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Mass Effect, A Retrospective - November 1, 2012

I have previously reviewed Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, and though I no longer review video games I still enjoy writing on the topic of video games, so now that I’ve completed Mass Effect 3 I want to express some of my thoughts on the series.

I probably first heard about Mass Effect on the PC Gamer podcast, but didn’t really give it a lot of thought until Dragon Age came out. Dragon Age and upon pre-ordering it, it included some DLC for the upcoming Mass Effect 2, so I figured I may as well try Mass Effect. So before the 2nd game came out, I got a copy of Mass Effect on steam, and tried it out.

My Shepard was female. I played as an Infiltrator. I gave her what I thought would be a practical haircut, a simple ponytail tied in the back. This was to keep her hair out of her face, because, seriously, the last thing she needed was anything blocking her vision in the heat of battle. It was pretty much impossible to create an attractive face for Shepard, so I didn’t, and she turned out kind of ugly, but I liked her in her own special way. I may never play the series again, so that Shepard will always be the Shepard I remember.

I played the first game as a Paragon, that is, whenever there was a moral choice to make, I make the good choice. I let people live, I tried to save as many lives as possible, etc. This was all well and good. Basically the first game had a lot of annoyances along the way, and I can’t say I’d recommend it, and in all honesty I only played it because I was more excited about Mass Effect 2 and since it was possible to import your character I figured I may as well start from the beginning. I ended up romancing Liara, and not by any choice of my own. I was trying to go for Kaiden, because inter-species relations kind of bother me, but the game just didn’t seem to let me do that. I guess because I was a Paragon and I was always nice to both Liara and Kaiden, and I guess Liara trumps Kaiden. In any case I was kind of upset about that.

Mass Effect 2 turned out to be an excellent game. Baring the mining, it was in every way an excellent game. Great missions, well-paced, and graphically it was better than the first game, and it ran at a better frame-rate. I actually started out as a Paragon in the game, for maybe one or two missions, but I kept seeing that the Renegade options looked much more interesting, so I went full out Renegade. Indeed, it was much more interesting. I mean instead of just letting some guy live, you shoot him in the face. Instead of being nice to a reporter, you punch them in the face. It was a lot of fun to be a Renegade. Heck, I was having so much fun, I decided to romance Garrus, because seriously, why not? I had already had one relationship with an alien, why not another?

I actually kind of wanted to play the second game again, as a male so I could romance Miranda, cause she was kind of hot for a video game character, but ultimately I never did, and I probably never will. I guess that’s what YouTube is for.

I managed to save all of the characters at the end of Mass Effect 2 except for Kelly Chambers, because I didn’t really read any guides in advance, but ultimately I was kind of glad she died, because I never really liked her anyway.

Mass Effect 3 came out earlier this year. This was to be the last chapter in Shepard’s story. I didn’t play it right away. I waited for it to go on sale, and even then I didn’t play it until about two weeks ago. To be honest, Mass Effect 2 had been so satisfying, I didn’t even see the need for Mass Effect 3 so I wasn’t in any kind of hurry. I did hear about the controversy about the ending right after it came out, though, and so I pretty much avoided any discussion about the game as to not spoil it.

From the start, I figured I stick with the Renegade attitude for Shepard, but to be honest, in Mass Effect 3 it doesn’t seem to be nearly as important which route you choose, as the game doesn’t seem nearly as dynamic as the second one. Some of the first things I remember doing was dumping both Liara and Garrus. I was going to have Shepard stick with humans. Kaiden would be her new goal.

I had let Kelly Chambers die in Mass Effect 2, and as a renegade, I kind of liked that idea, so when it came time to shoot Mordin in the back, I didn’t even hesitate. And to be honest, that was a great death scene, very emotional, very dramatic, and very much good riddance. I never really liked that guy anyway. Naturally knowing that Mordin was dead, I wanted more of my former companions dead. My favorite one was Wrex. Blasting him out the window was about the most satisfying thing that happened the game, and of course the icing on the cake was when Baily said, Let the morgue know we got another delivery coming. Probably too big for a coffin. Might have to space this one.

