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Tycho / on Fri, Oct 7 2005 at 4:30 am

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We Were Playing The Second Digital Devil Saga

We’re playing through the second Digital Devil Saga, which we thought would be a good idea…  for some reason.  For a while there I celebrated the fact that I (or the natural erosion of a man’s principles) had brought him into the genre.  It hadn’t occurred to me until recently that we’re into it for entirely different reasons.

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga was one of the games present in the canvas rucksack full of entertainment we came away from the store with.  I’d just beaten Freedom Force vs The Third Reich and Farcry: Instincts, so I was feeling celebratory. 

It may be that you know what I’m talking about, which I’m guessing is a rarity:  you get a new game that you are enthusiastic about, play it with a friend, have an immensely positive experience with it and vow never to play the game unless you are in the presence of this other person. 

I got FFv3R in March.

All the more satisfying, then, was our inevitable victory over it.  Playing a game that never needed a patch, was good all the way through, and kept me coming back to it for half a year really makes me wonder why I put up with some of the things I do in this medium.  For whatever reason, the best content is typically hidden beneath extended, meandering introductions and exposition.  I’ve tried to adopt a philosophy that allows me to endure this phase until I emerge from an unstable mineshaft with the idea that crystallized the entire project.  What it means is that - in times like this, where the vine hangs low with juice-taut clusters of media - potentially good games fall through the cracks because I’m a finite being.  As a practical matter, this process is a compromise with bullshit.  And I’m beginning to learn that the midpoint between my high-faluting policy and bullshit is still what you might call bullshit.         

Where was I.  Ah, yes.

Farcry: Instincts really argues against the idea that we need another generation of the Xbox right away.  I’m just as excited by Dashboards and Wireless Controllers and Charging Cables as the next inveterate nerd, but setting the gameplay aside for a moment the game looks better than it should.  As a single player experience, it isn’t as “far ranging” as Farcry on the PC - there is no shortage of dense jungle, but it doesn’t quite compare to the raw real estate of the earlier version.  What it does have is a much more focused story, with a few clever scenes that play out from the first person. 

It has the standard multiplayer options you might expect, along with a map editor we played around with for a secret project, but it’s the Predator gametype that kept me going back in.  Depending on the number of human players, there are a default number of “Predators” randomly chosen from among the herd.  These predators get the powerful melee abilities, high jumps, insane speed, and scent tracking that a player late in the campaign gets.  Human players (utilizing vehicles, etcetera) must get to a device on the far side of the map and activate it to neutralize the predators.  The closer a predator is to you, the faster a heartbeat vibrates in your controller.  Most of the gameplay options can be changed with votes, and I’ve been on servers where this worked really well - not every group wants to have four predators for sixteen players.  Some might want two predators with hitpoint bonuses or to arm the prey with heavy weapons.  There’s an option that you can vote in to make everyone auto-ready after a short interval, which really argues for itself in my opinion.  Waiting for Bra$$Munky to set down his bong has never been - to me, now - a good time investment.   

(CW)TB out.

no promises to keep

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