I’m sure we’ll get more versus maps, or that those two will be updated. I’m secure in my knowledge that Valve supports its PC customers like no other company. Obviously, for the 360 L4D players, the situation is a bit grimmer. Who knows then they’ll be getting all of the updates that I’ve been getting a few times a day. Everyone says this, but I’m going to say it again: its more expensive, and the chances of free updates are nigh-impossible. Then again, I’m comfortable playing this game at ass-resolutions, with half of the effects turned off. I bet a lot of people won’t settle for that. Or don’t have a computer. Either way, it’s a shitty deal, I hope Valve gives them some content, for $60, what they’ve been given is almost criminal. It seems to me like for the 360 this should have been packaged with something else. It’s a great game, I really love it, but I love it in part because of the assured post-release support and new features. We’ll see.

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Hype/Screens/Videos: I am reminded of Zeno Clash

Posted by deckard47 on January 30, 2009

I dunno if y’all saw that Steam advisory about a sweet new game using the source engine called Zeno Clash, but RPS has a very interesting interview/writeup about it, and I’d suggest checking it out. After that, I would also recommend checking out this rocking trailer from their site. The colors and art are amazing, the combat looks fun (and will hopefully be as fun to play). Basically, it looks like nothing I’ve seen before, so I’m eager to get my hands on it. Soon, it would appear, I’ll get my wish, and through Steam no less. Awesome.

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Posted by deckard47 on January 30, 2009

Owen just downloaded it, and I’m sure I’ll be playing it (or watching him play it) relatively soon. Ok, Owen just played through it, and although it’s cool, they need to texture those blocks. All of those primary colors can blend in with each other, making timing and judging jumps difficult. We’ll see how the rest turn out.

Aside from that, we have some bad news, in that Faith and a .45 has been put to rest (who knows for how long). I wrote about it a while ago, badly (all writing that came before this post is inferior!), but I still thought it looked a bit cool. I guess it didn’t look as good (to them) as a lot of the games that have been picked up by the big companies recently… Personally, I’d take this over some big stuff that’s going to be coming out soon, just because it looked a bit different than everything else. Oh well.

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Posted by deckard47 on January 29, 2009

Now, aside from the fact that I am initially very excited by this, I was confused by the way they discussed this at Kotaku:

as one of the aforementioned people left feeling a little bummed by the way the main game ended, the prospect of actually finishing the story may prove too good to pass up, cheap marketing ploy or not.

Um. Forgive me, but I thought the story finished how it wanted to. [SPOILER SO WATCH OUT] The Prince decides to save Elika, thus unleashing Ahriman on the world (as the giant screaming skull of sand tearing past the two in the final shot would attest). It seems to me that the second game could then focus on the two righting the Prince’s mistake, and facing Ahriman once and for all. This time, maybe they could find a different way to imprison him, or maybe one of them wold have to give their lives again to defeat him. The only reason yo might be angry is because they didn’t let you choose (that is, if you don’t read Michael Abbott’s take on the ending) how to end it. I’m sorry, I know it’s a game, but I like the fact that they had the courage to tell the story how they wanted to. I know it’s “less like games should be,” but its also “a better ending than most big games this year,” so I’ll take my ending. [ENDING NOW]. How is that shit ambiguous. I mean, I’m not a fan of Halo endings, but I think that it’s acceptable for the big bad to escape to fight another day, especially if the way the characters confront him might change due to the decisions they’ve made. I dunno, it just seems to me like the conclusion was pretty good, from all standpoints. It seems to me, that if you have DLC that changes the ending, it lessens the narrative force of the original ending (not that a lot of people would care about doing that, obviously). So I guess we’ll see.

EDIT: So Joystiq has an actually informative preview of the new DLC up, and as long as they don’t fuck with the ending, this could be rocking. We get a new enemy, the Shapeshifter (which should be spoken in the Helium-Strindberg voice, I think), a new 5-tiered dungeon (I hope), new moves for the Prince and Elika, and more character development between the two. Call me a sucker, but a lot of that sounds right up my alley. Oh, and thank the Lord, they’ve upgraded the difficulty. ‘Cause that shit was just out of hand before. And by that I mean it was not difficult enough. Not enough for me. No sir.

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Mawre Speed?