Naturally with so much death on my hands I had no choice but to let Tali and Samara commit suicide. Miranda died as well, and I’m not really even sure how you would go about saving her. I vaguely remember that Legion didn’t really live as well. Cortez crashed. Thane died of cancer or something. Jack lived, but I found out you could get her killed, and I kind of regretted that I didn’t. In the end I was kind of upset that Liara couldn’t die. Garrus, though, I was glad he lived, because he was alright, despite the fact that Shepard had dumped him, no hard feelings.

My Shepard did end up having a romance with Kaiden, it was cheesy. I basically learned from this that watching two video game characters have sex with their underwear on is kind of awkward. (Not to mention Dragon Age II where thy do it with all of their clothes on.) I think from now on I shall avoid sex scenes in video games. Also, my Shepard would have been a lot more interesting as a loner. I mean seriously, she was a renegade, she was mean to everyone, then all the sudden nice to some guy, it was totally out of character.

Overall the game was pretty fun. I didn’t really get what the controversy about the ending was. Maybe that everything culminated to walking down one of three corridors to choose the fate of the galaxy. Maybe because the fate of the galaxy didn’t really make any sense no matter which corridor you walked down. I don’t even know what ending I picked, I think I went renegade, and I suppose it didn’t matter. Honestly, I don’t get the ending. I did replay it with the extended cut DLC and it made a little more sense, but honestly I don’t think it needed to. I didn’t really care that it didn’t make any sense. Quite frankly I’m upset that more people didn’t die. I think in the extended cut there is an ending where you just let the Reapers wipe out the galaxy, that’s the ending I should have chosen. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to replay the end of the game, though, it takes like two hours from the last save point. And I don’t want to play for two hours to get some moderately different endings.

Ultimately Mass Effect was kind of a fun experience. The 2nd game was by far the best. I doubt I’ll play these games again, though. They are just too long, and even if I did replay them I wouldn’t remember the decisions I made the first time around, so things would pretty much seem to play out exactly the same.

For what it’s worth, this is my Shepard. I stuck with pink armor in the 2nd and 3rd games because my Shepard was female, and I think pink looks good on girls.

Categories: Video Game Reviews

I Gave a Guy Five Bucks?! - August 15, 2012

So, the other day, I was minding my own business, trying to fill my car up with gas. But the computer at the pump got frozen, and I couldn’t figure out how to pump gas, but I’d already put my credit card in, so I couldn’t just try another pump. So I did the only logical thing to do. I walked into the station and asked the attendant what was wrong. He said, Oh yeah, that happens, just hold the enter button down and it will work. So I went back to the pump, and he was right, it worked.

So I started filling my tank. Now, I am a man of much efficiency so I like to clean the windows on my car as the gas is pumping. This helps me to keep my mind off the fact that I can feel my wallet getting lighter as the gas is flowing. Well I clean the back window, and put the brush away, and low and behold, as I turn around, some guy is standing there. Like I said, just some guy. And I was thinking, Why is that guy standing there? Is he going to kill me?

Well after about ten seconds, and not seeing a gun, I still feel a little cautious but at least I’m alive for now, but I notice the guy’s mouth is moving. He’s trying to say something to me, but I can’t understand him. I tell him to hold on a second as I put the gas pump away and close up my tank, but I find that this guy just keeps talking to me. And I’m thinking, What does he want? Does he want money? He’s got to want money. Then I notice that his wife and child are with him, and I’m thinking, Why is this guy begging for money with his wife and child present? Does this man have no dignity? Does he not want his wife to think that he’s capable of providing for them? Does he not at least want to go out during the day and pretend to work, while he is yet begging? As these thoughts are going through my mind, I am also afraid that he’s still going to try to kill me. Naturally, I would be afraid of such things.

So about this time, I’m kind of wondering where this guy came from, and I notice that there is a minivan on the other side of the pump that I’m at. So I’m thinking that this minivan belongs to him, and it looks pretty new, so I’m wondering why this guy is asking me for money if he can afford to have a new minivan. Then I thought, Maybe he murdered someone and stole their minivan. Yes indeed, that thought actually went through my mind. Right at that point, he mentions that he’s from Romania, and this is the one thing I can understand that he’s saying. And so I ask him, Where are you trying to get to? And I can’t understand what he responds with, and he realizes that I can’t understand him, because he says, I don’t speak English so well. And so I was like, I don’t speak gibberish so well, I don’t understand what you want?

