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2:31 AM on 08.25.2009

A $40 Bonus Disc (Arkham Asylum CE - Physical Content)

(Note: This "review" pertains solely to the perceived quality of the collector's edition of Arkham Asylum at a first glance of the included contents. I have not assessed the quality of the game itself, nor the quality of the features on the bonus disc. The following is based on my physical experience of the items mentioned.)

Normally, I'm not one to complain about the quality of bonus content in super-regular edition sets, but this particular release is an affront to my sensibilities not only as a Batfan, but also as a discerning consumer, video game enthusiast, and special feature whore.

I make very little money and tend to be EXTREMELY picky about those things I should consider purchasing. Between excessive debt and occasionally having the cash to pull my date weight with my girlfriend, I've nary a cent to spend on personal indulgences. So the decision to purchase the collector's edition of Arkham Asylum was not one I made lightly. It was something of a celebration of the fact that several of the collaborators of my favourite Batman mythos (the DC Animated Universe) would be getting together for, potentially, one last hurrah. That and the fact that a guy needs to buy something for himself every once in a while, and what better justification?

So, between the bonus disc - hopefully chock full of featurettes including my very favouritest Joker representative (Mr. Mark Hamill) - and the doctor's journal, and the seemingly impressive replication of an in-game batarang, going the way of extravagance seemed an okay and reasonable choice.

Now let me be clear, I was NOT in any way expecting something spectacular. In my wildest dreams, the best I could hope for was some kind of blunted, soft metal representation of the batarang. Materials like pewter aren't as expensive as some might think, and developments in composite materials bring costs like that down even more. It wasn't the most unrealistic thought in the world, and that was only my "dare to dream" scenario.

Realistically, I was expecting some kind of acrylic, ceramic, or tin composite, the latterest being more akin to the design of the box itself.

To open this gorgeous case and feast my eyes upon what has been laughingly referred to and marketed as a "replica" has insulted me in a way I would've previously thought incapable.

I've lived in this country a long time and, as mentioned before, would like to think myself a discerning consumer. I generally know the difference between a good movie and a well-edited trailer, and I can generally tell the difference between a halfway decent set piece and an overgrown kid's meal toy.

To put it bluntly, you get used to being screwed with your pants on from time to time and develop keener senses, when lucky.

This abomination consists of what appears to be three pieces of molded plastic, with a QUITE visible seam running all along its perimeter. The batarang is attached to its "mount" in a way that doesn't at all differentiate the "replica" from its base. I'd charitably refer to it as a high school prop, if only you could more intuitively interpret these individual pieces as separate items. It's unclear whether or not the manufacturer even intended the item to be removed from its mount, as the telltale tab on the rear suggests relative ease of removal, whereas the gaping hole, remnant glue, and stamp - revealed once you isolate the batarang - all imply that it's a nook not meant to be seen.

Regardless, this is hardly the sort of thing I would ever put on display, and it only marginally functions as a casual toy of novelty and kitsch. More likely I'll leave the damned thing in its far-more-impressive case and hope that nobody asks to see it.

Now, this wouldn't bother me quite so much if it weren't for the fact that I was never even given an in-between option. The major influence for the purchase of this edition was, indeed, the bonus disc with features I've yet to investigate since I'm now somewhat gunshy. It's entirely likely that I would've passed on this excessive product were it not for my love and near-fanboyism regarding Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin, Kevin Conroy, and Paul Dini (even though it was a shock to learn that Dini had anything to do with the Double Dragon movie - "Podtoid 111").

When I boil down the contents and value of the box in my hands to their barest essentials, I'm left with but one conclusion:

I paid an additional forty dollars for a bonus disc, and a mediocre (though admittedly, mildly interesting) soft-leather journal.

This makes me hubris and contrite, and Eidos criminals. But I can at least offer these words and photos up as a cautionary tale to those either a little too foolhardy or not quite discerning enough.


