Some Issues with Murder and Terror

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for ‘background news’ stories in Mafia 3

Butch:

I’m gonna throw more out here as I don’t know when I’ll see my PS4 again, so we best just brainstorm and wrap up the week.

I was reading the old post just now and we mentioned driving.

You know what this game doesn’t yet have? That it fucking NEEDS?????

Fast travel points.

Shouldn’t it have those by now?

Feminina:

That’s a good point, we did mention that early on. I think maybe those don’t exist. I haven’t seen any yet, anyway.

Butch:

Now I’m at the eye doctor. Blind and bats. What a week I’m having.

At least I went back to the house and all looked normal. Though I channeled my inner Lincoln. Sneak, throw the door open, snap to cover just in case bat Kevin attacked.

I’m only slightly ashamed.

Feminina:

Why any shame? You should seize this as an example of how video games have taught you useful life skills! I mean, you wouldn’t have wanted Bat Kevin to get you if he’d been there, right?

Of course right.

Oh, and speaking of Hollis Dupree (which we were at one point yesterday), have you heard the segment where the “Native Son” interviews him? And his explanation for what he was thinking?

Butch:

No. No I would not have wanted that.

Maybe I’ll stop mowing the lawn. Never know when Kevin skunk or Kevin turkey will show up.

Haven’t heard that Native Son yet. But I’m sure it has a lot to say…..

Feminina:

It’s very…timely. And ties back to that issue of white fear that we talked about after the amusement park.

We’ll talk. Later.

Butch:

I know he shot an innocent black kid, and was indicted. Right? Timely indeed.

Ok, at home, gonna play before I gotta get boys off the bus.

Fuck you, bat Kevin.

Feminina:

Indeed. He shot TWO unarmed black men who came to his door for help after they got a flat tire.

And he was indicted, but the community, at least as represented by Native Son, is rallying around him, because he’s a veteran (as were the two men, but interestingly–ha–we hear more about how one of them had a juvenile record than about their service), and it’s just so UNFAIR that he should be “prosecuted and persecuted” for the trifling error of killing a couple of people for no reason. Which could happen to anyone!

And I mean, we’re sympathetic to that argument because we know all too well how easy it is to absently murder a few dozen people before lunch, but we’re the PC! Also, those people were all wandering Kevins who totally would have killed us first, not random guys who just wanted to call a tow truck!

And I think it comes back a bit on us as players (and on games in general, even) in a sly way, nudging at our casual attitude to death and how easy it is to justify our own conduct–but obviously what it’s really getting at is the crushing racism in this country.

Because the story of a black person getting a flat tire and going to a nearby house for help and getting shot by a white person is a today story. That’s our crushing racism, man.

And in the game this story kind of stands for all the other things it’s also not safe to do while black, due to our crushing racism, which kind of all sum up to “making some white person nervous.” THAT we white people cannot abide.

Which I think comes back to the amusement park bit, and how slaveholders live in terror of slave uprisings, and how Lincoln Clay is (I think) making use of white fear to spook his targets, but how that white fear is not just part of a tactic he deploys, it’s also seething in the whole culture and used a lot more commonly against him (the cops sure are awfully quick to open fire), or people who look like him–for example when it’s cited as a totally legitimate reason to have killed two people.

I feel like this is maybe a recognition of the fact that he can try to turn this fear to his own purposes, and that’s smart strategy and we can kind of applaud him for skillfully terrorizing his enemies with their own racist nightmares, but that we have to be aware that in the real world this is a real thing that does not primarily work to the advantage of anyone except white people getting away with murder.

Sorry, I mean “totally justifiable self-defense murder.”

Butch:

OK, just heard that bit. But did you also notice he was specifically afraid of the killer n word? Which would be Lincoln. This followed by the Voice of the Hollow encouraging the black ghost. That’s Lincoln. That’s us.

“Does not primarily work for anyone except white people trying to get away with murder…” I agree. But the Voice does not. The voice is ALL for this. Kill ’em, black ghost! Which is…is he wrong? Who are we, white folks, to say?

Feminina:

Well, I did say “primarily.” Obviously, there can be quite significant secondary effects of things. And yeah, the Voice is all about it, which complicates things–and we certainly aren’t in a position of expertise here.

But yeah, I didn’t want to spoil that, but how about the fact that Hollis Dupree specifically cites Lincoln (not by name obviously) as the reason he was scared? And then at some point I also heard another radio person talking about it (not the Native Son guy) and he mentioned how “the wave of colored-on-white violence” was putting people on edge or whatever.

And…yeah, pretty much all of that has to be Lincoln, considering most of the Kevins (ever since Baka and his gang) are white. It’s a nice touch, that all our hundreds of recent murders are at least noticed in the world, that it makes a difference that all those guys aren’t around anymore–although not so much of a difference that there are any fewer of them to murder in the next mission, of course.

But anyway…it does complicate things. The Voice is all for terrorizing white people, and maybe they do deserve it on some level as participants in an unjust society, but then it makes them all jumpy and they shoot people who don’t deserve it and blame Lincoln for making them scared. It’s not Lincoln’s FAULT those two guys are dead, and given how many black guys are dead today in the absence of a wave of colored-on-white violence it’s not even a particularly plausible explanation, but it is true that Lincoln has to know his actions will be seized on as an excuse. And willingly accepted as a perfectly good excuse by other jumpy white people on the jury, most likely.

Butch:

This game does a very good job of making things complex, and having things matter. Not entirely sure that “Every player’s story is unique,” but at least every player’s story is thought provoking. I’ll give it that.

In terms of making you ask if Lincoln (you) are a hero or a villain?  Spot on. 

 

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Calling The Joker

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for storylines in Mafia 3

Butch:

Well, good thing I played cuz I’m unlikely to play for a while. Seems we have a bit of a bat problem in the house, so we’ve evacuated to my mom’s house until we’ve dealt with it. Hopefully home by next week.

Why’d you buy a house?

But I did do a lot! We’ll talk. Later.

Feminina:

Bat! What? I do not need to hear about more problems with houses! I have enough!

Bats are cute, though. Eat bugs. Useful.

Carry rabies. Less cute. Good luck with that.

I played a bit! Not that much. It was chilly. Kids were cranky. Waking up at ungodly hours of the morning because they were chilly. Makes one too tired to stay up at night murdering dudes.

But I did murder a few! Obviously. “When you’re tired of murdering dudes, you’re tired of life.” I think that’s how the saying goes.

Butch:

I have to cling to that.

Bats are not cute. They certainly aren’t cute when they’re freaking your kids out at 10 PM and costing you money and making you stay at nana’s.

This is a new problem, even for me.

I mean….shit.

Anyway…..

Took over the distillery, about to do protection, if I ever get home.

But the thing I did do, and then didn’t do, was great, then pissed me off.

Went and did the nice, mellow dope mission. Then went and stole a dope boat. This led to two very, VERY cool conversations with Emmanuel, who is a great, great character. The idea of bad people still killing bad dudes, family, again, loss, winding up selling weed because life kinda sucks, the contrast between Haitian black and African American….that shit was GOLD. We could blog on that for days. Indeed, we might need to. It was so good I wanted to do more of it. Emmanuel was great! He was developing! So when he said “There’s a bunch of Dixie mafia “guarding” a warehouse full of our stolen weed, go get it,” I was all “You got it dude! Especially if we can talk later.”

So I went to do it. Only to see “Racket is at maximum earn.”

To which I said two things. First, “Huh? There’s, like, eight more perks I want here. I’m DONE with Cassandra? Why’d they even GIVE me this quest?” Followed by “Fuck, game, really? You’re gonna do it again? FINALLY we have some great, themey, story bloggage and you are, once again, going to grind things to a damn halt for no real reason other than to make me go do stuff I don’t want to do?”

This game just can’t get the fuck out of its own way, can it?

Feminina:

Wasn’t Emmanuel great? What good conversations, and, as you say, really great character development and recognition of how different people in different situations have very different takes on things. Very well-played. Way to not just make a game about a black guy, but put a number of other black people in as well, and let them have different motivations and beliefs!

We’re also seeing a couple more women, which is nice. And there was a pretty good conversation with Nicki Burke after one of those “grab some stuff and take it to a place” missions. So even though those missions are fairly rote, they have some theme/story payoff which makes them worth doing.

I don’t know about maximum earn, though…I don’t think I got that message. I’m not sure I tried to do the warehouse full of weed mission, though. Maybe if I had, I would have run into the same issue. Maybe…later in the game you can advance the whole racket somehow and not be hitting ‘maximum earn’? I mean, one imagines maximum earn should be a good thing, not a roadblock.

Butch:

Well, must be a later thing cuz her earn is 100k, and on the handy perks list, I’m getting her 100k perk. But it goes up to perks you get when her earn is 300k, which is, you know, more.

I got the warehouse mission (or didn’t) immediately after the “steal the boat” mission, which was the second weed mission. (Side note: speeding away, in a hail of bullets, in a stolen boat while blaring Born to be Wild was more gleeful fun than I’ll ever admit.). I’ve had the “don’t tell me about loss” bit and the “how many you save?” Bit. You get that? Cuz I hav thoughts on that.

Game has too many roadblocks.

I can’t do Nikki missions yet cuz I haven’t killed the butcher. But I want to. Still intrigued that a) we saw her present day and b) she wasn’t in jail in the present and c) she sure seemed to hate her old man

Hmmm.

Feminina:

I got “don’t talk to me about loss.” Which…yeah. Don’t talk to that guy about loss. There’s some heavy stuff in this game.

Haven’t had the second conversation yet. Too busy murdering dudes and talking to Nicki Burke, I guess. (Is there some chemistry there?…I dunno…feels like maybe there is…)

Speaking of the documentary and how she shows up there…we haven’t talked about another interesting aspect of this game’s presentation, which is the use of actual photographs (of soldiers in Vietnam, or mobsters, or what-have-you) interspersed with the character animations.

What do we think about that? It’s a little distracting to me every time, to have the contrast of real image with the animation, but I also think it kind of grounds the game in reality…like, “this story is fiction, but stuff that characters are talking about was in fact happening in the real world, and here are pictures.” It also works interestingly with those collectibles (not just the nudity, but also Hot Rod), which also feature real-life photos and articles. “Here’s some stuff that was out there in the world at this time.”

I’m basically into it. Again, I do NOTICE it every time, because however good it is, animation–which I find is serviceable here if not always stunning (though one thing I’ve noticed is that this game has I think the best drinking animations I’ve seen, and that is obviously extremely important)–is never quite as REAL as an actual photograph, and so the contrast is always obvious. It always pulls me a little out of the story just because I’m not thinking about the story anymore, I’m thinking “hey, that’s a real picture of some dead mobster,” but…I’m pretty OK with it overall.

