Saturday, August 20, 2011

God is my co-op player: New releases for the week of 8-14-11

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
(XBox 360, PS3) Third-person action game from Konami based on the story of the biblical figure Enoch as  described in the Book of Enoch, a Jewish religious text dating to the 4th or 3rd century BC that influenced the development of Judaism and early Christianity but is no longer considered canonical by most sects of those religions.

You know, if I had to select the one sentence on this blog that I had least expected to ever write, that's probably it. It is sort of an intriguing premise, though; At the risk of jumping the gun, this may well turn out to be the best video game based on an obscure Biblical figure to come out this year. (Though we'll have to wait until the release of Apocalyptic Scorpion-Locusts vs. Capcom in November to know for sure, of course.)

Enoch got only a brief, cryptic mention as one of the ancestors of Noah in the book of Genesis, but became a much more developed figure in the later Book of Enoch- or Furious SkyGod Versus Hyper-Serpent: Gaiden, as it is known in the Japanese market- and the  rabbinical literature of subsequent centuries. He's sort of the religious version of Mork from Mork and Mindy, who was originally a one-off character in an episode of Happy Days but was so popular that he got his own spin-off series. (The Fonz is Jehovah in this analogy, obviously.)

It's a bizarre-sounding premise for a game, but it makes a sort of sense- actually, you could probably turn the Book of Enoch into an action game while remaining far truer to the original premise than a game like Dante's Inferno, and there was still someone nuts enough to actually make that. Admittedly, that's not a terribly high bar- you could probably make an action game out of Sense and Sensibility or a trigonometry textbook or Johnny Got His Gun and still remain far truer to the original than Dante's Inferno- but the Book of Enoch does have a lot of stuff that might translate well.

You've got fallen angels corrupting mankind with their forbidden arts, monstrous hybrid offspring of fallen angels and human women that grow to massive size and rampage across the earth devouring everything and everyone in their path, Enoch traveling through different planes of existence, a dark setting on the brink of unimaginable catastrophe... everything a game could ask for, really. Plus, it would probably be the first of the thousands of video games to reference the term “nephilim” that would actually have nephilim in it. Just throw in some badass quicktime events, a guy who smokes two packs of Marlboros a day to be the voice of Enoch, and some sort of spooky chick connected to Enoch's backstory to make cryptic remarks and you're ready to go.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A rueful look back at E3, Part 5: Far Cry 3: Cry, Cry Again

New first-person shooter. At first I was underwhelmed; it was gorgeous, to be sure, but I'd been playing quite a bit of Crysis 2 around the time I first saw this. After I'd  just finished several weeks worth of Crytek's game where you're a nanotech-augmented superhuman in the ruins of an alien-ravaged New York who can jog down the street while carrying a belt-fed machine gun, leap from ground level to the rooftops in one jump, and turn invisible like the Predator, it was hard at first to get excited about a sequel to a Crytek game with a guy skulking around the jungle with a rifle and a knife.

Then it got to the stealth kill where the player snuck up on a guy, grabbed him, snatched the knife out of his belt, gutted him with his own knife, and then hurled the knife at another guy and killed him too.

And then, like a cold, grim, unfeeling miser who'd been taught the true meaning of Christmas by a kind-hearted child's simply innocence, but with Christmas replaced by video games and the kind-hearted child's simple innocence replaced with two guys being brutally stabbed to death, I remembered something very important. In the end, my love of games like this isn't about frills like nanosuits or futuristic human-alien hybrid technology or even being able to turn invisible like the Predator. It's about killing motherfuckers. I'd become so caught up in fancy, high-tech gimmicks and methods for doing this that I'd nearly lost track of what truly brings me joy in the first place.

Bless us, every one!

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