If I had to pick one sentence to describe Total Overdose, it would be ‘Oh, honey, no.’
You can tell that the devs really loved this game, but they did so in the manner of a newborn seal; all huge eyes and floppy incompetence. The music is lovingly chosen (if occasionally a bit ‘mexsploitation Yackety Sax’), the B-movie vibe speaks of hours spent watching Robert Rodriguez films, and ‘isn’t this wacky awesome cheesy fun? :D :D :D’ practically seeps from every pore. I almost feel bad for making fun of it. On the other hand, The Tay Bridge Disaster was a labour of love.
They wanted silly, addictive combat mechanics. Total Overdose combat is pretty fun. They wanted to make a ridiculous, campy game. Didn’t do too badly at that. They wanted their game to be funny…
“Oh, honey, no.”
“We’re really going to tell one story across two events. So we’re going to start on the 21st. And really that’s about revealing the next Xbox platform, really our vision for the future of games, the future of entertainment.” – Alan Greenburg, Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Chief of Staff.
To me, that’s pretty fucking clear. This event, this console reveal, was not about the games. It wasn’t ever intended to be about the games; it was about the Xbox One and what it could do. Not what could go in it. Not what was going to come to it. What it offered. What’s that, you say? You missed this announcement? No. No. You. Did. Not.
“E3 will be all about the games,“
Pictured here: a monster thirsting for your tears of anguish.
Peter Molyneux’s pretty alright, really. The whole Spinner of Lies, Peddler of Broken Dreams thing never quite jived for me – it requires a level of forethought I’m just not seeing, especially considering the bloke’s biggest problem is talking faster than his team can say ‘hold on, Pete, we’re still not sure that’s possible’.
Over time I have gone from rolling my eyes at his extravagant promises, to wanting to roll a ball of wool across the floor for him because ‘d’aww, he’s just like an excitable kitten’. And you know why? Bawling anti-fans. Irritating hate-junkies. This pernicious and entirely baseless meme that he consistently produces bad games. At this point if the inevitable letdown involved him personally coming to my house, setting fire to my cat and charging me for his taxi fare, I would smile and give it 89%.
Little Red Riding Hood whips out a machete to defend Granny’s house, but a woodcutter beats her to the ravenous wolves. Jack (of ‘and the Beanstalk’ fame) shoves his hand up a chicken’s… up a chicken, and pulls out a golden egg. A villager plays a harp – slung around his neck like a bass guitar – and shatters Snow White’s glass coffin with the power of rock. And then the naked Emperor struts out onto a balcony and villagers flee at the sight of his uncommonly large areola.
And that’s it. That’s all the story you’re getting. Four character introductions, a bit of blood and you’re done before breakfast. Off you go into a fairytale land the Grimm brothers never even dreamed of to murder gingerbread men and ravage the locals. There’s a sort of guardian who periodically shows up to dump some information on you, but he looked like someone I wouldn’t want to get involved with.
At first I looked forward to the cutscenes, because they got me away from the combat. Then I looked forward to the combat, because it got me away from the voice-acting.
And then I stopped looking forward to anything.
Constantine: the Videogame is what the fans call an over-looked gem, the generous call a forgettable mediocrity, and I call proof that you can piss in a urinal and make it dirtier. The film was a desecration of the comics. The game, I am delighted to tell you, is a desecration of the film. It’s like we’ve got desecration squared up in this joint. If you ever looked at the film and thought ‘wow, they could not have shown that IP any less respect’, then this is your lucky fucking day, baby.
Sit down, shut up, stop whining.
“But it’s taking money from our pock-“
No, it isn’t. Sit down. Shut up. Stop whining.
“You’re screwing over develop-“
That’s your schtick. SD. SU. SW.
“We won’t be able to afford to make gam-“
Rethink your business model. And while you’re at it, have you considered SD, SU, SW?
One doesn’t quite know where to start
(Try with the story? With the art?)
Or what to keep or tear apart
On the subject of this game.
I loved the city, loved the style
Loved sweet Lizzie’s lack of guile
Soaring skylines made me smile
But somehow, just the same…
“Live Forever with Bettermen’s Autobody!”
The carnival advertisement reads. Below, a suited salesman shouts promises of eternal life to a captivated, chattering crowd. Despite his massive, hulking frame, none of them see the Handyman at his side. They see his immortality, the possibility that they, themselves, may never have to die, but not his sobs as he cowers from the flash of the camera; shielding himself with brutish metal paws. Not how his ‘second chance’ was bought with his humanity.
These disproportionate cyborgs can be considered Columbia’s answer to Rapture’s Big Daddy, but the similarities stop at ‘metal suit’. BioShock’s rusting protectors are incapable of free will. Handymen, on the other hand, are deceptively human and seemingly in control of their actions. The exposed head and boxed heart tell us that this giant was once human; his words tell us he’s still capable of emotion and feeling, but his suffering suggests that his miracle is also his puppeteer. His iron saviour has made him a slave of Columbia.
Despite the prerequisite freaking out from the fans about how Garrett is clearly a ninja now – because gymnast = hired killer, apparently[¹] – having him go out of his way to race around the guard and escape shows an emphasis on non-violent play.
Mind you, anyone who thinks the original games forcefully encouraged pure sneaking and pacifism either never played the originals, or is looking back through a rosy haze. Why do you think the first two gave you an armoury’s worth of broadheads at the start of every mission? It wasn’t for the bloody archery minigame.
My friend killed herself yesterday and the last thing we did together was play Iron Grip: Warlord.
Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe the last thing we did was talk over Steam, her saying I can’t take it anymore and I’ve ruined everything and you remember when I tried to kill myself last year? while I sat, helpless with the distance of 378 miles, and sent back have you called the helpline? and it’ll be okay and *hugs*. But what I remember is Iron Grip: Warlord.
She was a generous player, quick to build and quick to mend, and I loved being alongside her as waves of enemies scrambled up the bridge; just me, my boyfriend and her against the odds. I thought playing with us would make her happier and I think I was right. I hoped it might help her and I was wrong.
You can’t fix depression with three victories and a retry, I knew that. You can’t even fix loneliness. But I wanted it to. I wanted it to chase away her shadows long enough for the helpline to be dialled, the call to be answered. I told my boyfriend yesterday that I hoped we were doing her some good, before I woke up this morning, before I opened my email and found out she was dead. Maybe she was dead when I said it.
I haven’t opened Iron Grip: Warlord today and I’m not sure when I will. There’s a hole in my team. There’s a hole in my team, ZP, and you’re not there.