Friday, June 10, 2011

Buck Reviews "Deadly Premonition," One of the Best Worst Games Ever

Last year, I bought "Alan Wake," which is a fantastic survival/horror game. After beating it, I read up on it a little, and read that it was based off of an early 90's TV series, Twin Peaks. I then looked into Twin Peaks, and discovered that another game was made last year that was also based off of it, named Deadly Premonition. So I looked that game up, and was surprised at the reviews it got. They basically ranged from a 2 out of 10 to a 10 out of 10, depending on who was reviewing it. Naturally, I was intrigued. Lucky for me, a friend of mine bought the game, mostly because he found it for only $15, and it has easy achievements. After managing to ruin his copy in a freak stepping-on-a-cord-making-my-X-Box-fall-while-loading-causing-a-huge-scratch accident, I rented it so I could finally play this beast. Finally, after around 20 hours of playing it, I beat it, and now I shall tell you all about it.

GRAPHICS: If you have ever played the first, maybe even the second Resident Evil game, then you have a grasp of the graphics. For a game that came out in 2010, you would really think that it could have something at least on the level of an original X-Box game. It looks like a last gen PS1/early PS2 game. Granted, it was originally supposed to come out in 2007, but still. There are plenty of graphical hiccups, such as people just kinda moving through sections of walls,and the background just kind of popping up out of nowhere. The animations of characters are also painful to watch. Everyone moves as though they were in a box. Just about every character only has two, maybe three facial expressions at most. Repetitive animations. If you were to just watch the game, it would be a chore to sit through. Bottom line: The graphics are crap.

SOUND: The sound of this game is amazingly awful. I loved it. The game has three or four main songs it plays throughout, sometimes seemingly at random. Sometimes it can turn a serious moment into a hilarious one, simply because the music does not at all reflect what is happening. Anytime I heard what I call "The Whistle Song," I just could not help but whistle along. I'm sure I missed a few important plot points simply because I was getting into that damn song. The voice acting is also pretty good...for the most part. Sometimes they seem to phone in a line, but who cares? There is also hours and hours of extra dialogue they included, from your character talking to himself as he drives to pass the time, to the exchanges between you and the town folk. I also love how they just re-use every sound effect. Every door in the game, including prison cell doors and giant metal gates, sound like an old, rickety closet door. There's also only two walking sounds. It was always sound like you're either walking on a tile floor in high heels, or walking through some high grass. When it comes to the sound, it is basically awesome, as long as you don't mind repetition.

GAMEPLAY: Probably the worst aspect of the game. Walking around is a pain in the ass. It is best to pay attention to your surroundings, because if you don't, you will walk into some chair, and spend about 30 seconds trying to maneuver away from it. The driving is awful. Any vehicle you get into feels either like you're driving a soaped-up stick of butter, or a giant stone block. Also, when the camera changes while you're moving, the controls get all screwy, because pressing "Up" is always the move forward button, which screws you up when you're moving toward the screen, or across it horizontally. You also have to be lined up perfectly to interact with most objects. Combat...dear god. The combat will make you want to break your controller. Since they did not include an option to adjust the sensitivity while aiming a gun, you have to deal with their fucked up aiming scheme. It's usually not that big of a deal once you get used to it, but later when you have to be precise, it will make you cry. Melee weapons have a very limited durability, so I wouldn't even bother with them except when breaking boxes and wooden fences. Also, either the map sucks, or that town was laid out by an asshole. Everything is set way too far apart. However, with all that said, I will say that DP is very innovative in one aspect. It is a sandbox type game, where you can run around and do stuff other than the story mode. The cool part about that is the other characters are not always where they should be. They drive around town, go to the store, get gas, all sorts of stuff. So if you're looking for a character to do their side quest, you are most likely going to have to track them down. If they're driving, you can't just ram them off the road. You have to follow them until they stop and then talk to them. You also have to make sure you get sleep and eat, otherwise you start bitching and moaning. At least I think you do. I never really had an issue with food or sleep, since food is laying around everywhere, and there's plenty of places to sleep. Over all, the controls are shit, combat is shit, driving is shit, but it does bring a little something new to the whole sand box aspect.

