Tag Archives: death

Thanks for listening, chiiiiildren!

My third playthrough of Fallout 3 is progressing nicely if a bit slowly. Just hit Level 11 last night thanks to the Here and Now perk, which is basically a hunk of free XP to boost your character up a whole level. Keeping myself neutral-aligned in terms of karma hasn’t been too hard yet as I’ve stuck with the main storyline missions. I’ve only had to balance myself out twice now, once by stealing some items after a small boost of good karma.

The second time I murdered Three Dog with a sledgehammer as he sat snacking on some YumYum Deviled Eggs.

Why? Well, I totally forgot that doing his quest to restore radio power in the D.C. region gains you good karma. Grrr. I wasn’t doing it to be a goody-goody though; I was doing it to find out information about my runaway father, and it was the only way to dig deeper into Three Dog. He forced this good karma into my soul, and that’s just not cool. So when I returned, I was a bit annoyed. And so I sat through his blathering, found out my dad went to Rivet City next, and then it was a-swinging time. I am really enjoying these melee weapons a lot more now that my sneak skill is strong enough to get me close to my victims and give ’em a critical whack from behind. Yup, that sounds totally dirty and badass, and that’s the way Jacob likes it.

On my previous playthroughs, I left Three Dog as is. Yes, interestingly, even during my evil run, I let him do his thing. I guess I did plenty enough evil stuff then that the good karma boost barely made a dent on Samantha. It’ll be odd as I continue exploring the Capital Wasteland without hearing his social commentary on everything happening here and there, as well as my personal decisions on key quests. Now there’s no reason to buy a radio for my Megaton pad…

An empty room, ready for doom and gloom

Sorry, dear readers of Grinding Down, but today’s gonna be extra light on content. I had a pretty horrific evening last night, and I’m still recovering from that…plus I think I got about three hours of sleep total. Coffee is keeping me going, as are phone calls and the thought of something cool to drink after work, but ultimately, I’m a headmess.

Also, throw in the fact that I beat Limbo last night, and, well, the depression deepens. I wasn’t ready for it to end; it ended nonetheless. There’s a staggering connection between the boy’s trip through the unknown and my life as it is, and one day I’d like to talk about what I see here, but I just can’t yet. It’s too…tangible. The game’s ending left me feeling cold and unloved, as well as strangely satisfied. It’s definitely a doozy, one worthy of exploration.

But yeah. This is it for today. I gotta give my brainwires a rest.

The afterlife better not be like this

I’m stuck in Limbo.

That’s both a funny, commonplace phrase for us Catholics, as well as my current state of progress within the XBLA downloadable platformer of the same name. I won a free copy of it yesterday and was very excited to sit down and play before going to bed. However, maybe playing this kind of game before bed isn’t the best idea; it’s depressing and dark, hollow and haunting, a sick trip into the unsafe bowels of somewhere, and the only way to get that creepy spider out of my brain was to wash this experience down with some light-hearted UNO afterwards.

I won two games, and lost the third to some twittery brat…if you were curious.

Right. So, Limbo. It’s beyond creepy, and it sucks you right in, and before you know it, you’re walking through a soundless world, unsure of what’s next, falling into bear traps and pitfalls and the clutches of one particularly evil spider. It looks fantastic and mesmerizing; however, all previous complaints about the lack of storytelling ring true. I ended up staring at the opening screen for a good five minutes before I realized, oh, hey, I’m in control of the character now. But why am I in control of the silhouette boy with white eyes? ::shrugs:: A glimpse at the description box from the download menu clues me in that I’m searching for my lost sister, but the game itself tells us nothing.

I have to believe though that the game’s developers are fans of I Wanna be the Guy, a game that is as masochistic as it gets. In IWBTG, players meet untimely–and timely–deaths just by doing as they’ve been trained to do for years. They will jump from platform to platform only to get destroyed by a falling block of spikes that falls the moment you land on the platform. The game is designed to mess with our heads, as well as undo everything we’ve ever learned about the platformer genre. Limbo is cut from the same cloth, and you’ll have to die to figure out how to survive the harsh underworld and all its peril. Which breaks my heart because there’s an Achievement tied to beating the game in one sitting with five or less deaths; I stopped counting around death #20, and so I must just give up all hope on ever getting that one. I hate death-themed Achievements, remember? Other Achievements seem to rely on the main character finding eggs and then breaking them. Here’s the two I got so far:


Wrong Way (5G): That’s not right


Altitude is attitude (5G): Exploration off the ground

No real explanation for this egg thingy, but if I was to speculate, it’d have something to do with a giant chicken kidnapping his sister and this is his bit-by-bit revenge plan. Again, you kind of have no story here so it’s free game to make it all up yourself.

