We Can Sleep When We’re Dead, in About Two Minutes

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for rackets and locations in Mafia 3

Butch:

Well….killed Kevin?

The good news is it seems these are the last two rackets. I think. This is it! Once I blow this shit up and kill these dudes, that’s it. I think. Forever. Phew.

But something occurred to me last night about why this might feel so tedious (besides, you know, it’s all the same): nothing scales. Not only am I fighting the same Kevin, I’m fighting them in the same way. Sure, there’s little, teeny tiny tweaks. The zemi smokes now…for some reason. But really, the handgun is just bigger. It’s still a handgun. The shotgun has more ammo. It’s still a shotgun. There’s been no skill, weapon, armor, mechanic, ANYTHING that changes, not only what I do, but HOW I do it in FOREVER. Yes, the whole “boat is sinking, jarring you out of cover” was col on the riverboat, but it was SUPER cool cuz it was the first combat wrinkle in ages and ages and ages.

It’s ok to have similar things. Bandit camps, say, in Horizon. But you have to make it so you DO them differently. I’m doing the same thing the same way as I was back in River Row. And really, I’m ready not to.

Two more rackets. That’s it.

Right?

Feminina:

Hm…that’s true. There really hasn’t been a scaling up of combat. Which is realistic, in a way–it’s not as if your average dude roaming the streets or guarding a mob location WOULD have nothing but pistols in one district and anti-tank guns in another or whatever. Everybody’s got pretty much the same equipment, and it makes sense that they would have the same equipment (except for the one boss with a bazooka).

But you’re right that it adds to the sense of doing the same thing over and over again.

It does seem like these are the last rackets–unless there’s something in the bayou. We haven’t defeated any bosses, as such, in the bayou, have we? There’s been stealing trucks and smuggling weed and so forth, but I haven’t defeated any major dude or awarded any rackets to anyone, and it SEEMS like the bayou is a territory that will need to go to someone, so…I don’t know.

We’ll see, I expect!

Butch:

Yeah, but we don’t come to video games for realism, do we?

Scaling is, I admit, a problem in games with Kevin. When you’re fighting aliens or monsters or whatever, you can just create harder baddies out of whole cloth. When you’re fighting humans, especially in a realistic setting, what do you do? But you should do something. At the very least, scale the hero. Give the hero some sort of new trick or gizmo that changes the way the player approaches a situation. Mix it up.

If there are rackets in the bayou, I may cry.

Watch: Cassandra, Vito and Burke will look at the bayou and be all “You take it,” “No, you,” “No, I insist….”

Feminina:

We don’t come for realism, no, it’s true. But some unrealistic things strain belief more than others, and in this game, with the pseudo-documentary framing, I can kind of see why they tried to stay away from giving either Lincoln or the bad guys increasingly dramatic superpowers.

They’re trying to stick with something that arguably COULD have happened within the realm of physical possibility (except for the whole “I hid this 3-foot long-rifle in the leg of my close-fitting jeans and it doesn’t even hamper my movement!” thing. Or the life-saving adrenaline shots that instantly heal bullet wounds. But there’s only so much realism a game can take).

Butch:

You know, you keep talking on Lincoln’s clothes and Lincolns…shall we say…look.

It’s cool, it’s cool. I have my BEBHBBs. You need a catchy acronym for whatever. I’ll leave it up to you. I’m just proud you’ve finally gone for a brooding guy without an exoskeleton.

As for adrenaline, I’m buying it. Why? Because of what Naughty Dog said about Uncharted. See, turns out the “damage” meter in Uncharted wasn’t physical damage. Really. It was a “luck meter.” That is, Nathan Drake was SO lucky that all those shots didn’t hit/kill him that his luck ran out on the one that did. It’s also why he “healed” when he took cover and chilled out. Like, “Whoo! That was close! Better catch my breath, think this through.” Get his “luck” back for the next rush.

I like that idea! Makes so much more sense for all games everywhere. So I’m going with it.

So when Lincoln shoots up, he just gets that little pep back that makes him that much harder to hit, ergo luckier, ergo it makes sense.

Just…ignore the blood on him. That was…from….

If games just ditched blood, this would all work just fine.

Feminina:

Yeah, he’s pretty brooding. If only he had an exoskeleton…swoon. This is why I wish there were a lot more heavy armor in this game. Siiiiiigh.

But I do like that explanation for healing–I’ve always kind of explained it to myself that way, too. “Oh man, that was close, take cover…breathe…all right, good to go!”

Except, as you say, for the blood. Uh…I just got a brief nosebleed from stress! It’s OK now.

There was a similar mechanic in Star Wars D20, if I recall correctly–you had quickly-regenerating luck points that basically meant near misses, and then once those were all gone you started taking real physical damage that was harder to heal. I liked it then, too. In fact, that’s probably why I’ve mentally used that model ever since our short-lived SWD20 campaign. (Though the Bimm of Death will never be forgotten.)

It works especially well in a semi-realistic setting where you’re dealing with a lot of gunshots and a hit should be either fatal or debilitating for a long time in the absence of magical healing. Fantasy games get off easy: a significant sword wound should also be debilitating, but hey, healing potion!

Butch:

Healing potions make sense! When they’re not poultices.

When I read that, it made perfect sense that Drake never did bleed. Lincoln does, though, which makes one need to suspend disbelief.

On two levels: How do those shots heal him, and how do they instantly do his laundry? One shot, shirt’s clean!

Feminina:

Stress nosebleed! And, uh…vinyl clothing. Blood slides right off. I’m going with it.

Healing potions do make sense. When they’re not poultices. (Best thing ever, that bit in DAI: “yes, it tastes terrible–you’re not supposed to drink it!”)

I like to use healing potions to explain the health of the general populace, as well–mostly in fantasy games people don’t have missing teeth, pockmark scars, etc. I also used it to explain how I avoided turning into a vampire in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. The disease progressed every time you slept, so I never slept! Problem solved! I liked to think I didn’t have to sleep because my frequent consumption of healing potions kept me functional without rest.

Sadly, in non-fantasy we need all these stretches and workarounds to achieve the same convenient story benefits of a simple magical potion, which is really what we’re after.

Butch:

Folks in the Witcher were pretty nasty. But then, only Witchers could drink potions and Sorceresses relied on magic. So it made sense.

We’ll stick with luck.

But there’s some things I can do without. If Lincoln had to sleep, this would take even longer. And Heavy Rain taught me we don’t really need toilets.

Feminina:

Yeah, the Witcher is kind of a special case, and I respect their attention to detail.

And yes, in general I can do without sleep, and certainly without toilets (though we’ve both shot guys in the bathroom in this game, if I’m not mistaken, so they’re useful to have around for OTHER people).

Sleeping in Oblivion gave you a Rested bonus (as it often does in Bethesda games), but I was willing to forgo that to avoid the hassle of going full vampire. Having people shriek in horror when they saw me and refuse to buy the loot I’d dragged into town… getting burned by sunlight…vampirism was a drag, man.

Butch:

Boy, ain’t it just? But hey! Vampirism gives you an excuse to stay in all day playing games!

And yes, peeing Kevin is remarkably easy to kill. Probably why Lincoln never goes.

Feminina:

He goes between cutscenes, after he’s had a couple of glasses of bourbon. And he sleeps when he’s dead, between reloads. It’s all perfectly logical.

Butch:

Man, has there ever been a game that gives us such extremes of bloggage in but a few days?

This ain’t on us. This is on the game.

Feminina:

I dunno, man. I mean, every game has those spells.

“Today I accomplished a lot of stuff and advanced the story and met some people!”

“Today I wandered around and got in a few fights and didn’t achieve anything.”

They all do that. I mean, the big games do. Like, Gone Home or something didn’t, because it was about three hours long. But I feel like most of the games we play, there are sessions where you do Meaningful Stuff, and then there are sessions where you just poke around and kill things.

It doesn’t help that I didn’t play last night, so I’m not contributing much to the discourse. I had to sew the handles back on my bag. It was coming apart!

I’ll play tonight. Keep working on…uh…Southdowns. That’s where I am.

And then I also have to go back up to Frisco and finish up with that. I did the rackets, but right now my quest list says I have to kill a certain someone. Someone I’ve been waiting a long time to kill! But I’m holding off because of the Connection to Cuba and all that. Like we agreed, trying to get back to where we would be talking about the same things.

It’s gonna happen. I think the game is drawing close to the end. We’ve killed a lot of the important people already. We’re working our way steadily towards Sal.

Butch:

Wait, your other Something didn’t have to do with Frisco? Why the hell am I in Frisco? I was searching for a capital S Something!

And I haven’t DONE the Alvarez thing. I got busy with Lou and Riverboats and shit.

Feminina:

Oh no, it has to do with Frisco. Most definitely, it is all about what goes on in Frisco. It just comes before the very end of all the stuff in Frisco.

Don’t worry, you’re following the plan. Just keep plugging away at the Southern Union. You’ll know it when you get to it.

Butch:

Cool.

I am rather curious about what that “racket” is. Like, we take over the racist propaganda racket? Burke’s gonna be all “Uh…wait. Cassadra got sex.”

Feminina:

I wondered about that too.

“So, what kind of propaganda do you want me to print, new boss?”

The Mob and You?
“Don’t call the police,” and ten other tips for life in a mafia-controlled territory?
Sal Sucks: Why you should support Lincoln Clay’s plot to kill him?

Maybe they could just print flyers for all the other rackets. “Get your porno in Downtown! Call Burke for all your auto theft and garbage needs!”

Butch:

I like it!

“Recent improvements to riverboat safety.”
“No really, we didn’t tap your phones.”
“A sincere apology about stealing all your nudie mags.”

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How Was YOUR Weekend?

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Significant spoilers for scenes and story points in Mafia 3; also a major (really THE major) plot spoiler for BioShock because why not

Butch:

OK. Riverboat. Whoa, isn’t it just Something. Isn’t. It. Just. Whoa. Hang on, gonna need a minute.

I kinda loved it! It wasn’t what I was expecting! I was expecting elegant, and the whole “It’s SINKING!” thing gave it a whole lot of suspense (that was probably fake but effective). And I got hurt bad, but didn’t die, which is a mark of a good level! And the stuff knocking people out of cover was a nice touch! Bravo!

So….”Re-elect Jacobs” on a statue of Andrew Jackson. Wow.

So…in light of today…. The FBI guy was all “It’s impossible to believe that wasn’t a political statement.” Hard to argue, guy. Hard to argue. Very hard to argue. And yet we’ve been talking all day about whether Lincoln is political, cares about politics, etc. But FBI guy, gotta agree.

Which….

When shit like this happens in games, one starts wondering if the developers are making a point WITH the character or they’re making a point DESPITE the character. It sort of feels like they got to this point, made Lincoln a blank slate, and then someone in production was all “But….we should SAY something, man!” So they had Lincoln do it.

Ok, fine. Saying stuff is fine. But we’ve had the chat we’ve had ALL DAY about “Is Lincoln political? Does Lincoln care?” and now this. This is some SERIOUS activist shit, one would think. Wouldn’t one? So…has Lincoln been this activist all along and we’re just now noticing? Or is this out of left field? Or is Lincoln all “Oh, shit, that was Andrew Jackson? I thought that was Colonel Sanders. I didn’t really mean anything by that…..”

Powerful image. Yes. But one that’s in character for Lincoln?

He….hmm. Lot to unpack here.

He says “I want you to send a message TO YOUR BROTHER.” Not “to whitey” or “to those racist fucks” or “for equality” or anything. To your brother. “To your brother” is not exactly all activist. Is he PRETENDING to be an activist so people like him more?

I don’t know!

A lot to unpack.

Feminina:

Riverboat! I dug it too! The slight tilting from side to side was a nice touch, the fact that you’d get thrown off balance by an explosion every so often was cool. There was a lot of good sneaking and dodging, and the kind of flickering disaster lighting was effective. And as you said, the sense of urgency was PROBABLY fake in that it would probably have been a long time, if ever, before the boat actually sank under you, it was still effectively done.

And yes, it is very hard to argue with the FBI guy’s interpretation of the act of leaving a gutted corpse on a statue of Andrew Jackson with a ‘re-elect Jacobs’ sign. Very, very difficult to make a case for that not having any political intention. “It was just the highest thing I could find and I wanted the body to be visible”…is not very convincing–even if Lincoln had made any attempt to argue along those lines, which he does not. He doesn’t say it’s not political, and he doesn’t say it is.

He doesn’t say he’s not an activist, and he doesn’t say he is. We’ve tended to interpret this as meaning the he doesn’t really see himself that way, because he seems to be motivated more by personal revenge than by rage against the system, right?

Which I feel is still true here. Because as you pointed out, he says that this is a message to Lou’s brother. A message to Sal, not to the system. And I feel like maybe the message is, “you want to get into politics? Here you go. This is what trying to work the political system is going to get you.”

