“You’re doing what?”
“A game diary. Tom asked me to do a game diary.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“Well,” I clear my throat and take another bite of soup, trying not to look like I’m stalling. “Well, I play my way through a game and write about the experience. Taking notes along the way, kind of like I do with movies. We post the bits I write as entries, like journal entries. It’s one of Tom’s ideas for the relaunch.”
As she takes a bite of salad and mulls this over, I get our six-year old boy to eat another green bean and try to gauge my wife’s demeanor. Her suspicious look has not yet emerged —
Oh, I spoke too soon.
After the jump, I bring dishonor to my family.
“Wait a minute!” Wendy is smiling, but it’s that I’m-onto-you smile.
“What?” Innocent. Matter-of-fact. “Eat another green bean, buddy.” Such a good dad.
“So you started the podcast, and that meant you had to go to the movies more often…”
“Now you’re doing this game diary thing,” she closes her eyes, shaking her head in disbelief. “So you will have to play more games!”
I actually hadn’t thought about it that way.
“Well, kind of.” How’m I gonna put this so it sounds good? “See, Tom knows I don’t have a lot of time for playing games — another green bean, buddy…good — so I’ll be putting in whatever time I can. And to start, we’ve chosen a pretty quick game.”
“Uh-huh.” She shakes her head again, but I can tell her attitude has moved from gotcha to amusement. My wife is super cool about stuff like this. She makes time for me to go out to the movies once a week, which isn’t easy when you’ve got a first grader living in the house. And there’s not many Significant Others who would be cool with the husband leaving the house every Thursday night for six to eight hours of gaming with his buddies. The key, of course, is in invoking the name of Tom. She likes him. Most do. He’s like that friend you had as a kid that your parents trusted more than they trusted you:
“What’s the movie about?”
“I’m not really sure. It has frat guys sitting on blocks of ice in their underwear.”
“Tom wanted to see it. His mom’s taking us.”
“Oh, it’s Tom! Okay then go ahead. Have fun honey.”
Wendy looks at me again and nods. “Let me know when they go up. I want to read them.”
And now I sit here on the floor of my office, my XBOX controller in my lap, staring vacantly at the words on my television screen…
CASE ONE TIME EXPIRED
I’ve failed. The game has just informed me that I have failed. Not even valiantly. Overwhelmed by zombie hordes as I protect some helpless waif. I failed because I allowed a timer to run out that I didn’t even know was there, because I’m an idiot, and now some dudes have put me and my pal Frank down on the floor and cuffed us. What? Where’d all the zombies go?
“THE TRUTH HAS VANISHED,” the game now informs me. Yeah, yeah. I get it. I’ve let you down. But no, that’s not enough. The game now has to rub it in by saying, “THE TRUTH HAS VANISHED INTO DARKNESS.” I get it, okay? I failed. I get it. But seriously, what’s with these goofballs arresting me and Frank?
Heavy sigh. I’ve brought dishonor to my family.
It was all going so well, too. I’d finally figured out the deal with Maintenance Rooms, which is where you go to make combo weapons. So instead of just running around smacking zombies I’ve constructed a couple of things. A football with grenades duct-taped to it, for instance. That was my first combo weapon, and I love it because it helped me level up pretty quickly. That is, it helped me level up once I learned how to aim and throw it away from myself. I only had to restart twice before I learned this lesson. Can’t say I’m not a quick study.
I learned how to give Frank stuff. I haven’t figured out why this matters yet, since he’s a total douche when it comes to using the cool weapons I give him. At the beginning of one save — OH! That’s another thing I figured out! How to save! You go to the bathroom, HA! — I gave him one of my cool security rifles. “Look Frank,” I said gravely. “Save this for when we get up to the security tower.” Did he? No. He emptied the clip into a bunch of vanilla zombies as soon as we left the bathroom and went back to his bat. Now that gun is gone forever. Jerk. I can’t really get too mad at him, though. He’s a pro with that bat, so why bother with accepting weapons from me?
I’m having trouble getting a bead on Frank. To be honest, he’s kind of creeping me out. I mean, what’s with the camera? He’s got a camera hanging around his neck and every now and then he’ll snap a picture of me and exclaim, “Yeah! That’s a good one!” in a borderline seventies-porn voice. Another thing, even though he’s constantly moaning and groaning and complaining about his back he refuses to accept any food. Look, if you’re not going to take the food and heal up stop bitching and moaning.
Of course, every time I complain he just reminds me that he has “covered wars” and can take care of himself. I have no idea what that first thing is about, but the second thing is definitely true, so I shut up. But I’m not giving him another rifle. Or a grenade-football. He pulled the same crap with that as with the rifle. Discretion, Frank! Is that too much to ask?
Frank West. He has covered wars you know.
Yeah yeah, I know. Doesn’t help that he can’t read a freaking timer any better than I can.
I reload and jump back in the game, but I’ve painted myself into a corner. The game only has three save slots, and I’ve been a complete dunderhead when it comes to using them properly. I put early saves in the first two slots thinking I’d just keep scrolling down and saving into slot after slot. Then I made a bunch of progress and was informed I was suddenly running out of time and ran to the bathroom and quickly saved again. That’s when I found out I was limited to three save slots. So I can either load one of my first two saves, which means going way back, or I can suck it up and load my last save, which means I’ll have to do the bulk of my mission work while my timer’s in the red.
Just like that, my happy-go-lucky open world zombie killing game has become a dead-sprint game.
C’mon Frank. We’ve got some running to do.
“I’m on it. I’ve covered wars, you know.”
Great. Just…enough already with the camera.
Tomorrow: Serpentine, Shell
(Click here for the previous Dead Rising 2: Case West game diary.)