Butch:

Heavy, indeed. And something that turns the player’s perception of hero on its head. We’re all “Must avenge Sam and Ellis! They were my FAMILY, man!” And this dude is all (accurately) “Uh, they were criminals. MY family is worth avenging and you are….where?” Which is a pretty good point. On a couple levels. First, the micro level: we’re killing Kevin to avenge bad guys, not his family. But also on the macro level. He went to Vietnam, not Haiti. Bad shit was happening in Haiti. And Lincoln was a world away.

Dunno about chemistry, man. More on that in a second.

But dude….get that other conversation. We’ll talk. Later.

Plus, stealing boats is fun.

I kinda like the use of real photos. And no, not just cuz playboys. Documentaries often use different levels of picture quality, so I find it makes it more real, in a way. Especially as they sometimes go with a “less real” look than the basic game animation. We get those grainy “home movies” from time to time, or the “old film” of Donovan testifying, which are pretty cool, and I think it all comes together.

And the centerfolds are key.

You really should go talk to Emmanuel again.

Anyway, I found that, once the bat guys leave and you have 45 minutes to kill before Junior gets home, better get some playing in! So I did. Killed Sonny Blue (more on THAT in a bit), and the Butcher. About to talk to Nikki. Which I haven’t. Don’t spoil.

So I killed Sonny. Not so much for the money, but cuz he was particularly awful. I thought that level was great, and one thing that stood out was finding that dead guy who had been tortured, who I THINK was a guy I could have saved (wasn’t there a “if we pull poor (guy) out of there he’ll give us info?” Cuz I didn’t do that. And now I feel guilty). But it got me thinking, re “max earn”:

Earn seems to be a proxy for XP. More quests completed (side or main), more earn. More earn, more “perks,” or skills, or whatever you want to call them. In other words, more of the stuff games usually give you cuz of XP.

But the game gives you a choice: $1000 of money or $2000 of earn. And money is good. You can unlock guns, upgrade guns, etc. So the game is saying “Ok, good job. You finished a quest. Now CHOOSE: Gear or skills? Loot or XP?”

And that’s cool. Cuz often games GIVE you one, the other or both, but I can’t remember a game that keeps making you choose between a reward that would be better gear OR better skills, up to you, not both.

This game does so very much well. I’m STILL liking it more than I thought I would.

Feminina:

I think there was a guy you could pull out of there…it was an ‘Informant’ mission, I think. I did sneak in and free him and kill everyone around, and then was mildly peeved when I had to kill them all over again when I went back. Oh well.

Anyway, the point is, there was still a dead guy tied to a chair even though I went in after the other guy, so I think maybe that was just going to happen.

Although if you didn’t save the informant, he’s certainly dead but just, you know, inside an alligator as opposed to tied to a chair, so…maybe that’s not really comforting knowledge. You should still feel guilty, is my point now.

Immediate loot vs. earn is an interesting choice. I always take earn, though. Recruit everyone! EVERYONE MUST WORK FOR MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! (They don’t have to love me, though…Lincoln doesn’t give a damn whether people love him or not.)

But yeah, very good character and theme development, with the contrast between Haiti and Vietnam, and where both these guys were dealing with the different things they were dealing with…and of course Lincoln was in Vietnam and not in Haiti because the U.S. government cared about Vietnam (at least politically) but not about Haiti, so, you know, we cared about the spread of communism on the other side of the world but not about atrocities relatively next door.

Another interesting bit–have you been listening to the radio segments from “Native Son” on the story of Hollis Dupree? Interesting, still incredibly topical.

Butch:

I have heard those! And contrasted them with the “Voice,” who also is an interesting take.

Very cool stuff.

Which….

Sometimes I say to my kids “You know, when you’re bad, it’s especially frustrating because I know you know how to be good.” I want to say this to this game a lot.

A LOT.

 

Environmental Hazards

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for rackets and story in Mafia 3

Butch:

First, what the fuck is with Point Verdun? I have the booze and the loan sharking quests, and they’re all, like, two feet apart. I can’t go anywhere without someone attacking me.

Second, I kind of love that you can just hide from cops and they’ll give up. “We have a homicide, suspect is very dangerous.” (90 seconds later) “Well, guess he’s gone. He sure put one over on us! Let’s all get donuts.”

But also–the Irish thing. Burke is Irish.

So on the way to meet Burke, I got the radio thing from the Voice about how there’s been a race war for 400 years. How the white man “took the land” from the Native Americans, how black folk don’t have a real home and must take one, or take one back, and that segues into someone singing “Too long a province, a nation once more.” I can see making a character Irish, or, at the very least, not Italian or Southern, but to make him explicitly IRA is an interesting and pointed choice.

I get that there’s some accuracy re organized crime there. There certainly was an Irish mob that was linked to the IRA, and maybe that was it. But the timing and the overt nature of Burke’s anger at the oppressors is an interesting thing to throw in there.

What do you make of it?

Feminina:

I do love how lackadaisical the cops are about things. Many’s the time I’m hiding out in some random building in the middle of the blue circle, watching the cop cars drive around, just patiently chilling until I hear the magical “search has been called off, return to patrols” message and they all just vanish. Never change, NBPD.

I mean, it no doubt sucks if you’re a law-abiding citizen trying to get someone to care about the fact that your car was stolen, but for me? Perfect.

The cops do make up for their unwillingness to search hard with an extreme willingness to open fire the second they see me. I could say something about the realism of this depiction of law enforcement priorities in relation to black people, but it would be more depressing than anything.

As for the IRA connection, I feel like it’s an interesting note that things are complicated and there are a lot of legitimate grievances out there. And also potentially a nod to “hey, there are white people with legitimate grievances too!” just in case we were getting all agitated about how the game didn’t speak to our white concerns, or something. That would be the slightly cynical interpretation.

Butch:

OK, I drew out the underboss of protection, busted up some liquor stores (now, why would I DO that? Sad, really), found five, count ’em, five, playboys.

That’s it.

This section of the map, though, man. Can’t take two steps without finding Kevins. And, to make matters worse, one of the cars that the game GAVE ME was this truck that drove like shit. YOU try running from dudes in a meat truck.

So, that’s it. Too many Kevins. 

But hey! Five playboys! Nudity! And, I tell ya….preorder cyberpunk. So. Much. Nudity.

Though I did notice that we finally met a character in game that it’s in the documentary. Nikki Burke, the Irish guy’s daughter, who becomes an associate. We saw her old, saying Danny’s death was her dad’s fault. Hmm.

Feminina:

Pointe Verdun is really big on the Kevins, all right.

Have you managed to ‘destroy’ the bootlegging truck that keeps driving by? I still haven’t.

And you mention Playboys: did you get the one that’s completely surrounded by cops? I have not managed to get in there without getting shot. Cops CARE about that Playboy, man.

Butch:

Crap, cops are gonna shoot me over a playboy?

Hmm…..is it worth it? Is it really? After all, playboy wasn’t as…interesting in the 60s.

I haven’t really tried to destroy the truck. I was driving the big, clunky, awful truck, and figured a) this was not the vehicle to start a fight in and b) this was not the vehicle to run from the cops in.

Feminina:

I did try to destroy the truck while driving a big truck because I figured I could run it off the road, but that doesn’t work. I mean, you can do it, but it doesn’t count as ‘destroyed.’ I even ran it off the road, stole it, and drove it into the river!–but it still didn’t count as destroyed. I even followed one to where it parked and threw molotov cocktails at it!–but it still didn’t count as destroyed.

So don’t bother getting clever: I think the only thing that counts is shooting out the tires, and then…I don’t know, probably something after that, but I’ve never gotten that far. The game REALLY wants you to shoot at that damn truck.

Butch:

Well, fuck that. I didn’t like doing that when I had to, and only succeeded by dumb luck.

Alva will have to deal.

Feminina:

Yeah. I think I will probably never successfully destroy one of those things. It’s fine. I busted up some liquor stores. Murdered a bunch of dudes. I think the next thing I have to do is face the head of the bootlegging operation, so at least destroying the trucks isn’t required.

Butch:

I haven’t drawn him out. I’m on the loan shark guy.

Wait….are we sorta in a similar place?

Feminina:

I think we might be! -ish.

I think I’m still a bit ahead of you because the next things I have are the final battles with both the bootlegger and the protection racket dude, but yeah, we’re both wandering around the same part of town!

Except when I take a break to go down to Bayou Fantom and run weed or steal a semi. You know. Picking up a little cash on the side, making my criminal associates happy.

Butch:

Ah. I have yet to see the bayou.

Playboys await!

Feminina:

Oh, they do.

Speaking of collectibles, I’m curious about that Repent! one I haven’t found anything for yet. Suggests that at some point there’s going to be some religious aspects? I mean, we do have Father James here…does he start tucking pamphlets under Lincoln’s windshield wipers or something?

Could be some interesting themage there. Or not. It might turn out to be something totally random like a Chick Tract or something. That would actually be kind of awesome.

Butch:

Well, I haven’t been looking for those…..

Ahem.

I did grab an album yesterday! So it’s not ALL nudity.

Just most of it.

Wait, why DID you go to the bayou? I’ve had no reason to go there, save for the dope mission I didn’t even know was there until you found it.

Feminina:

That was why, man! I went there for the weed! Why else?

It’s a long drive, but it was an evening when I didn’t feel like dealing with any of the Kevins nearby. “Let me drive for 20 minutes and deal with some Kevins down there!” I thought.

Though actually the weed missions are surprisingly peaceful.

Butch:

Well….hey man….weed’s mellow…..

Fun, Games, White-Hot Rage

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for some plot points in Mafia 3

Butch:

Have you done the Grecco bit yet? Because I want to talk about it. No, not talk. Talk is not the word.

I want to rant about it.

Because, for many, MANY reasons, I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at a game than I am right now.

Feminina:

Yes. Yes I have. I was not exactly ANGRY about it, but I had some feelings. Was it the driving? The driving was a pain.

Was it the fact that you have to let this dude be tortured by this other dude? I felt icky about that.

You rant.

Butch:

Oh, tortured? I don’t know cuz I DIDN’T GET TO THAT.

How in earthly FUCK do you shoot from cars? How do you GET him? Once, ONCE I rammed him, and he got out, and he got in another car. WHAT DO I DO????????

So there’s that. That WHAT DO I DO?????? Thing.

But really, REALLY what makes me mad was that you have the ability to “abort mission.” You have the chance to give up and just say “Ok, Vito didn’t help me” and just lose Vito.

Now, you MAY think that I would like that, the ability to skip a mission that is enraging me. But I don’t like that. Why?

Because it made every single last mission in River Row irrelevant. If Vito’s help depends SOLELY on this (get him, get Vito, abort, don’t), then why in the ABSOLUTE FUCK did I do all those racket things that took forever? Those things I HAD to do to get to this mission that turns out to the be ONLY DAMN THING THAT MATTERS TO ANYTHING?????

THAT’S infuriating.