Posted by deckard47 on January 27, 2009

Yes, bad pun. I apologize. I figure I should leave most of thoughts on this one for the review, but I would like to communicate the fact that this game is slow. An I don’t just mean “Oh, you better like Bogart movies and slow pacing and fewer explosions” slow. No, I mean, “when I realized I had to backtrack  a level, I almost cried” slow. No kidding, that’s how excruciating this game can be. In its defense, I shouldn’t have had to backtrack (I forgot to eat some slugs), but still, the fact that a tiny map takes loooong minutes to cross, awkwardly, really annoys me. It is now time to dive back into Penumbra. I know, scary. But, I promised myself I’d make serious headway today, like serious portion of the game headway. Wish me luck.

Oh, and while the idea of NPH and Gob playing hammy video game characters amuses me a good deal (“hermano!”), their game Eat Lead just doesn’t look that fantastic. I mean, I know that it’s tongue in cheek, but is there anything to this game besides the tongue and the cheek (and Arnett and Harris)? I guess we’ll find out, right? By the way, just saw the co-op RE5 video over at GT. Let me say, I’m still creeped out by the setting/enemies and their apparent lack of knowledge regarding what game it looks like they’re making (and I’m not exactly expecting them to prove me wrong). BUT. That co-op looks hot. Seriously, the gameplay is still slow and 2005 looking (ok, guys, I know that we love the new RE formula, but who actually thinks this isn’t going to play like racist RE4 in a mysterious African country? Yes, real-time inventory manipulation… Oh wait, RE5 inventory, meet Dead Space inventory, UI, everything. Slap to the face.), but it looks like just the kind of co-op play I could get down with (as I’m want to do). If only they’d just included this in RE4, I could play it happily…

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Quick Thoughts

Posted by deckard47 on January 26, 2009

As you might expect, here are brief notes on things:

1. The Maw is quite cute, I like the sounds and animations, but it’s painfully slow to play (movement speed slowed down for extended game time?). I’m hoping it’ll pick up soon, I’m only a few levels in.

2. Penumbra is still scary, but now with added guard dog. Eeek.

3. Legend of the Seeker is losing me. I though I could handle the badness, but it’s so overpowering. Where’s my Sarah Connor Chronicles?

4. I can’t download the RE5 demo to scoff at? Really? I understand that Microsoft is offering a premium service, but it’s a premium service I can get from the other guys for free. Except I have to wait a week… Sigh. Back to work. Oh, and Burn Notice is silly, but Bruce Campbell is funny. Gotta go.

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Playing Penumbra…

Posted by deckard47 on January 26, 2009

So scary! I haven’t even met any bad guys yet. I had to stop after the first save point, so I can do something less scary. Maybe The Maw

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So Scary! Also The Maw

Posted by deckard47 on January 25, 2009

Just took a little break there (from the blogging, and surprisingly, th gaming), so now it will be back to “business” as usual. Up next on my platter of delicious games (along with all the ones I am still muddling through) are The Maw and the Penumbra Collection. I’m looking forward to the first one a whole lot, I’ve heard good things, it looks fabulous, and it just seems like it will be a kind of fun I don’t often go in for. Anyway, I plan on mawing things tonight, so wish me luck.

On th other side of the fun coin we have Penumbra, which (if you didn’t know) is a series of FPS puzzle/survivor horror game. Whoever made this game is scary. Like really scary. This video actually just shows how cool the puzzles could be, but I wanted to inform you that I got scared by watching a teaser trailer for the series. I guess it’s the weird mix of super-reactive Myst/Half Life 2 puzzles and scary dark monsters, but I think I’ll have to keep Owen in the room when I play it. Was I the only one scared by Myst? I mean, shit, the Cog world was crazy-creepy. Alright, here is a cool puzzle physics video, I’ll look for a really scary one later.

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F.E.A.R., Quake Live, Shapeshifter

Posted by deckard47 on January 23, 2009

Just finished downloading and playing the F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin demo (which I will be calling Project Origin forever, because as everyone knows, writing Fear the way they want me to do it is super-annoying). It’s pretty to look at for sure (so much more bloom-y than the original), and it definitely understands that I want variation in my levels. Just the demo section alone had enough cool (non-grey) colors to keep me entertained. The combat is as “visceral” (visceral! That’s a nice word. A word that describes blowing body parts off, which definitely screams “visceral” to me) as one could expect from this franchise, the weapons are cool-looking and make appreciably destructive booming noises when you fire them.

Explosions do that whole “bubble distortion” effect like they did in the first one, only the bubble is prettier. As for new combat tactics… I can’t really tell if the enemies are smarter, I guess they’re flanking my ass like, twice as much as before? One thing that made a very good impression on me (for whatever reason) was the ability to knock over almost any item and use it for cover. To be honest with you, I was too busy cackling and blasting people to bits to use this technique, but I bet it would be fun to do, if I load the demo up again soon.