And I’m worried right there that he wants me to pay for the gas for his minivan, and I was like, There is no way that I’m paying to fill up your minivan with gas, that would cost me like a hundred bucks, and it is a lot to ask for a hundred bucks from a complete stranger. But that’s what I think he’s asking for, so I say, I could maybe get you one gallon, but that won’t get you very far, because I think you probably want to go further inland because the coast of California is a pretty expensive place to live, and if you need to beg for money, maybe you should live somewhere cheaper. Well anyway, I don’t think he really understood that I was accusing him of being an idiot for living on the coast and begging for money, but he’s not the first beggar I’ve seen so it’s not too unusual.

Well he keeps talking, and I still don’t know what he’s saying, so finally I’m like, I got to get rid of this guy before he decides to kill me. So I whip out my wallet, and I was thinking, Well homeless guys are happy with one dollar, but this guy wants to fill up his car with gas, so if I give him one dollar he’ll probably kill me, and if I only give him five dollars he’ll think I’m cheap, but there is no way I’m giving him twenty bucks, because that is a lot of money, but I don’t have a ten, so I guess I’ll give him five anyway. So I give him five bucks.

Well this guy just looks at me like I’m cheap, and so I’m thinking, I guess I could give him six since I do have a single. But I’m also thinking that I just want him to leave so I say I don’t understand and wish him well and get in my car and drive away.

Then as I was driving away, I realize that he may have just been asking for directions, and I gave him five bucks for nothing. Then again, the next day on the news I heard about a homeless man that did murder some dude over a quarter.

Prometheus Sucked - June 17, 2012

I hate to put a swear in the title of one of my blogs, but I don’t know of any other way to express what I’m about to say. Let me now get into my discussion of the recent film Prometheus.

I realize, now, that Ridley Scott has been my favorite director since before I knew what a director was. Unknowingly I was introduced to Mr. Scott’s work as a child one Saturday afternoon. When I was a kid the local Fox affiliate played movies on Saturdays, which I often found myself watching. That’s where I saw such weird films as The Golden Child, Gotcha!, and weird 80s movies like this one about Skydiving which I don’t know the name of, but do know that it wasn’t Terminal Velocity. Anyway, I digress, because the most important film that I saw on a Saturday afternoon was Legend.

Legend was about flower petals floating in the breeze.
Legend was the first film that I saw where I actually sat down and thought to myself, There is something special about this film. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know anything about style or art direction. I still don’t really know much about that stuff, but I do know that when I saw Legend my mind was blown away. Here I was watching a totally surreal world. It was drastically different from anything I’d seen before, and would be drastically different from anything that I would see for years to come. I was in love with the film. Most movies I’d seen as a kid were about adventure. There was Indiana Jones, of course, the classic adventure movie, and I’d even seen fantasy before with both Willow and The Last Unicorn, but Legend was in a category all on its own. Sure, it was an adventure, it was about a boy on a quest, but it really wasn’t that adventurous of a quest. He only uses a sword to kill one monster, and before that a lot of the movie is just a boy and girl wandering around in the forest.

Darkness. Truly if anyone ever had a black heart, it was him.
I suppose one of the things that really caught my eye, though, was the protagonist, Darkness, who may as well have been the devil himself. I actually felt bad about watching the movie, because I thought my mom wouldn’t want me watching a movie about the devil. In fact the first time I caught it on TV, as soon as my mom came home from work, I turned it off, then kept my eye on the TV Guide for the next time it would be playing. What was even more amazing about the character Darkness is that he isn’t even really the ultimate evil in the movie. He bows to some other higher power that we really never see.

The fact is, that in the film Legend not much happened. Not much was said even, and what was said didn’t make much sense cause most of it was poetry. I mean some of the poetry was really fun. For example, Darkness asks one of his minions, Is your heart black, and full of hate? To which the minion replies, Black as midnight, black as pitch, blacker than the foulest witch. Yeah, that was a classic line. I wouldn’t hear metaphors that good until Max Payne. Even though not much happened in Legend, the film wasn’t about what happened, it was about what you saw, which was basically a fantastically unreal world. Supposedly there was an entire kingdom, but all we really ever see is a few people. Yet this world was there.

