There have been a few recent shooters that are supposed to put the main character through some kind of psychological terror. Far Cry 2′s hunt for the world’s most dangerous speed reader (did they only book the recording studio for four hours or something?) had laughable allusions to Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness. Like calling the last level “Heart of Darkness”. Far Cry 3 had Flight of the Valkaryies and a speech about insanity, in case you didn’t get that the character delivering it was supposed to to be insane. Spec Ops: The Line did a somewhat better job with the material. But nothing can rival the unintentional descent into madness that is White Gold.
After the jump, welcome to the bungle
The final island is surrounded by bad juju. There’s storm clouds in the sky, and any aircraft that approach will be slammed into the deck by an unseen force. Seems the gods or the developers don’t want you bypassing enemy territory, a long horizontal stretch of ascending land, as if God wanted to make a giant staircase. I’m actually taking a seaplane out there, and since I’m only a few feet off the water I survive unscathed. The force keeps me from gaining altitude, but fixed wing aircraft are always a bitch to fly in these games anyways. I use the seaplane like a speedboat on steroids and zoom to shore.
As Myers passes through the gates of an ancient ruin, he meets his most fearsome enemy yet: half-naked guys in loincloths with blow guns and spears. Seriously, it takes several center-of-mass shots to drop these guys, and they hit for mucho damage. I find out later that stimpacks weren’t helping much because I got addicted to them after blowing through so many on the tanker. How appropriate for a game about narcotics. On top of all that, the hordes of tribesmen seem endless. Now I know why they had a friendly tribal faction, so you don’t feel like you’re committing genocide.
After playing hide and seek with the natives for fifteen minutes I give up on trying to exterminate the brutes and just bunnyhop to the end of the island, where a giant ziggauraut awaits. As I climb the steps the game ends with a non-interactive cutscene. For some reason I thought the head villain was going to transform into the avatar of Quetazacotl or something. Or turn out to be Marlon Brando, who tries to drive Myers to suicide with shitty method acting. I should have known a boss fight would have blown the developer’s budget. And I went through a bunch of trouble to cram an RPG into my inventory. Oh well. I’ll use it on those three guys standing in a line near the pyramid when I reload my last save.
Myers confronts the cult chieftain, who rants about wanting revenge on white people for destroying their culture. A montage shows natives wreaking havoc on the previous islands, with storm clouds filling the skies. Someone scales the wall behind Don Guillermo’s back and stabs him in the heart. Now I know why they made him an unkillable NPC. Holy shit, is that old Diego kneeling with all the other people they’re executing? That’s harsh. Myers has had enough of this crap. “How dare you insult my God with your Imm-Pee-Tee” croaks the chieftain. “I dare? I dare because I don’t believe in them” snarls Myers before dropping the madman with his Colt Revolver. Richard Dawkins would be proud.
I would have preferred to hack his evil ass to death with a machete myself. Everybody wanted me to do it, him most of all. I felt like he was up there, waiting for me to take the pain away. I think he just wanted to go out like a soldier, standing up. By which I mean being hacked to death with a machete.
As he walks away, Myers suddenly delivers a when-will-the-killing-end soliloquy. “I’m tired. People kill each other because of money. People kill each other because of politics. People kill each other because of faith. Suggest getting back to a whole nation because of something their forefathers did three hundred years ago, and thousands of supporters will rally to you, killing and plundering. Will people ever learn to forgive? Will the fanatics ever understand that the evil they inflict will someday return. And if they do, will that stop them? I don’t know. I only know, that I’m very tired.”
Like Martin Sheen at the end of Apocalypse Now, Myers is a broken man. He’s seen the heart of darkness within all of us, and learned, as Conan the Barbarian guy put it: “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”
I just hope the natives are standing there awestruck now that their cult leader is dead, just like at the end of Apocalypse Now. Otherwise it’s going to be a long walk/hop back to the boat. I mean seaplane.
Sapper Gopher is a software developer who works mostly in Java. Appropriately enough, he was in Tahiti last month.