So, with my time last night between turns playing muliplayer Civ IV (Which was annoying, because the players dropped out as I was about to crush them beneath the sandalled feet of Aquarion Ceaser of the Pythonic Empire from his capital city of Comfy Chair. My secondary city was called “Cheese”, purely so I would get announcements like “The Hanging Gardens have been constructed in Cheese!”, because I have a simple sense of humour, easily satisfied), I reactivated the “Mostly” project.
“Mostly”, or to give it its former name, “This Week I Have Been Mostly…” is a one-box summary of what the hell I’ve been up to recently. What I’m playing, watching, listening to, reading, doing. Most of this can, interestingly, be automated. iTunes submits tracks I’m listening to to Last.fm, which provides RSS streams, and mostly movies I watch come from LoveFilm which I can scrape a feed from, if I can convince it to log in, which I’ve just about managed to do. I’m also going to try to review the stuff I get from Lovefilm and the games I play, because it’d be cool. So:
The New Mostly
Why do I torture myself? I didn’t like the book much, the book is the film only with more in-your-face-gosh-isn’t-this-embarrising. I gave up twenty minutes in.
Sam Rockwell in non manic mode, George Clooney directs (pretty well). I like the style, I like the concept, and I like the movie, even when it makes no sense and I can’t see the cultural refs because I’ve never seen anything Chuck Barris produced
Game: Fahrenheit (‘Indigo Prophecy’ in the US)
I’m glad I played this on the XBox. The game is an adventure-type game, well plotted and with a good story and some beautiful style and direction. The characters are great, the concepts are mostly wonderful. like: You have no health – if you die, you fail. If you fail, you die – but you do have mental health affected by the plot. Taking time out to play your guitar boosts your mental health, making the arcadey bits easier.
And so, we come to the Arcadey bits. There are a few types. First there’s the “Simple Simon”/”Dance Dance Revolvution” versions, where you hit the colours as they appear. These aren’t too taxing after a bit of practice, but are used occasionally annoyingly, like for a major plot-explaining cut-scene where you have to hit the – admittedly very slow, very easy – colours to keep the scene going. The ending effect is not one of immersion (I can see what they’re trying to do, which is simulate some difficulty in paying attention at the time) but of distraction. You get to watch the cut-scenes without the challanges in the menus, but you can’t pay attention in game, which is annoying for a game that is trying to be almost pure plot.
The second are the unforgivable bits where you have to hammer – or occasionally tap – on alternate left or right triggers. It was like playing Track and Field on the C64 again, hammering the keys like mad. Except this makes you keep it up until you’re tired of it, then switches back to Simple Simon for a bit, then back to the hammering… all while stuff’s going on on screen.
The end result is a game that you can only get the entire plot of if you are watching someone play the game. It’s still a good game, though occasionally frustrating, but the conflicting ideals of a pure-plot driven game and not letting you absorb the plot stop it being great.