Because let’s talk about mandatory Kevin missions. Let’s take the Witcher contracts, the hunting grounds, the AC assassinations off the table and talk about Kevin missions games make you do. These missions usually, almost always, have a point. Among possible points:

1) re-engage the player after a long cutscene/dialog/plot drop.
2) Increase tension before an important set piece.
3) establish the existence of a threat (the levels in which the PC mumbles “what are THEY doing here?”)
4) Let a player practice with a new weapon/skill in a low stakes level before needing it in an important level.
5) Let a player practice against a new kind of more powerful Kevin in a low stakes level before needing to face him in an important level.
6) In an open world game, make a place stacked with powerful Kevins to make sure you don’t go past said place until you’re ready.

The possibilities abound.

But this racket shit? None of the above. NONE. And then to make it so that absolutely NONE of it mattered? That the whole plot point of the whole River Row came down JUST to this car chase?

It’s busy work. Pure and simple busy work. UNAVOIDABLE busy work. And that’s infuriating.

AND! AND! In order to make the busy work slightly quicker, three out of the last four levels, I used the fact there’s a quirk in the enemy AI to get past them. See, dying not only costs you money. You don’t get back all the mines and shit you used, thus making it so you have to go ELSEWHERE to get more money to get more. So I noticed that, if you get to a good, protected pinch point, they’ll search ONE BY ONE and you can just stab them all. I showed you a pile of dead Kevins in a screenshot. That was my first. I made two more. So these pointless scenes weren’t even exciting. They were me, hiding, waiting, hitting circle, making a pile of Kevins.

And you could say “But dude, you COULD have played the level like the devs intended. You didn’t HAVE to sit there waiting, hitting circle.” But if I DIDN’T do that, this all would have taken longer and why make it take longer WHEN IT IS POINTLESS?????

Just plain maddening.

And, gotta say, as much as we have a personal connection to this game, it’s taken a great deal of the wind out of my sails re my desire to play it. Yes, the story is good, but, if I ever do get to the next area, I’ll spend two or three consecutive playing sessions thinking “this is pointless.” I’ll make Kevin piles KNOWING it’s pointless. I’ll sit there, waiting, hitting circle one by one, being bored, for no reason.

So I don’t know. I DO want to see the story, but with no way to chug through it……

I certainly don’t see myself saying “Try not to get too far into Tomb Raider in the three weeks it’ll take me to finish this!” I’m not gonna do pointless Kevin piles when there’s TR to be played, and you to blog TR with. I’ll likely chug through this until you finish and boot up TR, whether I’m finished or not.

Unless it gets better and the Kevins get a point. Cuz when it’s good, it’s GOOD.

But MAN I’m angry.

Feminina:

Oh, dude, wait, that’s what “abort mission” does? I figured it would just take you back to the point before you started, so you could go do something else and try again later. Like, a step back from “restart checkpoint,” which, obviously, restarted from the beginning of the chase.

I didn’t know it represented you giving up on the whole racket.

Interesting. And, yeah, kind of enraging, since if you’re going to have the option to give up on a racket, they could give you the option of giving up on it from the very beginning rather than you putting all the time into it first. Although…I mean, you wouldn’t know which ones you were going to want to give up on until you got to the final fight…hm. I’m not sure what to say about that. I mean…I guess yeah, making “abort mission” such a final thing seems like poor design. Especially if they didn’t give you a huge-ass warning about it, like “are you sure you want to waste all the effort you put into this racket, instead of maybe turning down the difficulty or something?”

As for the car chase, yeah, it was very annoying. Michael Grecco escaped about 15 times before I finally managed to run him off the road in a place where there wasn’t another car handy for him to jump into. And every time I had to watch the documentary dude somberly say that “Vito agreed to help on one condition: that Lincoln Clay give him Michael Grecco. Once Grecco escaped and Vito backed out…”

Right. I get it. This is important. PLEASE LET ME SKIP THE LOAD SCREEN AND GO BACK TO CHASING THIS BASTARD.

Butch:

Well….uh…..now I feel kinda silly cuz I assumed so…..

Cuz restart is restart. And when the dude was all “He backed out,” instead of “Wait….that can’t be how it happened….” I figured “Ok, so Vito backing out is how it happened.” That would be the logical assumption, yes? I can’t find anything on the internet that answers that. I didn’t want to hit abort, cuz you can’t exactly go back to an old save, so…..

It makes sense, right?

I also think there’s something about shooting his car, but fuck if I know how to do that.

Feminina:

But…you might at least not have wasted all that time on Vito. That’s good, I guess, although it means you have to chase Michael Grecco again.

I don’t really know how to shoot from a car either. I’m sure there was a mini-tutorial screen on it that I clicked impatiently through, and now there’s this truck with something I’m supposed to destroy that I keep seeing driving by, and usually I just kind of fire randomly, and any time I actually manage to aim at it correctly, it turns out I’m out of bullets. So that’s been fun.

But I don’t know if that really matters for the Grecco chase, because Vito is shooting at people in that one. I mean, I suppose if I’d been shooting too it might have worked better, but I was just counting on him to do the shooting while I tried to run Grecco’s car (MY car, apparently!) off the road. And then seriously, you have to bail out IMMEDIATELY and run over to make sure Grecco can’t get into another car, because otherwise he speeds off and good luck chasing him down by the time YOU find another car.

The whole scene was…challenging. Let’s say challenging. And it IS the boss fight for that territory, so it has to be something different than just whistling for Kevins to come and be murdered one by one (which, you’re right, seems to be by far the best strategy most of the time). Still, frustrating. I did some swearing at the screen.

Butch:

Yes, yes I do get to chase him some more. It’s gonna be great.

I’m telling ya, it’s not like me to say “I don’t know if I want to finish this game.” I finish everything. And yet….

I read on the internet that the best way to do this scene is to shoot out his tires. Which didn’t occur to me cuz I didn’t know HOW to shoot out his tires. I THINK that popped up on the top left there, but a) the print is small and b) I WAS DRIVING THE FUCKING CAR AND COULDN’T EXACTLY READ THE DAMN THING!

Yeah, that “Wait he’s in another….SHIT I NEED A CAR WHERE’S A CAR he’s gone” happened to me the ONE TIME I got him out of his car.

Great. Just…..great.

Sigh. Here we go again saying “well…it was free….”

I’m really looking forward to playing a game that I say “God DAMN I love this!”

I’m gonna go watch that Cyberpunk footage again.

Feminina:

I’m not quite as burnt out as you at this point. I had fun last night driving around, picking up magazines, tapping phones, stealing a boat, delivering some weed…Lincoln needs a little downtime, you know?

Butch:

True.

And I’ll forgive SOME cuz I just played, and succeeded on try three due to dumb luck. His car gave out right in front of me and I ran him over by accident.

I’ll take it.

Then I conversed with dudes and have met Burke. Have you met Burke?

So….

They’re trying to let Marcano go straight and complicating the priest.

I have to mull that. Cuz it doesn’t make Lincoln any more sympathetic.

Feminina:

I forget who Burke is. Remind me what he does. But yeah, I got the bit about Marcano trying to go legit by opening a casino, and Father James having been in the war (so he knows what he’s talking about when he decries violence and wishes Lincoln could “turn from this path”).

Interesting that you read that as “Marcano trying to go straight,” though. I mean, yeah, it’s true, but it sounds a bit sympathetic to HIM, like “he’s trying to get out of the crime business because he wants to be a better person” or something, similar to the sense we got at the very beginning when Lincoln planned to move to California and go straight–and I didn’t get that sense at all from Marcano. It was more “I’m just tired of people trying to kill me,” which is definitely an understandable motivation, but not exactly a sign of changed heart or something.

It certainly doesn’t change anything about the way he treated Lincoln’s family–it’s not as if he’s seemed even remotely sorry about that. So I don’t feel it makes Lincoln any LESS sympathetic than he was, really (and we can certainly debate about how sympathetic that is), that he continues to want the Marcanos dead.

I mean, what, I’m supposed to be all “aww, Sal wants to be a good guy now?” Because I don’t think he does. He wants to be a corrupt legitimate businessman instead of an out-and-out criminal. Sure, it’s a step up legally, but morally…enh.

Butch:

I dunno though. He was all “I don’t want you with a target on you. Find a woman, give me grandchildren,” and Georgi said “sounds boring.” He wants boring. So maybe Sal isn’t going straight, but he seems to want future Marcanos to be straight, at least on paper.

Not just James in the war, but Donovan being all “hey, he gets this. He gets sometimes you gotta kill.” Interesting.

Burke’s the Irish dude. Danny’s dad. Up in the top part of the map.

Feminina:

Oh, right, that guy. Yeah, I met him. Get ready to enjoy some wild driving!

And yeah, OK, it’s mildly relatable that Sal wants a better (less dangerous) life for his kid than he’s had himself. Sure. I can understand that.

Doesn’t mean it’s not still a mostly selfish motivation (he seems to be thinking as much about his legacy, as about his son as a person), or that he in any way regrets any of the people he’s stomped on over the years.

Butch:

Oh I drove! Kinda fun, actually. More fun than kidnapping Grecco and running from cops.

Wrong side of the road is key.

Feminina:

Yes! Jumps were good if you found some planks, but all the times I got jumps, I failed for other reasons (getting outside the mission area, crashing the car and dying, something). Running red lights seemed to have surprisingly little impact. I think in the end for me it was mostly driving on the wrong side of the road and speeding. Hitting a few mailboxes can’t hurt either.

Amusement Parks: Fun for the Whole Creepy, Doomed Family

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the creepy amusement park bit in Mafia 3

Butch:

Ok, played.

Well, then. Now THAT’S some themes. Where’s THAT been the last few sessions?

So yes, the carnival was nicely creepy, as carnivals are. But having to go through that ride with the horribly racist story, and how “the negro” lost his way, and turned savage, but then found God again RIGHT BEFORE all of that was…something. It almost….ALMOST…had the “kill the doctors in mad blood lust only to realize you are a monster” vibe of TLOU. “These racist fucks think that they’re better? Well, my liberal ass will show THEM!” Almost. I’m not going to give it THAT much credit, but it certainly was effective at mood and provocation of thought.

I know you have some thoughts, so here ya go. Thinkin’ time.

And there’s no way a public hanging was an accident. Nope. That’s a…somewhat racially charged thing, that is. Especially when it then cuts to the documentary about how Lincoln was trained in psychological warfare, and this was being used to scare.

But…I gotta ruminate on this. I highly doubt that the game was trying to say “Why, the racist asshats were right! The black man IS crawling up out of the swamp to murder us all!” This game is not racist propaganda, right? They CAN’T be saying “Lincoln, and by extension, the player, is just as bad as the Dixie mob,” right? So what ARE they saying? They certainly WANT to be saying something, with that ride, and lynching imagery and all that, but what? It would be kinda tacky if they’re just using all that to create some emotional, but substanceless gut punch.

I’ll ponder.

Anyway, then I met Emmanuel. I like that this game, unlike so many games, unlike so many everythings, makes it clear that “black” is not a unified front. I liked Emmanuel as a character.

Which is why I’m very disappointed that I have no fucking idea where his boat is. He’s all “Everything you need is in the boat.” Oooookaaaaay. And the boat is…..? There’s no boat.

