A Thumb To The Eye Number 24

Is it possible that the entire world exists to make me HATE being a gamer? Would I enjoy gaming more if I lived in a giant plastic bubble and my only contact with the outside world came through a mail slot? Seriously, the rest of gamer kind gets me down a little, but the companies themselves do it even worse. They make asinine decisions and expect me to buy the result. Ugh. Here are my whipping boys for ranting, this week.

NFL Street
NFL Street: $49.99
NERF Football: $7.99
Price Differential: $42.00

Hmmm. Let me think about this for a second. On one hand, I played a whole Hell of a lot of Tecmo Bowl when I was a wee lad. On the other, I can’t fathom why you would buy a STREET football game when you could, perhaps, PLAY SOME GODDAMN FOOTBALL! Seriously, a NERF football and one other person are all you need. I’ve played football with a guy in a wheelchair before, for God’s sake. Can’t you find ANYONE to play toss around with? Is it so necessary to simulate every possible experience on Earth that a game to simulate something that can be done better and cheaper in real life HAS to exist? It’s one thing to make a game where I shoot zombies, drive a sweet ass race car, or even win the Super Bowl, but I am deeply offended that EA has to co opt everything to the point that you can bet a MLB Toss game is in the works. I would rather bounce a ball off of a wall more than play a street football game in which I am doing something I could do in the street outside of my home.

Yes, I know that I can’t do all of the special moves and assorted fireworks and crap in the real world, but are they even that cool? I have fond memories of cool little things that happened in games of backyard football when I was like 12 and there weren’t any fireworks to speak of. Maybe I’m getting old and crotchety, but doesn’t it strike anyone else as pretty pathetic that things any average person can conceivably do in the real world are being considered fair game for game subject matter. Was I the only one who was only killing ninjas and dragons in video games? Was everyone else doing it in the real world and I was missing out? Go outside people. The Internet, your PS2, and the TV can wait. I promise.

On a related note, I was all set to do a huge, Lucardesque Tactics game blowout, when the absurdity of how much time it would take hit me. (Sidenote: sadly enough, Lucardesque is officially in my spell check as a real word, now. That’s downright Lucardian.) Eight games, 40-80 hours each, that’s at the very least 320 hours of my life with nothing but a memory card file to show for it. Nothing against the Tactics genre, per se, seeing as it is my favorite genre, but damn was that a whole lot of man hours. I realized that I could assemble, convert, and paint a few Warhammer and Warhammer 40K armies in that time, which would leave me with models that I could use for years to come and an actual skill set. So, goodbye Tactics blowout, hello little painted lead soldiers.

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II
Speaking of Alex, and the blaming of him, Balder’s Gate: Dark Alliance II (BGDA2) fell into my life after he gave it the highest of all possible recommendations. For years, I have avoided the dungeon crawl genre, mainly due to painful memories of D&D in high school. That means, to this day, I have never played Diablo or Baldur’s Gate, that is, until last Tuesday and a box containing BGDA2 arriving at my doorstep. After picking the character I could most identify, the Dwarf Rogue Borador “Goldhand,” I set about in my mission to destroy everything that I met. Mission accomplished. A week in, I’m still losing sleep, trying frantically to play a little before bed or waking up early to kick out the skeleton killing before my day starts. The last game to do this to me was a little piece of heaven I call Disgaea. Very nice company to be in.

What makes this particular title stand head and shoulders above all the other games in my stack at the moment is the voracious combat and the incredibly deep character system. My Dwarf, for instance, is a crossbow monster. At long range, he’s a sniper, picking off enemies with shocking precision. Up close, with Hail of Bolts, he has, for all intensive purposes, a street sweeping shotgun of doomity deathity annihilation. Vampiric Crossbow? Sure. Acidic Crossbow? Of course. Holy Flaming Crossbow +3? Yes, yes, yes, this is what I want. By the same token, I could make my dwarf a warhammer wielding, heavy armor clad tank, his off hand carrying either a shield or an Axe or even another magic warhammer. Want a shield and sword carrying Dwarf? Go for it! That is the beauty of this game. My Borador and yours can be so totally different and, yet, still be effective in combat. Very nice.

The bloody maelstrom of combat in this title is almost too intense for someone who, like myself, plays mainly turn-based RPGs. That might also be half the appeal, too. All I can say is, suddenly, I’m wondering if I should pick up Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel or even Champions of Norrath to sate my bloodlust when I’m done with this one. I feel like I’ve discovered a whole new world, and that is the best feeling a game can give.

Well, off to taco making fun time. Enjoy!