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Dead Space: What Happens When you Don't Listen to Your Enlisted Troops

This post contains spoilers

In the game Dead Space you are the ONLY competent member of a repair crew tasked to fix a mining ship called the Ishimura, which bears more than a passing resemblance to a rib cage. Strike one.

Within five minutes of arriving on the ship, a warped mutant thing with scythes for hands that moves like a member of the Cirque de Soleil on a Meth bender drops out of the ceiling and wastes all but two of your repair crew.

This is part where I'd leave, I don't mind saying. Most people who write about video games say "Because in real life, I'm a coward." Well, I'm just not about believing I'm a coward when the undead shit hits the space-ship fan.

However, quite apart from the how brave I am as the sole member of this team who is actually useful, it's actually the hard fact that our computer technician, welder and probably our equipment guy are now dead. If that happened to a real life construction crew that I was working on, I would say "forget this." and make leaving the job site my main priority.

If it happened to a crew that just traveled x-amount of light-years, under the exact circumstance of Dead Space, I am DAMN SURE filing a formal complaint with the union when I get back, and I'll be getting back soon because there is no way I'm staying on that ship.

I'm sure I would say something were I actually within this game; but I wouldn't get listened to by the two people who outrank me, and the game simulates their not listening by having the main character never speak. So we decide to get hell off the Ishimura and of course, the ship we arrived in gets destroyed due to people not leaving when I said we should have. Strike two.

As the plot unfolds you realize that not only are there mutants running around trying to kill you, but normal humans who have gone rotten banana crazy from exposure to whatever it is that's causing all these problems. Several times during the course of the game you watch people commit suicide with disturbing sound effects and dialog.

In addition, there is a creepy religious movement whose doctrine apparently involves getting shot in the forehead as it's one-time sacrament to provide corpses for the mutants to make more mutants with. Chief Head-Banger is Dr. Challus Mercer, who not only kills people in the name of his bullshit-20-minute-old-religion, he also actively tries to get you killed by messing with door locks that shut you in rooms with bloodthirsty mutant babies and Francis Bacon paintings come alive.

You run around the ship like this for a good four hours until you find "The Marker," which is responsible for all the undead-circus performers and dead pope paintings incarnate and is huge icon the Unitology Murder Pantheon. I take one look at the thing when I find it and it just screams "CLEARLY TAINTED WITH ZOMBIE JU-JU."

I would not bring that goddamned thing on my ship if you paid me; it looked like Clive Barker designed a lamp for Ikea. Strike Three.

It occurred to me while I was trying to maneuver this Obelisk of Maroon Doom off the ship that the whole reason the thing was on the ship in the first place was another clear-cut case of not listening to the enlisted. I'm sure the captain of the ship was all about bringing this thing on board, and his Master Chief or Space Marine Sgt. Major said "Whoa, sir, that thing is pure evil."

"Nonsense, Sgt. Major, I know pure evil when I see it . . ."

"Clearly not sir, because that thing down there on the planet looks like Hatshepsut's architect took an art class from Pinhead."

So I get the thing down to the planet's surface and Kendra, this officer in my chain of command whose been whining and complaining at our commander the whole mission-because that's the productive thing to do in a life-or-death struggle billions of miles from earth-has apparently been trying to get me killed the whole time. It speaks to her competence that I am, of course, still standing.

Turns out Kendra is a mole from the galaxy spanning government that apparently built the goddamned Clive Barker Lamp of Evil as a weapon. It's pretty effective in that respect, because it causes everything to die; but really what good is that if it's made death itself a sort of super contagion? Sounds to me like they built this weapon without bothering to ask their senior enlisted if it was a good idea. . . .

Kendra is then then killed by beast that some seven stories tall with tentacles thick as tree trunks and a face only a mother made from cell structures of humanoid corpses could love. Instant karma.

If she, or anyone else, would have listened to me, we'd all be somewhere else and more importantly all still alive thinking about the next poor saps that have to go and try to fix the Ishimura. I emptied all of my four different kinds of ammunition into the thing and got the hell out of Dodge, worrying in the back of my mind how all of this is going to sound in an After Action Report.

You never see the main characters face through out the whole game until finally, on the shuttle to the end of the game you take off your helmet, breath a sigh of relief and wipe the sweat of your generically handsome brow, since it's been a long day and HOLYSHITTHERE'SSOMETHINGINTHESHUTTLEOMYGOD
ITHINKITSMYEXGIRLFRIENDWHOSDEAD!

It was a real jolt, because, you know I thought I had finished. It was a really great use of style, because I had actually finally relaxed, thinking the game was over, and instead I nearly fell out of chair in terror.