I’m the worst drug dealer ever.

So I gave up and just met Vito. Did you go to Vito or Burke? Cuz I just met Vito.

But one of the problems with this game: You play a scene and you think “DUDE we’re gonna get, like, three days bloggage out of this!” Then you play a couple more hours and you thing “Good thing we’re gonna get three days bloggage out of that, because if we don’t, the next three days are gonna be nothing but ‘Well, killed Kevin. You?'”

Cuz after that very good, very thought provoking scene (still trying to figure out what I think about it), I did the WHOLE union protection racket and killed one of the warehouse enforcers and…well…. Ok, some good Kevin killin’ levels, some good playboys….but not a whole lot to blog on other than that.

And it’s irritating, because I WANT to get on with the story. I do. I’m LIKING the story when it actually shows up. But there’s no way to skip over the whole blowing up trailers and blowing up warehouses and killing Kevins bits. They’re not side quests. Two hours or more of Kevin slaughtering JUST to get to the next story bit. You have no choice.

And that kinda sucks. Most games, there’s the main story mission right there at the top of the quest list. Right there. You can go do it if you really want to. And even when you can’t (say, getting to Skellege in TW3, until you had the coin), there’s other story based things to do. Shit, in THIS game, for the first part of the game, there were missions that had “Main story” on them. Not anymore. And that’s weird and annoying cuz sometimes, most times, you just want to let Kevin be and go on with the story.

Now, if you’re telling a LINEAR story, fine. Uncharted, Tomb Raider, sometimes you gotta kill Kevin to move on. But if you have a game that’s open world, that has choice, you have GOT to let the player choose how and when to proceed. This? This IS linear, but not, all at the same time.

And there I go again, saying this game is trying to do things “all at the same time.” That never, EVER works.

Feminina:

It is true, there’s a lot of non-story in between the story bits. I smuggled some weed last night.

The whole thing where both of us talked to the guy and then thought “well, where’s the boat though?” So…turns out the boat is indicated by a marker on the map. Yeah…we keep talking about how there aren’t a lot of quest icons on the map, and then we totally miss one.

It’s way down south, on the coastline. Purple, picture of the marijuana leaf.

And yeah, that was some story bit, huh?

My take on the amusement park is that the game is not saying “watch out white people, a scary black man really is coming to get you,” but that Lincoln the character IS saying that to the people he’s after. If that makes sense.

I mean, the whole loup-garou story in the amusement park is, as you noted, troublingly racist and also basically a dramatization of the fact that slaveholders live in fear of slave uprisings. Somewhere under their justifications they know that people don’t like being slaves, and they’re constantly terrified of the fact that some of those people, somewhere, sometime, are going to do something about it. Which IS basically a fact, considering we know slave rebellions happened a lot.

And, in the story, you can successfully pacify them with religion and get them to believe that even though things suck right now, everything’s going to be great later after they’re dead, which is a pretty good redirection and a nice happy ending for the story, but in real life it’s still scary to think about how they might not actually buy that argument.

And I feel like the obvious lynching image when he hangs the dude from the Ferris wheel also ties back to the related white fear that if they ever get a chance, non-white people (even if they aren’t slaves) will treat us the way we’ve treated them, which was of course totally fine and justified at the time and those people shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it but which would be really terrible if it happened to us because we’re so special and awesome and stuff.

The documentary dude talking about Lincoln’s skills at psychological warfare I think is pointing at this: that this is a statement Lincoln is making, specifically directed at the guys he’s going after. “I know what you’re afraid of, and yes, I’m going to make it happen.”

So…very interesting, very themey, big story. I kind of just sat there after it saying “wow, that was…a thing.”

And then, as you say, we wander off and kill a few hundred more Kevins. Which…I don’t know, it’s fine, I don’t know that I want to be facing this level of intensity in the story all the time. You want to take a break! Sneak around! Murder some dudes! Run some weed! Steal a few cars and listen to the radio while you drive around!

But I get what you’re saying, that these less-engaging steps in the story can also feel like an interruption in the momentum, and a chance for the urgency and intensity to drain away.

Hm.

Butch:

Of COURSE it’s way down in the bayou. Not by the dock RIGHT THERE, but somewhere we’ve never been.

It’s a boat chase, isn’t it?

As for the park story…Hmm. Well, as for its racist nature, did you listen to the radio when the news was saying that the reason the place closed down was because of civil rights activists protesting the racist imagery? Couldn’t tell if that was 21st game devs apologizing or what.

So you read all that as indication that, yes, Lincoln is the angry black man coming, but that’s somehow noble? That what Lincoln is doing is akin to the slave revolts that the plantations were scared of (and that would have been totally noble and justified)?

I can see that, and maybe that was what they were going for, but, again, the problem crops up that Lincoln isn’t all that noble. He’s not really noble at all. Nat Turner, fighting the good fight to free his oppressed people he is not. He’s out for his own personal revenge and own personal fortune.

Them treating us the way we treated them, again, would make more of an impact, or, at the very least more of a consistent theme, if Lincoln was killing dudes for more altruistic reasons.

Maybe that is what they’re going for. In addition to the news report about the racist rides, did you hear the “voice of the hollow”‘s report after the scene? Here’s a real, honest to God civil rights activist praising Lincoln, talking about how the racists brought this on themselves, and black people have to stand up and fight, and whoever is doing this (Lincoln) is a hero for the cause and all that. But….he isn’t. I think it’s the game trying to say “See? He’s a hero! After all, if the civil rights activist says this is civil rights activism, it must be!” But…it isn’t.

I’m curious as to whether they stick with this idea when I kill…whoever it is I’m trying to kill right now. Grecco? Is he a guy?

I had the same reaction to the ending. Quite the thing.

And well, yes, sometimes you want to just sneak and murder and listen to music. But sometimes you don’t.

And most open world games let you choose! To go back to TW3, there was always some story thing, but there was also always some contract or find a handaxe or participate in a horse race thing as well. Horizon was the same way: always a story mission, but you could just mess around at a hunting ground or whatever. Whenever you booted it up, you could choose. Take your breaks from the story if and when you wanted them.

Here, you can’t. I guess you could make things move a little faster by not killing the enforcers ahead of time, but you still have to do at least a couple of things before you do the racket boss, and you have to do BOTH racket bosses (who, let’s face it, are just mega-Kevins) before you move the story. No matter what. You’re at a point where you want to move the story and can’t? Tough. You’re at a point where you just want to kill Kevin but it’s the last level and there’s gonna be “a thing,” tough.

And in an open world game, hmm, indeed.

ESPECIALLY in a game where the studio’s tagline is “Every player’s story is different” or whatever. It is? How? Just if I choose not to do some weed related boat chase? Kill a racket boss or two and change my earn? Hardly changes the story.

Maybe there’ll be some ME/Divinity thing where our decisions re letting racket bosses live or not doing weed chases turns out to matter in the late game after all, but so far, I sure don’t feel like my story is different. Or that I have any agency to change it.

Feminina:

Yeah, I don’t really know if I buy that every player’s story is different. It feels very much like a game with a specific story, and you do that story, and maybe the order in which you do things varies, but not the substance of it. I mean, there are all those people you can choose to either kill or recruit (I recruit them all, I mean…money, right?), and maybe that makes a difference somewhere down the line? But otherwise, it’s mostly you being pointed at targets, and then going out and getting them. There aren’t a lot of choice points.

And…I don’t really have a problem with Lincoln not being noble, and I don’t really feel like the game is saying he’s noble (although that could be just my read on it).

I feel like he’s using peoples’ fears against them on his way to get revenge, and there are some people who think that’s a great blow for civil rights and some people think it’s a terrible blow against the rightful order, and some people (Father James) who think it’s regrettable violence, and in reality it’s a complicated, mostly personal thing that he’s doing that has a variety of good and bad impacts on the larger world, none of which he’s necessarily planned or thought through.

I feel like it’s saying that people have their own reasons for doing things, and often they do terrible things for what they argue are good reasons, and some people have better cause than others to be justly angry, but…no, I don’t think Lincoln sees himself as a civil rights hero, and I don’t think the game is saying he is one.

Maybe he does some good on the side, in that some of the people he kills are genuinely awful racist dirtbags, but he’s mostly killing them as part of his revenge plot. It’s the mafia. People don’t set out to take over organized crime so they can do good deeds in the community.

But maybe they do some on the side, either to increase support or by accident. (Interestingly, we saw Sammy doing good deeds with his soup kitchen, it was even implied that he spent too much being nice to people, and look what happened to him.) Honestly, I would find the game harder to swallow if Lincoln were presented as having pure, altruistic motives, just because…who gets into organized crime out of altruism?

I don’t know, I may be overly generous, but so far I’m feeling OK with the fact that the game is just saying “hey, this guy in a particular situation was justifiably angry, and he did some stuff that wasn’t exactly good as a result, but you can think about it for a while, and murdering Kevin sure is fun, right?”

It sure is, game. It sure is.

Oh–and the weed running isn’t actually a boat chase, it’s just puttering around in a boat. It’s actually very low stress, it’s just a very long drive to get down there.

And speaking of that, it does give you another chance to talk to Emmanuel, who as you noted earlier is a nice instance of the game not having people have the same agenda just because they’re both black. Emmanuel doesn’t have much patience with Lincoln (and certainly doesn’t view him as some sort of hero), which is interesting. I also appreciated that even though Cassandra signed off on the partnership, HE hasn’t just forgotten about the death of Baka.

I mean, he still works with us, but it’s nice that they didn’t just say “oh yeah, everyone’s cool, this dude killed our leader but water under the bridge.” We commented on that earlier, so I think it’s fair to note that the game is better about at least gesturing towards long-term consequences than we thought it might be.

Butch:

There really aren’t a lot of choice points. And yes, maybe, MAYBE they’re pulling an “Ah ha! You thought it didn’t matter!” But….I doubt it.

As for your take on Lincoln’s actions…Hmm. Ok, I see that. Lincoln is some sort of Rorschach test of how you feel about what he’s doing in the larger context? That here’s a guy doing his thing, and you see what you see? That maybe history is full of that? That people who we THOUGHT were this, that or the other thing weren’t, and we just saw what we wanted to see in them?

(Speaking of which, where the hell did Father James go? He was an interesting character.)

And no, the game isn’t saying he’s a civil rights hero, per se. But certainly some people IN the game see it that way. The Voice of the Hollow certainly sees Lincoln that way.

The game does let you think about things for a while. That it does. That scene was certainly a thing.

But while we’re talking on whether the game is talking about civil rights in some larger context or not, one thing we haven’t seen the game talk about in a larger context is the war. We know that Lincoln was a veteran, we know Donovan was, and that Donovan REALLY HATES COMMUNISTS. Indeed, we have commie propaganda as a collectible. But what we haven’t seen in the counterpoint to that. While we have seen enough to ponder the complexities of white/black, or even black/black, we haven’t seen much in terms of “it’s good to hate commies/no, the war was unjustified.” We’re only getting the first one, really.