As has been noted elsewhere, the Quake Live beta is opening up. I’m sad that I haven’t gotten in yet, maybe they’ll be nice and I’ll get in soon? It was one of those games that I loved in a very absent-minded kind of way. Like its fierce (and fearsome!) competitor Unreal Tournament, I could play it for hours, in single and multiplayer, and be completely content. That reminds me, UT‘s Assault modes were amazing, and are basically what I think of as the precursors to TF2‘s objective and capture-based missions. I know other games did it, but UT did it best, in my adolescent mind. I mean shit, they had a Castle mission, a D-Day mission… I love the Onslaught mode in the new Unreal, but I don’t get the same rush as I did back then, taking exciting capture pints with my flak cannon. Sad.

Um, and the last part of this post title is just weird, so sorry. Thinking about UT and Q3 made me think about Marcy Playground and their album Shapeshifter, which I listened to a lot while playing the aforementioned games (along with Blink 182, to my everlasting shame). It’s dorky dude music, but it’s quite cool, in a super-mellow (more mellow than)  Weezer-ish way. Whatever happened to these guys?  I guess I’ll go back to writing now. Adios.

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Riddick and Old-School RPGs

Posted by deckard47 on January 22, 2009

Have nothing in common. Except that I’m posting about them both in the same post! Exciting. I was enjoying Rock Paper Shotgun’s new “Unknown Pleasures of 2009” series of articles when I came upon a new RPG they were conducting interviews about. It’s called Age of Decadence (which is a nice change from Age of Destruction, or whatever most video game Ages are), and it looks pretty sweet. The interview is long, and lot of it is comprised of shots from the game. They’re used to prove one of the designer’s points about RPG design. He says that the ultimate goal should be quests that can change at multiple points, go in different directions, but still service the needs of the plot. It’s an interesting read, and the game sounds fun. Check it out. Ooooh, listen to this:

The Age of Decadence is an isometric, turn-based, single-player 3D role-playing game set in a low magic, post-apocalyptic fantasy world, inspired by the fall of the Roman Empire. The game features a detailed skill-based character system, non-linear gameplay, multiple skill-based ways to handle quests, choices & consequences, and extensive dialogue trees.


The other thing, is of course, Assault on Dark Athena, the new Riddick game, which will include a completely revamped version of the original, Butcher Bay. As a person who didn’t have an Xbox, or a good computer, this is excellent news. I’ll be getting two very (allegedly) good games, in a genre (action stealth FPS) that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. Even more exciting to me are these two clips over at RPS.The combat looks tricky, like it might annoy me a bit. What doesn’t look annoying are the character animations and acting. Not only have they gotten Mr. Creepy Awesome Lance Henrikson onboard, but the acting sounds good or the other characters too. I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one.

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Dark Dragon Eye-Blood

Posted by deckard47 on January 22, 2009

So I’ve spent the last couple of hours with Drakensang (and Skate 2, which is proving to be more frustrating than I could have possibly imagined), and I’m here to tell you about it (because those previews I linked you to weren’t awesome enough for me). It’s an interesting game, and an interesting world. It definitely enjoys exploring a very European take on certain aspects of the general medieval fantasy ethos. This means that there are characters whose professions literally reads “mountebank.” I don’t need to tell you (I hope) that this pleased me immensely. As far as the actual game goes, it’s a bit slow for my tastes. Especially in outdoor areas, you characters can be a bit sluggish. I would often tell them to walk to another part of the map (far away, but still visible), and go get a drink in the time it took them to get there. I love the art, the tone and hue of the world, and the look of the monsters and heroes.

What I don’t love is the fact that there’s a ton of text in the game, and only the opening lines of dialogue for every character are voiced, in the demo. I’m really hoping that they’ll get everything voiced, as this always makes games more interesting to me. The leveling system in place here is extremely complex and deep, with lots of skills, talents, spells, crafting, and other character facets. To my horror, the demo only allows you to play as a ranger (elven) or warlock (human?), neither of which is adept at the conversational arts. This put a damper on my style, but lckily, there’s only been one chance to convince someone of something using a skill. I really hope that they make skill-based dialogue a constant factor in the final game, and I’m sure they will, since several main talents are focused on speech. Aside from all that, the party control system is a bit clmsy as of right now. Still, it’s obvious that a lot of these problems can be worked out before it drops next month (especially since this is not a terribly recent English demo). So let’s all cross our fingers and hope for a safe journey over the Atlantic.