Blade Runner.
Years later I was introduced to Blade Runner, which I didn’t even know was directed by Ridley Scott, but I found myself drawn to it. Not because of the story, but because of the visuals. Quite frankly, Blade Runner has no story. Not much happens in it either. The dialogue isn’t quite poetry like the dialog in Legend, but it certainly isn’t natural. I mean seriously, Deckard says, I dreamt music. To which Rachel replies, I didn’t know if I could play. I remember lessons. I don’t know if it’s me or Tyrell’s niece, and Deckard responds, You play beautifully. This is an interesting conversation, and it’s clear what the conversation is about, but people don’t talk like that. Like Legend, Blade Runner is an abstract film, and that’s why I liked both of these movies.

While Hannibal was mostly a straightforward film, it had its artistic moments.
Later I would see Hannibal, not knowing that it was by the director of Blade Runner and Legend. Mostly I saw it because it was a really big craze, finally a sequel to Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal is a much more straightforward film.
The Kingdom of Heaven also had a very artistic style. Not to mention the stunning Eva Green.
It has a plot that makes sense, and really isn’t that abstract, but it has its classic Ridley Scott moments, particularly when dealing with Pazzi’s investigation of Dr. Lecter. The Kingdom of Heaven is also notable for its artistic vision.

Of course, I haven’t seen all of Ridley Scott’s films, and I haven’t enjoyed some of them that I’ve seen, such as Gladiator (yes, I’m one of the few that didn’t really like it) and Robin Hood. The fact is, not every one of Ridley Scott’s films is guaranteed to be fantastic, or artistic, but now we must turn to Alien.

While I may not really like Alien, I at least appreciate the vision.
I saw Alien after Legend and before Blade Runner. This was another film where I didn’t know who Ridley Scott was when I saw it, and I’ll admit, I didn’t think it was that great when I saw it, and I still don’t. But as a fan of Blade Runner I can recognize the vision of Alien, and though I personally don’t like it that much, I still think it’s a great film.

Well, I’ve gone on quite a bit about my opinions of Ridley Scott’s films, which brings me to what this post is actually about. The film Prometheus. As the title of this blog suggests, I didn’t like it. I just plain didn’t. Pretty much after the first few scenes I didn’t like it. The film opens with some alien on a planet, which I now presume was Earth, and basically he commits suicide. I could tell right away that this film wasn’t that great. Basically right away I could see that there was no real artistic vision. Just a nice shot of a waterfall. A shot anyone can appreciate, but also nothing that anyone hasn’t seen before. From that point on I kept hoping something would redeem it. Nothing did. Basically what I thought going in, was that it was Ridley Scott, and it was science fiction, something good had to be in there. Nothing was.

I should be clear that I really didn’t know much about the film going into it. I saw one preview for the film, and the main thing that caught my eye was that is was by Mr. Scott, and it seemed to be Alien related.

Prometheus. He created man from clay.
I had also heard an interview with one of the writers, Damon Lindelof, on NPR. He was saying that he wanted the movie was not only supposed to be visual, but also philosophical. To demonstrate this, NPR played a soundbite, a conversation between two of the characters, a robot and a man. The robot says to the man, Why do you think your people made me? To which the man responds, We made you because we could. The robot questions that response with, Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?

That does sound a little philosophical, doesn’t it? And in plenty of regards it is. So having heard that, I expected many philosophical question of morality the human existence to come up. I’ve said that Blade Runner really has no plot, but it asks some philosophical questions in plenty of regards, so I figured Mr. Scott could do it again with Prometheus, but you know what? That one scene was really the only time that anything philosophical came up at all. Really nothing else came up at all. I mean supposedly the whole movie was about people in search of the answers to the classic questions, Where do we come from?, Why are we here?, and Where are we going?, and I’m sure that would be fine, people should wonder about those things, but the film had its own silly idea of what the answers are. Basically it gave the following answers: Where do we come from? Aliens created us. Why are we here? Because the aliens accidently let us live/forgot they created us. Where are we going? We’re going to get killed by the aliens because they think we were an accident and want to be rid of us.