And I guess we could say “This game is really about family, and what’s war got to do with it?” But damn….pulling down commie posters? That’s loaded, isn’t it?

The Emmanuel parts, yeah, that is good. When this game decides to be good, it’s good. I’ll give it that. That’s why it’s all the more frustrating that it has such long, unavoidable periods between the good.

Feminina:

Pulling down commie posters is a bit loaded, and yeah, I do kind of wonder where they’re going with that, if anywhere.

Especially because a couple of the posters (or one, anyway, I feel like they repeat so I may have seen the same one multiple times) specifically mention equality. I mean…we’re into equality…maybe we could at least wonder about communism’s take on it, compared to the one we’re living in, which might not seem all that successful to, you know, anyone who was paying attention?

And especially because there was a definite angle with race and the war–black men specifically questioned why they should go fight in a war and kill people who weren’t white, just because some white men were all worked up about it. So there could be something there, but you’re right, we haven’t really seen it explored.

Butch:

Hmm. Yeah I saw that equality one. That’s really the only one. I’m only collecting stuff with boobs.

What?

But it’s also interesting that the guy who seems the angriest about communism is a “good guy.” Though I still don’t trust him.

Feminina:

Yeah, I don’t trust Donovan either. I mean, I trust that he’s on our side in the sense that he’s helping Lincoln take down the mob. We know he does that because he’s already been helpful, and because he testifies to Congress that he did it. (Unless he’s lying in that footage, which is possible…)

But I don’t trust that his motives necessarily align with Lincoln’s. It seems like he may well have his own agenda here. He seems a bit…fixated on something, which may not be what Lincoln is fixated on. And, perhaps, Lincoln also doesn’t necessarily trust him, but is willing to use his information anyway, because hey. If we can be useful to each other, we can work together.

Butch:

Well, his intel on Doucet was good.

It is interesting that a) he seemed perfectly content to admit to a bunch of murders under oath, which suggests he had some authorization but b) Congress didn’t seem to know he was involved….

Hmm.

Feminina:

Well, he didn’t really admit to murder, did he? He admitted to helping Lincoln Clay take down the mob in New Bordeaux. As far as we know (as of this point in the game), he only ever helped by providing information, which is definitely important and means he’s definitely implicated, but it’s not exactly the same, legally, as actually killing someone yourself.

At least, I wouldn’t think so. You’re the lawyer.

Conspiracy, sure. Murder, I don’t know.

Butch:

Dude, he was asked point blank: “Did you help Lincoln Clay MURDER every member of the Marcano crime family?” To which he answered “You’re Goddam right I did.”

Generally, we lawyers say that is an admission to, at least, accessory to murder.

Either way, he admitted to a serious crime under oath, rather glibly. To Senators that didn’t seem to know he did it.

Feminina:

OK, fair. He was, if nothing else, unconcerned enough about it to not bother clarifying the point.

If he wanted to be careful about how much guilt he was admitting to, he could certainly have said “yes, but I only provided information” or something. Leaving the term “murder” completely unchallenged does suggest that he either killed some of those people himself at some point, and/or was confident enough that he wouldn’t be charged with anything that it wasn’t worth bothering about to him.

“Murder, help murder, whatever–it was all worth it in the service of the great anti-communist cause!”

Or whatever his personal cause turns out to be.

Butch:

And one would think that if he was being protected from legal fallout by the government, then the Senators would know….

Confusing.

I have a feeling we’ll find out.

Feminina:

Well, it’s the CIA. They have kind of a reputation for not telling people things.

I mean, they’re also only supposed to work outside the U.S., rather than plotting mob power transfers inside the country, so who knows.

The Calm Before the Game

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No real spoilers

Butch:

Stupid caring family insisting on celebrating my birthday. Was fun, though. Mrs. McP got me a weekend at this “foodie” resort up in Vermont in October. Foliage, great food and….wait for it….

NO KIDS.

Best. Birthday. Ever.

But didn’t have time to play anything.

But tonight! And the weekend! Because Junior and Nugget are going to NYC with the grandparents until Monday! Gonna be so quiet. 

This is what it’s come to. They’re going to see Hamilton. Fucking HAMILTON. In New York! And me? I’m not all “Awww man! I wish I was going!” No. I’m all “Quiet time and games!!!!!!!”

Sigh.

We had lives once, right? In the time before children?

I’ll ponder.

Anyway, then I met Emmanuel. I like that this game, unlike so many games, unlike so many everythings, makes it clear that “black” is not a unified front. I liked Emmanuel as a character.

Which is why I’m very disappointed that I have no fucking idea where his boat is. He’s all “Everything you need is in the boat.” Oooookaaaaay. And the boat is…..? There’s no boat.

I’m the worst drug dealer ever.

So I gave up and just met Vito. Did you go to Vito or Burke? Cuz I just met Vito.

Feminina:

I feel like…maybe we did? I don’t know. It was so long ago. The memories are blurry.

Maybe we’ve always had children, and our fondest dreams have always been limited to quiet time and games.

I mean, we’ve definitely always been at war with Eastasia, so who knows?

That sounds like a pretty awesome birthday, though.

Butch:

Yeah, you’re probably right. Why we play, really.

Today. They just left. Now must distract Meatball…..

Feminina:

Hey Meatball! Look over there! It’s a big pile of snacks and 5 hours of Dinotrux!

Or whatever he likes to watch. O’Jr. is currently into Clone Wars and some kind of How to Train Your Dragon-based series.

Butch:

Good call!

How to Train your Dragon was pretty good.

Though Meaty’s being a tad clingy. He kept asking nana and poppa if he could go, too, and he can’t, so he’s sad.

Maybe five hours of Dinotrux will cheer him up….

Feminina:

It will cheer him up! How could it not?

It does suck to be left out, though. Poor Meaty. Next year!

For now, five hours of Dinotrux and some snacks.

Butch:

He is kinda young to appreciate it. And it’s a lot of walking for his little legs.

He doesn’t even really get what he’s missing. It’s a vague concept. But he knows that a) his brothers are doing it and b) his brothers like it, ergo c) whatever the fuck it is HAS to be good.

Which, let’s face it, is a mental exercise that people keep doing until they’re way older than five.

Feminina:

Hey, I just did that calculation yesterday, and it was SOUND, man! Ha.

But yeah, even if it’s not actually something he’d enjoy, he obviously hates to be left out.

Butch:

I’m placating him with the big gun: Build a Bear.

It’s come to that.

Feminina:

It’s come to that.

Well…if that’s what it takes, then let it be done. As long as you get some game time.

“They get Hamilton: You get a bear.”

Can’t argue with that.

Butch:

Of course, now he’s being cute as hell with the bear. Kids. They do know what buttons to push.

Feminina:

All part of their cunning plan to make us not leave them outside to starve.

Butch:

It’s really what tweens get wrong. They give up the cute and keep the annoying. Totally backwards logic.

Feminina:

That’s probably part of their cunning plan to MAKE us throw them out so they can learn to fend for themselves before we perish in an unfortunate spike-impalement incident.

Butch:

Nice callback!

Had they not gone away this weekend, I’d be hoping for a spike accident.

MAN I want to go on this trip Mrs. McP got me. Like now.

No, not now. When the kids get back.

Feminina:

Oh, totally–no point going away while the kids are away! One must be strategic.

Butch:

That one must.

Gonna feed Meaty, then send him off so I can play. This is getting silly.

Feminina:

You can’t spend all your time building bears, man! You need playtime too!

Butch:

Darn tootin!

But he goes to bed right at six and won’t come out. It’s all good.

Feminina:

Oh, that’s golden. It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

Gotta sorta kinda catch up to you.

I’ve already gone on notice that I’m spending my first days of all three in school all day walking five miles and playing games and that’s IT.

Feminina:

Walking 5 miles and playing games all day is a good day.

You can catch up! I took a break for a couple of nights to watch some of Matt Groening’s new show. (It’s OK so far, not amazing, but amusing.)

Go murder! And drive! And drive to the murders!

I’m Driven by FRIENDLY Revenge

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for plot in Mafia 3

Butch:

Took out the smack racket…and started selling weed…..uh, yay? Now I’m about to go kill Doucet at the amusement park I’ve driven by nine times, each time thinking “I bet there’s gonna be a big, climactic fight there.”

So yesterday brought into focus a problem with this game that I’ve had for a while:

So, a lot of times, games ask you to play as people who, in the real world, are objectively awful, evil people. Games manage to take these objectively awful people and make them into people we want to pretend to be by putting them in one of three categories:

1) The lovable, rascally (if psychotic) rogue (See Nathan Drake, Chloe Frazer, Geralt of Rivia)
2) The complicated, damaged hero (see Lara Croft, and, while he isn’t video game, Batman)
and
3) the bad guy SO bad that mayhem gets cartoonish and ridiculous and fun (see Grand Theft Auto, Payday, etc.)

This game can’t seem to go far enough on any of the three. Lincoln’s not anywhere close to the lovable rogue. That’s out. And the game can’t decide if he’s 2 or 3. He SHOULD be 2. The veteran, saw some awful stuff in the war, victim of racism, they should have gone down that road whole hog. But they didn’t. The game is called Mafia, and took stuff from GTA’s playbook. So they a) gave the story too many elements of you BEING mafia and b) gave you too much mayhem to do…and yet not enough for it to be cartoony fun.

I keep HOPING they’re going to make him complex, go down the road of the complicated hero, but they seem too into the idea of letting the player CHOOSE to make this a mayhem GTA sandbox.

So we’re left with this conundrum. He can’t be in category two, cuz he’s too BAD. Tortured heroes still want to be heroes. Lara wouldn’t sell weed, or steal people’s cars just for fun. But Lincoln? He does. And the game fails entirely to make that SEEM heroic by having his guards be all “You’re really cleaning this place up.” Really? Really NPC who is standing next to a CHURCH filled bottom to top with drugs I’m gonna sell to innocent, downtrodden people? I’m CLEANING IT UP? No. This is not hero shit.

But, he can’t be category three cuz he’s too NICE. His bad shit isn’t bad enough to get to that cartoony, almost satirical level. He didn’t kill the guy Cassandra had tied up. He made his brothel all nice. He’s a drug dealer, sure, but one who sells NICE drugs. In GTA, king of the mayhem sandboxes, you played as a METH dealer who just killed the fuck out of everyone and had a tattoo on his neck that said “cut here.” So when you did all the crazy shit in the game it worked, cuz of COURSE you were batshit. Here, Lincoln’s too believable, so when he steals an old lady’s car, it’s not cartoony. It’s just icky.

Now, when this game was being made, I watched some of the lead writers saying that they wanted player freedom. The slogan of the company is “Every player’s story is different” or something. We often get stuff like “You’re done with a game when you don’t play it anymore” or “a game is all about how you experience it” and NO. Too much freedom, too much given to a player like WHEN it ends, making all about what a PLAYER does means there’s NO NARRATIVE.

