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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent 2010: My 2010 Game Of The Year

So, time for that thing you've all been waiting for, MY 2010 GAME OF THE YEAR!!!

Now, who will it be?

Your initial guess would probably be Rock Band 3: with all the new ways to play, and an improved sorting feature, I'd be all over it. Well, I only got to play it for an hour (Christmas Present, you see), but I liked what I saw. Besides, I got an hour out of it, and I'm sure I'd feel better about it once I got more game time in.

Now, next guess would probably be Green Day: Rock Band, since I've given them more BJs than Billie Joe's initials. But the fan in me did have a couple nitpicks, mainly that you can't have a Green Day live show and NOT have "Hey-o!" and "King For A Day". Good game, though, and cost efficient if you want a shit ton of Green Day in your library.

I also put in some time with Final Fantasy XIII, and while I can't say it's the game I hated the most this year, it's the game that hated me the most. Combat system was really good, but the rest of the game realized I'm not a virgin and shoved so much bullshit at me I got bored of it.

Fallout: New Vegas would have been up there, by the simple virtue of me getting to roleplay Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but well...

That and I didn't play it.

The Scott Pilgrim game was an ace bit of retro, and get the silver medal, but none compare to

MY 2010...

GAME....

OF...

THE...

YEAR....

....

Deadly Premonition

What is Deadly Premoniton? You're Francis York Morgan (But call him York, that's everyone always does.), an FBI Special Agent who's been sent to a small Northwestern town, Greenvale, to investigate the murder of a pretty, white, blond girl, while the town is being terrorized by The Raincoat Killer.

Which is different than Twin Peaks, where Dale Cooper, and FBI Special Agent gets sent to a Northwestern small town to investigate the murder of a pretty, white, blond girl, while the town is being terrorized by the world's luckiest stagehand.

Regardless, never have I seen so much thought and effort put into a game. All throughout I went "Oh!" "Ew" and "Wait, what?!?"

Now, to be perfectly honest, there is A LOT of shit you have to put up with in this game. The most obvious thing, is the dated graphics. While the animations and models are really primitive, but there's windshield wipers, turn signals, and realistic physics on the car, and the town of Greenvale is huge. Given the limited budget, the developers at least had their priorities in order. While it can't look real, it can feel real.

While it may be what turns most people off, it certainly isn't what draws my ire. The game opens up with a little bit of Resident Evil 4 style combat, if RE4 was clunky. It's cool at first, since you spend the first hour of the game shooting juggalos. The weapons suck, but it's the beginning of the game, and I'm willing to forgive a slow start. However, these sections are repeated far too often, especially in the latter half of the game, and pale in comparison to the real meat and potatoes of the game:

The town of Greenvale is a place filled with interesting people, York especially. The fun of this game comes from talking to all the people around town, and getting to know them. You can actually follow these people around, and they have set schedules, making it feel more like a real place. You even have to do real things, like shave and change your suit. There's little cool things you can discover throughout the town that draw you in ever more, like fishing and the darts bar.

Most importantly, it's one of the few games I've seen where the adults actually act like adults. Adults with a lot of hangups, but adults nonetheless. They have anxieties, and wants, and feel like real people, or at least the closest in a while. York's quirkyness doesn't become his main trait. While he does strut around and fire off rounds without breaking a sweat, well, there's a reason for that. Regardless, he's authoritative without being overly macho. He and the lead female don't hate each other one minute, then jump each other's bones the next scene/when it becomes convenient. All this makes it the more interesting, because I want to know more.

It's a shame, because being York in Greenvale is a lot more interesting than Silent Hill with Juggalos. If you didn't get it yet, all I can say is that the first time I met up with the Raincoat Killer after the opening scene, I was legit scared. Only problem is WHY CAN'T I SHOOT HIM?

There are more thoughts I want to share, but really, all I can say is that Deadly Premonition is a game that needs to be experienced.

At $20, you can't go wrong.

ALL RIGHT, I BE GETTING SPOILERY UP IN HERE!!!
BEAT THE GAME? READ MORE THOUGHTS!!!
REST OF YOU, SCROLL DOWN!!!

I was talking about the Lumbermill part, BTW. The Raincoat Killer starts hacking away at the door of a room you're in, and you have to hide somewhere in the room. It's a pretty chilling effect having both yours and RK's view shown in split screen. Then, once you successfully hide, you get out of the room, and he pops up again, prompting a quick time event.

SHIT! I think, as I start wiggling the analog stick. So, once I get some good distance on him, I think I'm safe, and it'll be an endurance contest. Then York runs in front of the box, even though there was a clear spot ON THE OTHER FUCKING SIDE OF THE HALLWAY.

Out of nowhere, the prompt for box pushing comes up, and hit A, while the RK's window showing my slow ass about to get chopped. The rest of the time he's booking, but I guess he understands the whole box thing is bullshit too. I just barely get the box out of the way in time, and keep running down the hall, steam valves going off behind me. I'm getting a little tired, and just as he catches up, I burst through the door to safety.

THAT was one of the most exciting moments in gaming for me.

OK, so I first go into the Sherrif's Office, and have to look for the keys to some files. So while I'm looking through the office, I come upon a dumbbell in the kitchen room, with the word "Arnold" on it.

"Cool," I thought. "He must be another officer, who's into working out."

So then I run into George, the Sheriff. He tells me that he's looking for Arnold to finish his routine, and that his partner Sylvester was looking for him. "All right," I figure. "So they're both officers. K"

I go looking for the keys some more, and wind up in George's office. I talk to him, and the option comes to give him an object. I gave him the dumbbell, figuring he'd tell me where Arnold was. Turns out, that's what he was looking for. He named his dumbbells Arnold and Sylvester. I went "Oh!". And then he gave me a trading card with them on it.

BUT this little moment made sense in the grander scheme of things as I played through the story. When George mentions his past, he mentions "the strong overpower the weak" and I had another "Oh!" moment. Thus, it came as no surprise when he explained his motivations for going through with the whole Raincoat Killer thing in the first case.

While at times Twin Peaks felt like it was making up stuff as it went along, Deadly Premonition feels like it has more thought behind it. There's lots of stuff that points to the fact George did it, and if you watch a lot of mysteries and stuff, it becomes pretty obvious. "I just happened to be here!"

Speaking of George, when you check Thomas's back for the inverted peace sign, there's a tattoo, Love G. At first I thought it was George himself, meaning that Thomas was gay. Even that was better than most games, where, sure he's feminine, cooking and running like he does, but it was pretty sedate. Maybe he's just a girly-man and "LoveG" was a red herring.

Then he threatens to kill Emily in a red dress, claiming George for his own, and his sister Carol confirms that they were substitutes in the freaky sex dungeon underneath the Galaxy of Terror.

The whole York/Zach dynamic I wasn't as in to, as I just thought the Red/White room stuff was where it copied Twin Peaks. Planet Redwood has that bit of mythology explained, though. I thought Zach was supposed to be a metaphor for the player, but actually playing as him got kinda weird. Still, he's above and beyond the rest when it comes to protagonists.

Take the ending, abridged:
George: A GOD AM I!
York: No, George, you're a first degree murderer.
George: FUCK YOU, I'M A DRAGON!
York: I'm still going to have to bring you in. (shoots axe into his chest. Win.)

OK SPOILER STUFF OVER NOW

Again, despite its flaws, I'd recommend giving it at least a look.

P.S. It does have Green Day! Sorta.



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