He didn’t leave the senator’s body on the statue: he didn’t even actively set out to kill the senator, though he seemed perfectly happy to have him caught up in the damage. If he’d left Senator Jacobs gutted on a statue of Andrew Jackson, THAT would obviously have been a message to the entire country, but leaving Lou there was meant for Sal, and I think was meant to say “hooking up with politicians won’t save you.” And Lincoln’s no fool, so he certainly knows that a lot of people will SEE this message besides Sal, and will interpret it in broader ways, so I do feel this suggests that Lincoln is kind of becoming more willing to take up the mantle of political activism when it meshes with his personal goals. Why not make a dig at racist politicians in general WHILE threatening Sal in particular?

I guess…I mean, we’ve played him for many, many hours, but we still really don’t know Lincoln well. He remains a bit obscure, in a way that is probably intentional, and that lets us wonder about his motives and read into his actions…you called him a blank slate, and I feel like that’s true.

My SENSE of him is that he still wouldn’t really describe himself as an activist, he still is more driven by his personal need for revenge than by the injustice of the system, but that he’s happy enough to attack that injustice whenever he can, if it also helps him on his quest. Which…is selfish in that it’s focused on his personal needs more than on the needs of others, but this is true of most people–I’m not exactly out manning the barricades for justice myself–and also doesn’t mean that’s he’s not capable of doing really effective work for the cause, assuming you feel that the cause is well served by violence and murder.

And, honestly, it’s possible that Lincoln intentionally doesn’t explicitly claim the title of activist because he knows many activists would not really want him working vocally for their cause. Mass murder is fine for an out-and-out revolution, but kind of gives a bad name to nonviolent social movements, you know? How hard would the crackdown be on black protest marchers if Lincoln was leaving Black Power signs next to every corpse on that long trail of bodies in his wake? We’ve already got Remy Duvall equating the two, warning his white listeners about violent revolution and how the marchers are “coming to take what’s yours” or whatever.

Hm. I dunno. I still feel like probably he’s primarily motivated by his own revenge quest, but that he’s glad to murder a bunch of racists and shake up the system while he’s at it.

Except. Except. Except that it’s political not so much because of Andrew Jackson but because speaking of murdering…I liked the riverboat level mechanically, but also…dude. DUDE. It was intense. I went through the whole thing thinking “Lincoln kind of IS a monster.” Because the dead civilians, man!

People leaping off the sinking boat and getting eaten by alligators as I swam past! That lady on fire, screaming and dying on the deck! I felt…some kind of way about that.

Because this was a new line we crossed, wasn’t it? We’ve avoided killing civilians, I think. Though this is a player preference to some extent, since it would be possible to mow people down in cars and shoot them up in all the places we see them while we’re hunting bosses. We don’t HAVE to avoid killing them.

But this is the first time we actively did something in the story that killed a lot of civilians. We wrecked that boat, knowing there were a ton of people on it who weren’t specifically our targets.

And I figure I/Lincoln justified it by saying they were there to fundraise for a racist politician, so they are deeply embedded in the racist system, and this is kind of what they get. Except for the people who just drive the boat and serve the drinks, you know?

It’s terrorism, actually. Guerrilla warfare, if we support it. But either way, that’s the political statement: no one is safe. Your money won’t protect you, your class won’t protect you, your high political office won’t protect you.

And it’s kind of monstrous if that is a line we crossed just to get Lou and send a message to Sal. I don’t know.

I liked that it was intense, but man. I found it all rather harrowing.

Butch:

Very effective tension. As was the sense of (probably) fake threat in the “out of bounds” sections. Watching people jump to the “safety” of the bayou only to get chowed on by gators was rather harrowing. There was no real chance of winding up in the water yourself, but seeing it right over there was pretty spooky.

The casino bits were really good. One of the few levels where you really did HAVE to move. There was no way to let Kevin come to you, so picking your spots, darting to the next cover point, really planning, was nice. And, for some reason, I got so used to fighting “straight ahead,” that the last bit, when you’re going AROUND the front of the boat, was just disorienting enough that it felt new.

Nicely done level.

Also on the issue of probably fake threat, did you think that Lou, at the end there, when you’re slowly chasing him, could have shot you? I was trying to dodge, cuz MAN I was hurt, but I don’t think he was able to hit you. I don’t know, though, and not knowing is cool.

And maybe this was just a political statement of opportunity…but, as for not leaving the Senator’s body on the statue, he sure as hell left his NAME. He turned Lou into a very macabre political billboard. He didn’t write “Death to annoying radio ads” or “The Marcanos are doomed” or “Sammy and Ellis will be avenged!” He said “Re-Elect Jacobs.” By the way, did you notice there’s signs all over the French Ward that say just that? Like, normal signs?

An ordinary passer by might even think that the real target of the whole thing was Jacobs. Jacobs, after all, died, too, and anyone there knows that gators and all might make it hard to hang Jacobs up there.

Speaking of which, the ire towards Jacobs, putting his name up there, I don’t necessarily get that. A) the message is to Marcano, B), Jacobs didn’t do a whole hell of a lot wrong. Shit, did he even take the bribe? Lou and Sal were throwing this party TO bribe him. He got blown up and had his name used in this grisly way for the sin of being offered a bribe by Lou Marcano. For all we know, poor guy was in the process of telling Lou to fuck off. He certainly didn’t seem evil. He hung out on Lou’s boat. What’s next, killing everyone who did two-for-one happy hour?

Seems a bit harsh.

And it’s true that he’s still a blank slate….but is that good writing? After many, many hours, shouldn’t you have SOME sense of character? I suppose you could say that leaving Lincoln blank increases the player’s own responsibility, but I’d only really buy that in a game with real choice. It’s hard for me to feel very responsible when I’m not choosing the whole thing. I didn’t say “Hey…let’s hang him from Andrew Jackson…” Lincoln did. And, if he’s gonna do that, shouldn’t we know why?

On another note, in the “I’m only reading it for the articles” department, the playboy close to the brothel was a) November 1968 which featured b) a woman on the cover surrounded by flags and campaign buttons (strategically placed) and c) wait for it…a long interview with Eldridge Cleaver, leader of the Black Panthers.

They plopped that there. And included the interview. In its entirety.

Making a point?

And about being a monster, yeah…

But. But. But.

Yes, I give you that we did that. We blew up the crane, sank the boat, led to a lot of people dying, including burning women and screaming people getting eaten by gators as we watched.

But. But. But.

The architect of all of it wasn’t Lincoln. This was Donovan’s plan. Donovan put the damn wires on the crane (why didn’t he do the rest? Details). You say “terrorism.” “Guerrilla warfare.” True. All planned by the CIA guy. The same type of guy who planned such warfare and then sent “disposable Negroes” to do it to brown people halfway around the world. You know. Like Lincoln.

If you’re asking “Is Lincoln a monster?” aren’t you also asking the same of all the “disposable Negroes” sent to do awful things to innocents AT THE URGING/ORDERING of jacketed, blond, holier than thou white guys? People like Father James? Father James isn’t a monster. We talked earlier today about Donovan being the one saying “Do it. DO IT!” Just like he did in Vietnam.

Who’s the monster? Lincoln, who did it? Donovan, the mastermind of it all who knew full well innocents would die? Or the player, who stood idly by saying “Well, things are linear, it’s gonna happen even if it sucks?” Like so many people did, and do, in life?

Feminina:

Yeah, you’re right, the plan was Donovan’s. Many, many of the plans are Donovan’s. Arguably, the whole thing is Donovan’s, because without Donovan’s intel about who to go after and where to find them, Lincoln wouldn’t have been able to go forward with this plan at all.

We see that the first thing he does after he recovers from being shot in the head and all is call Donovan: he NEEDS Donovan. One could certainly argue that he’s just being manipulated by this mastermind who’s using Lincoln to pursue his own goal.

I hesitate to say that partly from a metagame stance because it’s awkward narrative to have your protagonist turn out to be someone’s patsy (BioShock pulled it off well, but that was an unusual twist and worked partly because it was so unexpected), and it’s especially not a good look to have your black protagonist turn out to be just someone’s patsy, so I don’t think they would have intentionally gone for that angle here.

But also, I hesitate to say it because Lincoln WAS the one to call Donovan to set the thing in motion. (Or, rather, he asked James to call Donovan…which still haunts James. But the point is, it was definitely Lincoln’s idea.) He wasn’t just hanging out minding his own business when Donovan showed up and said “hey, you know what you need to do? Kill them all!”

I think Lincoln needs Donovan, and he knows he needs Donovan, so he called him, and is using his information and willingness to plan (and partially set up explosive charges while he’s at it). He’s using Donovan as a valuable resource for getting this thing done, no doubt knowing quite well that Donovan is using him for something as well.

Does Donovan think of Lincoln as his disposable negro? Just a useful tool who can be pointed in the direction Donovan wants him to go? Quite possibly. I’m skeptical about how deep their friendship actually goes.

IS Lincoln in fact just a useful tool, in the sense that maybe Father James and other soldiers (even Lincoln, while in the army) could be considered to be–just obeying orders, likely doing things they didn’t really want to do, in the service of a white man’s war they didn’t choose?

I’m going to say no on that. Lincoln isn’t obeying anyone’s orders, and he definitely chose this war.

And it’s true that he wasn’t the one who planned the attack on the riverboat, but he went along with it. I, the player, didn’t really understand how destructive it was going to turn out to be (I thought maybe the crane would just crash into the water and STOP the boat or something, rather than completely wreck it), and so maybe Lincoln didn’t entirely foresee the level of destruction either. I think certainly we can argue Donovan is more culpable for the civilian deaths than Lincoln is. But Lincoln–who, again, chose this war, and chose to call in Donovan and to accept and use his information and assistance, and knew the boat was full of civilians–is hardly blameless.

As much as Donovan is using Lincoln as an attack dog to bring down [something he hates that isn’t completely clear], Lincoln is using Donovan as a supplier of information and ideas. We see this in their interactions: Donovan spurs Lincoln on with reminders of how the Marcanos killed his family, but Lincoln casually orders Donovan to “let me know when you have something,” or, in the most recent conversation I saw with them, to “get the information and figure out a plan.”

Lincoln is the action guy and Donovan is the plans guy, and it’s easy for the plans guy to think that he’s in charge because the action guy doesn’t know what to do without information, but it’s also easy for the action guy to think he’s in charge because nothing will actually get done without him.

Maybe they’re both kidding themselves about how in control of the situation they are.

But I think Lincoln doesn’t get off the hook because he didn’t plan the attack on the boat. He wasn’t ‘just following orders’ when he set off the charges. (Though as you say, we the players basically were, since we had no other options if we wanted to follow the story. And maybe this lets US off the hook. WE’RE not monsters! We just pressed the only button there was to push! What else could we do?)

Good thing we didn’t play anything else we need to talk about right now.

Butch:

I’m curious how it’s going to go when we get to the other capital S Something you mentioned.

He does need Donovan. It all stems from Donovan. Quite literally, really. The start of each district, each “catch the boss,” each story mission ALWAYS starts with “Talk to Donovan.”

And in the beginning, we have Father James saying “I wish I never made that call,” the implication being that if James hadn’t involved Donovan none of this would have happened. Lincoln would have done, what, something else. But something that James, in retrospect, would have preferred.

But right, Lincoln chose this. And it isn’t a Bioshock kinda deal, cuz in that your mind was being controlled. You weren’t being urged, per se, you pretty much HAD to do anything that came after “would you kindly.” Even if this is Donovan’s plan at Donovan’s urging, there’s no weird mind control going on (or, if there is, that’s fucking cheesy and I’ll be pissed). And a lot of the methodology is, we assume, Lincoln’s. Sure, Donovan wants them dead (it seems), but there’s no indication that he’s the one going “Hey, you know what would be really punchy? Hang the dude from the Ferris wheel.” That seems to be Lincoln through and through.

So even if Lincoln is being used for something he doesn’t know about, he’s hardly doing it because he can’t help it, and he doesn’t seem ALL that reluctant. Indeed, he’s adding quite the flourishes himself. With gusto.

No, that’s true. But as for the “disposable Negro” angle, if Lincoln and Donovan do share a mutual goal, if for different reasons, then Lincoln, the black man, still is the one with something to lose. The FBI guy, in the present, is talking about investigating Lincoln. You don’t see him saying “Donovan is a monster,” or “Donovan was the prototype for modern crime.” No, his focus seems squarely on investigating, and, we assume, arresting Lincoln. We certainly don’t see any indication that Lincoln could sit before Congress with a smile on his face saying “You’re goddam right I murdered them all” like Donovan (sorta) did. Donovan seems completely insulated from any type of legal risk. Lincoln does not. And that’s pretty much the same as the way that white politicians/generals were with the black soldiers. The black soldiers were killing and dying while the worst the white dudes had to face was grilling from Congress five years later. If that.

So no. Lincoln has a lot to answer for. That he does. But, I think as we learn more, we’ll probably be able to justify what he’s doing more (or, maybe, less) than Donovan is doing. Certainly killing racists sits better than…whatever Donovan is doing.

And yet, you have that blame angle, that societal blame angle mentioned above.