I probably played for a little over an hour last night, and ended up getting stuck at one part. There’s a worm that drops onto your head and messes up how you steer the boy, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get rid of it; the mind-controlling parasite keeps walking me straight into a death-pit. Will have to give it some time, as I’m sure the answer is right there before me. Trial and error is your best guide.

Either way, it’s hard not to love Limbo for its art style alone. The stark blacks and whites–and soft, misty grays in the background–really bring about an atmosphere unlike any other game. Sure, it’s depressing as all gets, and the lack of music might drive some gamers nuts, but I found myself really immersed. Especially when some items in the foreground block your vision of the boy; I will actually lean forward in my chair, trying to get a better view, as if that’s even possible.

Alas, I won’t be able to play again until the end of the weekend.

Grand Theft Auto IV multiplayer, home of hostility

Last night, I took advantage of the free Gold access weekend for Xbox LIVE and played a single deathmatch round of Grand Theft Auto IV. It was a pretty terrible experience. Let me break it down for you.

First, I had to use the Internet to figure out how to start a multiplayer game. Evidently it’s via Niko’s cell phone. Makes sense now, but at the time I was just kind of boggled and running around his stupid apartment, dry-humping the fridge in hopes that it would take me where I needed to go. Kind of wish GTA IV had, um, a main menu screen or something.

Second, I decided to see what it was like to use the headset and chat with fellow gamers. Er, big mistake. While waiting for a game to load and get enough players, I listened to what might have been a beached whale moaning out in displeasure. Then someone kept calling someone else a Nazi. Lastly, this little kid just kept screaming, “COME ON! START! STAAAAAAAAAAAART! STARRRRRRRTF*CKERS I WANNA GO!”

Yeah, I remained silent the whole.

Third, the deathmatch itself. I had no idea what to expect…only to shoot other players as much as possible, die, respawn, and try again. And that’s mostly what I did. For 10 straight minutes. Sometimes I’d just die, respawn, die, respawn, die. Every now and then I’d get lucky and take someone out. I guess the goal was to kill as many enemy players and collect as much cash as possible. I didn’t win after 10 minutes, but I unlocked two Achievements and immediately turned the game off.

It was a very…empty experience. The level we were on was an airport (which I don’t think I’ve come across yet in the single-player mode), and you could run behind planes or hide behind boxes or desperately try and survive out on the open-as-all-gets runway. Listening to other players as they made unhuman noises and called them nasty words only made the deathmatch more not-fun. There seemed to be little skill involved the whole time; a lot factored on where and when you respawned, which ultimately would determine if you did or did not get the jump on other players. So you run around, you shoot things, you listen to people moan, and you do it all over again. Um…meh.

Don’t think I’ll try any of the team or racing multiplayer games after this, too. But I guess I’m in the rare here because there were a lot of gamers on last night, all ready to pew pew pew me in the head. To each their own, I suppose.

Rescue the Princess from the demons and die a lot

There’s a new review up over at The First Hour for Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, a game that still causes me to wake up in the dead of morning, sweating, certainly unsure of my safety, curious as to where my suit of armor went to. Anyways, newly minted First Hour writer Ian M. Bagley stabs and dagger-throws his way through as much as he can in sixty minutes, and it’s really no surprise that he was unable to beat the first level in said time.

I’ve only ever played the first level of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Supposedly there’s eight levels total, but if you ask me, there’s one level to this game, and it is the first level you play. Even if you master this level, you will never really play another one. You might glimpse the next one, sure, maybe even make it a few feet inwards…but you will know only the haunted grasslands, the ever-so-cruel tidal waves, the never-ending march of zombies.

And Sir Arthur in his underwear. Be prepared to seem him in the near-nude as much as possible.

