Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Professional Adventurer

So, I've decided to be a professional adventurer. Like they had back around the turn of the 20th century. I'm going to do it by hunting large, dangerous game, and then I'm going to write about it. But I'm not going to just hunt them. Oh, no. I'm going to hunt them with nothing but a SPEAR! Well, maybe a large knife, too, but yeah, you get the idea. All over the world. Starting here in the States. I'm going to bag at least one of every species of bear here, and then move on to cougars, maybe even moose. I'll collect hides, claws, and scars like a real man, and then I'll move on. Lions in Africa, tigers in India, jaguars in South America, crocodiles in Australia. Among others in all of those places and more, all over the world. Maybe even sharks! If it's considered a stupid idea to attack something with hardly more than a sharpened stick, then I'll do just that. Only I won't be stupid, cause I'm a bad-ass. And I'll write/blog about my adventures. And post pictures of my scars (which will be many and varied, I assure you).

I came up with this idea quite a while back, actually. Some friends and I were actually talking about muzzle loader hunting, and how it was a shame that modern "in-line" muzzle loaders are no less accurate and have about the same range as a modern, single-shot rifle. I, for one, applaud and agree with Idaho's law that says muzzle loaders mean traditional, and these modern things are kinda cheating. That conversation came around to how cross bows are almost as bad, and compound bows are getting up there anymore, too. So I decided I would be a purist, and started looking at recurve and long bows, some of which are pretty good. But that got me to thinking: How far, exactly, could one take this type of purism? Pretty far, I guess, right down to fighting animals naked with our bare hands. But that's just taking bad-assitude to a ridiculous level. I figure God gave us the ability to make tools as a kind of equalizer in the animal kingdom. So, what's a step above bare hands? Just a rock, or a knife. Also ridiculous. I'm a bad-ass, not a masochist. So, I go to the next step: spears. I would even go so far as to limit the types of material I use for the heads. Not so much as obsidian tips, but definitely only iron. And then I thought that this would be a great way to work in my future passion for blacksmithing! I could make my own spears. I figured I'd carry two and a long knife, for the close, dirty work, and still be the ultimate hunting purist. In fact, that's what I'd call the column! The Ultimate Hunting Purist. I would go out wearing buckskin pants, over-the-calf moccasin boots, and not much more, as most anything on my upper body would likely get destroyed. Except when I was hunting in cold environs: again, bad-ass, not masochist. Then I would have a bear-skin jacket.

Can you imagine the stories that I would have? Not just traveling the world, safari type stories, either. Any hunting writer can get those. Real, man-vs.-beast stories. Some countries, like in Africa, require foreign hunters to go out with a prfessional hunter (or PH as they call it) and beaters, porters, and bursars. Real "stuffy-British-guy" type hunting, where all you do is take the shot. Well, to satisfy the laws, I would take them with me, but I would still hunt MY way. Can you imagine the mad props I would get from those PH's? Or even, and especially, the locals hired as porters? Man, just showing my scars at camp would earn me a bit of loyalty. I would have to make the "don't try this at home" speech all the time, but my position in annuls of the bad-ass would be cemented!

And for the anti-hunters that would no doubt find a way to protest my activities as cruel, I would tell them that the animals have just as much or a better chance of surviving this little "game" of mine as I do. The only real advantage I'd have is that I'm much more of a bad-ass.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Red Dead Remption

If you don't want to know more about Red Dead Redemption, then stop reading until you're ready to see this stuff.

I just finished the "plot" game-line of Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption. Now, I know a few of you will gasp and tsk at me for playing one of Rockstar's games, but it's not the only one I've played. I even enjoyed, to a degree, their Grand Theft Auto series. But Redemption completely blew me away.

Gameplay wise it was awesome. The story is linear and easily understandable, yet also easy to identify with. It did tend toward the violent, but the old west was a violent time and place, with bad languish and worse people. The only difference between it and most of other noir westerns out there is it actually show the violence. The fight system seems like a close relative of GTA, and there's nothing wrong with that. The menus are easily navigable, making items easily used, while not detracting from the immersion. And there is that, in spades.