So even if they are equally culpable, they’re not being treated as equally culpable in the present. Which is saying something.

Feminina:

That is a very good point, that Donovan is chilling in front of a congressional committee or whatever, seeming not at all concerned about the potential consequences, whereas the FBI guy has been pursuing Lincoln for almost 50 years. As far as we know (so far), the FBI guy isn’t even aware of Donovan’s involvement–he seems to have just come in, played his part, and slipped away, leaving Lincoln as the symbol of all the destruction. And the fact that Lincoln is entirely willing to serve as this symbol doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s an inaccurate reading of the story, and lets one of the two fairly equal players off without responsibility.

Lincoln is the scary guy who gets the blame, even though Donovan (who did plan the boat wreck, as well as gathering all the information on every other target) is as much a monster as he is. Maybe moreso in that he gets to sit back trimming his nails, in the manner of plan guys everywhere, while the action guy takes the physical risks, gets the actual blood on his hands, and takes the moral blame. You mentioned how Donovan set up the wiring but couldn’t be bothered to actually attach the explosives, or whatever, and leaving that for Lincoln to do…that seems like another careful distancing from direct responsibility.

“I gave him the gun, but I never pulled the trigger. I set up some wires, but I never hooked up the C4 or pushed the button. I told him where his enemies were, but I never actually killed any of them myself.” Donovan doesn’t want to get his hands dirty, and as far as we’ve seen, he never does: he keeps just far enough in the background, all the time.

And you’re right, that does have a very pointed social angle to it, because it seems entirely likely that that’s exactly what WOULD happen. Hm.

Butch:

And did, in the war(s). And in countless other endeavors this country has seen. Indeed, did you hear the Voice’s take on how Black people built the theme park? And built New Orleans? And, like, America? All while white folks didn’t get their hands dirty?

Hmm.

“The scary guy.” Yes, yes indeed. And, well, we have some degree of knowing why, right?

After all, there’s some parallel between Lincoln and Donovan in terms of perceived threat and Lincoln and the Marcanos, or even Kevin for that matter. The Marcanos are killing dudes. Kevin is hanging out, heavily armed, everywhere. Marcanos guys are loan sharking, killing dudes in slaughterhouses then trashing their bodies, extorting construction workers and union laborers, etc. But who are people afraid of? The “Killer black man.” They happily come down to Uncle Lou’s for happy hour, but when a black guy does stuff? Fear. One could think that Donovan could open a pub called “Donovan’s finest Ales” and it would do fine. No one would be afraid. Cuz he isn’t “scary,” if you know what I mean.

Shit, maybe FBI guy DOES know about Donovan, but doesn’t care. He’s so focused on the scary black man, and will be happy busting the scary black man, letting the veteran go (protecting the white veteran at the expense of the black one…hmm…where has that come up?)

Feminina:

Yeah, the “scary guy.”

We’ve talked plenty about white fear of black men, and whether Lincoln is intentionally using it to spook his targets, and how even if it is kind of useful to him it can rebound on other people…it can definitely also be the case that Donovan is using it too, relying on it to keep everyone’s attention focused on the (scary, black) action guy, letting the (harmless-looking, suit-wearing, white) plans guy keep to the shadows and take basically none of the fall.

If Donovan (or, say, Vito, or Burke) goes after the Marcanos on his own, it’s a gang war. Nobody in power is happy about that, really, there’s violence in the streets and all, bad for business…but it’s essentially a gang matter, and doesn’t threaten the social order. Because Lincoln does it, it’s a race war, and everyone freaks out: he challenges not just the gangs, but white control of the city, indeed, the rightful place of white people at the top of the hierarchy.

And if Donovan helped Burke or Vito–which we imagine he could theoretically have done, since they had legitimate gripes against the Marcanos and might have been moved to action by the offer to provide really good information and workable plans–it could have been harder for him to hide behind the shock value and the news draw of the SCARY BLACK MAN story and stay out of sight, where he apparently prefers to remain.

Of course, if/when anyone DOES find out he helped Lincoln, he can be seen as a race traitor as well as an accomplice to gang murders, so it’s kind of a trade-off, but apparently, as we’ve repeatedly noted, he’s not too concerned about that. I guess as long as he’s facing congress instead of the Southern Union, he figures he can handle it. Like him, these are guys who don’t want to get their own hands dirty.

Butch:

He figures he can. That he can.

Though it’s hard to say who exactly he IS facing, Congress wise. It’s no accident that the senator who is the most interested in him is explicitly southern (is he from Louisiana? I forget) and, therefore, possibly from the Southern Union himself, something that Donovan would likely know.

But, on the other hand, his testimony was, until recently, classified. We still don’t know why. And he’d likely know THAT, too. He’d know that his testimony wouldn’t see the light of day.

So, is he talking freely? Or to someone behind the scenes?

Feminina:

Also good questions! Who is Donovan really talking to?

And another question: is he ACTUALLY getting off as free as he seems to thinks he is?

He acts all calm and confident, but we don’t actually know that this attitude is warranted. As you say, his primary interrogator is southern (I can’t remember if it’s specifically Louisiana either). For all we know, he was quietly murdered in a dark alley the day after this testimony was recorded, because whatever connections he counted on to protect him were done with him.

Based on his confidence and the resources he’s able to bring to Lincoln’s problem, we can guess he’s got real support from somewhere to accomplish something, but there’s no guarantee that will last once his usefulness on that something is done.

Butch:

Well, it is something that we haven’t seen Donovan in the “present.” That testimony was in 1971. And, while he could just be dead of some natural thing in 2007, maybe not.

Feminina:

Dead of natural (or at least unrelated) causes, or else alive and refusing to comment.

“I said what I had to say back in 1971. Now get off my lawn, you punk documentarian game-makers!”

Butch:

Hmm. Also true.

Man this game. When it’s good it’s so good. But….

Feminina:

So much bloggage! And then some long, quiet times where we just kill a bunch of Kevins over and over.

It’s the circle of life.

Butch:

This could have been a great game. Period.

I have no idea why they decided to do what they did to it.

Feminina:

Well…it’s a game, and it was probably supposed to be a certain length, and it needed enough recognizable game elements to get it there…and a lot of people probably wouldn’t have bought something that was straight-up called “A Meditation on Race Relations and Social Injustice in the American South in the 1960s”…I’m sure you have to balance a lot of competing demands, making games.

Butch:

But even without Kevin all over, there’s s lot of GAME. And some Kevin is ok. But why SO much?

Especially when the not repetitive levels are so good. Riverboat. Amusement park. Quarry. That’s more than just a rumination.

And why be long? We’ve played AAA games that aren’t 60 hours and been more than happy.

Balancing elements often leads to clutter.

Feminina:

We have been happy with more concise games, we have. But I wonder if there’s a sort of assumption, in game consumers generally, that if a game isn’t really big, it’s not…you know…a Big Game. Worth the price, and the serious consideration, of a Big Game.

I mean, I’m not arguing with you about whether or not they made the right call (from our perspective, and even in general based on the numerous complaints about repetition). Sure, it could have been shorter and more focused and that would have given the more intense story bits–more intensity!

But I can see where, when you’re in the middle of making the thing, maybe it seems like that’s not the right answer. Or maybe even if it seems like the right answer to some people, maybe they get overruled by other people who say “no, it needs to be a 60-hour Big Game! Put in more stuff to do or people will feel cheated!”

I feel like I can imagine how it happens, is all I’m saying.

Butch:

Oh, no doubt they did. Games, in general, seem to be suffering from a desire to be many things to many people, but that often leads to being a jack of all trades, master of none.

And it makes SOME sense. After all, games are expensive as hell. You can’t make a game that’s TOO niche, or you’re gonna lose money. It’s easy to forget that they are an art form, yes, but also a product. I get that. But there have been very successful single player games that don’t try to be all things. TW3. Horizon. God of War (so I hear). Uncharted. Those didn’t give everyone this sandbox thing, and people liked them, and they made money.

It’s a tough balance.

And it may well get worse. After all, games have, if you figure in for inflation, gotten MUCH cheaper. A AAA game has been 60 bucks for many, many years. Shit, I think I paid 50 bucks for text only games back in the 80s. 50 bucks in 1985 is a lot more than 60 bucks today. So games are getting cheaper as they get more expensive to make. Either a) they’ll get cheaper to make, which is unlikely, b) they’ll start charging more for them, which no one will like or c) they’ll keep trying to broaden their potential customer base by being too damn big.

One hope I have is the advent of digital. Used games have a lot to answer for. Yes, people bitch about not being able to sell discs and all that, but if more people had to buy their stuff new, then that’s more money for the developers, which might solve some of this problem.

Maybe.

But inflation is what it is, and budgets are what they are.

A Moment’s Pity

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for rackets and character/story points in Mafia 3

Butch:

Well, I got nothing cuz I’m still stuck doing the “sex” thing which I can’t do with anyone around.

Feminina:

I played a bit. I didn’t go right back to Pagani, because it occurred to me that if I finished up with him, I might be at the point where I needed to assign the territory, and I already gave Burke both the rackets so I wanted him to have Tickfaw as well, BUT I already gave both Burke and Cassandra a territory and Vito was kind of annoyed about it, so I was afraid to give Tickfaw to Burke and have Vito flip out or something.

So I went back to finish up with the French Ward and gave that to Vito. And oh. My. Lord. That’s some…something.

Then I went and murdered the hell out of some Southern Union jerks in Frisco, and…oh. My. Lord. Something.

THEN I went and finished up with Pagani. It was actually not that bad? I chased him once, for the banter, and actually almost caught him except I crashed my car. Then I put some mines outside the building, crept in and around inside, caught him as he was just hopping into his car, shot the hell out of the car and I think also hit one of the mines in the process, so the car was a burning wreck and that did for him.

I felt kind of bad about him, although it was purely because he said “I have a wife and three little girls.” I mean, any one of the hundreds of dudes we murder on a daily basis could have a wife and three little girls, and most of them are lower-level and hence arguably less culpable and deserving of death than this guy, and yet he mentions his family and I’m instantly all sad for him. And Lincoln was all sad for him too!–he pauses to close the dude’s eyes, and looks somber. He still has a flicker of human feeling, right?

And then we cut to the FBI guy saying that he’s pursued Lincoln for 48 years or whatever because he’s a criminal and that he (FBI guy) really believes he (Lincoln) is a monster. Which is a harsh term, and juxtaposed very tellingly for me with the end of the French Ward. We’ll talk later.

And yet…there was also the Frisco bit. We’ll talk later.

But basically, even without those bits, Lincoln is arguably a monster. He (we!) murders hundreds of dudes on a daily basis without even blinking. Dudes with lives, families, for whom we spare not a single thought as we stab them in the neck and move on.

And granted, these dudes are certainly all murderous jerks as well, who would kill us without a second thought, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have kids who’ll miss them.

It just goes to show that in a war or a video game, you can’t let yourself see the enemy as human. And that pause as we/Lincoln did briefly see Pagani as human, that was interesting. But whether it refutes the FBI guy’s insistence that Lincoln is a monster (he is capable of empathy), or underscores it (his empathy doesn’t slow him down, since the next thing we see is him back talking to Donovan about the next box on the murder flow chart), I’m not sure.

Butch:

Capital ‘Something’? Wow.

Ah, nicely done with Pagani. Yes, mines. That’s what ultimately did it for me. Blocking it with cars made the cars vanish, but mines. Mines.

I had a wonderfully spectacular moment with that. I didn’t sneak around. I killed the outside Kevins, put down my mines, and then just kinda went to the front door and shot randomly towards Frank until he freaked. So I got to see him come barreling out with, count ’em, four Kevins on his hood (as he runs people over, just like us), hit ALL FOUR mines and send things skyward in amazing geyser of fire, car and Kevin.

It was glorious. In no small part because something finally fucking worked.

As for feeling bed, well, did you read his bio? Dude had a bad life. But what did it for me was the first thing he said: “I never did anything to you…” And even Kevin can’t say that! Kevin tries to kill us. This dude was just doing business, tried to RUN, and we blew him up (instead of chasing him like the game wanted us to).

That, I think, was the real indictment. Lincoln realized that he’s killing fathers who DIDN’T hurt his family! He’s hurting theirs and…why? They never did anything to him.

Which, again, is also a finger pointing at the player. “We murder dudes on a daily basis.” Lots of those dudes never did anything to us.

And Donovan, Ooo! Good segue to what I wanted to say about the war thing! Cuz I think we’re gonna get some war stuff.

Yes, we get FBI guy. That we do. But we also get a cutscene with Lincoln and Donovan, right? And in that scene, Lincoln has JUST the front edge of second thoughts. He’s troubled by Pagani. And the second Donovan senses any doubt or second thoughts or anything from Lincoln, Donovan immediately is all “HEY! THEY KILLED YOUR FAMILY!” Donovan wants none of that. Donovan wants Lincoln to focus and stay on his murderous track.

Hmm.

And now you know what I have that isn’t “Kill Tommy Marcano.” It’s about Cuba. Communists. You know. Who Donovan hates.

