Mark Sachs (ksleet) wrote,
Mark Sachs
ksleet

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Complaining about media is the American way!

I guess there's kind of spoilers for 24 a little. Not so much really if you've been watching it though. Also Final Fantasy XII and special guest star Danger: UXB!


Final Fantasy XII

All right, there is finally something I don't like about this game. Specifically, it's the Esper (summon) system.

I don't mind their use in battle: whereas in previous FF games a summon spell was simply a fancy way to do a lot of damage, in this one a summoned creature fights alongside the character who summoned it for a minute or so before delivering a big attack as a payoff. It adds a lot of interest and character, even (or perhaps especially?) with the added risk that whatever you're fighting might beat down the Esper before it can do its thing. The odd downside is that the Esper isn't really as powerful as your characters can be when properly developed, so the summon is a bit of a waste of time.

What really I don't like is the way you obtain Espers: you have find them as a hidden boss (generally) and defeat them. And I don't like that because it ruins the many puzzles in FFXII. When I started the game I knew there were lots of areas I couldn't access yet, either because the monsters were too high-level or because some puzzle was blocking my progress. I was eagerly looking forward to later in the game: wow, what kind of treasure is at the bottom of the Garamsythe Waterway? Or deep inside the Barheim Passage? Or on top of the summit in the Mosphoran Highwaste? I couldn't wait to find out.

It turns out that the "reward" for solving this puzzles is an Esper battle. After struggling so hard to get to the deepest part of Dungeon X, the exit slams shut and then you have to fight some horrific thing which is far too high in level compared to the monsters guarding it, and also imposes ridiculous condition on the battle such as "can't use magic" or "HP drains automatically" or "player not permitted to defeat boss." That's not a reward. That's a punishment! It's destroyed my desire to do any more sidequests, since the ultimate "reward" is just a boss fight that will kill me, and even if I beat it all I get is an Esper that's not really going to be that useful.

Don't get me wrong -- I love video games. But I seem to have developed an aggressively pragmatic attitude towards them over the past several years. When they stop being fun I drop them like a hot potato. So I'm not sure I have much desire to push through to the end of FFXII at this point, even though I'm pretty close -- "well, you're so close, might as well finish it," you might say; "and what does that gain me?" I might reply; and you'd be hard pressed to answer, wouldn't you? I figured as much.

I don't blame the game, really. Blame the playa, instead. On to Rogue Galaxy, perhaps.

24

OK, so. I have to ask, is this whole nuclear bomb scam going to turn out to be ultimately the responsibility of the same shadowy cabal of rich white American guys that's been behind all acts of crime, war, or terrorism in TV and movies for the past thirty years? Because if it is -- Boring, folks. It's been done. Someday there's going to be a movie whose theme is not "we have met the enemy and he is us" and hundreds of people all over this great land will die of surprise.

That being said, I admire Jack Bauer's intelligent actions here. When he found out an important lead on the bomb plot, he didn't go along with the "gosh, Jack, to protect the family let's just keep this on the down-low, okay?" scheme. He immediately called CTU, he told them everything he learned, he didn't shade the truth one iota, he even called for backup to be on the scene. I mean, it didn't help out in the end, of course, but it's not his fault.

Danger: UXB

"Don't... don't you have to volunteer for bomb disposal, sir?"
"No... don't think so. None of us did. You look like a bright chap, though, you'll soon get the hang of it."


Netflixed this British drama (from the '70s, it looks like?) about a bomb disposal unit in World War II, whose job it is to disarm Nazi bombs that had fallen on London but failed to explode. The rate of attrition in the unit is understandably pretty high. The show is full of absolutely black humor, and pretty darned gripping. I don't know if I'll grab every episode like I did with The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. but I don't regret seeing what I have so far.
Tags: games, media
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