Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days

a review of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
a videogame developed by io interactive
and published by eidos interactive
for Microsoft Windows, the microsoft xbox 360 and the sony playstation 3 computer entertainment system
text by action button dot net

3.5 stars

Bottom line: Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is “a game whose only verb is Kill.”

So.

First there was Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, and the marketing was a little better than the game itself, the ideas cited by the creators more compelling than what they did with them, though here and there — through the dodgy aiming and tedious field-resuscitations — there was the glimmer of something compelling in whole.

Then came Dog Days which, in its fifth month of release, can be purchased for less than twenty American dollars in these United States, a reflection of its rapid descent from the good graces of a public primed by similar maybe-better-than-the game marketing, and a mixed critical reception.

But I love Dog Days, and for a time, while I was still in the middle of it, couldn’t articulate why. It’s ugly, visually and thematically. It’s simple. On the later levels, and higher difficulty settings, the fragility of your avatar often renders it tedious, but I kept playing. I beat it, in fact, after picking it up just to try it out, when I was stuck on a particularly obnoxious bit of Dead Men. Intending a brief jog, I was sucked into a marathon, beating it in two sittings before I polished off the final chapters of its precursor, and by the time I was done I knew why.

It is about the dogs, those dogs, at the end. You know the ones. Yahtzee sure as fuck knows them, but he doesn’t get them, doesn’t see that what he glibly dismissed as an artifact of sloppy design is just a pointed middle-finger to his expectations, and those of an entire subculture of media-consumers.

Much as I love the dogs, I owe my ability to articulate the appeal of the game, to myself, to Nathan Drake.

In the course of the two Uncharted games, I’ve probably simulated the killing of over two-thousand digital approximations of men. This is, to use an oft-abused term, epic; it is some biblical shit: Drake kills heaps upon heaps of men, not with the jawbone of an ass, but with an arsenal of modern firearms. This is convention: videogames must have challenges (or at least the appearance of them) to pass inspection as modern big budget action vehicles, and it’s become rote to challenge the player with ever more elaborate murder scenarios.

As games have evolved, so has their storytelling, after a fashion: the ability to render people and environments that look more like the real thing has driven the attempt to make these act more like the real thing, or at least the fictional approximations the player may be acclimated to. Uncharted wants to be a fun matinee adventure serial, Indiana Jones in a henley shirt seeking ancient treasure in the less maintained corners of the modern world. Drake is a roguish anti-hero, out for the loot and himself, who also has the heart of gold necessary to, finally, be driven to do the right thing for others, the world. Or that seems to be an intention, and the developers succeed in that intention.

In cut scenes.

Between cut scenes, Drake is dropped into a third-person shooter with all its attendant tropes, causing the oft-commented upon rift between character as scripted and character in the hands of the player See also: CJ in GTA: San Andreas; but the dichotomy in Uncharted is much more pronounced: you don’t have to kill innocent people on the streets of San Andreas, collecting their spinning stacks of cash to the accompaniment of CJ’s “Pay a nigga!” You must kill Uncharted’s latest batch of shirtless minorities in order to earn the peace that will allow you to scale the next vine. This you do, and continue to do, in the pursuit of treasure and escalated stakes, without finally throwing up your hands and doing what the roguish everyman reasonably should: just go home. At the end of Uncharted 2, the Final Bossman asks Drake “How many people have you killed, just today?”

Well, Bossman, my stats indicate kills in excess of one-thousand men just to reach the point where I self-righteously refuse to shoot you in the head, once the cut scene has begun and my finger on the right trigger effects nothing.

Huh.

Kane and Lynch takes the shooter format and drops into it two characters whose logic doesn’t evaporate the moment the player takes control.

Kane and Lynch are terrible people: a pair of mercenary, sociopathic crooks in the autumn of their lives who team up after the less-than-fulfilling events of the first game to make a little money by escorting some guns to Africa. Of course, everything goes terribly wrong from the get-go, Lynch’s small-time-tough aside escalating into the accidental murder of a woman, an act shrugged off by our self-absorbed duo until it comes back to bite them in the ass something fierce.

Then they kill about half of China on their way to hijacking a plane.

Games have a history of dealing with their over-the-top violence by similarly inflating plot and character, embracing and even parodying the cheerful, outsized fascism of the action movies from which much of them sprang. They give you caricatures, encouraging you to not take the violence any more seriously than the rest of the presentation: it’s all in good fun, your Duke Nukems say, just relax and appreciate the joke.