So yes, he’s talking to Donovan about the next box on the murder flow chart. But it’s Donovan who is the one encouraging him to do so. Or, at least, to focus.

Right?

Feminina:

It’s true! Donovan is pushing him right back into the rage. We’ve said all along that Donovan has to have some agenda of his own–there’s something he’s getting out of this that’s not just “my good friend Lincoln was cruelly mistreated and I’ll help him get bloody and wildly disproportionate revenge, probably breaking numerous laws in the process, because that’s what friends do.”

“They killed your family, and the only way to make them pay is to kill every single one of them!!!!” He definitely doesn’t want Lincoln giving up on this. Also, did you notice that other interesting thing he said, about how Sal Marcano is “a leech”? That could be just a sort of generic unpleasant thing to compare an enemy to, or it could be a pointed sign of the fact that Donovan really has a problem with the Marcanos not doing their fair share…whatever that means to him.

I mean, we could go to taxes–certainly they aren’t paying everything they owe because illegal income sources etc., and Al Capone’s history gives us that link between organized crime and getting busted for tax evasion. But Donovan hardly seems interested in busting anyone in legal terms–he wants them all dead.

Or maybe it goes back to Donovan’s very specific and personal hatred of communism, a concern of which is that it pools resources and potentially enables unproductive people to ‘leech’ off productive ones. But just as with taxes, the link between the mafia and communism isn’t obvious to me, so I’m not sure. Still, there’s SOMETHING going on there. I’m wondering if maybe Donovan used to be connected to the mob himself, and Sal Marcano got promoted over him or something.

Or, since as you say the next step is Cuba and communists, maybe he doesn’t actually even care about the Marcanos, he’s just trying to hurt someone else (their communist business partners?) by destroying them, and Lincoln is a convenient tool for that process.

We shall see.

But dude, yeah. The conclusion to the French Ward, and the Southern Union in Frisco–we’ll talk. There’s STUFF there. Multiple somethings. Capital Somethings.

Butch:

Ooo! Good catch on ‘leech’!

Well, Cuba is starting to come up a lot. And there’s no doubt that Marcano is making money from Cuba, selling cigars, contraband, etc. He is also likely running guns and other forbidden American aid there, too. And no doubt Donovan wouldn’t be too keen on that.

We shall see. But just “hurting communist business partners” seems a little out of proportion to what he is doing. He is ANGRY, man. Yes, he’s stoking Lincoln’s anger, but I also get the sense that whatever he is up to has more to do with something personal and not just some ideology or abstraction of patriotism.

Multiple Somethings. Damn, man. Damn.

This game doesn’t pull punches.

But it does repeat, doesn’t it? In a futile attempt to catch up to you I killed enforcers (killing all sorts of dudes and just having the porn performers keep going was either funny, hideously upsetting or both), killed perverts, rolled my eyes at how perverted they seem to want to make the perverts, thought “Wow that was a great level. Lots of buildings, sniper points, ways to approach it what with the civilians, multiple access points,” then thought “Too bad the next thing I’ll have to do will be right the fuck back here” and, sure enough, gotta go back.

God DAMN it game stop this repetitive shit.

Feminina:

Game: NEVER!!!! Repetition or death!!!!

Though, death anyway, really.

Yeah, I agree. Donovan has some personal stake in this. He seriously hates communism, and either hates the Marcanos personally, or hates them more generally but still seriously…as communist enablers, perhaps, providing a toehold for the infestation to spread onto US soil.

Hm. And I really wonder if at some point this isn’t going to become an issue for Lincoln and Donovan. We’ve talked about how Lincoln doesn’t seem to really see himself as specifically a black power activist, but certainly everyone else does. The Voice and Remy Duvall both think of him as representing black anger and taking action to strike out on behalf of that anger. Both of them, one approving and one horrified, see him as a sign of potential revolution.

And it’s interesting how we collect communist propaganda that talks about equality, and Remy Duvall speaks disgustedly about the black demands for what he sees as unearned equality–these black activists marching in the streets calling for things they don’t deserve, demanding to be treated as the equals of people to whom they just aren’t equal and never will be. Likewise, Donovan presumably sees communism’s promise of equality as either a lie, or a promotion of the power of ‘leeches’ to be considered equal to productive members of society.

So even though Donovan seems to be genuinely disgusted by the racist old-school rules of the south, and certainly has no qualms about helping Lincoln put the fear of a vengeful black man into white society here, you have to wonder whether he, as much as Remy, is driven by an essentially irrational devotion to one ideology and the attendant hatred of another. I mean, I think we’re agreed that Donovan REALLY hates communism, so he’s very much a product of that ideological communist/capitalist divide that is as much about passion as actual argument. (He probably also doesn’t want the US to turn into a hereditary monarchy, but nobody goes into a frothing rage about that.)

And if so, what is that saying, really? That everyone sees the world from their own viewpoint and justifies their actions accordingly? That any of us can justify monstrous actions this way?

And what does it say about Lincoln, there in the middle, not thinking of himself as a black activist but attacking racist power structures, not seeming particularly concerned with the spread of communism but ripping down posters (and, in his journal, noting that “those commie bastards think they can put up their bullshit wherever they want” or whatever–so he does believe it SHOULD be ripped down, just as he does believe racists SHOULD be removed from power)?

Maybe we’re meant to be able to see him as a hero or a monster depending on our own views? Or it’s that, like everyone, he’s a little of both, navigating a world shaped far more by other peoples’ beliefs, than by what he himself believes?

Butch:

Wait…do you think Donovan really is disgusted by the racist rules of the south? Sure, he hates the Marcanos, and he has little love for the Dixie Mafia, but I haven’t seen any evidence that his feelings are impacted in any way by any sense of racial right and wrong. I think you could be cynical and say that he’s only saying the stuff he says about race to keep Lincoln focused. There’s no evidence to the contrary.

He’s a little of both, for sure. A blessing and a curse. Shit, even the FBI guy is admitting that now.

Oh, right. Played. Got the whole “Lincoln’s Legacy” bit from the FBI guy, who says he’s a monster, and the prototype of so many criminals, but he did what the FBI couldn’t do: ended the Italian mob.

So again, here’s a guy with a true sense of right and wrong wavering on what Lincoln is.

And, as we talked just this morning, LINCOLN is wavering on what he is.

I have a feeling there’s gonna be Weighty Choices later. And then we can say “Why did we choose that?” cuz games.

But played. Took over sex (originally typed “Gave sex to Cassandra,” retyped it), and killed the judge. I have decided that blowing cars up is FAR better than chasing them. I chased it once, and I think I actually did kill the judge, cuz it switched to “lose the cops,” but I thought that was cuz I shot AT the judge. So I spent all this time shooting up his car thinking “Why isn’t he dead yet???” then died.

So then I got mad and said, to quote Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters: “When in doubt….C4!” and planted some right in the road by the courthouse, got in my car, waited, BLAMMO. And ran away.

And got “Lose the cops,” and realized I had done it right the first time.

Ah, well.

Now I’m off to get on……a RIVERBOAT!!!!

Gonna be great.

Is this a Something?

Feminina:

Yes! Riverboat! It’s definitely Something. We’ll talk.

And yeah, at first I made assassinating that judge way more complicated than it needed to be. I was all “I probably have to chase him all over town…” and then I tried shooting him through the window and he drove off and I lost him…finally I just left my car near where he stopped to pick up drugs or whatever he was picking up, chucked a couple of grenades at his car, went back to my car and drove off, and the cops weren’t even chasing me, and then, like you, I was perplexed by the big circle on the map thinking “did he get away, do I have to drive around this area until I find him, what?” until finally I figured out that ‘evade the cops’ meant ‘drive out of the circle you idiot’ and that was the end of it.

Usually when I have to evade the cops, they’re CHASING me, you know? Here they hadn’t even really seen me, so it was a very nebulous search. “Negative visual on suspect”…the sweetest words the dispatcher can say. Well, no–the second sweetest after “search is called off: repeat, abandon search and return to patrols.”

As for Donovan, it’s true, he might be playing up his distaste for the racist system in order to make Lincoln think their motivations are more similar than they are…but I thought there was some real venom in the way he talked about how assassinating the judge would “send a message to these racist cocksuckers that their way of life is finally over” or whatever. It seemed like he really did think this was a system that deserves to go down. (Casual homophobic slur! Never miss a chance to throw in some more profanity. We could talk for days about the slurs alone! Well, an hour and a half, anyway.)

Maybe he feels it props up more “leeches” who got rich off the labor of others? A hatred for communism could possibly extend to a hatred of slavery and post-slavery segregation…one could argue that, like slaves, people under communist rule don’t own their own labor, and this is despicable (though communists would probably counter that if they don’t own the means of production, ‘owning’ the labor itself is no guarantee of any power in society).

Hm. We still have much to learn about Donovan.

And Lincoln.

But not Judge Holden. That dude is dead and already forgotten.

Butch:

Well, the cops kinda did go all blue circle on me, because I kinda detonated C4 outside the courthouse, in the middle of a police caravan and all. They noticed.

And yes, Donovan said that….but it did have a sense of overacted.

Which is always kinda a problem with games. Is that being overacted for narrative purposes? Or is it being overacted cuz the guy is overacting?

I didn’t entirely buy the “send a message” thing. Not entirely.

Feminina:

It’s definitely true that Donovan might have been overacting there with his hatred of racists, though as you say it’s hard to know if the CHARACTER is overacting, or if it’s meant to be sincere but the actor is overdoing it a bit. Hm.

One of Those Playing Sessions

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Extremely minor spoilers for small details in Mafia 3

Butch:

See, here’s Mafia 3 in a nutshell:

So yesterday, I played, what, an hour or so, and we had enough bloggage to last for days. Well, all day. Right?

So last NIGHT I played an hour or so. Here’s what happened:

Was in the bayou. When I turned off the game after all that good stuff, there was a dope leaf right there. “Ok,” thought I, “I’ll do that next time! Right there!” So I turn it on last night….not there. It had moved.

So I reloaded. And reloaded again.

Nope.

So I said “Fine. Whatever. I’ll do the booze one for Nicki. It’s in the bayou, and it’s right there.”

Nope. One of those deals where it LOOKS right there, but you have to drive all out of the way. 1500…units. (What ARE those units, anyway?) But fuck if I’m going to leave the bayou without SOME side quest.

So I drove there, stole the truck, drove back, and was 420…units..away when…hit squad. Who pinned me in. And killed me. And destroyed my truck.

So I respawned….not in the bayou. But I was right by Burke! So I talked to him, got the “steal cars from cops” deal, and gave it a shot!

And stole a car. And drove down an alley to get away. And the alley was a dead end.

So I died.

So I eventually said “Fuck this,” and went and talked to the person in Frisco and Southern Union and all that. And got informant/enforcer, etc. So I did an enforcer and an informant.

So let’s compare: Day: played an hour and change, bloggage for days. Night: Played an hour and change, all I have to show is a dead enforcer and a recruited informant.

If that don’t sum this game up, nothing does.

Feminina:

Sounds about right. I played, and it was one of those nights where I couldn’t do anything without dying. Go into a laundromat, shoot some slot machines, die. Go into a grocery store, shoot some slot machines, die. Break up a card game, kill a dude, steal some money, die. I was accomplishing goals, you know, like wrecking slot machines and killing enforcers, but I paid for every single achievement with a death and reloading back in the abandoned store with the sweaty white guy whose trucks keep getting stolen.

And who at one point gave that standard backhanded compliment “if only more of your people showed your initiative, we wouldn’t be having all this trouble.”

Which is somewhat entertaining, because he probably means the usual “you’re not like all the OTHER members of your worthless group!” but given the specific person to whom it’s addressed it KIND of comes out like saying “if only more black people would go on long-running murder sprees against the white people in power, things would be much better.”

That department store owner may have more in common with the Voice of the Hollow than one would suspect.

Butch:

Meh. I think you’re giving him too much credit. We’re doing too well in the other thread to get distracted on him.

But those TVs gotta BURN, man! BURRRRRN!

Feminina:

Oh, no, I totally don’t think that’s actually what he meant. Definitely not giving him that credit!

But it would be funny if he were secretly working for the revolution.

Butch:

He just wants you to fuck up those strangely explosive televisions.

Feminina:

Probably to shield himself from potential angry customers. If he actually sold those things, they’d be blowing up in peoples’ houses. Better if they just get destroyed and he can claim a business loss.

Traditional Family Murder Values

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for rackets in Mafia 3

Butch:

Well, here we go again. Played, again, and this time destroyed stag films, which was a whole lot like destroying TVs, drugs and contraband. Killed some of this guy’s enforcers, which was a whole lot like killing the other guy’s enforcers. Didn’t follow some red cars, which were a lot like the other red cars I ignored.

I’ve played a lot this week. I have. Every night, even, which is rare for me. And NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.

For a game where “Every player’s story is different,” WHERE’S THE STORY????

Sigh.