Resistance 2: Let's Resist Again, Like We Did Last Summer

The year is 1951 and Humanity is getting an ass-kicking from beyond the stars by a race of leather pants wearing humanoids called Chimera.

Generally, they are very slimy.

You take on the role of Nathan Hale, the only survivor of America's push into England against the Chimera. Hale is a generically handsome Bruce Willis look alike with a dash of grizzled and a touch of glam rock. Hale only survived the first attack due a fluke in his genes that allows him to harness a disease that has turned most everyone else into the alien nemesis. Turns out, Hale isn't alone either, as several other stereo-types from throughout the armed forces have the same genetic trait including the Mini-Gun Toting Italian From Philly, The Smooth Voiced Black Sniper From Baltimore and The Stocky Rifleman from South Bend.

The game gets off the cracker-jack start with the skies of San Francisco filled with alien fleet bearing down upon earth with near biblical might. After nearly being eaten by a Kraken at the end of the first level, one can imagine this game is gunning for Gears Of War in terms of enemy size.

However, there was something about the way the missions are structured that makes me think the chain of command of the opposing force is just making it up as they go along. Because the next few skirmishes take place in downtown Twin Falls, Idaho. After that, you duel the beasts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Naturally, in an intergalactic war a foot hold on the planet is a step in the right direction, but you would think they would be targeting more metropolitan areas.

The entire time an alien virus that appears to be turning you into David Bowie figures into the plot a little bit. It's supposed to this life altering bio-phage aggressive gene therapy thing, and it makes you look like you're wearing lipstick.

That happens a lot. It's really like watching a film where the budget ran out nine tenths through filming, and while the game is well paced these budget cuts can be a little distracting.

DIRECTOR:"How will we make this monster?"

EFFECTS MAN:"Aw, shit we have like six bucks left. Make it out of triangles and silly string!"

DIRECTOR:"We need this guy to look like Alien."

EFFECTS MAN:"Aliens wear purple lipstick. Thank god the catering girl had some, as we are wayyyyy over budget."

Overall Resistance 2 is solid game play and story telling, and the multi-player mode where you co-op to complete objectives and gain experience is a little bit fresh, but this game is more of rental than a buy.

Mirror's Edge: The Best Movie I've Played Lately

"Once this city used to pulse with energy; dirty and dangerous but alive and wonderful. Now it is something else. The changes came slowly at first. Most did not realize or did not care, and accepted them. They chose a comfortable life. Some didn't. . . . they became our first clients."

Video games become more cinematic each day.

Mirror's Edge, by Electronic Arts and Dice, is a truly astonishing narrative achievement. The voice work is outstanding, the story is inventive and the plot twists happen in such a way as to be consistently shocking and entertaining. As a matter of fact, the story is so good that you'll barely notice a lot glitches and errors through out the game, because if your standing still in this game you're doing it wrong.

You take on the role of Faith, a young lady of prodigious agility, and little else. In the dystopian world the story is set in, the only secure way to communicate is to have a person physically carry correspondence. These people are called Runners, and they are frowned upon by the totalitarian regime that has pretty much exchanged people's freedom for a very, very clean city that is some sort of architectural mashup between Seattle, Wash., German Bauhaus design and a sprinkling of comic-book primary colors.

In a rather neat moment of world description, there was a screen in an elevator that said "Running! The latest threat to your children!" followed by some reading material to help pass the time while you were waiting an elevator.

Unlike a lot other action heroes, Faith is not a warrior in any sense of the word. She's a courier, and generally can't stand toe to toe with even a beat cop. So she doesn't. Instead, she uses misdirection, disarms and dodges to get around her opponents. Actually punching and kicking costs precious seconds, but Faith practices some sort of Street-Girl-Fu that can flip just about anyone ass-over-tea-kettle with the right timing.

Faith lost her mother during a riot when she was a child, so it's no wonder she has such a penchant for running from and flipping over the cops. Subsequently her family fell apart, putting her in a position to, in a sense, continue the tradition of dissent that initially broke her family by becoming a runner. Her sister, on the other hand, is the one who became obsessed with bringing order to the world, and became a cop.

This figures largely into the plot where a cross between Barak Obama and Joe Biden who was running office is murdered, and Faith's sister is framed for the dirty deed.

In a surprising little moment during the game, the main character hugs her sister and it's quite affecting in the first person perspective.

The plot unfolds predictably, but with such ambiance that you really feel involved in a story.

What's really funny about this is the plot is almost too good for the game. I found myself getting bored and frustrated with stupid puzzles that didn't reveal anything more about the plot or the world.

To put it another way, imagine you have to solve a Rubicks cube every five minutes or so while watching a film, but you have the help of the main character from film. It's kinda a cool, but I could do with less cube and more plot.