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I just got done playing through Rockstar’s PS2 game “Bully” for the third time. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which being that I have no money to buy any new games, and even if I did, I cannot justify spending $49.99 on some mystical new game that I want when it, in fact, does not exist. There hasn’t been anything out that I’ve wanted to play in a while now, and moreover, I cannot stand the thought that, for a mere $200.00 more, I could buy a Nintendo Wii, which I actually do want. Badly.

Not that I can find one anywhere in this city.

So, for the last several months, I’ve been replaying games that I’ve already beaten. But only the really good ones. I’ve been replaying some of the cream of the crop of PS2’s all time best games; Prince of Persia, Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Indigo Prophecy, the GTAs, Black, Beyond Good & Evil, God of War…

And I have to say, even after replaying all of these great games over the last 7 to 9 months… Rockstar’s “Bully” still holds a place at or near the top of my favorite PS2 games of all time. And that is the main reason I’ve played through it three times.

I’ve always been a sucker for a good story. It comes from my love of movies. I’m willing to overlook some of a game’s technical flaws for a good story. If you can make me actually care about the character or characters that I am controlling on the screen, then I think you have done an admirable job.

Even a game like Disaster Report – which many players have derided for its non-responsive game play, awful graphics, and (sometimes) laughable voice acting – will beg me to finish it, just to figure out the why of what is happening. In other words, to get through the story. Of course, by the end, you get to see what is possibly the cheesiest cut scene in the history of video gaming, which is its own reward. Let me set it up for you:

Your character, the female love interest, and the photojournalist have all outrun a tsunami by climbing to the top of a building where, for some reason, armed thugs are still trying to shoot you with high powered rifles, despite being in mortal danger themselves. Anyway, the building is going to collapse, being pummeled with the entire strength of the Atlantic Ocean, and these armed thugs are getting ready to shoot the female love interest. You try to get to her to save her, but alas, you trip over a pipe and fall down. The armed thug pulls the trigger. The photojournalist, despite being a smoker, is apparently faster than a speeding bullet, and throws himself in front of the female love interest, taking the projectile in the stomach. The photojournalist yells, but the cigarette stays in his mouth. The love interest runs 10 feet her right, stopping behind no cover whatsoever, where she will obviously be safe from the armed thug. Meanwhile, back at the ledge at the top of the building, overlooking the ocean several stories below, the photojournalist gets shot again, and utters the best line ever to be uttered by a person who is about to be killed by an armed thug on the top of a building.

“Aww crap. Leave me alone.”

The armed thug shoots him, and he falls off the ledge. Marlboro still stuck in his mouth. To be honest, I have very little recollection of what happened right after that because my wife and I were laughing hysterically.

And I will even give a cheesy game like that a decent review simply because they had a pretty decent story idea.

Bully, however, went way beyond my expectations. Not only is it a beautifully detailed game, but it has a great story. An epic tale, really. Even when compared to GTA: San Andreas, Bully stands up as possibly the greatest Rockstar story ever told. The difference comes from the other characters in the game. Bully has a character model for each and every character in the game. There are no randomly generated characters. The effect this has on gameplay is one of immersion.

For instance, I was running to class one morning, and I saw one of the girls (one who likes my character) kissing another boy. It got me genuinely irritated. So I walked over to him, grabbed him by the shirt, threw him up against a nearby wall, and rammed my knee into his crotch. It was really satisfying. And just.

That’s really what Bully is all about: justice. It’s wasn’t a “Columbine Simulator”, as Jack Thompson would have us believe. It was about the injustice of high school, and one boy’s fight to set things right again. The gameplay is smooth and responsive, the fighting (and there is a lot of it) feels just right, and it was one of the funniest games I’ve ever played.

I’m not one of those people who wants a sequel made, however. I think a game this good stands on its own merits. The story of the game feels complete to me, and doesn’t need a continuation.

No, the reason that I keep telling people about this game is that it didn’t sell as well as it should have. Neither did ICO, Beyond Good & Evil, or Indigo Prophecy. But we, as gamers, must make a stronger effort to spread the word on the hidden gems in a game world overrun with first person shooters and sports games. If no one buys these good games, the game studios will never make more.

And then we’ll all be playing Madden.

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I’m feeling much better now. Not that anything great has happened, but at least I’m beginning to see that I can get some things done. I’m taking a Personal Day next week, so I won’t have to be back at work until Thursday. Not that I’m going to be sitting around doing nothing.

I still need to clean the couch, move the couch, do our taxes, and write these appeal letters to the insurance company. And when that doesn’t work (and it won’t because these people aren’t just idiots… they are idiots that just don’t care) we’ll have to get a lawyer involved.

Ugh.

It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I really really really really hate insurance companies. It seems like there should be some sort of oversight from the Government, if not a National Health Plan. Because – and I say this from first hand experience – these companies will just do whatever the hell they please.

