Chapter 3 Part 1
Here we get to the most inexplicable part of this LP: there are long and short versions of this video, and the short one is just the first half and a bit of change of the long one. It even cuts off Diabetus in mid-sentence. Seriously, what the hell? I think some Sanity Slippage
may have been creeping in, between this and the China comment.
It’s now seven months later, and a helpful reporter fills us in that Grant City’s mayor, Pinnacle, has rushed Jack’s execution under protest from challenger Gloria Exner. Jack himself has apparently just been sitting on his ass this whole time, but tonight is his date with the chair. He chats with another prisoner known as Preacher, who Diabetus thinks is played by Erik King
. He isn’t, though it does sound a lot like him. We learn some more names: Tattoo is planning a breakout for tonight, and Wire Boy claims to know a way to live through the chair. Some real hardened cons you got here. And we also meet Warden Sickle, a character who in his own way is just as ridiculous as Patch. They were clearly going for a Shawshank Redemption-esque corrupt warden with a grudge against the hero, but went way, way over the top with it. Sickle is literally a giggling, drooling psychopath who walks around in a Nazi uniform, and it’s completely ridiculous that he could become a prison warden.
The level begins, and you immediately just beat up a bunch of prisoners. No rhyme or reason, just pure fisticuffs. Here they’re separated into convicts and lifers; the latter don’t wear the orange shirt and have sunglasses. I have no explanation. Also, every time you enter a cell block the camera moves high overhead so that it almost feels like you’re playing a Game Boy, and fighting becomes a bit trickier. Thanks for the new way to Camera Screw
, Namco. The guys do a whole skit based on the upbeat music from the news report, but I prefer Diabetus’ comment right afterwards on how the guards are doing nothing to stop the huge brawl. And somehow, it’s from one of the prisoners that you get an access card that lets you into the hallway. I get the feeling logic wasn’t a big sticking point for the writer here.
In the hall Jack comments that he put a good deal of these prisoners where they are. I guess the attempt to give some sense to this is nice. “So are you fighting your way to your execution? I’ve got an appointment with the chair!” “Get out of my way!” “I want to die!” We also hear a conversation that’s just a Kick the Dog
for Sickle (not a literal one, though that’s coming) and the guys chat about just how stupid the character is.
Upon reaching the workshop, they’ve moved on to how this prison is like a hotel, with all the cell doors open and everyone just able to wander where they please. Jack needs a key to get in to see Wire Boy, so more fighting! “What did you do to provoke these guys?” “Well, I need a key.” “You told them sewing was for gays.” And may I add, we were never told to go here; Jack was simply railroaded to the workshop by his lack of other access cards. Pretty convenient.
Wire Boy turns out to be a nerdy yet arrogant guy who would in all likelihood get shanked on his first day. His big plan is simply to put battery acid on the chair’s conduits, which will actually shut down the whole building’s power for a bit because the chair is so old. Or something like that. The important part is that he’ll only hand the acid over for 25 packs of cigarettes and advises Jack to start with the gym.
Yeah, this is where the game came closest to losing me. They were doing more good than bad before now. Level one gives a nice overview of the various gimmicks without being too hard, and level two, stripping game aside, is a fun bit of cheap excitement as you try out those techniques in a variety of areas. Then it ends with a hint that the game’s story is more complex than Max Payne
’s very simple revenge plot, and ideally the player should now be burning to get out of jail, find out what’s really going on, and bring sweet justice to those responsible. And yet we now have to waste all this time on an inane Fetch Quest
for cigarettes. It’s like they were actually trying to completely kill the mood.
On the way into the gym, Jack passes a “Johnny Irish stereotype cop” who figures he wants to leave a good-looking corpse. Are we watching North
all of a sudden?
Jack: These guys are the perfect picture of good health.
Slowbeef: Who are you even cracking wise to?