But since it’s nudity Friday, and we need SOMETHING to talk about, and we are, apparently, a game blog, I give you this to start:

This game has a lot to say about morality, at least in regards to race. But sex? I’m confused. We’ve talked on collectible nudity. The game has no problem sending players out to collect playboys and Vargas prints for no real reason. But now? A “sex” racket that is the same as “drugs” or even the gruesome “garbage” one. Stag films being treated the same as PCP. And, like media often does, treating anyone who isn’t into “normal” things in the bedroom as a sadistic pervert who, in this case, deserves to die.

That’s a shit ton of moralizing from a game with collectible Playboys.

Feminina:

Well, that is what people mainly complained about in this game, isn’t it? Here we go again…

For some reason I’m not really minding it, possibly because I’m easily entertained, but you’re certainly not wrong about each territory being basically the same.

Following the plan, I killed Butterbean (there wasn’t even a chance I wouldn’t, as I needed to do several thousand dollars worth of damage still), gave the racket to Burke, then went back and talked to Donovan and got the other side of the tracker for Pagani’s car. Went over to that place where I’ve known for weeks there was a Vargas print but I figured I’d come fight someone there at some point so never went after it. Got the Vargas print, but Pagani drove off. I was too busy grabbing the print to chase him. Then it was bedtime.

Is your tip to block the exits with something so he can’t drive off? Because that’s what I’m planning on trying next time. Figure if I can park a big truck or something in the way, shoot out the tires so it won’t move…

There are some pretty shiny convertibles right there that I’m probably supposed to jump in to race after him, but…meh. I can always take one of them later and NOT smash it up in a car chase.

Unless you already tried that and it didn’t work.

As for the sex…hm. That’s an interesting take. I didn’t read it so much as a shaming of all non-vanilla sex, as of drawing a “this goes too far even for us” line. I mean, one of the VIPs I killed had in the description that he’d hidden bodies of girls in drainpipes, or something.

Unless you mean the game is implying that every non-vanilla sex act is essentially as bad as murdering women for kicks? That in its depiction of these truly twisted VIPs, it’s equating “not-normal” with “homicidal”?

I guess I could see that. I mean, you’re right that we don’t have significant examples of “OK, this will strike most people as a bizarre fetish, but consensual adults! so rock on” or anything.

As for the fact that we burn the stag films, I didn’t see that as a moral statement, any more than destroying all those shiny cars seemed like a moral statement about our national love of fancy automobiles. Yes, stag films are treated the same as PCP, but they’re also treated the same as stolen cars, weed, or smuggled slot machines. Destroying them is just wrecking the inventory to hurt the business, and I figured Lincoln will be fine with selling them as soon as he’s the one profiting, the same as he is with cars (or guns, or PCP, or…).

And I definitely agree that from our standpoint it’s odd that there even IS a racket in stag films, that nudity is in fact in the same category as stolen cars, illegal drugs, etc. — THAT could feel like a moral statement — but before the internet, people had to get nudity somewhere, and with restrictive obscenity laws…if it’s against the law, who better than organized crime to handle it?

So I see your point, but I’m not sure I completely agree that this is moralizing on the part of the game. But, as we discussed with the Brothel that Became La Perla, prostitution is tricky. It’s hard not to take some kind of moral stance, and even trying too hard not to is basically a stance of its own, so…yeah.

DISCUSS FURTHER!

Butch:

It’s not just that the territories are the same. I have no problem with things being very similar. Fine. But there’s a whole lot of similar between story drops. There should be more story drops more frequently. If, say, three days this week were pretty much the same, but there was a really good, really themey thing mixed in, that would be one thing. But that’s not what’s happening, and that’s a shame.

No, no I thought of parking something in the way. I thought of that. I very studiously stole, like, four cars, put them just so, and, when he drove off, poof, they were gone.

Because it’s SUPPOSED to be a car chase.

You are very much supposed to take a shiny convertible and follow him, Grecco style. I know this, as, when you jump into said convertible, there’s dialog and banter and shit. This is obviously what the scene is. That’s why the convertibles are so shiny, so when he bolts, you think “Hey! THAT car!”

That said…..

Remember how awful Grecco was? And you were STARTING in a car! This, you’re flat footed, so he gets a CRAZY head start on you, and he’s REALLY fast. Indeed, you find he used to RACE CARS.

So yes, you’re supposed to race after him.

And yes, I tried it, and it didn’t work. Over, and over, and over again. Controller throwing rage.

But I came up with a hack/cheat/brilliance. And you’re close in your thinking. That you are.

No game has examples of “rock on consensual adults. Ever. Games like to throw sex around as collectible nudity, or “prizes” for romance. Occasionally, yes, we see good romantic sex that’s relevant to the plot. But EVERY time ANYTHING is non vanilla, it’s “bodies in drainpipes.” Either it’s totally vanilla, or it’s bodies in drainpipes.

Which sort of goes to you feeling alienated by the Playboys. That was a case of “sexy things in games are naked women, ergo for men.” It’s narrow. We’re just coming to the point where there’s gay options in games, and even THOSE are often aimed at some straight male vision of gay (especially lesbian) sex. Game sex is either playboys, vanilla or, at best, gay sex that’s either sexy lesbians or fade to black men. Anything else? You MUST be a villain! Bodies in drainpipes!

And that’s weird. If you’re going to be “mature” about things, then be mature.

(Note to readers: I am not saying this to defend my lifestyle. I do not have any interesting proclivities. I barely do anything. I have no lifestyle. Why? I have three children.)

I don’t think it’s INTENTIONAL moralizing. But if you’re gonna go there on a lot of sensitive topics (including race and class), your own morals are gonna seep in no matter what. We’ve talked before about how this game, yes, goes there on race in ways that are progressive by game standards, but we still can and should remember that the people making it are white men and that affects the way they approach race, whether they want it to or not, or even KNOW it or not.

The same thing’s true with sex. Games are usually made by straight white men, and, while I can give the developers the benefit of the doubt and say they weren’t trying to alienate you, but simply trying to be “mature” or something, their own approach to “mature sexiness” seeped in, whether they wanted it to or not or KNEW it.

And so any game that’s going to draw lines and say “This sex is ok, this sex is not” is taking a moral stand, intentional or otherwise.

I think your idea of “Lincoln will be fine with selling them” almost makes the moral statement worse. That implies “Sexy things are fine if I do them, but not if YOU do them,” and that stance on ANYTHING, sex or otherwise, is troublesome.

Feminina:

Ah! Well, at least I know not to try blocking the gate. I will ponder. And if there’s banter, maybe I’ll at least jump in a car and pretend to try chasing him once, so I get the witty writing.

OK, I see what you mean about sex. And yes, we really don’t ever have “these people are totally off the wall sexually, but it’s all in good fun and they all like it so it’s fine and doesn’t imply anything sinister about their character.” Which would be kind of awesome! You wander in on someone and their partner in bondage gear or something, and you say “oh, sorry, I should have knocked” and leave. (After grabbing their collectible off the end table. Which was probably what you were there for.) End scene, person never shows up later as a serial killer. Maybe they show up later as a responsible small business owner or something.

Because you’re right, non-vanilla pretty much always implies something sinister, and not just (or even primarily) in games–media in general tends to assume this. (“Fifty Shades of Grey” notwithstanding.)

And yes, the (mainly white male) viewpoint of the writers is absolutely going to come through. And yes, this doesn’t really anyone off the hook, but I agree that’s it’s likely largely unintentional, and as much laziness as anything. I mean, particularly in action-focused media, why would someone’s non-vanilla sexuality even come up if it weren’t a plot point? If this isn’t a long, sprawling novel where details about peoples’ character get thrown in just to add to the richness of the tapestry, then if something is in there, it probably MEANS something. And if it MEANS something, most of the time it’s going to mean something sinister and negative because that’s the easy route. And it’s the easy route because of preconceptions, and the fact that even though we don’t know anything about the sex lives and practices of 99.9999% of characters we see or read about in any media, we just assume “normal” and our “normal” is absolutely shaped by cultural definitions of normal (as well as our own lifestyles or lack of them).

As for “sexy things are fine if I do them, but not if you do them”…you’re totally right that this is completely wrong logically, but isn’t it also KIND OF what a lot of people secretly believe?

I mean, it’s an unquestioned joke-not-a-joke that no one wants to believe their own parents have sex. “My parents had sex three times, because there’s me and my two siblings” is pretty much universally a “haha but also we totally get that the idea is disgusting” joke.

And jokes about how horrifying it is to imagine [fat people/ugly people/disabled people/any people the teller finds unattractive] having sex are not uncommon. (Especially WOMEN the teller finds unattractive. Attractive women should have sex with any man who wants them/proves worthy of them through feats of strength or daring, because they are the logical prize for all success in life, but unattractive women should probably not exist, and even if they do, they should DEFINITELY never have sex except maybe as a joke.)

Which is pretty close to “it’s OK for me [and a subset of humanity approved by me] but not for you [assuming you are not within my approved subset].”

And this is not even getting into the hypocrisy of religious sexual abuse, or morally upstanding traditional-marriage-supporting politicians who get caught paying other men for sex or whatever. It’s OK when I do it!

Or maybe not actually OK, but basically OK because I’m morally aware enough to REPENT later and try to make it illegal for anyone else to do it. It’s all about repentance, isn’t it? It’s not doing something forbidden that’s the real sin, it’s doing it and not feeling REALLY HORRIBLY BAD about it before you do it again.

And, to bring it back around to the game, aren’t WE the real sinners? We keep murdering hundreds of dudes and not feeling even a tiny bit bad about it! Even though, as far as we know, most of those dudes probably lead perfectly normal, vanilla sex lives!

Butch:

Well, you’ll at least see how the game WANTS you to do it if you do the car chase. Try to stop before there is fury.

He will come out of the garage door that, as you face the garage, is to your right.

Which you can’t block with cars, no. Not with cars.

Media does imply that kink is sinister.

I mean, look at games that revel in sex. Geralt was banging anything that moved. And yet we saw two non vanilla people in that game: Junior and the cross dressing elf who was…awkward.

So, yeah.

Which, again, isn’t cool. Common, yes. But not cool. And this game is challenging uncool things that are all too common in terms of race relations. It certainly feels, projects, moral superiority on those grounds. We’re supposed to LIKE killing Dixie folks. Look how woke!

And then it has these rather icky, traditional notions on sex that Remy Duvall would be proud of.

Kill Pagani. We’ll talk. Later.

If you kill Pagani. DAMN that was irksome.

Feminina:

Ha–speaking of Pagani and normal, vanilla sex lives, did you overhear a couple of the dudes chatting before you murdered them, something like,
“should I ask out Allison who works in the office?”
“You mean the woman who’s the daughter of your boss? Your boss who is a murderous psychopath?”
“So you don’t think I should?”
“Why don’t you survive the killer [slur] who’s stalking us all and then decide.”

I felt a moment of genuine human empathy for them, just a couple of dudes doing a job, trying to survive killer me long enough to decide whether or not it was a good idea to ask a woman out. Then, it being pretty much my cue, I obviously murdered them both. But way to make Kevin briefly and very slightly sympathetic!

But yes, I agree, falling back on notions like “it’s OK if I do it” is, again, probably more habit than a thought-out moral stance, but is not less deserving of critique based on that.

Butch:

I did get that! And I actually thought about things a little before going that way, like, can I spare these dudes?

Man, we’re SO gonna talk later if and when you kill Pagani.

I do like that they’re trying to make Kevin more sympathetic, and ramping up the ambient fear in Kevin. They keep talking about how scary it’s getting, how maybe it’s not worth it, etc.

The problem, as it so often is with games, is integrating that into gameplay. Yes, here are those guys all “Maybe I’ll do this thing that might make me happy..but I’m scared I’ll be killed by the nasty man killing us all….” But then, immediately, he hears a whistle and instead of doing what someone WOULD do who wants to survive a man who is stalking and killing people so he can ask a girl out, that is, run, or at least get spooked and ask for help, he casually wanders toward the sound.

I mean, shit. I’m still so freaked out about bats that every time a light flickers or I see something out of the corner of my eye I get all defensive (not proud of that, but whatever). I do NOT get all “Huh? Let me stroll towards it.” Scared Kevin still does.

But gameplay gotta gameplay. It’s a problem games have.

Feminina:

So true! If I knew someone was killing all my co-workers, I would–well, I probably stop going to work, but even if I kept going, I would be so on edge I was opening fire at shadows and not taking a step without a companion right behind me.

But Kevin is fearless at all the worst times (for him).

Butch:

Brave? Yes. Loyal? To a fault. Persistent? You bet.

Intelligent? Not so much.

Feminina:

And by “so much,” we mean “at all.”

We don’t hire Kevin for brains or independent thought or the ability to notice when someone is running up behind him with a big knife. We hire him for blind obedience and unwavering determination in the face of impossible odds, and that he delivers.

I, for one, salute him.

With a big knife. Before feeding him to the alligators.

Butch:

Bravo, Kevin. Bravo.

We started so well today.

Feminina:

We can only maintain that level of thoughtful discourse for so long.