 

Kane and Lynch are not a joke. Even if they weren’t paunchy middle-aged men making questionable hair decisions, they’d still be ugly, because what they do is ugly, and what they do is something the average player has done thousands of times before in different contexts: they kill. Then they go on their way, and kill again.

And again.

And again.

Kane–relegated to sidekick status in Dog Days after his spotlight role in Dead Men–labels the arms deal his genre-standard “one last job”, which will allow him to go on and have a normal life with his daughter. Later, he admits that he hasn’t spoken to his daughter since the events of Dead Men, implying that his vision of a Normal Life is just a hope, a dream that the weight of his past will almost inevitably deny him. Lynch talks about having a “normal life” with his girlfriend in Shanghai, but this normal life is funded by his continuing criminal activities, and though there’s no mention of the psychological problems upon which much of Dead Men’s plot turned, the weight of his past is still with him. In both games they seem to want to be “normal” people with “normal” lives, but their instincts and characters betray them. Anyway, their previous lives don’t leave them with many options.

Together, they have one emotion: rage. Lynch gets to despair a while, when his girlfriend is killed for what he has done, but he shows no remorse for the murder of the woman that instigates all of this, or for any of the police and soldiers he guns down in his attempt to flee the country and the consequences of his actions.

It is the convention of sequels to take the original game and pile on more: more features more environmental variety, more polygons squeezed out of the latest revision of engine X. Dog Days defies these conventions. The action is stripped down to its most basic form: you have a gun, you have cover. Get behind cover, or die. Press the fire button to blind fire, or the aim button to pop out, do what it says on the label, and actually hit something. Sometime, there are explosive canisters, but lugging them is awkward and they’re thin on the ground, so you move forward, you take cover, you shoot. Your cover erodes, or proves otherwise ineffectual, and you move. You shoot again.

Repeat.

Gone: grenades, controllable squads, the mechanic of resuscitating the members of those squads, they doing the same for you.

You fight through narrow city streets, construction yards, warehouses, office buildings,an airport: a procession of standard vidcon backdrops presented through the lens of a grainy, blown-out, shaking camera manned by an invisible operator, a move that is narratively incoherent but still works, by virtue of its coherency with the rest of the game: it is ugly, and the jarring camera work (when you run, it struggles to keep up with you, lurching violently with the invisible cameraman’s stride) and the use of COPS-style pixelization to obscure nudity and some of the more gruesome violence (shoot someone in the face, and a mass of obscuring pixels instantly blooms thereupon) lend a seamy, pornographic quality to the action, making uncomfortable what might have been rote and, unlike in some other games, the discomfort is coherent with the characters and their story, such as it is.

Dog Days’ is not an aesthetic I usually enjoy. When used in films, it seems self-conscious, and antithetical to its apparent purpose: by making me aware of the camera I am more aware of the fiction, rather than inspired to play along with the document’s ostensible veracity. The technique is so visible that I find myself thinking of a half-dozen other techniques that could convey the same impression, have a similar effect, without being so showy, so ostentatious, so nausea inducing; but in Dog Days it works. There’s no camera-man and no in-game reasoning to justify one, but by aping the aesthetic of cheap internet video Dog Days invokes the frame of the real world: it places the actions of the character in the context of reality, and the weight these actions would have in reality. It takes the horrible, relentless violence of a shooter and reminds us just how horrific it would be were we to actually experience it.

So: you move forward, you kill, again and again, and half the time your survival seems a matter of luck, especially in the beginning, when your weapons seem to spit bullets everywhere but where you’re aiming. It is a nightmare, a grueling slog through the space of violent narrative convenience, and then it ends, with the dogs, a ten-second cut scene, then black.