So despite that insulting line telling us to go to the gym, only three packs of the 25 can be collected here. The first comes from a guy named Stinger who teaches you how to resist being thrown. So I was wrong; it actually is impossible in level two. Rather oddly, you have to completely beat him up rather than just break his grip a certain number of times. Diabetus now notices the cigarette counter, which “looks like an Interstate road sign.” Eh, kind of a stretch. They also have time to go over How We Got Here
: “Why do you need to cause a prison blackout when it’s not staffed?”
Next up is the speed bag, and beating the record of a bald guy with a Cockney accent. Diabetus makes another stretch by calling him Jason Statham despite the voice sounding nothing like Statham’s. This time you have to tap buttons in different rhythms, scoring 151 hits within two minutes. It’s a little harder than these things usually are as there’s no music, meaning you’re completely on your own to keep the rhythm and adapt to new ones. The guys are soon reduced to a bunch of sarcastic remarks about how exciting this is, before Jack’s last hit is given the What Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome?
treatment. Sorry, but hits on a speed bag just cannot look strong as well.
Finally, there’s lifting a barbell, hosted by a guy who’s German…Hungarian…I really have no idea. “This prison is an ethnic melting pot!” This one’s a little more complicated: you have to push one button enough to keep a line in a small area in the middle of one bar long enough for another bar to fill up, which is when you quickly push another button to lift the weights. There’s three levels of weight that each have three stages, and the line on the first bar goes down more quickly the more weight there is. Now this is one that I actually like; it’s decently challenging and has a complexity that keeps it from getting boring but still is easy to grasp once you start playing. The one weird part even has nothing to do with the game itself: the actual weights don’t look nearly as heavy as we’re told, and consequently Jack having so much trouble with them makes him look like a wimp.
Plenty of fun with that fact: “I hit a bag 151 times, I got to level 4!” Then they’re done, with 22 more packs to get. Yeah, that tip really paid off. “Three is kind of like 25, so let’s see if that’s enough.” “Is this enough to get you executed?” Slowbeef briefly gets lost, which he actually doesn’t have nearly as much of a problem with as I did. Everything looks the same in this level (which I know makes sense, but why start now?) and it’s way too big for this part of the story as I said before.
Jack is met by the Tobias Beecher
of the prison, who offers Jack another pack to beat up a guy named Mad Dog who’s been threatening him. Wow, a whole other pack? This gets him a new access card, plus a warning that Mad Dog is “one big-ass slice of pie.” Yes, that’s how prisoners talk. “Jack, have you ever heard of haggling? Trying to get more than one pack of cigarettes?” You can really feel the pain in Diabetus’ voice there, realizing how much more of this he’s in for.
More fighting, which actually gives them a bit of Fridge Brilliance
: how would you feel about Jack Slate after being locked up with him for seven months, listening to him try to be witty? Another conversation about a prisoner who’s offering cigarettes for beating him at arm wrestling. Foreshadowing
! But that’s forgotten when an enemy just starts walking away in the middle of a fight. “I think I’ve made my point.”
It’s cell block B, which means more fighting with that stupid overhead angle. Though now some of the enemies drop cigarette packs, so the Fetch Quest
as bad as it seemed until now. Though the guys note that things will improve once Jack’s prowess on the speed bag gets around. Slowbeef gets into how the AI will forget about you if you go upstairs or to the far side of the room; yeah, I had a lot of fun with that one. Then Mad Dog comes down, and we find that Tobias Beecher’s real name is Timmy. “Answer me this: if you were in prison would you ever go by Timmy?” “Not unless I was really gay.” More whiny sketch about Timmy, to cover how this is just a normal fight that just takes a bit longer. And Timmy’s response: “I owe you one, Jack. Word.” Understandably, this is another time they can’t resist laughing during a cutscene.
Seems the prison doesn’t need guards as first aid kits are in most of the cells, and there’s those unpassable cordons around the whole place. That’s the kind of stuff they have to talk about, as the game now makes you walk all the way back to get to C block, with the card Mad Dog dropped. Did the writer just not understand how prisons work? “Automatic doors too.” “Prison inmate, let me through.” More hallway fighting, where Slowbeef notices the lifers’ sunglasses for the first time. Always fun when that happens. Followed by the worst Exact Eavesdropping
yet involving a guard whose picture of his ugly girlfriend has been stolen. Komedy!