CHARACTERS: The characters are either the second best part of this game, or tied for first. You play as FBI Agent Francis York Morgan, a man who gets tips from his coffee, speaks to his invisible friend Zack, and is kind of an asshole, but not really on purpose. What I love is how every single character you meet has their own personal back story. All of them. Each character is unique. I really wish I could go into detail on them, but I can't, because almost all of them are important to the main plot, and I don't want to spoil anything about this game. You will either love, hate, or be amused by everyone you meet in that little town. There is some incredible character development that happens as the game goes on. Just trust me, the characters in this game almost make the game worth buying in and of themselves.

PLOT/STORY: I would like to go on record and say that the main story to Deadly Premonition is fucking incredible. Remember earlier when I said that this game is inspired by Twin Peaks? Well, if you've seen that show, then you already have a basic idea of what this game is like. It's a murder mystery, who-done-it, with so damn many plot twists, you never really know what is going on. Most of the fun is just trying to figure out what might happen next. Basically, Agent Morgan arrives at a small town to investigate the murder of a teenage girl, and as you go about solving the case, everything gets bat-shit crazy. Just when you think you have it figured out, it turns out that you were completely wrong. Or maybe I'm just not a good detective. Either way, when the climax came, I was all "Holy shit, why didn't I notice that?!" Trying to figure out the mystery, along with learning how the rest of the town folk tie into it, is just incredible. I don't think I've played a game with anything close to it before, and unless they release a Deadly Premonition 2, I probably won't for a very long time. If I were to rate the story, I've give it a big !! out of 10.

So, in conclusion, if you don't care too much about how pretty a game is, and how horrible the controls are, and the repetition of the sound score, and how tragic the combat system is, then I suggest you go and buy the crap out of this game. Most places sell it for less than $20. For that small price, you get a game that has some of the best character development, some of the funniest moments, and one of the best stories I've experienced in any game so far, and in most movies. Granted, it's basically Twin Peaks: The Game, but that show is incredible, so don't bitch about it. The fact that people who love Halo and Gears of War and all that simply hate this game just lets you know that some people have no idea what to do with a truly original game. Deadly Premonition is an incredible train wreck, and I loved every single minute of it.

If you're still not sure about this game, just watch these clips. They'll give you a small glimpse of the characters, and also The Whistle Song. You're welcome.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Moment of Self-Reflection

Currently, it is 2:50 am on a now Friday morning. I was sitting outside on our porch, smoking a cigarette, alone in the peaceful dark, and just thinking. Not about anything in particular, just letting my mind wander. In my thinking, I realized exactly how fortunate and blessed I am. Not really in the way that some people consider, but in a deeper, more real sense. Sure, I currently have no money that I can spend the way I would like, and I spend a good amount of time concerned for my health, but those are matters I can deal with later. I know the steps I can take to solve those problems, but I do not consider them important enough to worry about. When I say I am blessed, I mean in the people that I surround myself with.

I honestly feel with every fiber of my being that I have the greatest group of friends anyone could ask for. For example, a few nights ago, a bunch of us got together to just waste away an entire day, just hanging out, drinking a little, and having fun. Well, one of them got entirely too drunk, said things he wishes he hadn't, and decided to wander off to a party up the street. Any other group of people might have gotten pissed at him for what he was saying, and just let him go and get into whatever trouble might have happened at that party of mostly strangers. However, our friends were not about to let that slide, and we went to drag him away. Sure, it took us about 30 minutes to talk him into leaving. Even after we got him back to our party, he went off on his tangent. Apparently, he should not ever, EVER drink Vodka again. What I'm getting at is that after that night, I realized that if I were to ever do anything really stupid, say things that might cross a few lines, and just generally act a fool, I know my friends will look after my best interests, even if I am not. Upon realizing that, as long as this group of misfits, which most people would just assume are a bunch of slackers, assholes, and bitches, which we are, as long as we all stay together, we will all be in safe hands. I have managed to belong to a group that genuinely cares for one another, even if we want to just knock the shit out of each other from time to time, but that's what true friends are for. While I'm on the subject of friends, and even though I know he won't read this, I gotta say something about my friend John. Contrary to the fact that he's acting like a 12 year old girl about what I said about him, which I have said to his face in the past (for those that might not know, I called him gay. I know he's not gay, but he is a little girl sometimes, such as this), I honestly hope he gets over the sand in his vagina. If he shows up at our annual 4th of July shindig, I'll tell him in person. Until then, maybe some one reading this can pass the message along. If he still wants to be a middle-schooler about this, then so be it. All I can do is try. In conclusion of this section, I love every one of you people. If you called upon me for any sort of favor (except money. I'm broke as fuck), I will be there. Some big dude gonna whoop your ass? I've gotten pretty good at absorbing punches from big dudes. If nothing else, I'll distract him long enough for you to get out of there. You need someone to be an accomplice for something that might be a little illegal? I'll let you know how stupid it is, but I'll probably go along with you, and we can hang out in jail for a few nights afterwards. I will always have all of your backs, because I know that if I ever need it, you will have mine as well.