The dogs, of course. You’ve killed a thousand men, from open-shirted street punks to soldiers in body armor. You’ve knocked helicopters out of the sky, infiltrated an airport, and are almost home free, then the dogs: the last thing you see, the last thing you fight, the Final Boss that plagues Yahtzee so. The Big Bad whose name has been thrown around all day long is murdered unceremoniously in a cut scene, but they give you the dogs: a pair of mindless, straight-charging animals. Hear the bark, snap off some quick shots, and it’s over, the perfect anticlimax to the perfect game about the fucking dysfunction of video games, about the only two characters that aren’t grimdark meatshield soldiers to ever make sense in the context of the vidcon bullshit we’re so acclimated to: “grit” not as window-dressing to juvenile power-fantasy but as texture for the hideously broken lives that mesh cleanly with the straight-up shooter. (On these here internets, I read a comment complaining that K and L were “pathetic wannabe badasses”. Welcome to the point, friend!) “Real” anti-heroes, as people have said, not just a smirk and a shrug and “shave and a haircut!” when their bullet destroys some eastern-European mercenary’s face, but he is a good guy, and let’s watch now as he does the right thing.

No. Here: a man shoots a dog, the last obstacle between him and dubious freedom. He rushes up the steps, into an airplane, brandishing a gun; the door closes, the plane takes off, the camera drops the ground, then black. Credits. In reading about the (fantastic) endings to Dead Men, I often encountered the criticism that they were too short, too brief, too little reward after the long day’s journey into sketchy aiming. It’s difficult not to see the end of Dog Days as a reaction to this, and it’s of a piece with the game’s anti-convention approach to sequels: giving the people less, where others would give them more. Closure? The game is over, the “story” is done, there’s no one left to kill. Wake up. Go home.

The market says: I want, and most companies produce games tailored to these wants.

Dog Days says: fuck you, this is what you want, look at what you want, asshole.

I suppose it’s understandable that many people wouldn’t want to listen.

Action Button Dot Net

Comments

47 Responses to Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days

  1. In addition to everything you’ve described them as, I took the dogs as a kind of satire on Modern-Warfare-qua-The-Modern-Shooter. In MW the dogs are terrifyingly quick and almost instantly lethal. The lethality became famous, to the extent that MW2 self-awarely plays on those expectations: it knows that, for a Call of Duty player, to see or hear a dog is to experience fear. It only works for Call of Duty players; for anyone else, dogs are just dogs, not lightning-fast killing machines. In Dog Days, the dogs arrive and trigger the same fear response, but they charge at the player from a mile away over a coverless tarmac. Even on the hardest difficulty they are easy to mow down. Another comment on the blatant unreality of the “normal” shooter and the deep sociopathy of the player-characters.

  2. I played the demo and made the snap judgement that it was just more of the same not-quite-thereness of the original. I’ll have to give this another shot as you make it sound like exactly the kind of “hard boiled” game I’ve been wanting to play, delivering actual horror-of-personality instead of the enjoyable, innocent pretenses thereof.

  3. It’s quite a brave thing to assert that what some have interpreted as incompetent, lazy, and cliched, is, in fact, tight, succinct and satirical. Which is to say: Are you really, really sure about all this?

    I think that you should think twice about arguing against something unless you can suggest a better alternative. Similarly, you should only satirize something once if you are sure you can make something better than the people you satirize. Shigesato Itoi has enough flourishes in his jRPGs to show that he can do more interesting things than jRPGs; in this context can you trust his satire to have interesting things behind it. If io interactive can do better than a standard gritty-Gears-clone, I’d like to see it, because God knows the mainstream games industry could use it!

    I’ve not played Dog Days. I played Dead Men for about seven minutes before writing it off. I find the idea of parody in general kinda pointlessly elitist. Which is to say, “I can’t really comment on the things I am about to comment on”.

    Is a third person shooter with a provocative aesthetic a good way of making a statement about the horror of combat? Is it really particularly clever to “point the middle finger at the expectations” of “an entire subculture of media-consumers”, if that is what they are doing? Didn’t Hideo Kojima do a lot of this first? It just strikes me as rather easy to say something is meant to be funny or challengingly horrid. Can it even be particularly funny if so few people “got it”?

    Let’s remind ourselves that this is the sequel to a game with unashamedly corrupt marketers. And if io interactive were really about satire, why didn’t they put it in the original (not that I’d’ve noticed, but you seem to have suggested it wasn’t there)?

    Let me say that none of these questions are rhetorical; I’m somewhat open to the idea of Dog Days being good because 1) Succinctness is admirable and 2) The idea of an aesthetic that ties into the challenge of a game (the shakey camera) is pretty exciting to me – I’ve been waiting for developers to realize how important Space Giraffe is for ages. So yeah; do your best.

