Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Who are you and why are you in my TV?

There is very little to say about Twisted Metal. It is the exact same game as Twisted Metal 2 or Twisted Metal Black, just better looking. Some forms of game play age well, some do not. Well done platforming is timeless, as Rayman Origins proved. Overly difficult car combat set to a nihilistic theme? Pass. And I couldn't even sample the multiplayer part because, you guessed it, required online pass. I'm not bitter this time. Keeping me locked out of the actual point of the game saved me time. I was able to put it down a day sooner.

...

Enough time has passed since my play through of Journey to give me a little perspective on it. It was an excellent game, but it was also a tiny window into how I may be broken as a social animal. Journey has the same kind of anonymous online play that Demon's Souls did (or so I am told): other players will wander into your game to offer assistance and/or troll the other player. There really isn't much one player to do to help the other in Journey as there is no interaction beyond chirping sounds. What they can do is accomplish tasks for the other player, ruining the sense of exploration and wonder that a solo adventure better supplies. I didn't pay $15 for a one hour game to watch some nameless douchebag do things before I get a chance to.

The first time this happened as in the second level. I was wandering through the amazing looking sand trying to figure out what to do. Journey has just the right amount of aimlessness; it isn't always clear what to do next, but the answer is always over the next rise or around the corner. I cleared that next dune to see a building in the distance, and there was something walking up to it. As I got closer I realized that it was another player getting the next goal before I did, stealing the discovery and accomplishment from me. It was infuriating, so I quit out to the start menu and looked for an option to keep this from happening again.

No dice.

On my second attempt of this level the same thing happened and I pulled out the network cord in frustration. I was finally alone and free to enjoy an excellent game at my own pace, without the impediment of other people. Journey isn't much of a game, but it as an amazing experience. I do not begrudge That Game Company for charging a premium for it, but it would have been nice to be able to moderate my experience without pulling the plug.

Later I found that this anonymous pseudo-cooperation was the highlight for many people, which I do not understand. It's not a person, it's another character in the game getting in my way. Perhaps my hermit like behavior has extended into the virtual domain, or maybe I have made the final leap from 'kind of a jerk' to 'asshole at large.' It is certainly polarizing: I hate what everyone else loved about Journey, but I still think it was a very, very good game that everyone should play.

Just not with me.

...

And Flower was better.

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