I also realized that I was raised by two of the best people. Ever. Am I being biased? Yes, and I don't care. Everything I am I am because of what I either inherited from them, or from what they taught me. Even though they split when my sister and I were tiny, both my mother and father impacted my life in equally important ways. Watching my mom raise four kids basically by herself, with all the problems we caused her through all of these years, and all the problems I'm sure we will continue to cause her, she has never once let us down. She has more loving patience than any of us kids deserved to have shared with us. All the stupid shit the four of us have done, and yet she still managed to calm herself down just enough to let us live to see the next sunrise. Incredible. When my sister shaved off her eye brow, when I went through my "angsty goth" phase, my sister getting pregnant, Dan getting in an impressive amount of trouble at school, me letting that kid just kick my ass in my senior year and coming home all sorts of messed up, Dan and Damon waking up and emptying the fridge out onto the kitchen floor, me almost making her kill me when I was two and demanding "Rocky Rocky" very, very early in the morning... I mean, any other mother would have snapped at least once, and suddenly only had three kids to deal with, but not her. Either through determination or just sheer stubbornness you have managed to raise four basically well-adjusted kids. You are the first half of my personal hero tag team. You have taught me patience, courage, and the determination to survive in a world that seems to be out to shit on people. There is absolutely nothing that I wouldn't do for you. Well, except change your diapers when you get old. I just don't think I could wipe poop off of your butt. I will if I have to, but if Jass could do that, I'd be so much happier.

My dad. What can I say about him? Growing up, I didn't see as much of you as I would have liked, but since you spent a good deal of time out of Missouri, I knew you couldn't make it here as often as you wanted. I know we've had our spats, like when I messed up your lawn mower blade, wore nail polish when you came over (mostly to mess with you and see what you would do), and made myself breakfast without making you any. I'm sure as the years go on, we'll argue and get pissed at each other, and I am perfectly fine with that. I know that no matter how much we may piss each other off, we will always put it behind us. As much as I am like mom, I am just as much like you. Everything from being a complete jack ass, to  allergies, to my short temper, to my refusal to take shit and deal with drama, to my ability to just not care what other people think of me, you have given me several very important tools to combat this world with. You have become the man that I measure myself up against. Everything that you have had to deal with in just my life time, and to still wear a smile on your face and seem generally happy when we hang out impresses me. You are the second half of my personal hero tag team. Just as with mom, I will do anything for you, especially not change your diapers, because I know you'd try to shit on me on purpose.

How can I talk about my parents without talking about my brothers and sisters? We will go in order of age. Jass, you and I have had quite the rocky road. I know I used to say some horrible things to you, and for no real reason. I think mostly because I wanted on the computer. Yeah, I used to be real mature that way. While you can be quite a bitch, I love you with fire that can't be put out. I long since decided that while I have made you feel like shit, if anyone else does, that's an ass-kicking. You're my sister, and only I am allowed to piss you off. For example, when you were pregnant with Zane, and you just blurted out that Chip raped you (or at least that's what my ears heard), I went out looking for him. I was fully prepared to go to prison for murder that night. Come to find out that he didn't, but still. I will always be there for you if you ever need anything. I might charge you a couple of cigarettes, but I'll be right there if I can.

Danny boy. Butt face. Turd sniffer. I must say, seeing you now, and comparing you to the child you were, you impress me. The fact that mom didn't kill you as a child is incredible. You were such a pain in the ass. As you grew older, you leveled out, and now you walk around with the strut and swagger of a bad ass, which makes me smile. While you are pretty impressive at the Guitar Hero, and I remember the cool stuff you would build with your Bionical pieces, what I most enjoy is your zero tolerance for bullshit. I recall a few episodes during the past school year or two. When you smacked around the kid that was picking on a handicapped kid, I wanted to be upset, but I could not. You stood up for someone that needed help, and that is an admiral trait in anyone. You probably shouldn't have punched him, but sometimes people just need a good thumpin'. The other instance was towards the end of your senior year. When you turned a kid's head into a punching bag for talking bad about your relationships, again, I wanted to be upset, but I couldn't. I would have done the exact same thing if I was in that situation, especially since you apparently warned him several times. You would think that, since I'm sure you had a reputation at that point for punching people, that they would just leave your ass alone. All I can say about that is now that you are out of highschool, try to avoid hitting people. Eventually you're going to come across someone who can take your punches, and kick your ass. While I believe that every man needs their ass kicked every now and then, it's best to try to avoid it as long as possible. Trust me, it's never fun. So, all I can say is to keep being your goofy, metal loving, no shit taking self. If you ever need anything, from lady problems to a possible violent eruption, I will have your back. My beard and your mustache will conquer all.