  4. “If io interactive can do better than a standard gritty-Gears-clone, I’d like to see it, because God knows the mainstream games industry could use it!”

    Ever heard of a little franchise called Hitman? I know it’s pretty obscure, but you should definitely look it up.

    In other news:

    Why do you care so much about what Yahtzee thinks? And if you care so much about Yahtzee, why don’t you care just as much about say, (seeing as this is a review of Dog Days) Jim Sterling?

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  6. Hi Inverse Square.

    “It’s quite a brave thing to assert that what some have interpreted as incompetent, lazy, and cliched, is, in fact, tight, succinct and satirical. Which is to say: Are you really, really sure about all this?”

    Pretty sure in my own responses to this, which is all that matters in the experience of a thing like this, yes.

    I like the game, period. Something I didn’t address in the “review” (and which I might have, had I originally written it as a “review” for this venue) is that I actually find the meat & potatoes, bullet-A-to-face-B mechanics of the thing pretty satisfying. I call it a “nightmare” and a “grueling slog” and it does feel like it, finally, but it’s a struggle that satisfies. I was co-oping through the later levels on the highest difficulty and, after our seventeenth try through the same section, my partner and I confirmed to one another that WE WERE STILL ENJOYING OURSELVES. Our fragility seemed RIGHT, part of which rises (I think) from the presentation being so a piece with it. The other fellow said: it doesn’t seem cheap; I just feel like these guys are doing something almost impossibly hard, so of course all of our little mistakes are punished.

    And because they are so punished, popping up out of cover for a quick shot and getting the headshot-X on generic Chinese thug #789 is immensely satisfying to my inner gaming sociopath.

    It has the best shotguns ever too.

    “Is a third person shooter with a provocative aesthetic a good way of making a statement about the horror of combat?”

    Probably not the best, but who cares?

    “Didn’t Hideo Kojima do a lot of this first?”

    He did! And I don’t feel much for the games he did it in, as games!

    “Is it really particularly clever to “point the middle finger at the expectations” of “an entire subculture of media-consumers”, if that is what they are doing? It just strikes me as rather easy to say something is meant to be funny or challengingly horrid. Can it even be particularly funny if so few people “got it”? ”

    All hyperbole aside: do I really think the developers intended all these things as I’ve described them above? I don’t know, and I don’t care. I just know the thing itself and what I got from it.

    I don’t know why you’re going on about parody/satire. Dog Days is just the perfect union of character and presentation/aesthetic with mechanics that happens to hilight how peculiar the metaphor commonly laid over those mechanics is imo

    @Dozer: it was Yahtzee’s review that made me hyper-aware of the ultimate canines: he who called them the “final boss”, and I suppose really instigated me writing this nonsense. My repeated mentions of Yahtzee are probably AN OBJECTIVE WEAKNESS. This has been pointed out before, and I’ve thought upon it, only to conclude that hating Yahtzee is its own reward.

  7. I admire all your responses greatly. Though I guess I still won’t be picking the game up.

    Blah, Hitman temporarily erased itself from my mind. In penance here is an entertaining review of it I saw just today http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wEwgwXrJ_0

    Can we talk about Yahtzee for a second? Even if just to give a one-liner or something. I’ll say that I find his reviews very funny, of course, and kinda-occasionally-insightful. As he is easily the most famous game reviewer in the world and he seems to share some of my arthouse sensibilities, I’m inclined to think of him as a force for good. The things that bother me though:

    1. Despite being vocally dissatisfied with mainstream games, he seems to play almost nothing but highly-marketed stuff. I know he makes a bit of an effort against that, but it was infuriating when he complained about a dearth of good releases in the month that World of Goo came out.
    2. He found the combat in Arkham Asylum satisfying rather than depressing.
    3. His referring to publishers as if they were designers. It’s that kind of thing that makes me think that maybe auteur theory really is the missing link in games criticism.
    4. Broader problem with all games criticism maybe, but: he seems to gauge quality by looking at how many flaws a game doesn’t have, or at least that is how it come across. This just strikes me as a slightly dispassionate and inadequate way to think about things – especially because:
    5. In the name of comedy, he is quick to confuse “feature” with “flaw”. Fair enough to complain about a gameplay element if you find issue with it, but it’s just ignorant to temporarily pretend that difficulty is something to be avoided.