Oh, and because Skate 2 put me in a funny mood, what with its bizarre (and not especially intuitive, despite what everybody else says) control scheme and villainous characters (and character creator). I needed something awesome to cheer me up. Luckily for me, youtube came to the rescue. Let me just say, that Saif Ali Khan is kind of a villain. Anyway, I promise a post soon about something that isn’t German or Bollywood-related (although I know that there’s a significant portion of my readers who clamor for these two things).

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The Dark Eye: Drakensang

Posted by deckard47 on January 21, 2009

I’d like to make a joke about silly fantasy game titles, but all I can think of is how this game might be set in the The Second Age of the Third Age. But seriously, I recommend checking out the site for Drakensang, because the game looks pretty sweet. Apparently it lets you explore a fantasy world culled from a deep long-running pen-and-paper RPG (the story is in fact written by the authors of the pen-and-paper version). I’m getting a teensy bit of a Witcher vibe here: lots of detailed, established backstory, and old-fashioned RPGing. Ok, I just read their features page, and I’m really excited about it:

  • Experience an exciting story within a huge campaign involving numerous main and side quests
  • Adventure groups with up to four adventurers
  • Expert character-creation mode for experienced DSA fans
  • More than 40 spells, with over 30 talents and almost 40 special abilities allow a large range of possibilities for character creation
  • Numerous and varied enemies and monsters from the DSA universe, such as linnorms, ogres, undead mules, giant amoeba and many more
  • Story by original DSA authors
  • Rule-compliant implementation of the DSA licence in the tradition of the Nordland Trilogy
  • Tactical combat system with pause function
  • Varied and flexible magic system
  • Talent-based dialogue system

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like some awesome stuff to me (oh, and I apologize for being Mr. cut and paste lately, but I feel like the matter-of-fact way they address all of my weird RPG desires really speaks for itself). I mean, look, Talent-based dialogue systems! Yes! Plus you can create a 4-person party single-player experience! Undead Mules! Giant Amoebas!

Also, let me tell you that when you open the site, it will play music from the game. Again, I’m getting a real Witchy vibe here, because the music is good. As in I’ve left it looping while I write this… Also, as I write this, I’m downloading the demo, which I hope rocks my world. Now, here comes the bad news. It looks like it hasn’t been released here yet… I’ll know more once I get in to the demo, but from here, it looks like it could suck me up the way The Witcher did (and continues to do).

Ok, I was doing a bit more of a close reading, and it looks like The Dark Eye roleplaying universe is the most popular RPG in Germany; it’s even more popular than D&D. Yes, indeed.

Ok, time for another exciting revelation: I just realized that Radon Labs is behind this game… Remember them? They’re the guys who brought us Project Nomads, an interesting, hugely flawed game that more people should have tried. Shit just got a bit more real. Aaaaah! You can play as a Warrior-Magician (who specializes as a charlatan). Oh my God. This game is going to ruin my world. You get to play as a charlatan. But they also include an expert mode, where people familiar with the pen-and-paper original can tune every aspect of their characters! I don’t know if I have words left to describe how cool this sounds. Wow, it looks like you can also play as some kind of European cowboy burglar.

After all of that, here I have some screens. I promise not to lose it like this again any time soon, unless the demo is cool. Then all bets are off.

EDIT: so it looks like the game will be coming out here on February 18? Be Ready!

Further EDIT: Two previews, up at GamesRadar and GameSpy.

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Hype/Impressions: Venetica + Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble

Posted by deckard47 on January 20, 2009

As the title of this post suggests, I will be discussing two things today! First, as I recall I linked to a post/screens of Venetica a while ago. Venetica is about the daughter of death, who hangs out in Venice traveling back and forth between life and death and being awesome. It’s made by a German developer, who are also the people (I think) behind Drakensang. For the non-francophiles out there, this game is about Dragonblood. Shit be awesome. I’m gonna download the demo as soon as I get the chance to reboot into PC. For now, a screen from the increasingly interesting looking and sounding Venetica:

Here’s an exerpt from the Kotaku writeup of the game (or maybe they got it from somewhere else? There’s a lot of typos). It’s sounds fucking sweet, if I do say so myself:

It’s not just Good that awaits Scarlett in the Twilight World – the pure evil lurks there too, waiting the daughter of Death. Those who know the story of Venetica are aware of the bad necromancer, who is the source of all evil in the game’s story. He, Viktor, empowered himself with the Grim Reaper’s supernatural powers and now threatens the world. So, it’s not only countless horrific creatures that are waiting for Scarlett. Viktor’s powerful accomplices also hound her..