Games like this THINK they’re giving the player a big box of digital LEGOs and saying “Now go build your dreams!” But they aren’t. There are characters and mechanics and everything. There’s SOME of the developer’s vision but it’s underdone, incomplete. So what they do is they give the player a box of LEGOs, but a lot of them don’t fit together, some are permanently stuck together, and you can’t really build anything nice, let alone what you want to build.

Build it for me, game. Let me look at the finished product.

Ok, rant over.

Feminina:

I haven’t actually smuggled any weed, because I can’t figure out how. The guy was all “just take the boat and head out” but I couldn’t drive the boat that was there. Must be some other boat, but where is it? And where do I take it to? I couldn’t find any icons on the map for it.

So I basically said “whatever” and went to kill smack dealers instead. Even though running weed would increase my ‘earn’!

Whatever. I never buy anything anyway.

The amusement park was an interesting level. Creepy and sneaky and sort of surreally weird. The amusement park setting lets them throw in some very odd imagery that is pretty interesting to wander through. And there’s violence, of course. Not technically mayhem since no one actually cuts off and carries away a body part that I recall, but plenty of murder.

Enjoy!

I see what you’re saying about Lincoln. He’s definitely not cartoonishly-bad-for-the-sake-of badness, reveling in his murders. Except sort of as part of his vengeance thing, but the rest of the murders, those are definitely just things he happens to have to do along the way.

And no, he’s not a charming rogue, he’s too serious for that. His entire motivation is slow, gruesome revenge, and that’s not roguish.

As you say, he fits best in the complicated, dark and damaged category. He’s tough, good looking, a deadly trained killer, has a badass scar…and driven entirely by revenge! I don’t know, I feel like it works OK.

I mean, I get you, Lara Croft wouldn’t sell weed, but she did plenty of other random side jobs, like blowing up signal towers and burning commie propaganda (I think of her often when Lincoln finds one of those collectibles). I don’t know if he’s doing outrageous amounts of stuff on the side, the difference is obviously that he’s doing illegal crime stuff on the side, and that’s kind of required when your game is called Mafia.

So maybe the main concern is that it’s not really possible to make a semi-sympathetic complicated hero whose business is crime, because that’s inherently just not terribly sympathetic.

I mean, we have our share of problems with Nathan Drake and Lara Croft and their casual destruction of priceless ancient artifacts and unique societies, but at least their main goal (treasure hunting!) is one we can basically understand, and their process (go through everything to get to the treasure!) is not necessarily obviously wrong.

Whereas a lot of criminal enterprises are just kind of obviously…not good for a lot of people. Although obviously they ARE good for enough people. And now we’re one of those people!

Butch:

What? I haven’t even been asked to do that. I just strolled around my church dope warehouse smiling cuz I knew I was cleaning up the neighborhood by killing dudes and packing a rather lovely church with drugs, cuz they’re better drugs than bad drugs.

Way to go me!

I shall enjoy. And yes, fairs are de facto creepy. I hate fairs.

As for the character rant…Yes….but…. the revenge isn’t all that fleshed out. And what he’s doing runs counter to it. If you just want to kill the baddies, why start a prostitution/drug empire along the way? You could damage it to weaken them. Batman wouldn’t, like, take over penguin’s crime waves to weaken joker. He’d just fuck everyone up. Wiping out crime in New Orleans (I’m not saying Bordeaux) to get back at the baddies makes more sense. You could put that up against a backdrop of the bad things he did in Veit Nam just fine and it would work. But this? He’s not, apparently, ENTIRELY driven by revenge, cuz he sure makes time to make money.

And, one of the barbs critics (and the public) threw at this was “Why is this a Mafia game?” Apparently, the original mafia games were in the “Do really bad things cuz you know you want to” category. You were bad cuz bad is fun. Always wanted to see what it’s like to be an actual gangster? Play Mafia! And when this came out, a game with something to say, people were all “Ok…why not call it something else, then?” They could have done that, and avoided having to cram stuff in cuz the game is called “mafia.”

It’s a key difference in approach. Drake and Lara never really hurt anyone but Kevin, and Kevin was trying to kill them. You get into a crime racket, you’re hurting innocent people. Maybe you don’t kill them like Kevin (unless you’re you and you drive), but selling them drugs and pimping them out isn’t very nice. You’re hurting innocents. PROFITING from hurting innocents. The only thing Lara and Drake did that hurt innocents was depriving them of the chance to see something in a museum. Hardly as bad. And Chloe didn’t even do that! And I don’t WANT to hurt innocents in a game!

Feminina:

It’s true, I don’t play games to hurt innocents. I was leery of a game called Mafia because in fact I DON’T actually want to know what it’s like to be in the mob! I like to be NICE to people in games. That’s why I always try to find all their great-grandfathers’ missing handaxes!

Everyone must love meeeeeeee!!!!!

I’m enjoying this game a lot more than I expected because it’s possible to downplay the crime-and-hurting-innocents aspects, at least in my own head. At least when I’m not accidentally running them over.

But you’re right, you can’t completely ignore the fact that we’re working on building a thriving criminal empire, and that’s…tricky.

Butch:

It is tricky, that it is. And we DON’T play hurtful games. It’s one of the reasons we shy away from otherwise popular games like GTA.

I AM still enjoying this game more than I thought I would.

But, gotta say, not feeling very nice, and I’m ready for some degree of variety here. Been a lot of similar stuff these last couple days.

Feminina:

Hm…I may have bad news, because there’s a lot of pretty similar stuff in this game. I mean, it’s all about taking over a bunch of rackets by killing a bunch of people, right? It’s kind of the same thing in different territories. With some occasional Driving Like a Maniac thrown in.

And lots of collectibles.

Butch:

Hmm. That was the knock on it.

But you’re still into it?

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m having fun sneaking around murdering dudes. Occasionally driving, but I drive mostly to get from place to place in my ongoing quest to bust up rackets so I can replace them with my own rackets. Not bored yet.

Mr. O’, watching over my shoulder, said “maybe I’ll play this!”

It’s a good time. If you enjoy sneaking around murdering dudes.

And let’s face it, who among us does not?

Butch:

Mr. O is just in it for the…um….collectibles.

Driving at least has great songs. And the ads are accurate, says my dad!

I’ll take that.

Feminina:

The music is good. I admit I’ve occasionally driven around longer than necessary, or just sat in the car for a minute after parking, in order to get to the end of a song.

Just like in real life!

How Can I Feel Better About My Participation in Organized Crime?

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor plot spoilers for Mafia 3

Butch:

So killed a lot of Kevin, took out Merle the mid level boss Kevin (Someday a mid level boss Kevin will actually be named Kevin and what a wonderful day that will be), got some dudes to rat, LOST one of the dudes as he drove off, decided that “Drive like a madman” is ALSO a mechanic that needs to be in every game, called it a day.

Oh, found a playboy.

And destroyed heroin and learned how to wiretap (I should really get to jump into a haystack after I do that).

So…maybe themes. Maybe unintentional themes.

So Perla’s. Cassandra took Perla’s back, as she does. And it’s nice now, right? It even said that she turned it into a high class nightclub. I certainly thought it was nicer.

Now, what I can’t figure out is whether we busted up the prostitution racket (and made everything just jazz and good times) or we TOOK OVER the racket, in which case, where are the hookers?

And I think that’s pretty key thematically. Here’s why.

We, to use a loaded word, gentrified the place. It’s nicer now! Right? Seems so.

Gentrified is a loaded word these days, as it is usually a euphemism for “white washed.” But here, the white dudes got kicked out and classy black dudes moved in. If we REALLY shut down the racket, that’s an interesting thematic twist. That’s really taking on the idea of what gentrification is, and what it should be. That nice and cultured and safe have nothing to do with race, and maybe the influx of DIVERSITY would better suit our cities. That would be some cool themeage.

But if he DIDN’T shut down the racket, and he and Cassandra are still running hookers out of Perla’s or out of the street or whatever, then it’s a different story. Then…what? The black guys are just better/more efficient at crime? That’s hardly a progressive ideal. That’s hardly an ideal of anything. Then I don’t know what I feel about all that.

How’d you read it?

Feminina:

Yeah…prostitution, man. Prostitution is…tricky. I think there’s a lot to say here.

Because it’s (probably intentionally) vague, but my impression is that they took over the racket, meaning it’s still operating but under their control. Meaning there’s still prostitutes back there in rooms behind the classy jazz stage, but, you know, they’re classy rooms now. And, obviously, classy prostitutes with nice clothes, rather than drugged up prisoners in tacky lingerie.

Which is…I don’t know. It’s an improvement to be sure, but prostitution is tricky. There are live, actual people involved in sex work who say it’s a totally fine, legitimate way to make a living, prostitution can be fine and dandy, they do it by choice because it’s more lucrative and no more physically or emotionally laborious than waiting tables all day, don’t feel bad about prostitutes, OK?

And I think we’re kind of meant to assume that the racket has gone from forcibly addicted women trapped in the business, to women exercising their agency, actively choosing to participate, and there on their own terms. (Interesting that we never see any of these women to actually tell us that, but still, that’s kind of what I think we’re supposed to be assuming.)

And, OK. That’s cool. I totally accept that sure, that’s a fine way to make a living if that’s what you pick, and absolutely it’s a step up for New Bordeaux’s working girls to have the business run by this classy black gang, as opposed to that seedy (and, obviously, horribly evil and abusive) white gang.

On the other hand…I think a lot of people would also say that prostitution was not actually a fine and dandy experience for them, even if they weren’t literally locked in a room and force-fed heroin to make them comply, and I wonder if maybe the reason we don’t actually hear from any women on the matter is because it risks running into a prickly issue on the intersection of race and sex.

Because the game doesn’t, I think, want to be in a position of implying that it’s bad for white guys to keep black women locked in a room purely to use them for sex, but that it’s OK for black guys to do the same thing. Hence, the black gang needs to be obviously much classier and cooler, to imply (without, again, actually saying so) that the position of those women we haven’t seen since Lincoln freed them has in fact improved.

Presumably, at least, they can now leave their rooms, and I won’t in any way minimize the hugeness of the difference between being a slave and being poor but free, which is a comparison you kind of have to draw. No argument, we/Lincoln helped those women, and (as far as we know) they are now free to make their own choices, and hopefully kick their drug habits and work through their trauma, because their lives obviously were awful.

But…I’ve read black women commenting on how black men in the movement in that time were often not exactly supportive of women’s rights, so maybe it was felt that addressing the issue directly in any way, even to have a woman show up and say “hey, I’m making lots more money and the rooms are so much nicer, life in the brothel could not be better now!” would cut a little too close to the implication that white guys using “our sisters” for sex is wrong, but it’s cool as long as it’s in the family.

Obviously, it’s entirely possible to be interested in racial equality and not gender equality, or vice versa, as we see throughout history in the fact that black women are pretty much the most consistently screwed group around. Sucks to be you, ladies! Back to the brothel, now!