  8. Yeah, it’s bothersome as hell that some guy who makes a flash cartoon about a video game every wednesday gets so much attention and yet disagrees with other people.

  9. So this review confirmed to me that in the very least, someone else was paying attention to this game. Its a game that slipped past the critics as they were still claiming that Bioshock and Shadow of the Colossus were the artistic high of the medium. It fell from the shelves under the weight of big budgets and sweeping epics and landed squarely in the bargain bin. Its also the most artistically coherent game I have played in recent memory.

    I have a review up on my fledgling blog, and would really appreciate some readers.

    http://jumpovertheage.blogspot.com/

    Its was definitely about the dogs; enemies as reflections of the protagonists. A game that discusses reality and its relationship to it. Violence that steps beyond catharsis.

    I hope to Dog that this game isn’t the last of its kind.

  10. Despite y’all’s astute observations, the game is a bore. I’d rather play Uncharted.

  11. Kane & Lynch 2 is actually better than Uncharted 2 (and Army of Two 2) though because there are no PMC supply crates to take cover behind.

  12. @parker: I don’t think I understand your logic. Gears of War 2 is the only of these games that I actually enjoy, though. And I guess the 50 Cent game is pretty fun.

  13. Sometimes I’m unsure of how to approach the critique of a game being boring, either with the conclusion that the boredom, being a thematic enforcer, is engaging (a seeming contradiction) — or that it is bad (even while the person calling it bad may acknowledge its thematic role (actually, I guess I did this with regard to No More Heroes in my God Hand review)). I mean, it helps to have actually played the game, and I haven’t played Dog Days, so. Of course, there’s the popular sentiment that a game isn’t worth one’s time if it isn’t fun — a word that, at least in a critical context, I don’t think has much descriptive power (especially when I consider all the books or movies or etc that I enjoy but which I would never categorize as “fun”). There’s a certain degree of boredom to existing within, for example, Shadow of the Colossus’ world, but — as I’ve expressed before — it’s this undercurrent of disconnection that achieves an atmospheric and narrative relevance; this separation becomes the engagement.

  14. Yeah ario, like you my favorite media isn’t always fun but it is always entertaining. Shadow of the Colossus isn’t always fun but it is consistently beautiful and fascinating, which makes it entertaining. All of the shooter games mentioned here really have nothing going for them beyond their base play mechanics, in my opinion. Some clearly find Dog Days’ commentary compelling enough to make it a uniquely worthwhile experience in its own right. I don’t.

  15. As a disclaimer I basically hate videogames. I’m looking forward to Gears of War 3 though.

  16. I mean, maybe I’m just kind of a sociopath, but Dog Days’ “reality TV” aesthetic never actually gave me pause about what I was doing. It was just another cool context in which to off a bunch of guys.

    I thought Manhunt tried something similar to at least more interesting effect.

  17. Dog Days’ “statement” will only work for you if you actually find it an entertaining game. And you will only really feel the full weight of the mechanics once their end purpose, the “statement,” becomes clear. Circular but complete. The game has plenty of hooks, thematic and mechanical, to pick you up and draw you into that appreciative loop. But if you’re totally uninterested in both parts, there’s nothing there that will convince you to invest your time. It’s a lot like Modern Warfare in that sense (though the content of the mechanics and the theme are very different).

    That’s why it isn’t a satire. Self-aware “satirical” games always come off as jeering tripe – Matt Hazard, Burn the Rope, Desert Bus, that Beat Takeshi game where it takes a thousand hits to kill the boss. Satirizing theme while making compelling mechanics just leaves you with a comic game – Brutal Legend, maybe (depending on how compelling you think those mechanics actually are). Making a satire on a ruleset is a theoretical nullity; either the game works to satisfaction or it does not. If it does, you have a successful game. If it does not, the game by definition isn’t worth playing.

    Dog Days works because its mechanics are fun on their own but are simultaneously evocative of the theme. They are simple and endorse chaos and brutality. Dying is easy and killing even easier. No baroque curlicues, scoring systems, powerups, special moves. Simple and dirty and direct. Also tense and fatal and a little bit insane. Just like the titular sociopaths.

  18. The way ironcupshrug talks about the dog bosses in the article was the reason I interpreted this interpretation as a suggestion of satire. I guess it’s not the whole thing, then – and what you guys describe is something that I can definitely imagine. It’s not about satire, it’s about feeling.

