October was a trying month. When I wasn’t frothing at the mouth soaking up campy MW3 hype like this , I was desperately trying to find some game options that could fill the void. It is at this point I ask friends, sometimes with an empty, seemingly disinterested tone… “got any game suggestions”?
It turned out my buddy agent86 had two such suggestions, and better yet he was willing to loan them to me (score!). I’ve enjoyed both, but there is a decisive victor on my scorecard.
The first recommendation was the original DJ Hero. I have to agree with the folks at IGN that the game breathes new life into the “plastic instrument” genre – a life that I didn’t think was possible. Despite being a dyed in the wool geek, I have great appreciation for many types of music. To me, the game would not have a chance without a good collection of songs – but it did not disappoint. Beyond that, it takes that step further to greatness. It makes you feel like a hero. I can still remember the first time I played Guitar Hero – those amazing moments when I felt the illusion that I was connected to the music. This game recaptures those moments in a way that touch pad frets and drum sets never have (even with aftermarket kick pedals).
The second recommendation, had just the opposite effect. It’s not that Mirror’s Edge is a bad game. In fact it contains a lot of greatness, considering how many chances it took. It’s got a novel plot, an atypical hero, and genre redefining gameplay. So why didn’t I like it as much as OXM? Well, basically because I suck at it.
A tireless troop of bloodthirsty security thugs are constantly springing out of nothingness in front of me, or trapping me like a rat in some corner I can’t parkour my way out of. Within a few hours of play at medium difficulty I’ve found myself in that situation probably fifty times, which subsequently leads to one of two things rapidly going through my head: a bullet or my ass. More often than not when I hear the “wind rushing through my ears” it is because I am accelerating at 9.8 m/s/s towards a sickening crunch (the really out did themselves on the realism). Look, I know that I can’t actually run on the rooftops. I know what happens if I fall off that ledge. I was just hoping when I picked up a controller and pretended to be a lithe, gymnastic, mixed martial arts kicking, wall running badass that I could feel a little more like a hero. Now where’s that plastic turntable…
When I suggested those two games to you, I pretty much already knew what you’d end up playing and what you’d quickly become bored/frustrated with. Previous experience with co-op’ing games with you has taught me that you strongly prefer to shoot your way out, y’know, mix things up a little. I remember one stealth sequence in Splinter Cell: Conviction where I was carefully negotiating some railing and quietly offing bad guys one at a time, when suddenly all the alarms start to go off, and everyone is running into another room. I quietly followed to find you standing on a catwalk above a horde of enemy guards with an AK-47 and reenacting the climax to Scarface.
We made it out, although I may have let you bite one or two more times than was absolutely necessary.
So yeah, where was I? Mirror’s Edge, right. The game’s really about moving fast, using urban environments as playground equipment and avoiding conflict. I’m pretty sure there are several ‘pacifist’ achievements you can get for avoiding conflict. I don’t know that I can put my finger on exactly what it is about those games that I find appealing and at the same time cause you consternation and frustration. I’ve been trying to recommend Batman: Arkham Asylum to you as well, which I think is probably a defining game for the current generation, but I secretly fear that it just won’t appeal to you.
DJ Hero’s a whole ‘nother beast. It’s classic, by the book, plastic instrument gaming. I was somewhat excited about it when it launched, but I just couldn’t justify the price tag. Eventually it came so far down in price though that I just couldn’t say no. Some of the music isn’t really my speed, but I found the mixes they produced to at least be inoffensive. It felt a bit easier than Guitar Hero, perhaps since I wasn’t moving my hands nearly as much, and perhaps it was just a bit more forgiving. Certainly a solid game, and I’m glad you enjoyed it during the wintry dead zone of early November gaming.