Forgetting sarahmarshall.com

Forgive the cryptic title, I feel it almost works on many levels. I have just returned from eight days in Fiji and an isolation from technology. Well there was technology; there was wireless internet at the resort, but I wasn’t willing to pay $40 for the WEP key, considering I had only my N95 and PSP to browse with. And I actually began to enjoy my time-out, I quickly lost my need (and want) to be plugged in.

I enjoyed my time abroad and unplugged, but I did succumb to boredom; I get impatient playing the first 15 minutes of Doom 3, eagerly awaiting the pistol – how do you think I feel waiting eight days, or 192 hours without a single firefight or confrontation.

The location was inspired and well designed, we’re talking beyond COD4 levels of polish. Unfortunately I couldn’t thoroughly test the AI. Locals roamed around, much as they do in Fallout 3; you’re never exactly sure where you’ll find someone. Their pathfinding was good, but I’m still not sure if they’d utilise cover or teamwork in a battle.

From the beach of our island we could see a couple of neighbouring islands, one containing a small village. There was a short stone path heading inland of the island that we had to follow to get to our bure, assumably masking a loading screen. The drunk physics were even better than GTAIV’s and many of the sidequests made use of these. 

I’ll stop now with the comparison between real and virtual existence; next time I break the law they’ll probably pin me for living in a fantasy world, no longer able to tell my PS3 controller from a handgun. 

It was a last minute decision, and really leaving it that late was a delusion; I had packed my PSP – so despite the absence of a console or TV I managed to get my game on. I spent a majority of my time playing and studying emulated classics. Replaying a game from my past is always an odd experience, I remember most of them fondly, and often they’re still great fun to play. Other times, I scratch my head as to how I ever enjoyed such hacked together crap.

The Terminator, a game I owned (own?) on Master System was honestly too difficult for me as a kid. I could only manage to finish the first level, in fact I rarely saw the second. The game had an odd charm, really it was a standard side scroll shooter, but The Terminator broke the formula by giving the player grenades as their primary weapon rather than a gun. It’s simple, but it was enough to change the flow of combat. Enemies still used guns with fast moving bullets; new strategy had to be developed to deal with enemies who had a more effective weapon than you. Replaying this game on my PSP, the difficulty level and asymmetrical combat remained.. for the first level. 

After reaching level 2, the player attains a machine gun and the game becomes a very basic, very boring and very easy run n gun shooter. 

I grew tired with the games on my PSP and tried to do some reading. I spent half an hour one evening browsing Sacred Games, some sort of Indian Tom Clancy – I stumbled onto the rather vibrant description of a man, drunk and near unconsciousness, being cut into pieces: arms off first, then his legs.

I closed the book and didn’t touch it again – reading the content made me feel uncomfortable and I chose not to revisit it. The book was internationally acclaimed; a recommendation from The Australian  was included on the back cover. I thought, if I ever played a video game that made me feel this way, I’d choose to stop playing it. A moment later I realised, we don’t get to make that choice in Australia.


2 Responses to “Forgetting sarahmarshall.com”

  1. December 1, 2008 at 2:24 AM

    I think you’re suffering from ‘American Psycho’ complex; it’s not the nicest thing in the world but it has a strange and almost cathartic allure.

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Playing on Playstation 3

Red Dead Revolver - I paid about $1000 for my launch model PS3, so I guess it's time I get some use out of that emotion chip crammed inside. I remember Red Dead Revolver looking rather good when it was released, and despite the low resolution and odd blurring (that I attribute to playing on a HD set) the game holds up well. It looks good despite these graphical limitations because the art direction is so precise and awesome. And it isn't just the art direction, the music, dialogue and set design (for some reason, set seems a more fitting word than level) all work in tandem to recreate an iconic Wild West atmosphere. Red Dead Revolver doesn’t aim to recreate life in the Wild West, it allows our imagination to take over and populates the locale with legendary men and their legendary stories.

Playing on iPhone

edge - Well I never thought I'd consider playing a game on iPhone as actually gaming, but edge has turned me around. The game is built for the iPhone. Sure, it could be ported, but the elegance of what has been created is astounding, it boggles the mind and makes me wonder what amazing gems we'd receive if current gen consoles weren't clones of eachother.

Playing on PC

Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod, Generals - Zero Hour - It may be a temporary effect as I slowly reintroduce the PC into my gaming diet, but it seems every title I’m excited to play on the platform is either a strategy game, or a cheap indie game. PC gaming isn’t dead, it’s just restricted to titles that require complex input or a pointing device, and games that couldn't be developed or distributed on other platforms. I guess that’s part of the reason the AppStore is so far a success, there were a lot of indie devs stuck on PC for lack of a better alternative.


November 2008
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