Update: Joystiq's Justin McElroy posted an unboxing video this morning, and his reaction and sentiments mirror mine almost perfectly, though he remains far more civil and professional on camera.   read

1:25 PM on 07.06.2009

Nostalgic Novelty Meets Post-Humous Pop Appeal

It's somewhat unfortunate (from a game collector's point of view) that so many classic video-game cabinets should end up in the possession of a famous person, much less one of the greatest pop legends ever known to the United States.

Especially one that recently passed away.

Some rare items can be incredibly difficult for collectors to find, and even more difficult to obtain for a reasonable price. Not everybody has deep pockets, and it sucks when the added value of "Jacko owned this" is tacked onto the price tag. Chances are that so much cash will be thrown at so many things simply for the "piece of MJ" celebrity factor, far removed from the qualities or personality of the game itself.

With any luck, some serious collectors will manage to get a hand on some of the memorabilia that Michael managed to stash away over the years. Fortunately, it doesn't seem like he kept the rarest of the rare away from the public eye, so my posterity-bone need not worry itself over some forgotten classic winding up in the show room of a well-to-do that doesn't really give a damn.

In the meantime, those of us with lesser aspirations in cabinet collecting can amuse ourselves by checking out this nifty virtual tour of MJ's funtime belongings. Personally, I'd love to get my hands on Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Lethal Enforcers.   read

2:35 AM on 07.06.2009

Dr. Sterling, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pokémon Blue

Pokémon Blue is obviously better than Pokémon Red, an assertion that requires explanation only if you're a complete backbirth what doesn't know how superlatives work. I can only conclude that any argument on the subject is purely for shock value or novelty alone, as nobody could possibly be so ignorant as to sincerely believe that Red is the superior product. Jim Sterling would have you believe that only hardcore gamers have earned the right to draw huge lines between anything, but I'm here to tell you that anyone can do it. The internet is better than Superman, for example. We could discuss why, but you all know that I'm right.

1.) Water > Fire:

The box for Pokémon Blue boasts Blastoise, an organic, walking TANK, fully equipped with cannons that shoot highly-pressurized twin streams of water whose sole purpose is blasting the shit out of anything in sight AND putting out fires. Red has Charizard, a mouth-breathing, dandy-looking dragon that can't even fly straight since its eyes are on either side of its head and that means no depth perception. Plus it DIES if the wussy fire on its tail goes out.

Guess what wussy fires don't like? Pressurized water shot from a FUCKING CANNON!

2.) The colour blue is superior to the colour red in EVERY way:

I've personally seen crayons of blue and red spill out of Crayola boxes, fully-engaged in drunken brawls, and guess who always emerges the victor? Well, actually.. nobody, because it's the official responsibility of influential writers like me to declare that drunken violence is NEVER, EVER funny (even though it's completely badass and ALWAYS funny). But I will tell you this, if you go visit St. Palette's Memorial Hospital and take a look at their ICU, you'll see one fucked-up hunk of Red, meanwhile Blue's back at the box, fucking everything in sight while also eating rare steak, which is the manliest sport there is.

Now, SOME PEOPLE seem to have a problem with things that are blue, specifically Blue's Clues. Nevermind the fact that Steve Burns - the original host of the show - went on to have a kickass musical career and even stole the Thinking Chair to take with him on tour. Let me ask you, what kind of man has the balls to take the staple prop from a show intended for small children? The same kind of man that tirelessly dedicated himself to helping those same children translate the inane babble of idiotic animated characters in order to solve mysteries. That's called being a detective. You know who else is a detective?


It's a well-known, scientifically-proven fact that learning is the most hardcore thing known to man, and Blue's Clues is a show about BATMAN teaching kids how to be as awesome as he is, just before leaving to rock out.

Red is the colour of menstruation and Greatest Hits boxes, the most potent manifestations of evil.

3.) Red got a remake, Blue didn't need one:

Holding up the fact that Pokémon Red got a remake is like pointing at Rocky Horror Picture Show cast-goers as evidence of the film's superiority. If it's so fucking good, why did you have to invent an entirely new script to shout over the original lines in order to enjoy it?