And by “so long” we mean “approximately half an hour.”

Butch:

Indeed.

It seems that, every week, I say something like “But we started so well.”

Well, most weeks.

Some weeks.

Feminina:

It’s happened once or twice. That we started well.

I think.

Butch:

Well, in that case, we’re on fire today.

Feminina:

I’m going with that.

NPCs Say the Darnedest Things

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for plot points and random NPC behavior in Mafia 3

Butch:

Hey! Played a bunch! I did the WHOLE drug thing in the French ward! So we can….uh…..hmmm……

***crickets***

Yeah…

Well, here’s something. I liked that end level a lot. And it was weird, cuz, at first, I didn’t like it at all. Have you done it? You must’ve, cuz you’re up to “kill Lou,” right?

So it was a maze. And confusing. And, at first, I was all “AIEE! Can’t find guy! Want to find guy! This is so frustrating!” But, over time, I realized that I was doing things like really thinking about where to move next. Switching weapons. Using all my weapons. Alternating between shooting and sneaking. I was using everything the game was giving me, and feeling like I HAD to use everything the game was giving me.

You know. I was PLAYING.

And that was fun.

And when I got through it without dying once, that was one of the more satisfying things I’ve done in this game.

I’m not really looking forward to finding my way OUT of that each time I respawn there, but you can’t have everything.

Feminina:

You mean that whole hippie music drug house thing? Yeah, that was an interesting level. The civilians everywhere, of whom I accidentally killed far too many on my various forays through the place (though not the last one that I actually succeeded with, so in my permanent timeline I didn’t do it, right?). The boat, the balcony levels, the performers, the back rooms. Very interesting layout (and as you say, kind of a pain to find your way back out of.)

And no, I am not at “kill Lou,” I’m at “assassinate the…” guy.

Did you already assassinate the guy? How are you already killing Lou? I want to kill Lou!

I mean, I really, seriously want to kill Lou, his radio ads are getting on my last nerve.

I finished up with the OTHER drug stuff in Frisco Fields and then drove way back east to murder a bunch of dudes and plant a bug on Pagani’s car. Now I have to kill someone named Butterbean, which is kind of too bad because Butterbean is an awesome name and I will slightly regret hunting him down like the dog he undoubtedly is.

Butch:

Yes! Great level. Just confusing enough to be fun and challenging. So easy to get lost there was even a moment where I was certain I was about to bust in and do cool stuff and…I was outside.

Ah, the performers. I have a screenshot to send you. I got a glitch after I did it where the jazz guy is standing on stage, his arms straight out like a T, looking backwards, frozen. Weird abstract jazz yoga performance art.

Wait, assassinate a guy? What? You don’t get to kill Lou after you do sex and drugs? (That came out wrong.) This isn’t like “Do two rackets, kill boss anymore?

Shit.

I guess I should have known, cuz after I did Southdowns I did NOT get “Kill Tommy Marcano.” I got…the other thing.

Oh, Butterbean. Poor Butterbean. I didn’t have to kill Butterbean. Why? Because I was close on damage, and he had crates, and the NEXT TO LAST Kevin before Butterbean dropped, like 25 bucks and that completed DAMAGE. Seriously. I didn’t even know what happened until Junior (bad parenting) said “he dropped money.”

But I killed him anyway cuz I was right there.

I kinda love the idea of Pagani all “Meh. He blew up all my shit and killed my enforcers…can’t be bothered….WHAT? HE TOOK KEVIN’S LUNCH MONEY???? He’s gonna DIE!”

Feminina:

YOU DO NOT TAKE KEVIN’S LUNCH MONEY YOU MONSTER!

Ha. That’s pretty awesome. Maybe I won’t kill Butterbean! Or maybe I will. I mean, if I wind up being right there anyway.

Oh, I see, you knew I was at the point of killing someone important in the French Ward, and assumed it was Lou. That’s a fair assumption! But no. Instead I have to assassinate a…guy.

And then, probably, hopefully, I can kill Lou! Because one thing we can say for certain, Lou’s going down, and the sooner the better.

But probably we’ll have to do a whole bunch of other stuff first, before we can get to either Lou or Tommy. Or Olivia! I haven’t finished the Frisco rackets, but one could assume Olivia would be the final boss there, but…maybe not. Based on precedent, PROBABLY not.

Maybe it’ll be Remy Duvall. To be honest, that would be even better.

Oh, and I didn’t have a performer glitch where someone just stood there frozen, but I DID have one who just kind of huddled in a heap and kept shrieking “ohmygodohygod OH. MY. GOOOOOOODDDDDD.” over and over and over.

I wanted to yell “just get the hell out of here, you fool, I’m not going to shoot YOU (on purpose. probably).” But since that’s not an option (yelling at people to get the hell out should totally be on one of the buttons, I would use it ALL THE TIME), I just wandered around shooting everyone else while doing my best to ignore her.

Butch:

What was particularly insulting to both Butterbean and poor, lunchless Kevin was I got the DAMAGE COMPLETE thingy from poor Kevin dropping change and then, five minutes later, when I did kill Butterbean, it said “DAMAGE: 15000.”

All those Kevins like “Dude, you COULD have waited…..”

Well, Lou is on that “kill list!” As is Tommy, who’s the capo in Southdowns. So it was an obvious assumption!

See, now I’m curious as to whether what you got was the same as what I got. Like, ok, you’re going to do this story thing right after you clear out the first capo controlled district. But I can’t ask cuz spoilers.

Again, though, Olivia is on the kill list. Remy is not. So maybe Remy first?

Game is long.

Which is ok, cuz Life is Strange is all serious and not escapism, and there’s no freebies this month that we care about.

I had something similar to the ohmygod lady, and more amusing. I was in this bar/casino, I forget why, and the place had, count ’em, three doors to the outside, and yet this one woman kept running behind the bar, into the bar, into walls, screaming “I have to get out of here!” Like, lady. There are THREE OPEN DOORS. All you have to do is FIND ONE.

She was still doing that when I calmly left. All alone.

Feminina:

The lady running around screaming is pretty great. Maybe she’d been partaking of the PCP or something.

“IF ONLY THERE WERE A DOOR! No, not that one, a better door! I mean, a DOOR door! I’ve got to get out of here!”

Don’t do drugs, kids.

But yeah, I’m not worried about this game being long. We’ve got Lara Croft waiting, and nothing else we’re really desperate to get into. I’m kind of glad there’s nothing this month. We can use the time to focus on what we’re already playing and waiting to play.

Butch:

Yeah. You know you’re pretty set when you’re happy that you don’t want any of the free stuff.

Wise words about the drugs. And don’t be too picky about your doors.

Feminina:

Fall is a good season for hunkering down and playing the stuff we already have. I’m into it.

 

There Are Drugs, and There Are DRUGS

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for Mafia 3 characters and rackets

Butch:

Aaaaaaaaaannnnnnndddddd another 5947520475 Kevins bite the dust and Vito has gambling now. He seems happy.

A plus about having to go do some shit in the bayou was that the final boss bit wasn’t at a place I’d been before. It was sort of weird. Dude was all “He’s over at Wilcox’s saloon” and I thought “Wait, where? I haven’t been there…OH! It’s NEW!”

It’s sorta a sad commentary where you’re so used to a game being repetitive that you’re surprised when it isn’t.

Almost worth a trip to the bayou.

And now I have a mission I….did not expect. And, perhaps, some of the first glimmers of insight into Donovan….

Where are you?

Feminina:

I am…still in Frisco Fields. I’m about to take down Bastian, the head PCP guy! Except I kept getting killed wandering around that giant space where the lab is. The Duvall Family Science Center or whatever. That’s going to be awkward to explain, good ol’ Remy Duvall having a PCP lab in his family’s center.

Or not, if we just quietly kill everyone for him. “Hey, dude, let me help you out with some embarrassing revelations by murdering the hell out of everyone in the building!”

Except I won’t: I’ll totally recruit the dude and run my own PCP lab out of the building instead. Which is…poetic justice or something? And then at some point I’ll probably kill Remy Duvall himself.

Interesting note, when I went back to talk to whatever the guy’s name is, in the motel room, the Irish guy who tells you about taking over the PCP racket. Lincoln says something like “sell all the PCP you want, but stay away from the Hollow.”

Which adds an angle to that NPC comment you mentioned waaaaaaaay back, when someone says to Lincoln “you really cleaned this place up,” referring to how he cleared out the smack racket and turned the church into a weed distribution hub. Which we both thought was a bit questionable, but maybe Lincoln is, in fact, trying to clean up the neighborhood and help the black community by keeping hard drugs away in favor of marijuana.

There’s certainly an argument to make for that approach–I mean, weed is legal now! In many states including this one! And wouldn’t you rather have a weed-selling church in your neighborhood than a PCP lab?

We could argue this game is actually a carefully disguised argument for marijuana legalization. Among other things.

Butch:

We could. And we likely should as we have very little in common right now, as I have yet to even go to Frisco Fields since…what…I had to kill a guy for Vito, and that was before Duvall or Olivia or anyone. So I have nothing to add to that.

But my story is going in some interesting ways. That it is.

I do wonder in what capacity we’ll have to kill Duvall, or if it’s an “if” and not a “when.” Cuz he isn’t on our “kill list” screen. Olivia is. Duvall is not. But he sure seems like someone who’s gonna get dead.

I’ll probably go back and do some of the stuff you did, like the French ward or something. Cuz right now, besides side quests and shit, I can a) go start Frisco, b) go start French ward or c) do this…thing I just got that I might want to wait to do until we can talk on it.

I sure know the game WANTS me to steal that fucking police truck, because every time I drove within four blocks of it it switched my active quest to “steal the police truck” and made me pause, go to the map and say “No, game. I don’t want to do that right now.”

I think I hurt its feelings.

Feminina:

Yeah, it’s true, he’s not on the list…but he really seems like someone we’d kill! Not just because he’s a racist assbag, but because he’s INVOLVED!

But maybe one of the messages will be that you actually CAN’T solve everything with murder (even though we certainly try!), and there will always be racist assbags who survive, or something. We shall see.

Sorry, I remember you mentioning Frisco a while ago so I thought you’d done more there. Didn’t mean to spoil about the Irish guy’s comments and the Duvall family center. I am terrible.

The game really want ME to go get Pagani. It keeps highlighting that quest for me, and I keep saying “but it’s way over there!” I’m certainly hurting its feelings. I’ll get to it.

We really do seem to be all over the place in ways that don’t facilitate discussion. So…I’ll finish up with the PCP guy and then go talk to Vito and get Pagani, and you go to Frisco? And our experiences will intersect?

Butch:

Deal. Which is better to do first? French ward or Frisco?

I think the game is pushing you Pagani’s way cuz that opens southdowns which opens….what I just got. Maybe.

I will leave my offer of tip on how not to waste a whole lot of time on Pagani on the table.

Feminina:

I will consider your offer once I have any idea what I’m looking at. I don’t want to commit before I’ve reviewed the hazards of the course.

Frisco has been pretty straightforward for me, although the guy I’m about to deal with is only the first of the two rackets, and I still have to kill a couple of enforcers on the second one (the Southern Union…I do so enjoy blowing up their pamphlets), so it might conceivably be more of a hassle. The French Ward was where I was dying every 20 minutes a few days back, though it was probably more about having a bad fingers night (BAD fingers! Be more nimble on the controller!) than because the district is inherently more difficult.

In terms of story, you get some good stuff in both. The Duvall/Olivia tie-in with Frisco Fields (it’s interesting that we’ve both heard the radio bit with those two, even though you haven’t been in Frisco Fields much…that suggests that the radio segments are tied to general progress, rather than to specific districts–I had kind of assumed that I heard Olivia Marcano’s interview BECAUSE I was there on her turf, but it seems that was purely coincidental), and some stuff about the Hollis Dupree case in the French Ward.

Butch:

Ah right, ol’ Hollis Dupree. I haven’t heard much about him lately. Maybe the game is wanting me to go there.

I’ll likely do French Ward, then. Do that kind of story. Maybe it’ll get the damn Lou Marcano two for one four o clock happy hour ads off the fucking radio.

“Why….Lincoln….don’t kill me….I liked Sammy, too….it wasn’t my ide-“
“You think this is about Sammy? It’s about your fucking ads interrupting Aretha. For that, you die.”

As for the Pagaini bit…. it sucks. Unless you cheat. Wait, not cheat. Unless you think it through. Yes. That.

Feminina:

I second this: every time Uncle Lou’s ads come on, I think “your day will come, man. Your tacky restaurants and exaggerated bonhomie will not save you.”

Butch:

Especially when there’s so many other good places to eat! I know of a GREAT sports bar in Southdowns that is almost free of blood stains!