In the cell block, Jack has to clear everyone out so that arm wrestler from before will talk to him. You mean there’s actually a reason for fighting the whole room this time? This game has some odd ideas of when explanations are necessary. Plus, Camera Screw
that gets you walking right back out of the room, but goes unnoticed. Troperrific conversation about how this could be considered a puzzle, and these little detours aren’t even Fetch Quests, but “a World of Warcraft quest within another World of Warcraft quest.” Never played the game, so I have no idea what that means. It’s also the action game equivalent of Forced Level-Grinding
, a statement I can definitely get behind. At one point Jack hits the space shared by two enemies’ hit boxes and knocks them both down: “That rarely happens, but it’s good when it does.” Definitely. Jack is almost dead by the end of the fight, and apparently Slowbeef decided to make it more exciting by not getting those med kits in the cells.
Now, arm wrestling! It’s almost the same game as the barbell with the bars tilted 90 degrees, but with the added challenge of an occasional move from your opponent knocking the line a bit to the side. Again, pretty fun game, though it makes a bit less sense here. Shouldn’t this work as the more you push, the better? Then that guard mentioned before shows up, and gives Jack the next access card to get his picture back. Again, the game picks a pretty weird time to start making sense. “A prisoner’s bullying me! I don’t know what to do!” “He’s down with Wire Boy and Timmy.” “He saved Timmy? Word!”
There’s a couple med kits that for some reason only fill the health bar a little more than halfway. That’s another thing that could have been touched up: there’s different kinds of health restoring items, but they all look the same. The usual hallway fighting in Cell Block D that doesn’t even get you any more packs, plus the guards don’t even talk anymore. “They figured no one would play this far anyway.” “Just make the rest of the level the stripper game.” Slowbeef does acknowledge that he was pretty stupid to not fill up his health before this.
Cell Block D, so more overhead fighting with the added twist that you’re stuck on the ground floor, which limits how many med kits you can run to. “The best part is later, Timmy comes to cheer you on.” One of the enemies says “Impress me, hero” which Diabetus repeats with a lisp. Oh, how many times are you going to go to that well?
This is also where that number of level designers comes in, as apparently one of them decided to put a pair of desks at the rear wall for no reason. Kind of a weak payoff there; I prefer to think he was foreshadowing the Obvious Beta
of level 14. Patience, we’ll get there. Oh, and one of the guys Jack beats up apparently pees blood, which somehow goes unnoticed (though not by the Viddler commenters).
Weird little cutscene of the guard walking down the stairs once you defeat everyone, which opens up the upper level. “He just looks at all the bodies and says ‘Well, my shift’s over.’” The picture is up there, but once you grab it the thief returns with two buddies. So another perfunctory boss fight, though at least this one’s a bit more earned than the others. Slowbeef tries to talk with a straight face about how much strategy this requires before he cracks and says it’s just another regular fight against a guy with higher defense than normal. “Can you arm wrestle him to death?” “You have to punch a small bag into his face.” He also finally notes the awkward overhead camera angle, when he briefly gets stuck fighting under the catwalk so he can’t see a thing. And quite understandably, now that they’re almost done getting cigarettes, Diabetus needs to be reminded what they’re for.
So with the picture in hand, the game once again makes you walk all the way back to hand it over. “The guard there is like, ‘great fight, Jack.’” “Oh, is it Tuesday again?
” They’re forced to fill the time with more cracks about the lack of guards; luckily, none of the other levels have so much downtime so the commentary will soon get better again. The picture gets Jack his last pack, though he can’t resist calling the woman a pachyderm. “He couldn’t even think of anything funny to say there. He’s just like, ‘Oh, she’s fat.’” Then an abrupt end to the video, thanks to how ungodly long this level is. Next time: the breakout, after which things thankfully get a little more fun again.
edited 30th May '10 1:52:43 PM by Eegah