That's right, Fire Red was Nintendo's feeble effort to try to make right their terrible, terrible wrong. To be perfectly honest, they DID develop a remake of Blue, just to be sporting, but the only title they felt justified the insanely awesome nature of the game was “Pokémon Blue-as-the-Sapphire-Tears-Your-Mother-Cried-When-She-Took-it-Up-the-Ass”. Naturally, Nintendo had enough business savvy (at the time) to know better than to insult their consumers directly. Instead, they maintained their normal practice of insulting their customers through sucky releases, and left the pristine visage of Pokémon Blue untarnished.

4.) Look at this picture:

This picture is awesome. Of course it is.

I drew it using a Super Game Boy while playing Pokémon Blue. Blue is a colour, which means that the Super Game Boy – a peripheral that plays games IN colour on the Super Nintendo (one of the greatest systems EVER) – was pretty much created for the sole purpose of playing Pokémon Blue, and drawing awesome shit all over it.

Look at that Machop's angry face. That's fucking terrifying. You couldn't do that with Pokémon Red. I know 'cause I tried. The Super Game Boy spit at me before I could even put the cartridge in the slot. The only other time it did that was when I accidentally dropped a copy of Total Recall for the NES right next to it.

Pokémon Red + Total Recall < Mah Balls

5.) Mega Man is blue:

Mega Man will om nom your very essence and then use it for his own nefarious purposes, but he usually doesn't because he's so badass to begin with. He only wears red when he's impersonating one of the various robotic fucktards he's already bested in combat, and that's just for kicks. The guy's regular power is to shoot compressed balls of burning hot plasma at high velocities from his cyan blue arm. He doesn't have any use for shit like fire, unless he feels like burning some books, which he'd never do because Mega Man knows what we've already discussed, and that is that learning is cool as fuck.

6.) Blue has Vulpix:

This is Vulpix.

Vulpix will FUCK. YOU. UP. End of story.

7.) Blah blah blah, something about Metacritic:

Metacritic scores are an aggregation of individual opinions, reduced to quantitative terms. Most of the people I know are dumb as fuck. Most of the people you know are dumb as fuck. The internet is FULL of people who are dumb as fuck, so why on earth should I give a damn what a whole mess of 'em said when they stopped Tweeting or blogging long enough to bitch about something besides Valve?

Answer: I don't.

Here's MY Metacritic score for Pokémon Blue: 28,000,003. A score THAT high comes with some rum and bratwurst if you take it to the bank, which you can totally do.

8.) Here's a thing I found on the internet:

"Psychology of Color: Blue"

“Ask people their favorite color and a clear majority will say blue. Much of the world is blue (skies, seas). Seeing the color blue actually causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming; but that isn't true of all shades of blue. Some shades (or too much blue) can send a cold and uncaring message. Many bedrooms are blue because [of] it's calm, restful color. Over the ages blue has become associated with steadfastness, dependability, wisdom and loyalty (note how many uniforms are blue). People tend to be more productive in a blue room because they are calm and focused on the task at hand. Some studies are showing that weight lifters can lift more weight in a blue gym - in fact, nearly all sports are enhanced in blue surroundings.”

There you have it, blue makes people stronger and wiser and better at sex. I say so. Studies say so. Science says so.

Blue is better. It's fact. You know this because you just read it.


As much as I'd love to leave this piece a completely self-contained product, I haven't yet earned that right. I need to make it clear that this - much like the recently-written monocle piece - is an exercise in writing and in fun. I've always been a fan of Pokémon Blue and love trying to do things in this particular voice. Generally, I like to avoid cliche or blatant ripoff as best I can, but the lure of attempting to counter-point Jim's diatribes was just far too irresistible.

I hope folks managed to take some amount of entertainment from this, as I tried to make it funny, and will likely go to hell for some of the cracks I made.