    But, like… the dogs bit does sound as though it is consciously drawing attention to a convention of the game’s genre within a thoughtful context. And I could be wrong, but that sounds like the definition of satire.

    I really like Burn The Rope. The game is too short and too easy for me to get at all annoyed at it, and every day the joke it tells (which is the same as the statement it makes) becomes more and more relevant, closer and closer to the bone.

    I was playing the Bulletstorm demo just now. I quite like it, but it’s another one of those problematically enjoyable games, you know, like Super Mario Galaxy or (for me) Pokemon. It’s not the violence, of course. It’s the video at the beginning telling me that the point of the game is to take out enemies in “creative” ways, and then puts me in a place where I am to do what game suggested I do – there’s the electrified pipe, there’s the hole in the ground, there’s the slow-down-time gun. Then it awards me some points.

    Do as you’re told. Bulletstorm could save some space by naming its levels “kick him into the hole” and “crush them under the train”. Burn the Rope is therefore, structurally, a refinement of bulletstorm! I’ll say that these things wot you do are pretty crunchy, hence why I quite like the game. But yeah, creepy – or at least that’s my first impression.

  19. inversesquare: You just made me realize what I disliked about Bulletstorm. There is no creativity envolved. You can only do what the game wants you to do. That’s pretty depressing how they show you the AWESOME stuff you can do before you are allowed to even try it. It’s a freaking demo.

    Then I think about Red Faction Guerilla or Just Cause 2 where there is actual ingenuity on the player’s part.

  20. “But, like… the dogs bit does sound as though it is consciously drawing attention to a convention of the game’s genre within a thoughtful context. And I could be wrong, but that sounds like the definition of satire.”

    Well, even I called that satire in my first comment. The game certainly has satirical elements. But Dog Days ultimately is about mood for its own sake. It exploits genre conventions to evoke the mood, but it’s trenchant precisely because it uses the conventions full-bloodedly instead of self-awarely “making fun” of them. It’s like a Kill Bill or a Kung Fu Hustle as opposed to a Hot Shots Part Deux. The dogs? They’re a flourish. A hilarious flourish.

    As for games where you do things by rote, that’s not necessarily bad – there’s a pretty good review of Stuntman: Ignition on here about that very thing. I don’t think Bulletstorm is as rote as you’re making it out to be. You can get 5,000 or 20,000 points on the demo level doing all the things it “tells” you to do; the difference is all the stuff you do in between. From what I can see, my only problem with it is that there actually isn’t enough different stuff to do.

  21. reading more of these comments now that i’m wearing shades 8)

    Inverse Square:

    Arkham Asylum was a blast! Rote, unfulfilling, shallow? Maybe. Depressing? How? It’s fucking Batman!

  22. :/ Yeah I guess it is fucking Batman. Sorry dude, but the attitude is exactly the reason they were able to get away with such horrifying blandness, and that is the depressing thing. In your language I see that you accept that it was bland, but let’s get it out there: combat in Arkham Asylum consisted of mashing one button, and then mashing another button when you were told to. I have difficulty even recognizing this as gameplay, much less “fun”. It’s more like a generative fight scene.

    If you’re working through the archives, I can’t recommend this one more: http://www.actionbutton.net/?p=73 it’s pretty much my favourite review on the site.

    As to doing things by rote, yeah, I guess Stuntman is a good counter-example. What I might say is that it and Bulletstorm have them for rather different reasons. Stuntman is a game that has long levels with specific setpieces – without the voice telling you what to do, you’d have to try and memorize them, and that would obfuscate the real point of the game: the driving physics and the interesting mini-challenges. And the voice contributes to the atmosphere. And at least it doesn’t call you “creative”.

    Eh, maybe this is a weak rationalization, but I think I’ll stick by it. Bulletstorm’s video telling me what to do felt like a teacher telling me what colours to use in my colouring book. Stuntman felt like a hot woman curtly yet respectfully helping me bring her to orgasm.

  23. I hate God of War as well, but that’s because I find it aesthetically repugnant and Batman isn’t in it. Arkham Asylum was amusing because I like Batman and it’s more FUCKING BATMAN than other Batman games I’ve played. I liked the mood, the atmosphere, the world (although I only really remember blithely gliding around in the outside hub world) despite all its lame “gameplay” conventions. I may not know good games, but I know what I like.

