Wednesday, September 22, 2010

VGR: Killing Time

In terms of my relationship with videogames, I took a big step toward maturity when I finally abandoned W.o.W. I don't regret the time I spent or the people I met along the way; though the game had improved (and still is) in the 5 years since launch, the time I invested became largely joyless due to the realization that I had more important (conjugal) stuff to do on a Wednesday night. Much like growing up in S.A. and moving on to Austin because it was more culturally in line with where I was in my life, so too did I need to move on from W.o.W. and enjoy my vibrant youth while it lasts. If W.O.W. is still alive and kicking when I am 40, it'll probably be a godsend.

In the wake of one time sink, enter 20 more it seems. A year ago, all that I had to my name in terms of an entertainment system was my PC. Thanks to birthday, X-mas, and a wedding, I now have a PS3, Wii, and 40'' plasma streaming Dexter marathons slapping me in the face for attention. Shit, those HD commercials calling out for donations to 3rd world countries are now not only captured in breathtaking clarity, but also drive home the need to enjoy the treats those Starving Marvins don't have. The big problem - how the hell do I choose?

Vying for my attention:
It's funny, because most of these are not "new" nor can "end." In a sense, I get something different out of each of these games. TF2 is running on 4 years now, and perhaps has supplanted C-Strike as my favorite 1st person shooter of all time; it's a purely multiplayer endeavor, but I have become so good at playing it, and so many people know me around ranked servers, that I feel the need to make appearances. So yes I am Internet-vain.

The only game without an online component that I am invested in is actually Final Fantasy 13, and the choice to play that is usually made begrudgingly due to that tiny OCD-completionist tick. I have had the game since April, but then took a 4 month hiatus out of pure apathy to the grind it had become. The more time I invest in the "crystarium" advancement system of this latest FF entry, the more it becomes harder to force myself to fight some creature 20 times bigger than me for 10 minutes just to be cost-effective in my crystarium points-per-minute. Let me just say, usually the story is enough to push me through the entire experience in a couple of weeks, but the plot is so needlessly bogged down by futuristic jargon and unlikeable winy characters that I have to assume the Squaresoft and it's Japanese team created the game to fuck with the American translators. Try to translate this, assholes:

The setting of Final Fantasy XIII is primarily focused on the world of Cocoon, a sphere that floats above the surface of Pulse, the world below. Both worlds are controlled by fal'Cie (pronounced /fælˈsiː/), mechanical beings with godlike power, each based around a crystal and created by a god-like figure called the Maker.[12][20] If the l'Cie complete their task in time, they are transformed to crystal and gain eternal life (as said in the legend); otherwise they become mindless monsters called Cie'th.[21] The Cocoon fal'Cie are additionally responsible for keeping Cocoon floating, as well as providing light and water. Each fal'Cie handles a specific task. The fal'Cie have the capability of marking the humans, also created by the Maker, that live in Pulse and Cocoon as their servants. These servants, called l'Cie, are branded with a symbol representing either Pulse or Cocoon, and are additionally given a "Focus", a task to complete.
The l'Cie are not explicitly told their focus, but are instead given visions that they must interpret. If l'Cie falter in their quest, they may be set upon by an Eidolon, large mechanical monsters. If the l'Cie defeat these creatures in battle, the Eidolon then fights for them. The transformation to crystal upon completion of their focus is not always permanent; l'Cie crystals can be turned back into humans by fal'Cie and given another focus. Similarly, Cie'th can eventually stop being monsters, and are transformed into a different kind of crystal, from which other l'Cie can learn their focus and complete it in their stead.
The worlds of Pulse and Cocoon are at war with each other, though in the opening of the game there has been no sign of anyone from Pulse in Cocoon for centuries, since the last time Pulse invaded. In the aftermath of that invasion, which ripped a large hole in Cocoon, the Cocoon fal'Cie lifted parts of Pulse into the sky to repair the damage. The people of Cocoon live in fear of another invasion, and violently reject anything having to do with Pulse. Cocoon is ruled by the Sanctum, a theocratic government led by Galenth Dysley, which encourages this hatred of Pulse. The fal'Cie do not rule the humans directly, instead making their wishes known to the Sanctum. The Sanctum oversees two military branches, the Guardian Corps and PSICOM, the special forces in charge of dealing with anything having to do with Pulse. The fal'Cie have given the humans advanced technology, including flying airships and mechanical creatures, though a form of magic also exists. This magic is normally only accessible to l'Cie, fal'Cie, and various monsters in Cocoon and Pulse, though distilled chemical forms can be used by normal humans.
F-that noise.

Though I enjoyed the single player and the vs. friends aspects of both Super Street Fighter 4 and StarCraft 2, only a masochist would seriously consider jumping into the snake-pits that are each games relative ranking systems. I am pretty confident that I could achieve a modicom dignity with practice, but as of now, it's hard to muster up enough energy to fly solo when your taking a prison-pounding in 9/10 matches. It is exceedingly fun to play with my brothers, but when Cameron showed me this gem about StarCraft and APM (actions per-minute), I pretty much gave up on any hope of solo greatness:

Sorry, I can't and won't hand-fuck my keyboard.

So I'll parse it out and limit myself to what I enjoy. The good thing is, I pretty much never have to spend money now because these games have such a healthy online following. There will always be "must-haves," but I am enjoying this golden-age of online synergy between consoles and PC's alike.

Oh snap, I forgot to feed my tomogotchi. I mean dog.

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