So, if the difficulty is so off-putting and frustrating, why would anyone play this? Well, to start, I’d like to believe that all videogamers inherently love a challenge. We don’t just want to tap A and win the prize. Now whether this challenge can be conquered or not in a feasible, expected manner is another thing, but if there’s a wall then there’s got to be a way over it as well. Surely. Practice makes perfect, blah blah blah, you know the drill. I also suspect its cult status has helped spike people’s interest in running, jumping, shooting, and dying. Also, there’s a wizard that will turn you into a seal just for giggles.

Either way, I’m never going back to it. Too many near-tears.

Alabama college shooting suspect also roleplayed

Last week, Amy Bishop Anderson, a University of Alabama biology professor, killed three faculty members. According to BostonHerald.com, she also enjoyed playing Dungeons & Dragons, that popular dice-and-paper game sponsored by Satan himself.

Y’know, it always depresses and bothers me to see games (both video and boardgames) as a blaming post for these sorts of acts; I mean, I bet this woman also liked eating a certain type of pizza and had a favorite movie she could watch over and over, but these have yet to be highlighted as driving forces for her horrific crimes. Because if they were, well, I’d like to think most people would go, “Um, that’s stupid.”

But Dungeons and Dragons has a lot of stereotypes. Basement dwellers, Cheeto-tinted fingers, bad skin, horrible social skills, the creation of new smells, intense fights over dragon loot, loneliness, and so on. Some might apply, a lot might not. I’ve met people throughout life that I would’ve never guessed played D&D, and to some extent think that some people have trouble believing that I play it, too.

I could really say a lot about murder and linking games to it because the topic, sadly, comes up all the time. The debates will never end, and there will always be those that strongly believe that Grand Theft Auto IV taught them how to hotwire the neighbor’s car and then run over a prositute. Not mental unstability, no. Yet I only have one point: it’s not about the game, it’s about the person.

Press start to continue

Well, no…not really. But it sure feels like I’ve run out of extra lives after a busy, busy weekend. There was movie-watching, marriage courses, and heavy lifting. Not a lot of videogaming in the end, but hopefully I can make up for that over the week.

You want something to look forward to? How about a review of THE WORST VIDEOGAME EVER MADE BY MAN?

Stay glued for that one.

Death to death achievements!

In videogame terms, I die a lot. It’s one of the best ways to learn how to play, dying. Unsure if you can make that jump across the gap? Try. Think your rocket launcher will blast a hole beneath your feet to fall through? Try. Curious as to how long Banjo can hold his breath underwater? Try. What’s the worst that could happen? Oh…you died. Hmm. Let’s put quotes around it actually.

Oh…you “died.”

Well, try again.

Back in the day, you could die as many times as you had lives or hearts or hit points or whatever. You had something, and if you ran out of it, you ceased to exist. Also, falling off a cliff generally never worked out well.

Recently, dying in videogames is becoming a thing of the past. Suffer too much damage in Fable II, and you fall unconscious for a bit, only to wake with some scarring and experience drain. Charge head first and unprepared into a Big Daddy battle in BioShock and you’re revived in a nearby Vita-Chamber unscathed. Miss a Prince of Persia jump because you are too busy oogling all the pretty colors? Don’t worry. Elika will save you. And in the LEGO games I’ve been enjoying recently, you just explode into bits and reappear in a second or two, ready to punch, shoot, and collect all over again. No big deal.

Now, the debate currently is not towards dying in videogames/not dying in videogames. Instead, it’s about achievements linked to these. They are never fun, and they are rarely for those that die a lot (e.g., me). Instead, the challenge is always to not die…or die a small amount.

Sifting through my Xbox 360 collection, I found a couple death-themed achievements, and sadly, I’ll most likely never unlock them. First, they are full of The Stress. Second, they are a lot of work. Third, I’m really not a cheater, and so the whole save/restart a level if it doesn’t work out seems a bit silly to me. Doing it that way is not really achieving anything in the end. Anyways, here’s some I found:

Kung Fu Panda: Invincible (50 Gamerscore) – Make it through the entire game without dying.

BioShock: Brass Balls (100 Gamerscore) – Complete the game on Hard difficulty without using a Vita-Chamber.

Prince of Persia: Be Gentle With Her (100 Gamerscore) – Elika saves you fewer than 100 times in the whole game.

Yeah, right.