Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Splortch: a public service announcement

I don’t play many computer games. I find modern soldiery shooty ones either too dull or too disturbingly real, and racing bores me unless I can be armed with banana skins and red shells. But every so often a game comes along and I become obsessed with it, and live and breathe it until it is finished. In terms of two-player co-operative games (and there are lamentably few good ones out there) this was Halo, and more recently Borderlands. It seems I do like shooting things up if there is an element of unreality in the scenario and I can do it in company. Spending an evening with one’s husband clearing an alien environment of evil bitey critters is a Good Thing.

As for single-player games, there was only one franchise I could ever get into: Grand Theft Auto. The universe is surreal enough that the (almost cartoon-like) violence doesn’t bother me, and the driving isn’t integral to the game. But most of all, the aspect I like is the free-roaming: there’s a beautifully crafted city that I can just wander around and admire, and I can choose which mission I want to do next. In the case of Vice City, I spent so much time playing that I began having dreams set there. Seriously. But by the time of GTA IV, I began to get tired of it. The city was a little too big for me to remember my way around, and there was a disappointing lack of interesting non-plot stuff (one hundred pigeons to shoot? That’s all? No taxi missions?).

And then one day last year we were in a shop rummaging through the second-hand bin for any two-player co-op games, and Tim picked up Assassin’s Creed II.

“It has really good reviews.”
“Yeah, but it’s not two-player, is it? Still, if you want it, you can get it, but I probably won’t play it. It doesn’t sound like my sort of thing.”

So we bought it and went home. Tim fired up the game, and I bimbled around the house. After a while, I stopped bimbling, and sat down next to him.

“What are you hitting him for?”
“Who’s he?”
“How did you do that?”
“You mean you can just go anywhere?!”

Tim let me have a go. This go lasted approximately three weeks. As he said, it’s Grand Theft Renaissance, and I fell in love with the world. OK, so the plot is like something Dan Brown would have rejected as too implausible, but I can go anywhere, do anything, deliver splortchy death from on high to any who incur my wrath (or whose death would simply amuse me – I’m not a complicated person).

When Brotherhood came out, I spent my Christmas money on it, and completed the game before Tim did (I think this is the first and only time this has ever happened). And today, Revelations is released.

I may be gone some time. Just as soon as Amazon deliver.


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