They’re aliens and they want to kill us. No surprise.
The last question wasn’t too much of a surprise. Of course the aliens would want to kill humans, the film was loosely tied to Alien for crying out loud, a film in which only one human survived. This film was basically the same, only one human survived, a female no less. I mean seriously, it was basically just Alien except it was on a planet instead of on a star-ship, but most of the film took place in a star-ship on the planet, so it was basically the same film. Now maybe I was interpreting the film wrong, but my understanding was that the aliens that created humans, also created the aliens from Alien to kill the humans. Unfortunately the aliens that they created to kill the humans decided to kill the aliens that created them. Now that probably didn’t make much sense, and neither did the film. Basically there were a lot of aliens and a lot of killing. So how is that for philosophy? Pretty lame, actually.

Prometheus was basically your average science fiction film.
I shouldn’t say that Prometheus was like Alien, because it was missing one major thing: Artistic style. Alien at least looked unique. Prometheus basically looked like Star Wars, basically just your average looking science fiction spaceships and planets. There was absolutely nothing remarkable about the style at all, and honestly that is what I was hoping for most. That was much more important to me than any kind of philosophical writing. I mean seriously, it’s Ridley Scott, it’s got to have smoke and rain. It didn’t. I wasn’t expecting Blade Runner in space, but it could have had something. Neon lights or something. I don’t know, I’m not Ridley Scott, he was supposed to know. He didn’t.

Basically this movie was no different than Red Planet a science fiction film that by every definition of the word was unremarkable. That’s really what upset me most about the film. Any director could have done this and it would have been the exact same film.

I will grant the film one thing, though. The robot character, David, was at least somewhat interesting. He was obsessed with the film Lawrence of Arabia and so he intentionally behaved like Peter O’Toole’s character from that film. There was probably supposed to be something philosophical about this, but whatever that was eludes me. His behavior, however, was at least amusing, since at times I have intentionally behaved like characters from films I’ve seen. I’ve also seen and liked Lawrence of Arabia so I can appreciate the similarities. Beyond that, though, very little about the character made sense. For example, he basically had his own agenda, and it was later revealed that he was working in behalf of some rich guy, but some of his behavior never seemed to be related to the rich guy’s schemes. He basically just murders one of the other characters, and as far as I could tell he had no reason to even attempt to do what he did to that character.

In conclusion, I was let down. Really it was my fault for getting my hopes up. A certain director doesn’t necessarily mean a good film. I should have known that. I did know that. I already didn’t like all of Mr. Scott’s films. So why should I like this one? I’m still curious to see what Mr. Scott comes out with next, and I’ll give it a chance if the trailer looks good, but I’m not putting my hopes up.

Categories: Movie Reviews

I Believed It! - April 28, 2012

Gullibility. Some argue that it’s a bad thing. Some make fun of you for being gullible. I argue that gullibility is not a bad thing. Gullibility means imagination. Imagination means creativity. Creativity means that life isn’t that boring, and when life isn’t boring it’s awesome. I am a man of much gullibility, and I’m not ashamed of that.

When I was a lad, I was told the legend of Bloody Mary...

You go into a room with a mirror and turn out the lights. Any room is fine, but it must be total darkness, so bathrooms work best. Repeat the phrase Bloody Mary over and over. If you do this, even casually, the mirror will transform into the very gates of hell, and Bloody Mary, the wife of Satan, will appear in the mirror, reach out, grab you, and attempt to pull you into hell itself.

Bloody Mary appears in the mirror!
That’s how the legend of Bloody Mary was described to me. When I first heard it, I was a little doubtful. Mary was the mother of Jesus not the wife of Satan. As far as I knew Satan didn’t even have a wife. There was one thing that got me to believe, though. My friend, Clint, told me that any pastor or priest would explain how it is a sin to participate in the ritual of Bloody Mary. I was convinced. If a priest believed in Bloody Mary, then I had to too. Ironically Clint wasn’t even religious, and I didn’t know anything about ethos, so I took him at his word. Needless to say it, I never tried it.

Another friend of mine, Robert, tried the Bloody Mary ritual. He explained how he did it in his bathroom, and sure enough the mirror opened up a portal to hell, and as he looked in, he saw other portals where other kids were performing the ritual, some of them being dragged into hell. Then he said blood poured out of the sink’s spout. He immediately turned on the lights and the portal closed, but the blood was still in the sink. So he cleaned it up and never told his parents what happened. This was the same kid that told me he had a hover-board, like the one in Back to the Future. I had my doubts about that. I mean, Robert was the only person to ever tell me about hover-boards, but Bloody Mary was a known fact.