Totally worth it though. I had a blast.   read

11:54 AM on 06.18.2009

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Normally, I'd leave the self-promotion to personal social networking sites and forums, as well as chasing people down on the street to give them a card, but I think this most recent happening merits some words.

A little over a year ago, I and several friends began discussing the possibility of opening a used games store / LAN center. It was something of a hypothetical flight of fancy at first, though we eventually warmed to the idea and started taking it more and more seriously. We applied for several loans, but were turned down. Several realtors faffed us around on the rates for their locations before we found something both appealing and reasonable.

Long story short, it was NOT very easy.

The circumstances and logistics surrounding the opening and managing of our store are INCREDIBLY difficult. I don't care to advertise this fact, but I've been, essentially, homeless for a little over a year now. Two good friends were kind enough to take me in, and these are the same two friends with whom I helped to get "Game On!" going. The deal is one that is mutually beneficial, both for myself and for the well-being of the store. In order to keep operational costs down as much as possible, the store does not have any employees.

You hear that? It's just me and two other people (who seldom work shifts apart), running a store that's open at least 88 hours a week. They continue to work full-time at their dayjobs in order to supplement the store throughout its initial "darker days", and take over for me on certain evening and the majority of the day on Saturday.

I am here the rest of the time.

Now, let me make it clear that I am not, in any way, complaining. I am not seeking pity nor praise. I am only trying to highlight to you how very invested I am in this store. The fact that I forego a wage and am, in fact, indebted to those showing me hospitality is one that often doesn't sit well with my pride. I'd much rather be contributing money to my livelihood, or even living on my own. Unfortunately, the circumstances of the situation simply don't allow that at this time, which is FINE.

But it does not change the fact that this is a hard, hard situation.

We put great thought into the name of our business. "Game On!" evokes that collective subconscious, excited desire to take something head on and do your best. It's that feeling you get when about to engage in friendly competition with friends and peers. Plus, being a game store, it's always good to have some "game" in your name.

So when we learned that another store had opened up less than a week ago in the same city as us, and ALSO carries the name "Game On", it most definitely took us by surprise. Not knowing whether to feel insulted, or hurt, or threatened, we tried to talk about it as reasonably as possible. Should we pursue some legal course? Do we have any ground to stand on? What's the etiquette in asking somebody else not to be in the same business as you with the same name?

Ultimately, we'd decided to talk to them personally and see if we could work something out. We have big plans for our business and hope to be a significant community presence in the state of Colorado, for both casual and competitive gamers a like. It was our understanding that we would have some time to handle this.. that is, until I was contacted by several friends this morning, informing me of a story run on Kotaku and our local 9 News.

Apparently, this other "Game On" managed to get some attention, largely due to the fact that the fellow that opened the store is young and recently lost his mother. Now, while I am not saying that these facts are unimportant, and most definitely feel sympathy for this guy as an individual, I've gotta' say that it's somewhat terrifying that a local business that shares the same name as us has suddenly gained such notable exposure.

Our store's E-mail has already received several messages from Kotaku readers across the nation, asking us to perhaps develop an online store that they might help us in some way. Granted, one could argue that the fact that they're finding us by mistake means greater exposure for our store as well, but we're relatively honest people and don't care to be found via misunderstanding. Additionally, we've been trying to make a name for ourselves!

Almost seven months open and we've already developed a modest community, as well as ties with other pockets of gaming in Denver. We are not looking forward to having to explain to various E-mails and callers that "no, we're not those other guys" or "thank you for your concern, but my mother is very much alive".

I do not hold any ill will towards the other owner, though I now have NO idea how we're supposed to approach the "same name" subject without appearing to be complete asstards. This is a terrible situation, and I'm ADDITIONALLY upset that this store, from a journalistic point of view, was somehow merited with greater news value.

To be perfectly honest, THAT is insulting, and I could not be more upset at Brian Crecente, especially considering that I have met and spoken with him personally, both about gaming and our store.

All we know to do right now is handle the situation as graciously as possible until we get a chance to talk to the other owner personally, and hopefully work something out that everybody is okay with all involved.