Damon, the man of the hour, the tower of power, too damn sweet to be sour! I would complain about you spending too much time in front of that computer, but I did the same damn thing when I was your age. Hell, I still do it now. I can't wait to see what you do with your life. You have an incredible sense of humor, and are smart as hell. I remember you asking me what math class I was taking in college, and being disappointed when you heard I was "only" in basic algebra. I got a good chuckle. When you and Jass get around each other is some of my favorite memories. Anyone else hearing you two would think you hated one another. I LOVE hearing and watching you guys fight. I still remember when you spent years refusing to wear pants, and were happy as hell to run around in your underwear all day. I hope that when you get older, you are able to return to that state. I want to visit you, and walk in to see you just lounging around in some Tidy Whiteys, in a perfect state of bliss. While we don't talk much, mostly because that would require you to peel your eyes from that monitor, I love the crap out of you, sir. I also know you probably won't read this, since you are entirely too cool to get on Facebook. So, hurry up, graduate high school, ace your way through college and get rich so the rest of us can mooch off of you.

Let's see, I'm forgetting someone...some beautiful lady...Oh right! Amanda. There are not enough words in any dictionary in any language to describe my feelings towards you. Before I met you, I was a miserable blob. I spent my days pissed at work, pissed at being poor, pissed at people for no reason other than because I wanted them to be as miserable as I was, but they weren't, which just made me even madder. When you came know, I'm not even afraid to admit it. We met on a dating website. There, I said it. We met the truly nerdy way, and I couldn't be happier about it. When we clicked on each others profiles, and started talking, I didn't have very high expectations. I had met chicks from that site before, and it never went well, so I figured it would just wind up the same way this time. How very wrong I was. In the past almost-two years, I can say I have been the happiest I have ever been. You have shown me what true love is. What I thought was love in the past can't even compare to what I feel for you. A few hours ago, when I was sitting outside in the dark, just thinking, what I wanted more than anything else, even more than a good cheeseburger, was you sitting there with me. While we have certainly had our arguments, and I know for a fact we will have many more as we grow older together, I love you more after each fight we have, because I know you will not put up with my shit, and that is exactly what I need in a woman. As I told you a year or so ago, if we were to break up, I'd be done. There is no way I could find a woman that is as caring, compassionate, honest, both beautiful on the inside as well as the outside, patient, and just simply incredible as you are. When I look into our future, I see us being successful in our careers because we push each other to do better, and having a couple of beautiful little turd ball kids. Will the kids piss us off? Oh yeah, especially if they take after me, but I know you will love them with such a burning passion that they will turn out to be wonderful. And if they don't, well, then I'd just take the belt to them. I'm kidding. I'd sell them on the Black Market. I know I'm not very good at showing my emotions and feelings most of the time, and you get mad at me for not being much of a talker and not being very romantic, I can tell you, from the very bottom on my heart, that you are my world. The thought of losing you is almost enough to send me into a depression. I know that your parents probably don't like me, but I don't care. We are meant to be together forever, irritating the shit out of each other until we die of old age. You have helped me become a better person on a whole. You were the one that finally talked me into getting off my ass and going to college. You will be the one to help me finally quit smoking eventually someday hopefully. You are the voice that goes through my head when I'm about to do something stupid, and talk me out of it. My love for you is like a giant spiked wrecking ball, destroying every single obstacle in my way. With you by my side, I will be happy forever, even if I want to shake the crap out of you some times.

I know there are other people I should mention, but it's 5am now, and I'm tired. So, to everyone else who might feel like I didn't talk about them in any of the above paragraphs, I appreciate and love you in a variety of ways that I'm just too tired to write about, to be honest. Now, I will end this, and go back to sitting on the porch, and smoke a cigarette before I pass out.