Equipped with supernatural powers, Viktor’s allies await Scarlett in the Twilight World once she has defeated them in the world of the Living. Now, Scarlett will face her real challenge: Using their powers, the evil helpers transform themselves into huge beasts, becoming even more powerful now that they reached the realm of the Dead.

Venetica’s Twilight World offers even more to the players: It’s not only special NPCs and enemies that resurrect in the world of the Dead – also Scarlett herself uses the underworld to re-awake. This allows her to generate herself tactical combat advantage, for instance by repositioning herself unseen while staying in the Twilight World, and afterwards surprisingly returning to the world of the living.

There is another special connection between Scarlett and the Twilight World: Her literally eternal love to Benedict, who dies just at the start of the game, bounds her to this world. Scarlett will meet her love regularly. In fact, Benedict will be the one who reveals Scarlett’s supernatural powers and who trains her in how to use them.

Many additional skills and abilities allow Scarlett to make even more use of the Twilight World, for instance by summoning creatures or by giving her unusual insights in both the worlds of the Living and the Dead. So, the Twilight World offers a full load of innovative gameplay features to Action RPG gamers.

Secondly (you knew it was comng!), I’ve just started playing Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble, and I’m enjoying myself. I’m still a little fuzzy on how I’m winning/osing some of the challenges, but I like the catchy era-appropriate (I suppose, since I’m not 80 years old) music, the tone of the writing, and the amusing, anti-adults stance many characters take. It’s a very cool adventure/puzzle game, and I’d suggest checking it out. Perhaps I’ll link to it, now that I think of it. I wish I cold think of a third thing to post about, so as to make the post title a lie, but I can’t. I fail. Oh wait!

I had an absolutely brilliant few rounds of Left 4 Dead last night. I managed to land myself with the the (if they don’t mind me saying so) coolest crew possible. I’d like to single out El_Guapo for being seasoned and knowledgable and understanding, even when the rest of us fucked things up. We made 5 or 6 tries at advanced No Mercy, and got it in the end. We almost finished Death Toll, before some people dropped out. All in all, a very excellent run. Chances are it won’t happen again soon. Later.

Posted in Hype, Impressions, Screens | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Impressions: Valkyria Awesomeness (Darcsen… really?)

Posted by deckard47 on January 19, 2009

Two things. First, I’m loving Valkyria Chornicles. The gameplay, upgrading and leveling are so very perfect for a person like me, and I can make myself care about the story every five minutes or so. BUT. Whoever decided that “Darcsen” would stand in for Jews in this version of Europe made a bad call. I’m not sure what’s so fucked up about it, but it comes off as trivializing and insulting. I’ve no idea how you tackle such a topic in your alternate universe games, but this is not it. Still, great, entertaining gameplay, something I’ll stick with until I’m fully leveled at least.

Secondly, the Brainy Gamer has an interesting post up about heroes and their darkening/virilifying in the sequels to games. Of course, I care the most about the changing of Nathan Drake, from the first game’s happy-go-lucky Indiana Jones/Malcolm Reynolds guy into something more along the lines of (boo) the Dark Prince! I hope that Naughty Dog knows what they’re doing here. It’s quite possible that they’re just going with a darker tone for the game, and maybe a darker personality for the character. I mean, look at Empire, that was all about dark times, but Han Solo was still Han Fucking Solo.. He didn’t become “Dark Han” or some shit, just because things were “dark” around him. It’s quite possible to show Nathan as a jerk and an imperfect guy (like our guy Solo), and still make him a fundamentally good person. I hope that’s what they’re doing.

It’s interesting how the two (story and character) have to be the same, for games. Movies have been able to make that distinction for a long time. It’s why the second movie in a trilogy can be the darkest: the next one will make things happy again (see Star Wars, LotR)! Why the main character has to undergo a transformation as well is beyond me. There’s a difference between responding to bad things (look, Han, Aragorn, Gandalf, Leia and Luke are all sad now!), and becoming darker. The first is realistic, the second is a cheap, lazy plot device that makes what should be an internal struggle a physical transformation. It assumes that we silly readers, watchers or gamers can’t fathom that people and characters can change their personalities or actions based on outside stimuli. Give us some credit. But, again I have to say that I trust Naughty Dog, they made me so happy with the first game. Do right by our Drake, guys, he deserves it.

Posted in Blogs, Impressions | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Blog Related: Yes! Sexy Nathan Drake!

Posted by deckard47 on January 17, 2009

So someone got to my blog by typing in a search for ‘”nathan drake” sexy.’ My dark plan nears its culmination. Soon, my friends, soon.

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