But, all in all, we worked hard to get as far as we've come in this short period of time. We never asked for a story nor did we think anybody had any reason to write one. It's hard not to find it entirely unjust, however, that THEY were handed a story when WE were not.


Elijah (the other store owner) is HELLA' reasonable and understanding. They'd apparently heard about our store only a few days after they opened and were already considering a name change. He's just as considerate and concerned with local business and the gaming community as we are and care to be, and we'll be having a sitdown with him later this evening.

This will likely work out just fine. With any luck, we've made another new friend.   read

3:27 PM on 06.14.2009

Why Do We Care? - Introduction

I've given the whole "write something interesting and relevant in an articulate and incisive manner" thing a shot on several occasions. All of my writings on Destructoid have yet to really strike me as anything more than mediocre and tepid at best, and I've very much wanted to change that unfortunate truth. At first, I had little idea how to go about the prospect, as I've spent the entirety of my life writing things personal in nature, never specifically intended to illustrate a perspective and share it with (or perhaps even change the mind of) my readers.

So I decided to try and locate my "strike zone". Metaphorical training wheels that would take me from the writer and mind that I am now to the writer/mind I'd like to be someday. Perhaps a theme, or a series of articles? But how to avoid cliche, and how to avoid writing on topics already over-saturated by commentary? How to institute any kind of consistent device or approach without falling prey to "gimmick"?

Well, it really all comes down to that I'm terribly insecure, vain, and think way too got-damned much and should instead just write about whatever the hell it occurs to me to write about. Sure enough, once I decided to do that, a few ideas popped into my head; ideas that serendipitously shared a common element:

Incongruous social/cultural response. That is to say.. why do we care?

From how the Super Mario Bros. stage music somehow became one of the most beloved pieces of video-game music (instead of simply iconic and recognizable) to the overwhelming scope and inanity of the majority console-war arguments. From "genre-campers" to entitlement issues.

No, this will not be hard-hitting journalism. Of course it won't. For the record, I'm just some guy that works in a store that lives in a town. A guy with delusions of intellect and relevance that has some things to say about some other things and wants to see where that goes. "Why Do We Care?" will be about re-investigating some of the perspectives from which many of our modern standards are based. It will hopefully inspire some folks to ask and re-evaluate how they truly arrive at their opinions.

That being said, my first topic will be about this whole Left 4 Dead (2) debacle. Judging from the sea of malcontents that decry any attempts at reason, I most certainly doubt I'll be changing any minds. Honestly, it just seems an appropriate, immediate starting point, and I find myself incapable of wanting to keep my mouth shut on this particular subject.

See you soon.   read

3:05 PM on 04.23.2009

Those About To Die: In the Year 200X

I was given a Nintendo Entertainment System on the evening of my fourth birthday. Though Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and Tetris were the first games that I ever owned for the system, Mega Man 3 was the first title that I specifically picked out for myself. I knew nothing at all about the franchise, save for the busy box art depicting a little blue, armored man shooting an electrified robot. Later, I would question the artistic interpretations of those original sprites I'd come to know as Mega Man and Spark Man, as well as why they were fighting over a fourteen-inch wide ravine, on top of what appeared to be scaffolding.

These are the mysteries.

Over the years, a lot of laughs have been had at the ridiculous nature of some of the less-imaginatively named Robot Masters. Seeing as I have no emotional attachment to any games outside of the original NES six (or Megaman X-X3 on the Super Nintendo), we'll just skip the ludicrousness of "Cloud Man" and Count Chocula lookalike "Shade Man".

Having been forced to depart from the "practical" nature of the original six Robot Masters (who were created by Dr. Light in service of mankind) for subsequent "Dr. Wily" releases, the members of the Capcom team did as best they could to continue a naming convention that at least SUGGESTED some utility, as opposed to being nothing more than walking deathbots. But, let's be fair, when you're introducing eight more robots to each new iteration, you're going to run out of good ideas pretty damn quick. And despite the implied toothlessness of an adversary who's been dubbed "Plant Man", his stage did contribute some of the most enjoyable gameplay and music in Mega Man 6.