Basically I was so disturbed by the legend of Bloody Mary I joined a squad of Templar and we went on a witch-hunt. My friend Jimmy was the leader, he found out that some of the girls in our class were going into the bathroom at recess to summon Bloody Mary. It became requisite to stop the heretics. So we burst into the bathroom as they were performing the ritual and gave them a real scare. They screamed. Looking back on this, those girls got the scare they were looking for, and it was hilarious. I, on the other hand, felt bad for going into the girl’s bathroom.

The craze of Bloody Mary sort of died down at school, but for years whenever I’d walk by the big mirrors in my living room at night. I’d feel kind of nervous, cause I knew that if the words Bloody Mary were to slip out of my tongue I would forever be a heretic.

Legends such as this were good fun when I was a child, but it wasn’t until I was 12, the age a boy becomes a man, that I heard the most fantastic and amazing story of my life.

I joined Boy Scouts at 12. My scoutmaster was an admirable man by the name of Ron. All the scouts loved him. He was knowledgeable about all things fun that Boy Scouts like to do, like camping, and video games. I went on my first Boy Scout week camp when I was 12. Ron would tell us many stories around the campfire. Some serious. But on that I would dwell on for the next year...

You know how sometimes you hear wind rushing over the mountains? Ron began.

No, I thought. I’ve never heard that. I nodded as if I knew what he was talking about. Our troop sat around the campfire.

You hear it sometimes, he continued. It happens when air moves in from the Pacific Ocean and condenses. It rushes over the mountains and down the slopes eventually turning into 40 to 60 miles per hour winds. Indians called the winds Snow Eaters.

I went camping with some guys I work with, Gary and Mark, a couple of years ago. Over in the Rockies, he pointed to the west. We heard the wind rushing over the mountain, and hunkered up in our tents to wait them out. I’m not going to lie and say that we thought our tents were going to be pulled from the ground. It really wasn’t that strong of a wind, but the tent was good protection from having dirt and twigs blown in our faces. It was a warm wind that lasted a couple hours. When it finally died down we were ready to do some fishing.

So we got out of our tents, and started putting our gear together. Then we heard the winds again. Dang! We were going to have to wait a little longer. The winds were different though. We could only hear them. We didn’t feel anything. The air was cool. Not only that, but it wasn’t just a constant wind over the mountain. It seemed to come in short bursts. And it didn’t sound quite the same. It was like a big, Whoosh, then a few seconds later another, Whoosh... Whoosh.

Mark thought it might be a wounded animal that got caught in the winds, so he went out to investigate. After a minute the whooshing sound stopped, so we figured he put the animal out of it’s misery. When he didn’t come back a few minutes later we thought maybe he decided to bury the animal. I would have just left it there, but Mark, that wasn’t his way. So me and Gary decided to go help him.

We didn’t find Mark, or any dead animal. Nothing. We searched around a bit. In a clearing we found a little blood on some rocks. That was it. No trail, nothing. Mark was just gone. We shouted his name a bit, and got no response, then figured he might be in trouble, so we packed up and headed for the Ranger Station. We never saw Mark again.

Ron had probably told us a dozen campfire stories before that. All of them obviously farce. This story was different though. Most of his stories ended with some climactic punchline that gave us all a good laugh. Not this one. This one wasn’t funny, it wasn’t about some random troop of boys or campers, it was a story that he himself had witnessed. That pretty much confirmed to me that it must be a true story. If Ron said some guy disappeared in the woods, I had every reason to believe him. Lots of people disappeared in the woods, so why not some guy that Ron knew?

I thought these creatures must be real.
My imagination went wild with the story. I mean it was the Whoosh sound that caught my attention. Though not being too descriptive, Ron made it pretty clear that it was some kind of flapping. Some kind of winged creature that had abducted Mark. It also happens that I had been playing Heroes of Might and Magic II where one of the fantasy creatures in the game was a Griffin. A bird strong enough to lift a man off he ground. I was so moved by the story that I told all my friends about how I knew a guy that knew a guy that disappeared in the forest. They said I was being silly. I tried to convince them it was true.