    My personal favorite review on the site is this one: http://www.actionbutton.net/?p=33

    Or if I’m actually gonna try to stay on the same intellectual page with you guys about videogames, this one: http://www.actionbutton.net/?p=426

    But I guess I’m not really interested in that. These days I take my videogames the way I take my drugs: whatever feels good, you know? Neither actually last or mean anything to me in the long run (but Ico did (but my first joint did)…but that’s a different thing, and that’s a different time in my life). So maybe I’m just wasting everyone’s time here. Sorry!

  24. btw ario while we are speaking face to face, i really liked/agreed with your metroid prime review

  25. I just took a pretty satisfying shower. The hot water ran out toward the end and it became really cold, which normally would be unpleasant but it wasn’t because of the speed. Definitely going to brush my teeth soon; they feel really grimy and disgusting.

    For a few months I’ve had this weird involuntary anorexia thing going on where every time I eat food I immediately throw up or else shit violently, and I don’t really like eating. Food is pretty gross, it doesn’t matter what kind. I don’t eat much because food is disgusting and because my body can’t handle it. Although according to my new psychiatrist the anorexia thing isn’t involuntary and has been going on for way longer than a few months, but what the fuck does HE know…I saw a gastrologist earlier this week who basically did nothing but speculate that my stomach might be fucked up because I used to do a of drugs, but HE probably knows even less…oh speaking of my new shrink I have an appointment with him later today, I think…but I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it because it’s pretty snowy and icy outside.

    My one friend who’s making a movie starring me is really bumming me out for complex reasons…All my friends are, really, and I’m probably doing the same to them. I kind of don’t want to see them at all ever again. Humanity in general looks pretty disgusting to me at the moment.

    I have this habit of burning the backs of hands with cigarettes. There are some open wounds on them that kind of hurt right now. Generally I alternate between that and cutting flesh with razor blades, etc. Not to sound too dramatic or anything.

    I have this weird rash around my neck and collarbone, I don’t know where that came from.

    My favorite movie of 2010 was Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix’s “I”m Still Here.” An essential film that everyone should see.

    Fortunately I have some klonopin to take the edge off this speed…

    I’m about to light the last cigarette in this pack and also light a stick of incense. I smoke American Spirit cigarettes (the blue kind) because they were the kind I got addicted to and other cigarettes taste gross.

    My birthday is in a few months which will put me at the legal drinking age in America, although I don’t really care because I kind of hate alcohol.

    Uh, there’s a Starbucks cup sitting over there by my broken TV. To my right are some holes in the wall where someone punched through it a bunch of times.

    Winter sucks.

    Updates to come…

  26. I kind of have a “crush” on a high school kid, which feels weird when you’re college age and even weirder when you’re college age and not going to college. He’s only three years younger than me though and at least as mature, so I figure it doesn’t really matter. I mean it’s socially acceptable for a 40 year old to date a 37 year old, etc. I’m not sure if he’s actually queer, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

    I need to get some more water to drink.

    Stay tuned.

  27. The best novella ever written is The Metamorphosis. I was told to read it by a writing tutor who a friend in college (when i was still in college) called “the best Beat editor” or something like that. My friend was pretty into this writing tutor/editor/old man–this old man was friends with Burroughs and thinks all fiction after Pynchon is “desperate” and talked about “the cloud” of self-destruction that permeates America and prevents people from making good art or being real people (he referred to other humans as “pods”) and shit like that. Pretty out there shit, but my friend had such a crazy thing for this guy that he chose to continue studying with him even after he had an “affair” with my friend’s then-girlfriend. My friend called the affair “performance art.”

    Anyway this writing tutor used to teach at the college I went to but got fired. I paid him $100 a month to study with him twice a month until I couldn’t afford it any more, or he creeped me out too much, or I creeped him out too much. I think it was a mutual creepfest. Proposals of masturbating with a variety of people were mentioned toward the end of our time together. Regardless, I learned more about prose writing from him than I did in any of the classes I ever took in college or any other institute for learning.
    I just opened a new pack of cigarettes and lit one. It will be my last for the night.

    More soon..