Not to mention those aggravating-as-hell grasshoppers.

Originality and ingenuity of enemy robots (or their assigned monikers) aside, there can be no conversation about my current gaming strengths without eventually discussing those original NES Mega Man titles. I am, quite simply, not the most hand-eye coordinated individual in the world, and instead need to rely on observation and tactics if I'm going to stay alive in a virtual realm. What better tutor than a series of games that implies, if not demands, that you quickly learn the patterns of every enemy you encounter; most especially - the Robot Masters.

Sure, the classic "rock, paper, scissors" mechanic that beats within the chest of the series makes for a far easier boss battle, but you'd first have to fight your fair share of Robot Masters to ascertain precisely WHICH weapons work against WHICH bosses. And no matter how perfect your knowledge, you will always have to fight at least ONE boss with nothing more than your buster weapon, which means that you WILL be forced to determine where lie its weaknesses.

It is for this reason that I have always held dear the impressive league of Robot Masters. Observation, precise timing, and counter-tactics are the lessons that I was taught, and they remain with me to this day. They provided me the invaluable ability to recognize pattern in my adversaries and adapt, that I might learn to defeat them as efficiently as possible.

Robot Masters, I salute you.. and take your weapon.   read

1:03 AM on 03.05.2009

Sans Genre and Quantitative Notation: Riddick Demo

Ahoy hoy Dtoiders. Tonight's post is an exercise in an approach I've always cared to see in reviews for any medium, be they film, television, literary, musical, artistic, or video game. Whether or not I should muster the dedication to do this sort of thing (i.e. critical commentary) on any sort of regular basis remains to be seen, but I'm here for the remainder of this essay at the very least.

Many reviewers, pundits, and even regular readers often comment as to how video games should be reviewed. Gameplay versus graphics versus relevance versus adaptation versus controls versus yada yada yada what have you. Personally, I've always found that quantitative notation - that is to say, rating things on a scale from 1 to 10 - is a disservice to products both commercial and artistic. Mind you, this blog is not an argument on the nature of game review, but the title in particular that I care to talk about serves as an excellent example to highlight several of the points one might make in that argument.

[/convoluted disclaimer]

The Chronicles of Riddick has been stretching its muscles as a franchise for several years now, and Assault on Dark Athena marks the second foray of the mythos into the video game market. Like its predecessor, Escape from Butcher Bay, the game will heavily incorporate mechanics from the first-person shooter and stealth genres, while also dabbling lightly with puzzle elements. Not to mention the fact that it's a franchise tie-in; a quality that most gamers are eager to admit is predisposed to being composed almost entirely of suck.

I admit that I've been eagerly anticipating the release of Dark Athena. I found Butcher Bay to be a surprisingly entertaining and engaging title, despite the fact that I could critically identify a lot of its independent qualities as mediocre at best. After downloading and playing the just-released demo for Dark Athena on Xbox 360, I've little different to say about this next installment.

Therein lies my dilemma.

From a strictly first-person shooter point of view, I could say that the fighting mechanics are shallow and Riddick's bulky frame difficult to maneuver in combat with multiple opponents. Then again, Riddick is something of a stealthy fellow (despite his might), and the controls don't exactly respond as though you're supposed to be getting into five man brawls, thus leading me to the stealth side of things..

Slinking in the shadows with your eyes set to shine while playing as one of sci-fi subculture's most badass of badasses is easily among the better video game experiences out there. It seems as though every single room you encounter is kind enough to spare at least one small patch of shade for you to bide your time, should you so choose. The AI seems somewhat improved from Butcher Bay, as the wiseguys on Athena tend to know better than to tarry too long near dark corners; as though the creators expect you to have to go all Rambo from time to time, or risk a stealth run in full fluorescent glory. If, however, this is the case, then the combat controls could have easily been more powerful.

