on Jul 19, 2011
Mumbles couldn’t make it to Spoiler Warning this week, for reasons that had nothing to do with costumed crimefighting. She was busy at her mild-mannered job all day and has no idea what happened to the biker gang that tried to rob the Quik Stop. I believe her. I mean, Mumbles wears glasses. People who wear glasses can’t fight crime or they would break their glasses.
Anyway, glad we could clear that up.
In the meantime, we didn’t want to record more episodes of New Vegas without her. So, we did Half-Life 2 instead. For those of you who say that all we do is bitch and moan about games, well…
This was just a one-off block of episodes. Next week we’ll be back with Mumbles, wishing for a nuclear winter in the Mojave Desert.
I will say our episode naming system sucks. What will the title look like if we ever decide to tackle the Half-Life 2 episodes? Spoiler Warning: Half-Life 2: Episode 1: Part 1: VortiGONE! Ugh.
As I said in the above episode, comparing the intro of Half-Life 2 to the intro to Homefront can give you a very clear picture of where games have gone wrong over the past seven years. In Homefront, they cram their entire reveal of the enemy into a single city block. You see people being shot in the street, being beaten, kidnapped, more people being shot, and so on. This all takes place in broad daylight, and it sort of makes you wonder what the whole “police state” thing is for. I mean, if the bad guys want to just shoot everyone they’re going about it in the most expensive and time-consuming way possible. And if they want to control the populace for slave labor, they’re going about it in the most inept way possible.
Then once you pull away from all of that, an NPC on the bus whispers to you that he heard about mass graves. This is such a goofy and sideways thing that I still wonder how that line ended up in the game. After watching a couple of parents being summarily executed in front of their toddler in broad daylight on a street corner, is the player really supposed to be amazed at the rumor of mass graves? In Half-Life 2 you feel like you’re facing an insidious and powerful enemy. In Homefront, the game makes it clear from the start that you’re facing an army of dumbasses.
You can make these comparisons with almost any modern shooter. Crysis 2 and Homefront are just obvious examples. It all goes back to basic storytelling principles: Pacing. Foreshadowing. Compact dialog. Consistency. Showing instead of telling.
Later in the episode we talk about the can cop. I looked it up, and 13.8% of all players (who own the game) have put the can in the trash, and 9.1% have thrown it at the cop. Note that these achievements were added a few years after the game was released, which is why we’re seeing such low response numbers here. This is really only a tally of new players, or those who have gone back to play the game again.