On a completely unrelated note, I saw a woman with underwear on her head the other day. I laughed.  And at that point, I remembered.  Life is funny.

And the Man Upstairs will never give you more than you can handle.

I’m piss drunk on cheap wine and mad at the world. The worst part about it is, I’m actually scared to death of becoming a victim. And the longer I go on like this, the more like a victim I become. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to do the right thing… The Man will eventually slap you back down to your place in life. If you aren’t one of the Chosen Few, then to hell with you. You can just rot.

Sit there for all eternity with your medical bills, broken fucking car axles, fucking shitty bottom-feeding no-paying jobs, and what have you, and just Sit There. Sit there until you choke on your own vomit watching Television about Dead Fucking Celebrities and Asian Porn and other things that don’t really matter in the great scheme of things; but they are the only things that you can wrap your mind around right now. If… God Forbid… you try to think of other things… like getting yourself out of this fucking hole you’ve dug for yourself, or actually going out and bettering yourself… then you will just implode. Drunk on alcohol and illicit drugs, passed out on the couch, waking up just in time to get your government check from the mail person.

Cash that son of a bitch and buy more alcohol. No one can save you now. You are on a path towards Greatness, dammit. Greatness or suicide.

Not that I advocate either.

Fuck the way things are. A man who cannot take care of his family isn’t a man, but a common rodent. I don’t wanna be a rodent. I’m trying to be a man. My God… am I trying to be a man… So why is it that everytime I try to do things like they should be done THEY FUCK ME UNTIL I AM RAW AND BLOODY?!?!?!

I cannot abide this rotten Proletarian Bullshit any longer. If, by the grace of God, I am allowed to continue my path, it will be to avenge any other poor saps who have been beaten down and raped by The System.

It’s times like these when you debate the existence of God. Why would the whole point of existence on this Earth be for suffering of The Good, while The Bad are exhalted, reviled, worshiped, rewarded?!? Why fucking bother?

Don’t call the EMT’s just yet, you fucking heartless swine. I’m not a goner. Nowhere fucking near. I won’t give you the satisfaction. In fact, I’m going to be around a good long while.

…for the sole purpose of pissing people off

Fuck you.

I was watching the Local News this morning, where the following conversation took place on television:

Desk Anchor: “So, Bill… looks like we are going to get some snow today, then?”

Weather Minion: “Yeah. How much snow we get depends on how much stuff falls out of the sky today.”

Really. And here I was assuming that the City came by with trucks and spread the snow all over the ground. I see those trucks driving around, spraying white stuff all over the road, and then I wake up the next day, and there is snow on the ground! I just assumed that was one of the many services we got with our tax dollars. You mean the stuff just falls out of the sky? For free?

* * *

I go into my job today expecting to work, which is actually out of the ordinary. There’s a Snow Scare. A big, nasty Alberta Clipper is coming. That’s one of those weather terms that become part of the common vernacular during weeks like this. Like when your co-worker gets called for Jury Duty and uses terms like “preponderance of evidence” and “ex parte” in normal conversations for the next six months.

I was not disappointed. I did, in fact, work my ass off today. I bagged groceries for a while. Back to my roots. I have not worked as a bagger in over 11 years. But let me tell you, I put some of these other kids to shame. I never lost the touch. I’m fast – and that’s important – but the one thing that sets me apart from any of the 16 year old morons putting your groceries in paper or plastic is that I treat the customer’s groceries like they are my own.

One lady asked me to help her out to her car. I only had my hoodie on, but I’m not going to make this woman wait while I run up to my office to get my coat and hat, so off I went. I followed this woman outside to her car – a gigantic Mercedes SUV.

“Put them in the back seat,” she said flatly, while opening the back door. I looked at her parking job. She was parked crookedly in this spot, and only about 8 inches from the car next to her. I could barely get myself between there, let alone this cart of groceries. Luckily, I was saved by her husband’s negligence.

“Oh shoot,” she frowned. “He has his… well, the back seat is out of the question then,” she stated, making a sweeping hand motion towards the back of the Mercedes. “Put them in the back, then.”

I opened the hatch on the back of the monstrosity, and began loading this huge order into this vehicular pornography. I could no longer feel my nose or cheeks. The woman got in the front seat and immediately started her car. So now I’m standing there – hands and face frozen – loading this woman’s fucking arugula into her $60,000 planet-killing piece of crap, all the while being heavily bombarded with exhaust fumes while she sits in her heated leather seat and turns the radio onto the Sean Hannity Show.

I went inside to get my heavy wool jacket, gloves, hat and muffler. Now fully protected from the cold, I went back outside. People came and went, hurried as ever. Mean as ever. Self-absorbed as ever. Honking at pedestrians to hurry across the street when they are in a heated luxury car, talking on their cell phone. Almost running into one another with their cars and carts. Yelling. Screaming. More honking. I don’t know why people overreact like this every time snow falls from the sky.

It’s not like they have to pay for it.