Oh, and I forgot to ask–a couple of times, (indeed, this happened in the main fighty place for the TV racket), something happens where Kevin, like ALL the Kevins, seem to see me, but can’t shoot me. It’s all “COMBAT,” and I seem little red Kevin outlines, and they’re all pointing guns at me, standing still as statues. And I’m whistling and they’re all “HE’S OVER HERE!” not moving. Pointing very accurately, but not moving. I’m all “YES! YES! HERE! MOVE!” and they don’t. It all stays that way until I break cover and just shoot some dudes, which undermines the whole “Stealth is best” thing. Shit, that time, I said “Why are the reinforcements so strong?” I GOT the reinforcements cuz I got frozen, pointing Kevins, had to break cover to fix it, and off went the sentry cuz I broke cover.

That ever happen to you?

Feminina:

Weird! No, I have not had that happen. I’ve had the ‘sound doesn’t match up’ thing a few times, including in combat where it’s weirdly disorienting to not have the sound of your shots match up with your pulling the trigger and then seeing the person stagger and spew blood, but I haven’t had people stand and stare at me but not take action.

But as to ‘reinforcements are so strong,’ yes, they’re ridiculous. And those little red lightning bolts over their heads just add to their mystique. I hate them! But more, I hate sentries for calling them. Damn sentries…few things are as satisfying as hearing that alarm noise and then having a sentry run right into you on the way to the phone so you can smack him the hell down.

Butch:

It’s a weird bug. The statue Kevin’s with x ray vision.

I haven’t had the sound problem. Which is good, cuz that shit drives me nuts.

 

Can’t Wait for this to be a Podcast

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for Mafia 3 rackets and characters

Butch:

So, as you know, in our long history of blogging there are days when we don’t do much cuz I didn’t play. This game? I did play I played a good hour and a half. Maybe two. But we’re not gonna do much cuz here’s what I got:

Killed about 298253795 Kevins. Vito’s got the TV racket. Started on the next racket in Southdowns.

That about sums it up.

The “it gets repetitive” criticisms were valid.

Feminina:

I went up to Frisco Fields, talked to the drug dude and the IRS lady (nice touch, that the IRS is interested) and blew up some chemicals and some white supremacist literature. I like how they keep that in explosive boxes. It makes things easier for me.

It’s funny because over the weekend I basically couldn’t do anything without dying–I mean, I’d succeed in the mission, but die and have to reload after. Last night, it was one of those sessions where everything went smoothly–I drove all over the place, hit 6 or 7 different locations, and never died at all.

Just as in life, sometimes in games the same damn thing is easy, and sometimes it’s hard.

Oh, and I killed that guy up there that Vito wanted me to kill (which actually worked out incredibly well because he and his pals were right next door to some PCP guys, so while I was murdering all the PCP guys, other guys would wander over from the card game and I’d murder them too, so by the time I was done with the PCP chemicals Lucky was pretty much the only one left at the card game. Heh).

Now I need to go talk to Vito, but he’s far away, so I didn’t do it last night. It was also one of those sessions where you’re way out in the middle of nowhere and thinking “I might as well try to do THIS thing too, because if I stop now I’ll reload back in the hotel or something and have to drive all the way out here again.”

I do have to go back and try to wrap up the French Ward, though. Speaking of Vito. He needs his territory.

Butch:

SO nice of them. The TVs, too. Very explosive. And they must hide some dynamite in their slot machines. Those are pesky, buggers, though. Stealthy. Yesterday I saw a slot machine, all shiny in that “shoot me” way, in a laundromat. Decided to snipe it with my silenced thingy (which I LOVE)….and missed. And they called the cops.

I half expected “All units, we have a report of some doofus who can’t hit a big fucking slot machine when he’s standing perfectly still and has forever to aim. Please use caution, but not that much.”

Dude, I have the same thing going on with this game, easy then hard. That I do. Yesterday, I died more than I can say.

Of course, is it just me, or do the sentry called reinforcements kick MAJOR ass? Those guys are like Kevin’s big, nasty, mean assed cousins. I kill, like 78 Kevins, then “REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVED” and ten seconds later I’m dead. Why don’t they just let THOSE dudes guard their special stuff?

You know, as I was walking around in ovals this morning (one must stick with fitness!) I had a thought that is relevant to what you just said: This game obviously wants us to get to know and to care about Cassandra, Emmanuel, Burke, Nicki, Vito and Alva. And I kinda do! It wants us to talk to them, what with those little icons. And I DO want to talk to them! But, as you say “Now I need to go talk to Vito, but he’s far away, so I didn’t do it last night.”

If you want NPCs to have a lot to say, and you want to dole that stuff out over time, like good RPGs do, you have to make those NPCs rather accessible. Shit, I was pissed when I had to truck all the way to the back of the Tempest to talk to dudes. Pissed when I couldn’t find the stairs to Cullen’s parapet in Skyhold (which was EVERY TIME). No fucking WAY am I gonna drive halfway around town just to talk to Alva, even if I want to. Time’s too precious.

AND! AND! There’s no way I’m gonna truck to Vito knowing a damn hit squad could pop and kill me at any moment. Shit, trucking around the Tempest and Skyhold was time consuming enough, and that DIDN’T have the risk of death and reloading way the fuck far away.

So the game wants us to do this stuff, we want to do this stuff, and the game, once again, can’t get out of its own way and let us do it.

What’s odd is that they COULD have had a central hub. One is baked right in: the abandoned plantation house where the sit downs happen. There could have been a mechanic where everyone just chills there. Donovan is upstairs doing his do, everyone has their own little place, they’re talking on the phone to underbosses, whatever. You could stash gear, it would have made some sense. Shit, when there was a wardrobe and a safe and stuff in Sammy’s bar, I thought they were going to use that. But they didn’t. For anyone. And they should have, so we could have at least talked to everyone like we do in bioware games.

I’m giving Vito televisions. And slot machines. When I get there. But first I have to go rescue a boxer (a fighter, not a dog) way the fuck down in the bayou. It’ll have to wait.

You could wrap up Pagani. Then we could talk.

Feminina:

Yeah, I need to work on Pagani. The game keeps giving me this notice about him. “STORY MISSION: The connection to Cuba” or whatever. “Go do this thing!!!!”

Enh…it’s way over there….I’m way over here…

I do like long drives when I’m listening to something on the radio–if only there were a way to time it. Last night I had to just sit in the car for a few minutes after I got somewhere to finish up radio segments, twice. At one point a suspicious dude with a group I was going to attack kept coming closer to the car, bit by bit, and I had to keep backing up, until the show was over and I could jump out and murder him already.

I don’t want to miss what the Voice of the Hollow is saying! An interesting ‘buy local’ plea, about the Briar Patch restaurant and the racist amusement park (hello, loup-garou story!) and how it doesn’t make sense to keep spending money at establishments run by people who hate and scorn you.

And then a Native Son interview with Olivia Marcano, talking about how everyone just has to EARN things, and if certain people haven’t put in the effort, well, obviously they can’t be part of the group. It’s not that we have RULES against certain types of people, you know, it’s just that they haven’t earned it.

Butch:

I’d be happy to give you the time saving tip. Cuz otherwise, be prepared to drive. A lot.

Dude that happens all the time with the radio. I think “Well, might as well drive there. Mrs. McP’s almost home, gonna need to make dinner….” and I hop in and “NATIVE SOOOOOON” and I’m like “Shit, Remy, talk fast. Faster. This was not in the plan.”

And DUDE that’s the very NATIVE SOOOOOON that got me last night. I had, like, two blocks to drive and that came on.

What I caught was that Olivia didn’t seem to be quite as awful as Duvall. She said “Well, everyone should have the opportunity…” and Duvall cut her off. Don’t get me wrong: she’s awful. But she did seem at least a little less passionate about awful racism as Duvall.

So the game will probably spare her a gruesome on screen death. Because of that. For no other reason.

Feminina:

That’s true. She WAS willing to acknowledge that in theory everyone should have a fair chance.

We shall have mercy! Her grisly death shall take place offscreen.

Or else we’ll snap her neck with our bare hands. Or maybe inject her with an overdose of her own drugs so she dies in a calm coma? So many choices!

Butch:

I’m betting off screen.

Cuz she’s….uh…..

Do Pagani tonight. If you’re going to have to drive, might as well drive towards something I’ve done.

Plus, it opens up Southdowns with its slot machine/boxing/gambling rackets.

Feminina:

Ah, right–so the gambling we wondered about a few days back has finally turned up! Would have been an odd omission. But, paced as it is, it does kind of fit narratively as we draw closer to the planned casino.

Butch:

It has. Sports, slot machines, the works.

And rescuing a dude in the bayou!

You’re gonna love it. It’s gonna be great.

Feminina:

That’s good, that’s good. Gambling is an important component of a robust criminal empire. I’m gonna love it.

I will definitely not miss the sparkling slot machines, either. (I probably will.)

Butch:

Just don’t, you know, MISS them. Cuz that’s just embarrassing.

You know, a big part of the reason I was making real headway in this game (at least the main story) was there was no reason I had to go to the bayou. Everything was nice and close to everything else. This shit here is just way too far out the damn way.

I just hope I find out why the boss of this racket is named Jimmy “Two Dicks.” For real.

Actually…I hope I don’t find out.

Feminina:

Yeah…that might be the kind of thing we’re better off not knowing.

Butch:

Hey man, you’re the one who is always asking them to improve the physics of male nudity.

Be careful what you ask for.

Feminina:

That’s…true…

Butch:

And maybe they feel they have to throw in some extra to make up for the fact that there’s been disproportionate female nudity.

This is on you.

Feminina:

It’s all my fault. I accept that.

But only if there’s actual nudity! Otherwise, I will deny responsibility.

It would be just like a game to be all “we have SO MANY Playboys and Vargas prints for the guys, let’s throw in something special for the ladies…I know, a guy named Jimmy Two Dicks!”

Butch:

It sure would be like THIS game.

Oh, and after Pagani, I want your take on Donovan’s take.

Also, have you got the FBI guy mentioning why it took him months to figure out Lincoln was involved?

Feminina:

Uh…maybe? Was that where he said he hadn’t realized Lincoln was still alive?

Butch:

After that. About Lincoln’s time in the army.

Feminina:

His records being classified? That’s the only thing I know about his thoughts on the subject.

Butch:

That was interesting. Do we have any idea why? I don’t.

Feminina:

I assumed it was special training in psychological warfare or something–we know he met Donovan while he was in the army, so I figured maybe he did secret missions with the CIA. But I think we don’t know for sure.

Yet.

Butch:

And another thing: he says “I’ve spent 47 years investigating Lincoln “ or something, which implies the case is open, right? You don’t keep investigating if the dude is arrested or dead.

Feminina:

Hm. Very true. And very interesting.

Maybe at the end of the game he goes undercover, walks off into the sunset, and we/the FBI never know what happened to him?

Although maybe he just meant “I’ve spent 47 years trying to figure out the precise timeline/money trail/etc. for this case,” which one could still do if Lincoln were dead, or imprisoned and not talking.

Who Doesn’t Enjoy a Friendly Ethnic Slur?

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for points in rackets in Mafia 3

Butch:

Hey, played! Did stuff!

Killed Frank Pagani over in Tickfaw. Own the whole thing now, gave it to Burke. I have a lot to say, but won’t say a thing unless you’ve done it.

So you do Pagini or Enzo? We can start at either.

Feminina:

I haven’t had a chance to get to Pagani! I’ve been trying to complete my takeover of the French Ward so I can give it to Vito, because Vito’s very irritated that he doesn’t have a territory yet after I gave Downtown to Cassandra and Delray Hills to Burke. I’m afraid he’s going to get antsy if I don’t get him something soon. But the final mission in the French Ward is…driving! And car combat! So I haven’t finished it.

But I did finish with Enzo and gave Delray Hills to Burke, as noted. That was an interesting twist, that instead of having to kill this guy, he turns out to be a friend. And then you kill some guys together! Proper manly bonding, that.

Also, very interesting and relevant since we were just talking (again) about the Hollis Dupree case…looks like that’s going to be a pretty big point in the story here. Going after the Native Son dude! Should be a good time.

As soon as I finish…this thing I have to finish in the French Ward. Spoiler: it involves murdering a dude.

Butch:

Yes! The guy on the radio! I have to admit, didn’t see that coming. And have you heard the bit on the radio where he denies being part of the Southern Cross?

So, Enzo.

Here’s the thing: I liked Enzo. He was nice. To me. And ending on that long drive where he’s just shooting the shit about Sammy, that was cool. Made you root for the guy.

Except…..

He’s evil. He’s been running the garbage racket and the cleaners who were putting dead people in barrels. He is a Bad. Man. And yet, it took, like 27 seconds of him being all old and chummy for me to be all “I like him. I’m glad I don’t have to kill him.”

And it took me a lot longer than 27 seconds after I finished it for me to say “Hey….wait…he was…wasn’t he?”

I mean, if we take it that the garbage racket (“The Dead Stay Gone”) really did involve disposing of bodies, that’s far nastier than, I dunno, union permits or stealing cars, and yet we LIKED this guy. Or I did. And….I don’t know how I feel about how I felt.

Which is good game design.

We’ll talk a bunch more on this after you get Frank Pagani.