Then tragedy struck. One year later we had another week camp. As we gathered around the campfire Ron began to tell a story...

You know how some times you hear wind rushing over the mountains?

No, I thought, but I remember this story! I was glad to hear the story again, there were some details I’d forgotten.

Many years ago, Ron continued, before Columbus discovered America, three Indians were out fishing by the Rocky Mountains.

What?! Back up for a second, I thought. Three Indians? I thought it was you and two of your coworkers. This wouldn’t stand, What do you mean three Indians? I said aloud.

Let me tell the story, Ron replied.

I proceeded to listen to this alternate version of the story. All my friends that had told me the story was made up were right. It was just a silly story, and I had believed it. I liked believing it, and now my belief of it was shattered. There were no fantastic creatures in the woods. Nothing frightening at all. No risk of disappearing. The fun of the story was over.

A couple of years ago. In 2007, I set out on a four day backpacking trip in the Uinta Mountains. I was doing a basic trip down Henry’s Fork Trail up to King’s Peak, and then back out the same way. The first day went smoothly and I set up a nice campsite near a lake. On the second day things got a little rough. It rained and I admit, despite knowing that it would rain, I was unprepared. I ended up getting soaked and set up camp early to dry off. I had a cold lunch and later I briefly left my tent to make dinner. By that time, though, the rain had brought out the mosquitoes so I pretty much spent the rest of the evening in my tent doing some reading. Eventually nightfall came so I put away my book and went to bed.

Painter Basin. I heard strange noises here. Strange ones.
I heard something that night. I was awakened at 1 or 2AM to a whooshing sound. You can probably guess where my thoughts went after that. It was a whooshing sound followed by pounding on the ground, then a few seconds later another whooshing sound, and more pounding on the ground. Whoosh, whoosh, pound, pound. It sounded no further than a dozen yards to the east of my tent. Part of me wanted to peek out my tent, and shine my flashlight in that direction to see what it was, but I was afraid to startle this animal into attacking me. I mean seriously, this wasn’t some campfire story, I was actually listening to some sound I didn’t recognize. What’s worse is I had to go the bathroom, but there was no way, absolutely no way I was going out there with that creature. I mean for all I knew it was a bear. I didn’t know what a bear sounded like, but I knew there were bears in the region, so my best bet was to stay in my tent, and hope that I had cleaned up dinner well enough that it didn’t smell attractive to local wildlife.

The sound went on for about half an hour then stopped. I thought it may have been a dying animal that finally passed on. Or maybe it was some kind of bird that had gone out hunting and was beating it’s prey against the rocks. Whatever it was, it eventually stopped, and I felt okay to take a quick bathroom trip. So I did. As a matter of fact I shined my flashlight in the direction the sound had come from, but didn’t see anything but dirt. While I can’t say I slept well for the rest of the night, I did sleep, and woke up to sunlight in the morning. I looked about to investigate the source of the sound. Nothing.

I’ve heard weird sounds in the forest since then. I’m not really an expert on wildlife, so I’m pretty sure that all the sounds I’ve heard could be explained by someone more knowledgeable. I will say this, though, just wondering if it could be some fantastic thing is a real thrill. Knowing there could be some unknown danger is part of the fun of imagination. I suppose in some regards, telling fantastic stories is a reminder that there are real dangers. I did ask someone with more wildlife experience what the sound could have been. He had no idea. In fact, I think he suspected that I made it up.

I Was Supposed to be a Time Traveler - April 15, 2012

I was meant to be a time traveler. Some time in the future, maybe only a few years from now, some guys will make a game entitled The Journeyman Project. Being that this game was first published in 1993, you might think that it was already made. But it wasn’t made then, it hasn’t been made yet. It will be made in the future. You see, the makers of the game sent it back in time so that I could play it. To prepare me for my future career as a time traveler...

The first short story I ever wrote, back when I was in the third grade was about a kid named Johnny. He was from the future, and secretly used his dad’s time machine to come back to our time. Upon his arrival in the early 1990s he discovered the time machine was broken, and he had to fix it. He stole a Nintendo for the parts he needed, was caught by the police during the theft, went to trial, perjured himself, then ended up using a ray gun (set for stun) on everybody in the courthouse to get away and go back to the future. My mom didn’t like my story because Johnny lied in court, and another friend of mine pointed out that the story was strikingly similar to that of Back to the Future.