I think it’s not at all a coincidence that Cassandra, our only real female character, is the one in charge of the prostitution racket. Honestly, the fact that there’s a prostitution racket may be why we have the character of Cassandra at all. It’s OK, a woman is running it!

Speaking of female characters, I thought it was interesting that the women Lincoln frees from the rooms while taking over the racket actually have names, which is rare for NPCs you meet in this kind of mission (although I can’t remember any of the names now). This made me think that maybe we WERE going to hear from them again (and who knows, perhaps at some point we still will, though I’m not holding my breath) and made it especially notable to me that we didn’t meet any parallel named character to tell us anything about the racket afterwards.

It made it a bit like “see, we care, these are real people being abused and you’re helping them!” when we got there, vs. “don’t worry, there aren’t any real people with opinions about their situation” once the racket is our responsibility.

Again, it’s just tricky. I mean, I have no problem in principle with the idea that you can have a classy brothel with a nice jazz club in front, and well-compensated women who freely chose the work from among a variety of options available to them and do it without shame or coercion. Whether or not it’s super believable that that’s the kind of establishment you’d have in the time and place of the game’s setting, I don’t know.

I’ll go with it, because it’s what I’d prefer to imagine, but it’s also true that sex worker rights were probably not top of the agenda for these characters in this situation, that black men as well as white men are capable of sexually abusing black women, that traditional morality often shuns and shames women engaged in this work, who may therefore not really have a lot of other options, and that it’s also just as plausible that the women we freed are still working in the club, maybe still hooked on heroin for all we know, and that in practical terms their daily lives are still largely the same. (Again, not to minimize the significance of being able to leave a room rather than being a prisoner there.)

Just one of those awkward things you deal with when you’re playing a game based on organized crime.

Butch:

Well….I read it that they took over the racket (cuz there’s “earn” or something….I don’t know how that works, exactly, but it seems a lot to earn from a jazz club), but I also looked around the club for a while, and didn’t see any prostitutes in the back rooms or anything. So…hmm.

Yeah, I see that argument for ‘vague suggestion that things improved’. It also would kinda hurt the whole “family” theme if they hadn’t. Generally, one does not prostitute one’s relatives. We’ve talked on the idea of race as a family here. We talked on freeing “our sisters.” Well, that sisterly bond kinda falls apart if you’re still making money off their sex work. Right?

Oh, dude, do we want to do the slave vs. poor but free thing? Maybe that’s for a different blog post. We’re touchy enough today.

That was rather interesting that Cassandra runs this. A cop out, perhaps, as well. A large cop out.

The women had names, and real stories. “She was going to college…” that sort of thing.

But…..

You know who didn’t have that? All the black women (why all women?) who were in bras and gas masks cutting up heroin last night. Lincoln went to destroy the heroin, but nothing at all was said about the, you know, 20 or so women cutting it. Why women? Was that established? That was….odd.

I’m going to be curious to see how the smack racket relates. Yes, I destroyed a bunch of heroin last night. Yay, me. But did I do that just to weaken a racket so I could take it over? Am I going to KEEP dealing heroin? Or…what? If I bust up the smack racket and clean up the hollow, did I do that with sex work, too? Hmm. Cuz if I wind up a drug pusher, that sorta undermines all the good work I did at Perla’s……

Feminina:

Indeed. “Drugs are destroying the black community! Buy my drugs, please, I need money to finance my murder projects.”

More of that tension with the crime thing. I mean, it’s like alcohol during prohibition. The trade is violent and destructive and illegal booze is wrecking the neighborhood, but…money!

Maybe we’re only going to sell drugs to the racist white gangs.

And, indeed, what was with those women in the bras cutting heroin? I was a little bemused by that as well. I figured maybe they’re in their underwear so they have fewer places to stash a bit of product, should they be inclined to try to steal? Or maybe it’s just really hot in there? Are hot rooms good for heroin processing?

I don’t know. It was odd because it didn’t seem particularly intended to be sexy (unlike most game scenes with women in underwear), so I was inclined to assume it was based on some actual fact related to the processing of heroin…which may be a generous assumption, but it was so odd, I wasn’t sure what to make of it otherwise.

Butch:

On that “only to racist whites….”

I noticed that all the customers in Perla’s (the MAYBE but probably brothel) were black. So….black hookers are fine if the johns are also black? It’s ok to sell heroin to racists?

There is some moral ambiguity here.

Here’s where we have to throw out something delicate:

The lead directors and writers of this game were white men. It’s always…interesting…when white dudes try to tell stories about race or gender from the perspective of minorities and women. Sometimes, very well meaning stories often misfire, or fail to accurately grasp the complexities of what they’re trying to do. It’s something we’ll have to keep an eye on.

On the smack house, I did hear Kevin banter where they were complaining about how hot it was in a warehouse, and some Kevin saying they can’t have fans because it would blow the drugs all around, which makes some practical sense. But why everyone was a black woman….you got me. And I agree: no way that was intended to be sexy. If it was it…wasn’t.

Which also gets me to thinking…..

The only real sexy stuff in this game so far is the playboys and Vargas stuff. With one exception (the first playboy you find), every single woman pictured has been white. Every one. So we have all these instances of (collectible) sexy white women, when the black women have been intentionally unsexy. Even the hookers in the brother were very much desexualized.

I wonder if they meant something by that, or….not.

Feminina:

It is always interesting to present (or, indeed, to talk about the presentation of) these issues when one is oneself not part of the relevant group. We can still try, I think we should try because ignoring things hardly ever makes them go away, but we have to know we might get it wrong and look clueless and/or like a huge jerk.

And/or like someone who knows nothing about heroin production. Which I am.

Interesting point about the sexy collectible white women, juxtaposed with the non-sexy presentation of the black women we meet. Because you’re right, we see a fair number of black women out and about in the world (I ran over one once–I am SO SORRY ma’am, it was an accident and I am a terrible person and I hope you’re OK), and they are all just walking around wearing normal clothes. And the women in their underwear were not sexy, they were just working. And Cassandra is always thoroughly clothed (even when she was pretending to be a sex slave, she was dressed), and the prostitutes you free are wearing enough clothes to cover them. All the nudity so far has been collectible images.

Maybe there’s something there about how ‘sexiness’ as a fantasy commodity (as opposed, perhaps, to ‘usefulness as a sex-tool’) is a white invention? Black women aren’t these airbrushed fantasies, they’re real people? I…don’t know.

But honestly, I wonder if trying to read anything into this other than “guys like nudity!” is kind of hopeless, just because if there’s anything there at all, you really have to wonder why Lincoln Clay collects these images.

Does he have a thing for white women? Or just for fantasy airbrushed women and he wishes they weren’t all so white but what are you going to do? Does he not even care (he certainly never comments about them), he just thinks they’ll be collector’s items later and fund future murder projects?

If there’s any thought behind the inclusion of the collectible nudity (beyond “guys like nudity!”), then it has to have considered this, and given that we have no explanation of any kind for why Lincoln cares…I kind of feel like there’s nothing deeper going on.

Though we’ll see, maybe they’ll do something more with it at some point. Like if the first black playmate shows up.

Butch:

Yup. We must know our own perspective. And, for that matter, the perspective of the lead developers. We’ve talked much about, say, David Cage being French, or CDPR being Polish, and how that might have affected the way they told the stories they told. I think it’s relevant to remember that this game, for all its diversity, was made by white men, and is being analyzed by a white man and a white woman (us).

Uh….I watched The Wire? Or was that cocaine?

On nudity: Not so. There were topless prostitutes in the brothel before you liberated (?) it. But they were in the backroom, wearing underwear even less appealing than burlap (which is very appealing when we’re selling it!), and were all very, well, normal looking. They looked like middle aged women who had led rough lives, not the hypersexualized, “perfect” women we usually see topless in games, or, for that matter, in playboy. Yes, there were boobs, but they looked like….well….normal boobs. Not Madison boobs or Triss boobs or playboy boobs.

As for the themes…Maybe? Perhaps? I have to ponder further.

Or it’s racist bias. I read this article a few weeks ago about a study that took all sorts of data, like hundreds of thousands of likes and messages and shit, from a big, national online dating site to see who got the most messages, attention, etc., to try to determine who society as a whole thought was desirable. (I liked this study as it said men’s attractiveness peaks at 50. I keep exercising, damn right.) Black MEN were way up near the top. At the very bottom? Black women.

So back to the lens and unconscious (or conscious) bias of the developers. These are American white men. Might this be a bit of unconscious racism in a game about the evils of racism?

(Side note: the one non white playmate I’ve found was Asian. Know who else was very desirable according to that survey? Asian women. So….unconscious bias at work?)

We’ll keep an eye. But I still say, there’s stuff that storytellers MEAN to say, and stuff that storytellers say without meaning to. We’ll keep an eye on all this.

Feminina:

Man, I’m telling you. Black women, no respect from anyone ever.

WERE there topless women in the brothel? Man, I am just not the audience for this nudity. I don’t even see it! I have this vague image in my head of all of them wearing some tacky lingerie. I must have put it on them in my imagination after the fact.

“Here, let me mentally help you into something you can wear so you don’t get arrested for public nudity while running out of this place once I start murdering everyone.”

But OK, that really only stresses the fact that, as you say, their nudity is presented as kind of incidental and not as something we’re meant to enjoy leering at–unlike the fantasy nudity of the collectibles. (Because that would be super gross.)

Butch:

That it would.

Remember, I’m on hypersensitivity mode because a kid might come out of bed at any moment. Need to know how fast I gotta call up the map. There’s ANYTHING on that screen, I got a finger on “options.”

Feminina:

It’s nice to have kids who sleep on a different floor. And even if they creep down, the screen is facing away from where they’d look into the living room, so I don’t have to be nearly as aware of objectionable potential on screen.

Butch:

Which is why you don’t notice it!

Well, that and you don’t generally look for boobs in your daily life.

Feminina:

Well, yeah, that, I suppose.

Butch:

Not that I’m judging if you do or anything. PFTL is a safe space.

Feminina:

Very true. We only judge if you fail a lot of QTEs.

Butch:

Or you avoid too much booze.

Useful Driving Tips

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Very minor story spoilers for Mafia 3

Butch:

I love games for so very many reasons. One such reason is that I can get up in the morning, pour myself a cup of coffee, open up the laptop to blog and type the following sentence:

All I did last night was kill a couple of pimps and find a Playboy.

And that sentence is true!

God games are great.

But here’s something about games, and this game in particular, that is not great: Car combat. Or, I should say, I THINK car combat is not great. Here’s why.

So I was doing the last two pimps that would bring Merle into the open. Ok, fine. So pimp one was all good. Nice sneaky mission. Pimp two, I’m chugging along, listening to the radio, towards the quest marker, all is well and then all of a sudden I see a car that has a KILL thing above it. I think “huh?” and a tutorial pops up that is all “Car combat” and I think “Oooooooh shit,” and it says, what, hold L1 to target and R1 to shoot? Or something?