Which is…..CAR STUFF! Unless it isn’t. I found a way to totally make it NOT car stuff and I’m very proud of myself. Because I hate CAR STUFF.

Want a tip? It’ll speed things along.

Feminina:

Yeah, that was interesting. Because you’re right, I kind of immediately liked him, because he knew Sammy, and he said he was sorry about Sammy and Ellis and seemed sincere. He seemed like he was on their side–on my side.

And yet…he certainly was not very nice to a lot of other people. And that kind of reminds us that, indeed, even Sammy probably wasn’t all that nice to a lot of people. Because organized crime isn’t really a business that rewards nice people. And if we know people by the company they keep, we/Lincoln are also not very nice. So…yeah.

I was not as surprised when we learned that what’s-his-name on the radio was involved, because of…something in the French Ward. But it certainly starts to tie things together in interesting ways.

And yeah, I heard that guy talking about how he supports the Southern Union because they’re just ordinary well-meaning businessmen, even though he’s totally not a member.

Speaking of the radio, did you hear the police chief’s segment?

Butch:

Sure did. Did you hear the Voice respond?

We’re not very nice, that, and, the more I think about it, Enzo, for all his flaws, did not appear to be racist. In fact, he said something like “They didn’t deserve what they got…none of y’all do.” The “bad guys” in this game are, almost always, racist as hell. Duvall. Doucette. Even the ones that aren’t, like, Klansmen, throw racial slurs all over the place. Enzo was the first white dude who seemed to have genuine black friends, people he liked and respected (Burke and Vito don’t count. They’re in it for themselves, and, likely, aren’t having interracial drinking/hook up parties). So I think there was this knee jerk “Hey! He’s all woke and shit! What a good guy!” See also, as you say, Sammy. Sammy isn’t a racist fuck, so he must be “good!” Right?

But, even in these troubled times, is that really enough? Is “not racist” or “not sexist” enough to be a good guy? Are we willing to forgive all the awful shit Enzo has done, all ANYONE has done, just because they’ve managed to avoid a particular evil in society?

We kinda did with Enzo.

Ah. So there is another aspect of this radio dude.

And now you know about Olivia, right? I have a feeling she’s the woman we’re so not going to kill but let die off screen. How much you wanna bet?

Feminina:

I did hear the Voice’s response! You’re not getting anything by the Voice, man. The Voice is well acquainted with incomplete interpretations of statistics.

And then you must have had the bit about the Southern Union (well-meaning businessmen!) protesting and scrawling racial slurs around and stuff. The group that the Native Son dude (Remy Duvall, his name finally returns to me) is definitely not a part of, even though they’re honorable and upstanding citizens who totally aren’t the Klan (even though he’s probably also sympathetic to the Klan).

And yes, it’s certainly a point in Enzo’s favor that he apparently hung out and was genuinely friends with Sammy (and even introduced him to his wife, it sounds like).
Though speaking of racism, or prejudice anyway, I thought it was interesting, and somewhat confusing, that Lincoln, before meeting Enzo face to face, thought that an ethnic slur would be a good way to win this guy over. “You want to spend your life under the control of that wop bastard?” or whatever he said.

Which is confusing, because…is Conti not an Italian name? And is ‘wop’ not a slur on Italian ancestry? Is this reverse psychology or something?

I mean, if my last name were of French extraction, then why would it be a winning strategy to call on me to help fight “those frog bastards” or whatever?

I’m puzzled.

Though this is a chance to comment on the common use of ethnic slurs like wop and mick, as well as racial slurs we shall not name. Burke and Vito are free with those remarks regarding each other.

Is it just as well we haven’t met any Jewish characters so far, or is that a conspicuous failure to insult a group, that becomes itself kind of insulting in that it implies nonexistence? Or have we met some and they just haven’t been the targets of other characters’ ire yet?

I have heard about Olivia, although I haven’t been up to Frisco Fields to meet her (or Remy Duvall) yet. I will not take the bet on whether or not we actually, directly kill her, or if it happens offscreen. I mean, this game hasn’t pulled a lot of punches so far, but we’ve also not killed any women (except the civilians I’ve accidentally run over…I’m so sorry, I’m a terrible driver), and we know that a lot of times this is where punches get pulled.

Um…perhaps almost too on the nose there, with the punching language.

Butch:

The Voice’s commentary remains timely, it does.

Hmm. I had forgotten that “wop bastard” comment.

Yes, as someone with Italiano grandparents, and immigrant great grandparents, I can attest that Enzo Conti does sound very, very Italian.

Whatever works, Lincoln.

I don’t know if there are any comments about Jews. I haven’t searched it out, frankly. But yes, we do see Vito and Burke rather open with distaste for other ethnicities.

Punches do get pulled. And it will speak volumes if, in a game that revels in brutality, that’s the place it softens itself.

Played some. We’re back to Kevin, that we are. Going after Tommy Marcano in Southdowns. Breaking televisions. It’s a living.

Yes, televisions. Which goes back to the whole Enzo thing. Enzo was BAD. The most gruesome racket by FAR. And now I have an actual Marcano who has televisions. Which are not as gruesome.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Breaking televisions?! I can’t wait! It sounds almost as fun as setting fire to stag films.

Do you suppose maybe getting farther away from the gruesome rackets is a sign of advancement? Like, “I’m a Marcano, I don’t deal with the messy details of toxic waste and body disposal. Give me some tidy televisions.”

I noticed Enzo’s rage at Sal for wanting to go legit, leaving all the rest of them who’d worked with him for years behind–maybe this is sort of like that. The important people move away from the nasty jobs and towards legitimacy, while (previously) loyal henchmen are left to handle the dirty work and ultimately fend for themselves.

Butch:

Hmm. Didn’t think of that. But Olivia IS selling PCP. That’s not so nice.

But yeah, see what you think of Tommy. He’s a Marcano, sure, but…

All the same. Those TVs had to PAY, man!

Feminina:

True, but Olivia’s only a Marcano by marriage. So she doesn’t count. Ha.

OK, maybe my theory doesn’t quite hold together. Hey, they can’t all be winners.

Butch:

Well…Tommy is an interesting dude. Read his bio.

We’ll talk. Later.

You Can Run, and You Can Hide, but You Can’t Keep the Truck

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for Mafia 3

Butch:

I’ll get some playing in today. But I have to clean, buy food, and I really should go to the track.

At least I get to do some laundry. The spinning is still mesmerizing.

Feminina:

I did play, but it was a pretty unproductive evening. One of those sessions where you die four times trying to interrogate five different guys. Kill a couple of drug pushers on a street corner, get chased by cops, die in a hail of bullets. Almost but not quite escape a retaliation squad while trying to lead it to the docks where Vito’s guys could take care of it. That sort of thing.

I did successfully interrogate the first guy I had to talk to for Vito’s quest, and I picked up a Playboy and burned a couple of stag flicks, so it wasn’t a completely waste, but there was a lot of running around pointlessly and dying in stupid ways.

Oh, and I stole that armored truck for Cassandra, but couldn’t lose the police while driving it (as might be expected since it’s their truck that I drove right out of a crowded police station, AND it’s not exactly the fastest or nimblest machine out there for car chases), so eventually I just ditched it and ran off. I did manage to escape without dying, but by the time they called off the search and I went back, they’d taken the truck away with them.

I’m not sure how that theft is going to work. I got it by having what’s-her-name call off the cops so they didn’t object when I went in, but once I drove out with it that didn’t work anymore and they chased me anyway. Maybe I have to steal it first and THEN have her call off the cops? So, risk instant death going into the crowded police station to grab it and then have her say “hey guys, it’s cool” while I drive away? I guess that’s what I’ll try next. Or maybe there’s a clever hiding spot in an alley or something that you can nip into if you get there fast enough, and you just wait until the pursuit is called off? Hm. It’s a puzzler.

Anyway, it was one of those sessions where nothing quite comes together.

Butch:

Yeah, that’ll happen. Interrogate thingies are always a pain in the ass. I can never isolate the guy, with either a) gets me killed or b) leads to him getting in his car and me driving like a madman (or him running off…that was fun). The last time was driving, and I’m so bad at it that when he finally talked, I had no idea where the fuck I was. Turned out I was WAAAAAAAY far away from the next thing I had to do for that racket, so I said fuck it and did something else. So, even when you live, kinda breaks the momentum.

Next time I should just aim for the bayou, get him to talk, drive a semi home. That might be smart.

That armored truck is a puzzler. I mean, there can’t be a way to do it without calling the operator, right? Cuz you can’t sneak kill (or even kill) the cops, right? I’ve never tried to kill a cop. It just strikes me as a very bad idea. I suppose you could try to shoot them, but…I dunno. Going all “die Kevin die” doesn’t seem to be a tactic that would work. But maybe.

We all have such sessions. That we do.

I kinda like that they just kinda took the truck back.

“All units, there is an armed and very dangerous man who stole our truck. Chase and kill him.”
“Uh…dispatch? He ditched the truck. We have it back. Officer Kevin is driving it home right now.”
“All units, no hard feelings. Call off the search.”

Feminina:

I did kind of enjoy that they just took the truck with them and left. “Whatever, we got it back. Let’s go.” I mean, I was HOPING they’d just leave it so I could go pick it up and keep driving it to Cassandra’s, but that would have strained belief quite a bit, even if it made my life easier.

And I was thinking about that, too–what if the ‘secret’ is that you have to sneak in and kill all the cops the way we always sneak in and kill all the mobsters?

I also have avoided killing cops, more out of fear that the police retaliation squads would be even worse than the Marcanos’ than out of a particular reverence for law enforcement, but maybe you just have to sometimes if you want to finish certain missions. We have been told that the police force is essentially in Sal Marcano’s pocket, so are their blue markers really significantly different from all the red markers we don’t hesitate to stalk and stab in the neck?

There’s certainly no pretense in this game that the cops represent the pure force of justice or anything, so I really think it is just that instinctive sense that “this is a grumpy dog you don’t poke”–I don’t need to add to my enemies list when I’ve already got all these people to kill. But maybe I do, if I want to steal that truck for Cassandra.

Hm. Must ponder.

Butch:

Sneaking and killing cops would….hmm. They don’t highlight as bad guys, that they don’t. And you don’t have the option of “Kill the cops,” but “Lose the cops.” I’m not sure the press would have left that alone.

Ponder. Or try it. And die. You try it. I have dudes to kill and rackets to take over and all that. Burke needs a district, after all. And I’m with you: this car theft thing seems all him.

Feminina:

Hm. Yeah. Since we haven’t tried it, how can we know whether attacking the cops would bring success, or instant death?

And yet, I find myself weirdly hesitant to even think “OK, I’ll try it! I’m going to go shoot me some police!”

I think…on reflection, I think it feels “off” because even aside from in-game logic like “even the mob mostly leaves the cops alone” our experience with a lot of different games has trained us to have a certain amount of respect for certain types of police-like authority, just because most games don’t want you completely destroying cities and so they either make it actually impossible to attack cops (and/or civilians), or they put super-powered cops/guards in inhabited locations.

Like TW3, when Geralt would be mercilessly beaten by the guards if he started trouble in town, or a lot of Bethesda games where you CAN attack pretty much anyone but the entire town will turn on you, or whatever.

We’ve learned, essentially, that we can do a hell of a lot of things, but that messing with the basic infrastructure of civilization–the law by which we live–will not be tolerated. Which makes sense from a design standpoint because a game has rules to keep its world together, but also is actually a lesson I can more or less get behind. I mean, all its problems aside, I prefer civilization to the alternative.

So I guess in that sense, it IS in fact a reverence for law enforcement as a principle that makes me hesitate to go after cops. Because while I don’t universally admire police officers, I DO support the police in the sense that I support, in principle, the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

Video games: imparting valuable and socially responsible moral lessons! Sort of!

Oh, and speaking of…morals and the use of force, or something, we were talking about blame and responsibility and stuff with the Hollis Dupree case, and did you get that bit with Father James, where he pretty much outright blames Lincoln?

He says something like “did you hear about that man who shot two unarmed black veterans? He says he was afraid because he’d heard about a black soldier going around murdering white folks.” And he says it slowly and meaningfully, with this very significant look, like he really means Lincoln to think about the part he played in the incident. YOU, Lincoln Clay, YOU are agitating the white folks with all these murders (I think he specifically said ‘murder,’ too), and now innocent black folks are dying.

We talked about that a while ago, but I only got the dialogue last night. I wonder if I was supposed to go see James sooner, or if I didn’t hit ‘square’ enough times to hear everything he had to say last time I saw him, or something.

Or maybe it was just there to refresh our memory because there’s going to be a new development in the story soon? We’ll probably hear about a verdict in that case at some point.

Butch:

I see that, about cops. And they do seem, like, as you say, they are in so many games, very overpowered. And endless. I get the sense if you shoot one, more and more will come until they get you. Probably can’t win.

But who knows?

Certainly, this ain’t gonna be doable without that call-off-the cops perk.

Not trying it tonight though. Gotta move things along story wise.

As should you. Do Enzo.