Monday, September 08, 2008

I've Pre-Ordered

This game is the reason the Nintendo Wii was invented. It may be the reason video gaming was invented. I say "may" only because of the miraculous advances in medicine in the 80s when researchers finally discovered a cure for Pac Man Fever.
I've long wanted to wield my very own lightsaber. Mostly in staff meetings, sure, but it is a persistent ache, deep in the geekiest inner core of my being.
There have been games in the past where it was possible to use one, but the controls have always been more about mashing 'A' than slicing the controller through the air.
This has created a certain distance between reality and the lightsaber in game, a distance which has grown less with newer technology to be sure, but a tangible distance separating the lightsaber from a blissful geek.
While I've avoided demos and screenshots of The Force Unleashed, I was inadvertently exposed when Gwynyth dragged us into a Gamestop last week.
The demo itself is a couple of cut scenes and a single level of game play.
I could not help but pick up the controller. It . . . called to me.
I think it must be like when Shana passes a red sign in the mall which states "40% off the already reduced price".
I would assume the feeling is the same, like having one's soul exist as a string from head to foot gently but insistently pulled in a direction on an almost subconscious level. There is no reason to resist the pull. There is no desire to, either.
Darth Vader instructed me to kill a bunch of people using my Force skills. I was totally on board with that.
In fact, even without the pep talk from the Dark Lord of the Sith, I'd probably have been pretty okay with it.
I swung the lightsaber around a little bit and destroyed a couple of droids. Gwynyth was shocked and disappointed with me.
"Dark Side, Sweetie," I explained, patting her on the head while using the Force to pick up a crate and smash it into another droid.
She stopped watching at that point, which kind of makes the rest of this okay.
I reached the end of a hallway and was informed that I could use a Force push to open the door.
This door did not slide gently open. It bent in the middle, crumpled like tissue and fell in. On top of a Stormtrooper.
The next Stormtrooper was a little quicker, managing to fire off a couple of easily deflected blaster bolts before I got the targeting right to pick him up and toss him off a catwalk. He screamed when he fell.
After wiping the wet, hot tears of sheer joy out of my field of vision, I entered a hangar area of some kind.
There were TIE Fighters and large crates and a lot of foolish, foolish people shooting at me.
I picked up a large box of something and flung it at a group of them. Most did not get back up, the survivors I hurled into hangar walls and TIE Fighter hulls.
At one point, I picked up a Stormtrooper and threw him into a large group of other Stormtroopers, then into a wall, then through a Transparisteel window.
Force lightning took care of a few of the stragglers and a few more fell to the red twirling blade of death I had become.
As a gamer, I feel it quite likely that my whole gaming life has been leading up to that moment, right there in some random Gamestop, long after my family had moved on to some other store with a gentle "I've got my phone" whispering against the back of my consciousness as the only sign that I was alone.
Force lightning crackled against a bulkhead as I slammed an engine housing into steel doors in front of me, battering them loudly, the backswings punctuated by the panicked sounds of the Stormtroopers on the other side making plans to defy my advance.
How dare they!?!
Do they not see what they are up against!?!
Do they really believe their pathetic technology can stand against the power of the Dark Side!?!
Part of me knows they do not. They merely make plans because that is all they know. They are unenlightened creatures clinging to the faint hope of their own possible survival.
That part of me is the inner geek, finally swinging a lightsaber around.
The inner geek does not intend to stop.
Later on in the game, I gather there are other locations and enemies. At some point, a rancor like Jabba's must be defeated. And there are other Force users to defeat. But I could be happy if the whole game was set right in that first hangar area if only it didn't completely run out of Stormtroopers so fast.

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