Graphics are expectedly awesome. How cool would it be to go back only 30 years ago and show die-hard Pong players a modern game. I think it would scare them, to be honest. Or they would want to know what movie it was we were watching. And THEN they would be frightened to learn that it was a video game. Or, better yet, pull that trick on one of the skeptics that claimed video games to be a passing fad. The game "world" is rendered beautifully. It ranges from high, snow capped peaks to low, Mexican arroyos. And everything in between. Deserts, plains, rolling farm land, river bottom, pine forest, everything. There are several, well rendered and believable animal species, all living in their respective ecosystems. And you can hunt them, too, whenever you want, for extra achievements.

The story, ah the story. It follows John Marshton, an outlaw turned good. You are trying to save your family from an unnamed government agency that is holding them hostage so you will hunt down your former gang members. So, you're caught between the twin titans of organized crime and evil government, and you've got to survive. Eventually John finishes off his old gang leader, the last of the criminals you have to hunt down, and goes back to his family, where there are a half dozen or so missions that are no more violent than herding your cows or taking your son hunting. You find out here that your wife is in the same boat as you, she's a former "working girl" trying to make good by you. And your son is in the pangs of puberty trying to deal with both of his parents turbid pasts. And then the "Agency" comes to hunt you down, being the last one that really knows what went on while being under their direct control. John Marshton dies, saving his family, and the story begins following a teenage Jack (Johns' son). A cut scene shows that several years have passed and now Abigail, John's wife, is buried next to him on the hill overlooking their farm. At this point, Jack stands up, now grown, and wearing his dad's hat and guns. He steps into the saddle and rides off. From here, the only part of the central plot left is to hunt down the agent responsible for your father's death. You beat him in a dual and ride off. They did it in such a way as to really pull you in. Your character through most of the game was a BAD man, but he's trying to make good. And you really identify with him. He REALLY loves his wife and son, and nothing will sway him from that. At one point you are saved by a pretty, spinster-rancher woman named Bonnie, and in the course of your adventures, she makes it known that she's interested in you. You more than politely decline and make it clear that you're married and will stay that way. It's one of the few times you really have no choice in the game. John Marshton is faithful. Period. The game is "open sandbox" type, and for the most part you can do what you want. Most of the side missions have you picking a side. Do you help the law by bringing the fleeing criminal down, or do you help the criminal by ambushing the lawmen? Do you earn A LOT of money by carrying out the contract on the life of a prominent voice in the temperance movement, or do you earn nothing and warn the orator of the contract on him? Not to mention you can just do free play and go hunting (or something), or just decide to go midevil and massacre an entire town. For the most part it's up to you, and the level of graphic violence tends to follow personal choices of the player.

I do have to make a note on the music. Wow, just wow. The composers decided that in order to keep the noir western feel of the game and story, they would only write in the key of A minor with 130 beats per minute. It sounds restricting, but man, they did wonders with the music. there was one part, about a third of the way through the main story line that you find yourself in Mexico. Newly arrived, it's night, it's raining, and you're alone in a foreign land. You start riding towards a place where you can sleep (and save the game) thinking that it's another boring ride across the desert when the first song with actual lyrics cuts in. It's entitled "Far Away" and sung by a talented artist named Jose Gonzalez, and wow. Just wow. It's all I can say. "At that point I almost believed that my name was John," to quote a commenter on one of the YouTube videos for the song. I don't have to say I bought the soundtrack, too. I rarely do that for MOVIES, and this is a video game. I'm listening to it as I write.

All in all, it was a great game, and those don't come around too often. It's one of the few that I'll actually play to completion, not just to the end of the main story line. I already have a good hat, now all I need is an old duster....

While it is a great game, I would not recommend it for kids.