Now, as a franchise tie-in, I have little ill to say about this title, or this series in general. I know next to nothing about the origins of Pitch Black, but I am aware that all subsequent releases have been labours of love. Vin Diesel is something of a huge dork, and The Chronicles of Riddick (film) had many elements ripped straight from D&D. He loves fantasy, he loves video games, and one of the many reasons that Butcher Bay and Dark Athena are something more than the average movie video game is the simple fact that, though the publisher may have greenlit them based on name brand recognition and sales projections, the developers (and all else involved) WANTED to make these games.

Dark Athena has been written and developed independent any movie release and bears no resemblance to the stories of any previous titles, save, of course, for the classic Riddick formula (i.e. stick to the shadows, slit throats, survive and be free). Chronologically, it falls after the events of Butcher Bay and prior to the film Pitch Black.

There's really nothing terribly noteworthy to say about the demo. As mentioned above, it could be described as mediocre in almost every way. And, truth be told, the playable portion was rather meager. Yet the whole of the product screams at me to play it. Perhaps it's the chance to portray Riddick. Perhaps it's the novelty of taking command of near-limitless armed drones and turning your aggressor's forces against them. Perhaps it's the well-executed, intuitive lighting and colour schemes. Perhaps it's the supplemental chapter of a story of which I've yet to tire. There's also something to be said for some of the more graphic kill animations.

I honestly haven't a clue why these games equal more than the sum of their parts but, as far as I'm concerned, they do. If you've played Butcher Bay, then I say to you that you can expect more of the same with a new coat of paint and some more story to boot. If this is your first dance with Riddick, then I recommend that you not compare it, and instead judge it on its own merit, as a self-contained and cohesive product.

Download the demo. Try it out.

Cheers.   read

4:21 PM on 01.02.2009

Playing With Others: Asymmetrical Multiplayer

Ladies and gentleman, asymmetrical multiplayer is my bread and butter.

Having long ago come to terms with the fact that I'm pretty suck when it comes to actual coordination, accuracy, and general skills, I've had to exercise other portions of my brain in order to hold my own in competitive (or even cooperative) multiplayer games. This compensation has led to a kind of prodigal prowess in the realm of tactics. Save for some of the more complicated real-time strategy games, my ability to anticipate the thought process of my opponent and outhink them has, usually, more than made up for the fact that their reflexes and abilities are infinitely superior to mine own.

Asymmetrical multiplayer plays to this particular strength.

Alien versus Predator, the relatively simple Double Agent multiplayer, and - of course - Left 4 Dead.

When everybody possesses precisely the same set of weapons and skills, things can get kind of stale. There are only so many better strategies before you eventually hit a ceiling; innovation being one of the more precious commodities in symmetrical multiplayer.

But in asymmetrical multiplayer, you have to do that one thing that doesn't come very naturally to most people: you have to empathize with your opponent in order to mount a particularly effective offense or defense. It's one thing when you're both formed from the same template, as you need only to think of what YOU would do in your enemy's position. But when you have vastly divergent and dissimilar skill sets, you need to hold in your head not only your own abilities and how you might execute them to overcome your foe, but ALSO precisely what your opponent is capable of doing (i.e. their means of attack), as well as what opportunities they're most likely to utilize to take you down.

There's already word of the new addition to the Chronicles of Riddick franchise (something I'm looking forward to, I might add) and one of the multiplayer modes it's purported to offer. This mode being "Pitch Black", a "Riddick versus every got-damned mercenary in the frakking 'verse" mode of play that I could not anticipate more. One player will have control of Riddick in scarcely lit corridors, backways, ventillation systems, and whatever else the developers might conjure up for their spaceship settings, in full command of his impressive ass-kicking abilities, whilst all other players control mercenaries with regular sets of oculars, guns, and a flashlight, hoping to take down the most elusive and violent badass within the mythios.

I tell you what, that's the kind of thing that sets my toes a-tappin'.   read

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