So I hold L1 and nothing much happens, and I try to turn and hold L1 and nothing much happens, and the car starts going the other way, and I’m holding L1 and trying to drive and eventually I’m in an alley and I have no idea where the fuck the car is. So I drove around looking for it for a while. I had this image of Mrs. McP next to me all “Don’t you think we should just ask for directions? Seriously. Stop at this gas station and say ‘Excuse me, I’m trying to find a pimp to kill and I’m a little lost…..'”

So I figured I’d just head towards the quest marker again, and I did, and I got to the quest marker, and I guess the dude had stopped driving cuz he was just in a hotel room chilling, so I sneaked on in and killed him. Now I have to go find Merle.

But car combat? No idea. The fuck’s with that? I didn’t even do it enough to form an opinion. But I think I’m ok with that. Until I have to do it again.

Feminina:

I don’t have a strong opinion about car combat either, because I also haven’t done it. When I got the little instructions screen about throwing molotovs at pursuing cars I thought “that sounds like a pain,” and then I guess I just conveniently missed the guy in the “kill” car, because I only tracked him down in the building and didn’t even attempt to fight him in the car. I think I saw the “kill” car out of the corner of my eye or something, thought “wait, am I supposed to chase that?” and by the time I got turned around he was gone. And then I found him in the building, so no worries there except dying a couple of times trying to get in.

So…at least so far it’s extremely avoidable? I’ll say that nice thing about car combat.

I mean, it’s one thing in Uncharted when Chloe is driving the Jeep while Nathan shoots at people, or whatever, but trying to drive and shoot at the same time seems like a recipe for disaster.

“Listen up, kids! Basic automotive safety: always pull over if you need to text or shoot at someone.” Pretty sure I remember that from driver’s ed.

Butch:

Or, at the very least, follow them at a safe distance with your hands at ten and two until the person you want to shoot parks at a seedy hotel. Then shoot them. And grab their nudie mags.

But yes: “Wait…what? Huh? Where’d he go? Ah, well….”

I was kinda glad I didn’t have to chase the car.

Feminina:

Keep an eye on your rearview mirror, and make sure to signal your turn into the seedy motel parking lot! Or, if you want to leave your car a discreet distance away, take the opportunity to practice your parallel parking, being sure both front and rear tires are within 18 inches of the curb.

I keep feeling like I should signal my turns, but there’s no option to do so. I WANT to be a conscientious driver! At least when I’m not running red lights and colliding with pedestrians.

I like to imagine all those pedestrians were just a little bruised. Either that or traffic fatalities in New Bordeaux are so rampant, my reign of automotive terror doesn’t even register. I mean, people call the cops when I steal a car, but when I run over some lady? (Purely by accident! I don’t hit people on purpose, except one time I tried to run over a guy who was shooting at me. I missed him, so I don’t know if this is an effective form of car combat or not.)

Butch:

That would be kinda funny, that could kill innocent people but Kevin was immune.

Kevin does deserve something, after all. What with his themes.

Or, do what I did once! Hit square just a BIT before the car is actually stopped, then stand and watch it roll and roll and roll and roll until it bopped just ONE bad guy, who alerted the rest of them.

Then reload.

Feminina:

He deserves to get eaten by an alligator so I don’t have to, that’s what he deserves. The theme is, sometimes you have to sacrifice others to save yourself.

“Remember: secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others, and be sure to throw a corpse to the alligators so they’ll leave you alone later.”

Now watch, even though this whole thing was a joke, I will subconsciously be convinced that I’m immune to alligator attacks, and I’ll totally get eaten next time I go swimming.

Pride goeth before a fall, or an alligator chomping.

Butch:

Reptiles can smell hubris a mile away.

It’s why, when I’m exploring the swamps, I always stay humble, and bring a few dead Kevins.

Feminina:

You know what this game needs? The option to throw a body into the trunk of your stolen car, so that you can always have a dead Kevin handy if you need to go for a swim.

Apparently there is also a sketch comedy trio called Dead Kevin (http://ahmedbharoocha.com/dead-kevin/), but I am not familiar with their work so I have no opinion on whether or not you should be able to throw them to the alligators.

Butch:

Dude I tried that! There was a car with an open trunk in a parking lot RIGHT by the brothel! I thought that’s what it was for! And I tried, like, three times!

Didn’t look suspicious at all.

Feminina:

“Hey Ethel, why do you suppose that guy is repeatedly shoving that other, very limp guy in the direction of that open car trunk?”

“Never mind, Rupert, just keep walking.”

“But do you think we should call the police?”

“Nah, it’s not as if he’s stealing a car or anything. Best we keep out of it.”

Butch:

“Yeah, it’s nothing. But if he knocks over a mail box, fuck that noise.”

I thought I was being so clever! Open trunk! Hide the body!

But nope.

Good ideas wasted.

Feminina:

You’re being too clever again. Remember, that brought you nothing but misery in Divinity.

Well, maybe not misery. Seething resentment, more.

Butch:

Oooo….you HAD to bring that up.

****Seethe****

This after I took my family out for ice cream last night….

AND DIDN’T HAVE ANY!

****seethe****

Feminina:

You didn’t have any!? Who are you? What is this Fitness Demon who has seized control of your body?

Just kidding. Nicely done! If it helps, I haven’t had any candy today, either.

STAUNCH FITNESS ALLY.

Butch:

Your allegiance moves me deeply.

Nothing has seized control of my body. I WANTED ice cream. I wanted ice cream very, very much. Had a demon had control, I’d’ve been one of those assholes who sees people eat ice cream and is all “Do you know what lactose does to you?”

No demon can take me down that road.

Begone, foul demon!

I really want ice cream. They even got Milky Way, which is SOOOOO good.

Feminina:

Ooh, that is a good ice cream. Now I want some too! But I won’t have any.

Because solidarity, and also I’m at work and there isn’t any.

Butch:

Solidarity is easy when there’s no ice cream available.

T SHIRT!!!!

We’re doing well with the NEW SENTENCES today.

Feminina:

It is a lot easier. I don’t claim to be exercising the kind of intense willpower you did.

At least you can take out your frustration by murdering some dudes tonight?

Butch:

Oh, Kevin’s gonna die.

Kevin will pay for my willpower!

See? New sentences everywhere.

Feminina:

That’s a good sentence. And a true fact!

KEVIN MUST PAY.

Butch:

This was an odd day.

And we didn’t even mention nudity…..

Ah, crap. I was so close.

Feminina:

Well, you did start right off by mentioning Playboy, which is very close to mentioning nudity. I mean, unless you were mentioning it for the articles, which of course you obviously were.

Butch:

Yes. Yes.

Obviously.

Feminina:

I found a Playboy last night that’s completely surrounded by cops. I gave it a pass, but that’s going to be an interesting one to go after when I get around to it.

Alligators: Threat or Non-Threat?

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No real spoilers for Mafia 3

Butch:

It’s Monday, right? Right.

I’m totally discombobulated because Mrs. McP was home Friday (ergo the lack of bloggage on my part), we had parents Saturday, inlaws yesterday, and Mrs. McP is home AGAIN today so it feels like Sunday. Wasn’t that a song? Every day is like Sunday?

I’m feeling it.

It also means I have jack games wise.

Don’t finish without me.

I can’t tell if playing a game with collectible nudity (a great name for a rock band) is worse to play around your kids or around your wife. Perhaps I’ll find out tonight.

What I will say games wise is, and this speaks well for the game, I’m missing it. Not missing GAMES generally, but missing THIS game. That’s always a good sign.

But I’d rather be playing it than missing it.

Feminina:

Sunday is a cruel day.

I played some. Hassled some rackets. Murdered some dudes. Drove around. Collected some collectibles I then failed to look at. As one does.

I’m having fun with it. I’m not missing it, I wouldn’t say, because I’ve been playing, but I’m thinking about it with pleasant anticipation. It’s been enjoyable.

Even the driving is OK! As long as I’m not in a high-speed chase. Driving with something at stake is annoying: just driving around for transportation, listening to the radio and trying not to bump into other cars, is all right.

Butch:

Maybe you don’t look at the collectibles….

The driving is ok! But I keep avoiding it cuz, you know, don’t want to miss any collectibles….

Poor Kevin. Finally gets some themes, dies anyway.

But we’re getting into a routine with school. Things are settling down. Then Kevin’s gotta watch his back. I’m gonna play like crazy. I’ve earned it. Down nine pounds!

If Mrs. McP gets this new me to look at, I should at least get a couple collectibles.

Feminina:

That’s a novel and compelling argument for fitness. “Look, I’m more appealing to the eye because I’m more fit, which means I deserve to look at things that appeal to MY eyes, which means I need to play games with collectible nudity.” That’s logic!

See, I think I drive more because of collectibles, because they’re far apart. I’ll be on my way to some mission objective and oh hey, there’s commie propaganda over there! Better head over and grab it! If I just walk everywhere, it takes forever.

Oh, and after a certain point it turns out that you will have multiple things to do on your map. (And you can activate them by clicking the icons! Playing the dream.) There still aren’t hundreds of them (which is fine), but I had I think seven going at once the other night. So it’s not completely linear forever, although even the multiple things I have now are mostly not really ‘sidequests’ in the sense that we usually have sidequests: they’re generally directly related to a larger objective, which is in turn directly related to THE larger objective of murdering the hell out of those murderous bastards who murdered my adoptive family.

Good times, man. Good times.

Your themes will not save you, Kevin.

Butch:

Best. Fitness. Logic. Ever.

I will game drive for nudity. Won’t swim though. If there’s one underwater, even I shall miss that trophy.

Clicking quest icons should be the law.

I am more good looking, dammit. Should get me something other than sore.

Feminina:

I’ve only had to swim a few times so far. Even then, ‘had to’ is an overstatement: I probably could have avoided it by walking farther, but when you just want to get over there a little way…

Also, I’ve dived into the water to swim away from the cops — that was worth doing. I could have avoided it by dying and coming back somewhere else, but that’s a pain.

But it’s very basic swimming, just traveling while in water: there’s no diving and having to keep an eye on how long you’ve been holding your breath and all that.

It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

Swimming be swimming. I protest.

Feminina:

Here’s a tip: don’t worry about the alligators.

You’d think you’d have to worry about alligators, but no. They’ll kind of swim up and open their mouths at you, but they don’t actually attack. I guess they recognize a fellow deadly predator, or something.

Butch:

I’d like to believe you, but there’s a trophy for “get eaten by an alligator.”

So at least one hasn’t had enough Kevin.

Feminina:

Ha! Is there? I must just be swimming quickly.

Or…it’s almost certainly not true, but it would be kind of awesome if that one and the trophy for feeding a corpse to an alligator were mutually exclusive, so that you literally will only get eaten if you fail to feed them Kevin.

I would respect that.

Butch:

That would be awesome.

It’s called “next time, swim faster.”

I’ve already fed them a Kevin. We shall see.

Feminina:

I’ll have to swim more slowly next time. Or not.