Delayed Responsibility

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

Impressions: Welcome To The Descent…

Posted by deckard47 on June 28, 2009

Err, I mean welcome to Butcher Bay. I’m playing through the 2004 original (with all of the fancy graphics, obviously), and it’s really a lot of fun.  Right now, I’m coming to see that the game’s shooting is not at home, from a user-friendly perspective. I guess it felt good back then (but did it really?). Despite the fact that shooting feels strange, the rest of the game is almost perfect. I like the fish-eye view, I know it’s not seksy anymore, but it makes me feel weird and skulky (Riddick-y, I suppose). I love the melee combat, the graphics are pretty sweet, and the game was made by people who are probably adults, people who like to watch other people speak in complete sentences onscreen. It’s like the Riddick movie should have been (I’m 5 years late here, I know), except in this movie, Vin Diesel is allowed to kill people in ways he could never kill people on a movie screen.

Unsurprisingly, The Vin delivers in the way you’d hope he would. I will never, ever mess with Vin Diesel. Sure, he might be a nice guy, but he could also kill me with his finger, or maybe with a look. The rest of the characters are all pretty good (although why do the black guys either have gaps between their front teeth or a lot of gold teeth…?), despite liking the word “fuck” a bit too much. I was rolling along pretty smoothly (thank you, easy setting), thanks to some turned-down graphical settings. I know, I know, we just built this computer, and now it can’t handle a recent game at maximum settings? Let me rephrase that: a remade 2004 game with boosted graphics at max settings? Yeah, it burns pretty bad. Still, it looks amazing, and the first-person fighting engine alone could keep me playing for hours. In fact, I would be playing right now if it weren’t for the fact that as part of his escape, Riddick jumps down into “The Pit,” a deep, dark hole where the guards throw prisoners they really don’t like. As soon as Riddick gets up and dusts himself off, I got a sneaking suspicion (the same one I should have got when the star of Pitch Black decides he’s going down into “The Pit”). Yes, there are scary white/albino monsters down there, apparently on loan from The Descent. Exactly what I don’t need at 11pm on a Saturday night when no one else is home. Sigh. I can always play it tomorrow, right?

This reminds me. Owen recently posted his thoughts on Red Faction: Guerrilla, a review of RF:G, and how involved and deep the stories and settings of games are. He discussed the setting and story of Guerrilla, arguing that it didn’t need to be Marx, because it was mostly there as a pretext for really fun, varied destructive gameplay. Playing Riddick, I got the exact same feeling. The space prison setting for the game (and the Riddick character’s own badass-ness) perfectly set up most of the gameplay mechanics that many games have to struggle to explain. I mean, instead of killing a bunch of gruff bald guys because the only people who want to kill your super-spy are gruff bald guys, you’re killing them because you’re in prison! The hand-to-hand combat, item  and money collection, skulking, and even the annoying pit monsters all fit perfectly into the prison setting (and into the Riddick universe setting). Of course, it helps that the combat is strangely compelling (I’m very good at the mid-attack neck stab by now), but what matters in the end is Riddick‘s setting and story, and their almost transparent, incredibly fluid relationship with the gameplay devices on display.

I’ve no idea whether or not this kind of synergy holds up for the rest of the game (although it’s not that long, so they’d have a hard time messing it up), but I really hope that it does. It’s hard to come up with anothe game whose setting so perfectly excuses and spurs on its gameplay. It’s nice to play a game that is obsessed with making my experience one of uninterrupted (except when the monsters made me stop playing), unobtrusively contrived fun. I hope that the second game is the same, despite all of the disparaging things said about it. I mean, it has Michelle Forbes as a tough, murderous space pirate captain. How does that not make it awesome right off the bat?

Hopefully I’ll have more reports from Butcher Bay tomorrow. For now, let me leave you by saying that the people who made the “electric socket” puzzles in Ghostbusters Wii are villains. Not regular villains, but the most unpleasant, Snidely Whiplash-esque villains you ever did meet. Why?! Why do you hate me so much? All I want to do is play your game, but you want me to stand in that stupid generator room and attempt to plug two square batteries into some electrical socket. Of course, instead of plugging in (and this is after hours spent in that room), the batteries just bang against the sockets in a hilarious, Wiimote-enabled mockery of sex. I hate you.

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