  28. I’m wearing Best Coast-branded sunglasses because this computer screen is too bright for my eyes. I need to take a shit but the toilet is clogged. I’m looking at the cover of the Didion novel I just read and it’s making me want to read it again because it’s a masterpiece, but I probably won’t.

  29. I just woke up. Waking up sucks because new consciousness means not being high and fuck consciousness. My throat hurts. I just heard my biological father’s voice on the other end of a cellphone and felt nothing, which is probably the best way to feel about anything. I think my mom is going to visit him or something which is why he was on the phone even though she said she was going to “run” “errands.” Speaking of my mom I need to go turn off the stove on a pot of soup she’s making. I’m not seeing a shrink today because there was an ice storm and everything is covered in ice.

    I don’t think I have anything else to say at the moment. More info. as it comes.

  30. Because of all the ice outside i’m listening to the dismemberment plan song “the ice of boston.” I saw The Dismemberment Plan live a few days ago and aside from a generally loathsome crowd who had no idea how to party and totally killed my vibe, the band was pretty rad. Equally loathsome were the bouncers, although I was expecting that (it’s Webster Hall). Anyway because of my seething contempt for all the people around me I left the show disappointed and angry, and I didn’t even know if I’d ever be able to listen to The Dismemberment Plan again. It turns out that isn’t the case. The Dismemberment Plan and I have been through a lot together, and I guess it would take a lot more than something as trivial as that to end our relationship.

  31. kzkb1 please stop ruining my life

    btw ario while we are speaking face to face, i really liked/agreed with your metroid prime review

    thanks. i actually think it’s not a good review and want to redo it some day, but i’m glad you appreciate it

  32. A lot of the positive reviews on the site tend to become mostly a description of a wonderful feeling/effect the game can have on the reviewer (love letters), which is kind of what ABDN finds useless as they would rather discuss how the nice effect was made and could be replicated/strengthened.

    Is that how you feel about your Prime review ario? Too much description of nice moments, too general, not enough explanation? Or was it just sn’s comment (which I think someone sufficiently answered)?

    …Guess I’ll mention it here – right before the game over screen, samus’ scream, always made me feel bad. Like I was being reckless and someone died as a result (which is pretty much what was intended, so bravo on that.) I guess I viewed her as a tool/friend when I played the game, like others mentioned.

  33. I wrote the Prime review before I’d developed my vocabulary on level design to work on a more explicit and specific level. So I guess “too general” is right. And sn’s comment is fine, but — of course — I don’t agree with it.

  34. Gotcha. I can agree. Let me just say that I can’t help feeling that people’s reactions to his comment – that it was so out of left field and nice to read and made you think you [i]must[/i] agree or else be dumb – is how many people felt their first time reading some ABDN. I don’t expect much else to be said there, it’s just kinda funny to me. You guys with your reviews can be very persuasive, and great impetuses for useful discussion and thoughts. And entertaining! Whoops, look at me describe an effect, without bothering to explain it. Another time, maybe.

    Guess I’d also like to say this is a fine site that I frequent often, that I wish the alphabetical archive would be fixed (window shopping can lead to a purchase) and I miss the black background, when I didn’t have to adjust room lighting or screen brightness and my alertness was my own responsibility instead of a background color. I really do appreciate you guys though. Keep it up please!

  35. ….Yahtzee still makes those videos? Huh.

    Interesting take on the game. A good read. I enjoyed this series as well, but its criticisms are to be expected.

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  37. Hi, I responded to your review with my own review of your review, along with the game itself. It may be viewed here.

  38. OK
    Here is the thing: I do think it’s fun!
    I’ve beat this game multiple times on multiple difficulties including the hardest, and don’t think it reduces entirely to HUNKER DOWN TAKE POTSHOTS on any of them but the highest, which has its own sort of masochistic reward (and even there, it’s pretty rare that you find absolutely reliable cover and don’t have to move to press advantage).
    You disagree!
    That’s cool.
    (I would def. say that my failure to really talk about the act of playing the game in the review is an issue, though.)

  39. Actually I’m curious about how you perceived the gameplay, particularly since you played both games nigh-simultaneously. And also this one many times over. I feel like I might have played it wrong or something.

  40. Pingback: Gaming: March 2011′s Games « Benny's Bumper Blog

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  42. Pingback: @angryjedi Good points As far as The Walking… « The Squadron of Shame Squawkbox

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