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Tycho / on Fri, Apr 19 2002 at 6:41 am

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Dear Lord!

I’m actually surprised that I’m still alive.  I’m not referring to my well-publicized cold, which your well-wishing has made quite tolerable indeed.  Well, that and Aleve, which (as it turns out!) contains high concentrations of goofballs.  No, I’m talking about Taxes, that special time of year when the amorous avatar of our nation Uncle Sam gets that special gleam in his eye.  I was not aware that one could pay their taxes in installments, I guess I just thought they sent six-legged robo-hounds to your house to prick you with their deadly tongues, which are also syringes.  Don’t mind me, it’s the medicine talking.  I do appreciate your indulgence with the late posts, once I feel better (and can stay awake all day) I’ll cinch up the schedule again.

Here’s today’s comic.  As a crew, we’re sort of between games at the moment - we’re slowly transitioning out of Medal of Honor (to the exultation of idiots everywhere) and into…  Well, we don’t know.  I’m for Jedi Outcast, myself, but Gabe and Kara don’t swing that way.  Long term, we’d be looking at Neverwinter or Unreal Tournament 2k3 (particularly the Bombing Run gametype), but we need something along a shorter timeline - and the Soldier of Fortune 2 test fits the bill nicely.  I keep hearing it touted as a “realistic” game, which strikes me as marketeering more than anything else.  It is quite lethal, as many of the most popular online games are these days, but the velocity of the experience strikes me as more arcade than “realistic.”  Frivolous play is rewarded with death, as it would be in any proper quarter-muncher.  The weapon models, sound effects, and character models all mean Goddamn business, Goddamnit, and I don’t know that firefights have ever sounded so fearful or so fantastic.  The bottom line is that it’s great fun.  I don’t know how many maps are promised for play in the box, but it’s somewhere around infinity if you count the random generator.  I’d like to applaud Raven for their in-game menu system, though it probably sounds like a silly thing to compliment.  An innovation from Team Arena that never caught on for some reason, it puts everything you need - server info, configuration panels, even a very functional friend finder - right there in in a clean bar along the top.  Their Jedi Outcast sports the same feature, and its elegance is welcome.  Set for retail release next month, I do not doubt that SoF2 will claim a position of prominence in our nightly adventures.       

I said on Monday that we would likely discuss Soccer Slam in greater detail, because at the time we had every intention of doing a comic strip on it.  Actually trying to write said strip proved more difficult, exposing a gaming comic axiom that I call the Elasticity of Game Quality.  Put simply, if a game is excellent, it’s often harder to deliver that in a concise strip than if a game amounts to a miserable insult.  Gabe, Batjew, and I played the game for over eight hours in a sitting.  We were not aware of the fact until other human beings, beings who are apparently able to detect time, made this clear to us.  That’s because like Virtua Tennis, a.k.a. Sega’s flawless jewel, Soccer Slam takes out everything that is unnecessary, streamlines what remains, and puts you at the helm with controls so effortless you feel like the Greek God of Soccer, Socceros, in no time.  The quest mode (played single or with up to three players) has you vying for the Continental Cup, earning cash throughout that you may redeem for new equipment (which not only improves performance, but physically alters the characters).  I hope it’s a success, because it deserves to be.  I’ve heard that the single player mode is lacklustre, and maybe that’s true.  I wouldn’t know.  After our glorious, day-spanning foray into the world of fantasy footy, I guess I don’t think of it as a single player game.  I’m sure Monopoly’s “single player mode” sucks as well, but I don’t see anybody trolling message boards about it.

The Master of the Ravenwing Scouts has challenged me to Warhammer 40k CCG combat, and I would not be properly representing PA if I did not take him up on it.  I’ll write about my experience next week in detail, the experience of having my ass kicked I mean, and hopefully I can capture the lyrical dance of foot and ass in a way that will not pain you to read it.  GameScape (serving the role/card playing enthusiast in the Bay Area - Palo Alto, San Francisco, and San Rafael to be exact) said they’d send me a deck or two, and I told them they had to bring enough for the rest of the class, by which I mean you.  Another Triple Threat (3T) is on tap for this month, it will probably include more excellent books and miniatures from Sanguine, the aforementioned cards from GameScape, and (if we’re lucky) an Xbox Controller S.  Stay tuned.       

(CW)TB out.

all those other bastards were only practice

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