It’s Monday once again! As if cyclical tedium wasn’t already enough to make you want to vomit out your own eyeballs, what with going back to work and all that lark, I’m here to make it slightly worse with this largely irrelevant and nonsensical Monday blog post! Hooray for Mondays. You can taste the excitement in the air. Or you can taste something anyway; which isn’t typically a healthy sign. But anyway.
This week, I’ve been playing Peacewalker, of the Metal Gear variety. Why Rob! I hear you cry, in a tone I suspect to be verging on boredom. Why play a game that’s several years old!? And even if you are playing it, why bother us with this utterly purposeless information? Well, you’re making some excellent points there Handy Rhetorical Voice, let me address them one by one, before eventually winding up at some sort of imagined point or other, yes?
Namely, I’m playing Peacewalker because I’ve never played it before; because Hideo Kojima won’t stop dangling his scintillatingly attractive Metal Gear Solid 5 parts in front of me, and because I want to play Ground Zeroes but have that irrational fear that means I can’t just carrying on playing a series leaving a conspicuous Peacewalker shaped hole in it. Or something. So there. Secondly, I’m telling you about it, because it’s central to this week’s instalment of Redundant Things I’ve Found Out About Myself via Game Playing Habits. Are you still reading? Good Lord I wouldn’t be.
So what ground-breaking revelation have I unearthed on this game-laden path to pretentious self-discovery? Well, it’s largely that I’m more boring than I presumed, and enjoy menu-system based cruxes for longer than I really should.
I don’t know if you’ve played Peacewalker, and Christ knows I’m not going to ask, but there’s a primary gameplay hinge that has you steal people, essentially. You hold them up (as in put a gun to their face and tell them not to move, as opposed to making them wait a bit longer than necessary in the post office queue) and once you’ve emptied their person of all their belongings, usually a baffling and unfeasible variety of ammunition and an array of bizarre Japanese snacks, you tie them to a balloon and send them soaring back to your base. Smashing.
What you’re doing here is amassing an army. You’re essentially a Jehovah’s Witness but instead of a silly book and a nervous disposition, your big persuasion act consists of some threatening behaviour and a back-breaking balloon ride. Unsurprisingly, most people join you without so much as a shrug. Loyalty eh.
Once you’ve nabbed your new inmates out in the field, and you finish the rest of your mission, you’re sent to an exciting green menu screen. Each new recruit has a set of stats and you use these stats to determine which department he’ll be most effective in, which in turn helps to grow the overall stature of your base.
I’ve gotten absolutely hooked on this aspect of Peacewalker. Interestingly, you can go back and replay previous missions at any time, capturing more unsuspecting blokes for your base in the process. Returning to the base after mission complete is kind of like opening a Kinder Surprise… or… Pokemon cards… inspecting the poor sods you’ve captured, their stats, sorting them into departments… it’s a bureaucrat’s wet dream. Probably.
It was only after I’d spent a good 20 minutes solely in this section, shuffling my teams around to ensure I could research new equipment in the R and D section, that I realised I’d done this before.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood got me in a similar way. You relieve a street peasant of his bullying tormentors, by acrobatically introducing bits of their body to some well-forged steel you happened to have on you, and then break out the Join Our Brotherhood leaflets, modelling a hood or two while you’re at it. Once you’ve got ‘em hook line and sinker, you send them out on missions, via a menu system, to increase their rank and XP until you have a team of Brothers so well versed in the business of knocking people off, you barely have to do any work any more. You can lounge about all day like the swaggering Italian you were BORN TO BE.
Anyway, I spent ages in the game stood about waiting for my trainees to come back and tell me how well they’d done, and similarly, I’ve spent far too long doing the same Peacewalker mission over and over so I can catch them all. Ask me in an ordinary conversation, am I a big grand strategy player, and I’ll tell you I can handle endless contextual menu screens about as well as I can handle a three minute conversation with a stranger. As in, I can’t. But spliced into the middle of a bigger game, and for some reason I just can’t get enough.
Is it just me? It’d be surprising if it wasn’t, let’s be honest. Put a comment below and tell me how you’ll never get those ten minutes back or something, eh. More next week, kids.