The TSA Logo. That’s the Temporal Security Agency. I liked this logo so much I printed it out and showed it to my friends.
In any case. I’ve always been fascinated with time travel, but it wasn’t until 1996 that I knew I was meant to be a time traveler. Specifically I was supposed to work for the TSA (no, not that TSA), the Temporal Security Agency. In 1996 I played The Journeyman Project Turbo for the first time.

In the game you play as a Agent 5, a TSA Agent (remember that’s Temporal Security Agency). Agent 5 is a time traveler whose responsibility is to make sure that no one alters history. If someone does, Agent 5 must go back in time and correct whatever has been changed. The game was fun enough, and most adventure gamers of the 90s will agree it’s pretty good, but for me it was more than pretty good, it was the most important game of my life. I knew the game had been made for me. The game was my training. I knew I was Agent 5, or at least I would become him. That’s why he was a nameless, nearly faceless, guy, because the game makers didn’t want it to be too obvious to me that it was me, but I knew it was. The Journeyman Project was my first phase of training. I must have played it three or four times, just to make sure I’d be ready for the future.

I knew I had more training to go, though. By the time I played the game, it had already been out for three years, and there was already a sequel, The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time. This would be the next step of my training. My copy of The Journeyman Project Turbo included a preview for the sequel. It seemed even more awesome than the first. I finally got the game for my birthday. I was all too ready to continue my training.

Gage Blackwood didn’t look a thing like me.
One thing kind of disappointed me about the sequel. Agent 5 now had a name and face. He was Gage Blackwood, and he had long hair. All I could think was that I didn’t have long hair and my name wasn’t Gage. How could the guys from the future have gotten that so wrong? Then I realized that they couldn’t use my real name, that would be too obvious. All that really mattered was that I played the games, so that I would receive my training, and know what challenges awaited me in the future. It was a cool game too. It has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard in my life. And, on a side note, there was a music video in the game by some guy named Geno Andrews, who I coincidentally saw credited as the writer, director, and star of the film Cold Play (2008), and couldn’t help but wonder if it was the same guy. It was.

The Buried in Time jumpsuit. My own jumpsuit was similar in design with a spherical helmet.
The new feature of the second game, was that no longer did a TSA agent need a time machine to jump through time, instead they had jumpsuits. Literally suits that could jump through time at any moment. As part of my training I decided to make my own jumpsuit. It consisted of a helmet made of paper-mache and a puffy winter coat. I would play around in my backyard while wearing this suit that I had. Mostly I’d play at night, cause I didn’t want anyone seeing me at fourteen years old preparing for my future time travel escapades. It was important to me, though. I wanted to make sure I’d feel comfortable in a jumpsuit. One time I got caught walking around in my time travel suit, by my next door neighbors. They called my mom to ask what I was doing. She didn’t know anything about my future career as a time traveler.

After finishing Buried in Time the years went on. The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time came out a few years later. I knew I would eventually have to play it, but I kept putting it off. My brother eventually got the game in 2000, and I briefly played it, but one of the disks was scratched, so I couldn’t finish it. After that it was pretty hard to find a copy of the game. I did end up getting a rare copy of The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime, a remake of the original game, which had only come out for Macintosh. I even bought a used iMac so I could play it. As time passed, however, I pretty much forgot that I was supposed to be a time traveler.

Gage got a haircut in the most recent installment.
Then about a month ago The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time was released on Good Old Games. I bought it immediately. I’d waited too long already. I’m pretty sure that by now I was already supposed to be a time traveler, but the Temporal Security Agency hadn’t contacted me yet since I hadn’t played the final game in the series. It was about time I completed my training. I played it, and it was awesome. Truly one of the best games I’ve played in a while (and you can check out all the games I’ve played).

I’m sad to report, however, that upon finishing it, I wasn’t contacted by the TSA. Maybe I delayed my final phase of training for too long. Maybe my training isn’t actually complete and there will be a fourth game in the series. That’s what I hope anyway, that my training just isn’t complete. I really hope these games weren’t sent back in time for someone else, cause seriously, I know it’s supposed to be me.

Categories: Video Game Reviews

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