“WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT!” I yell to Frank, laughing in delight as we leave the bathroom and I notice, for the first time, the huge arrow hanging over my head in the center of the screen. “That’s gonna be helpful, I think,” I mutter to myself.
“Duh,” says Frank. Well, no he doesn’t. Not really. He’s taken to ignoring me at these moments. I sense he doesn’t have a great deal of respect for me, and I don’t suppose I blame him since my inability to manage the clock keeps getting him arrested. So my delighted laughter is short-lived, quickly transmogrifying into a chuckle of humiliation, and just as quickly disappearing altogether as I remember that we’re in the red zone. We’ve got to get a move on.
After the jump, pointy arrows, oh pointy pointy…
I note where the arrow is pointing and set about following it, so to speak, which leads me out into a huge open room. A warehouse, one might say. Zombies are everywhere, lurching about in that adorable way zombies do. The security dudes are up in the tower, taking potshots down at the two of us. I think they’re surprised that I’m finally getting it. A few needless deaths ago (I’m speaking of my own deaths here), before I knew about that gigantic arrow up there, I ran up the stairs and engaged the security tower head on, lobbing grenade-footballs in and shooting the place up. All great fun except it ended in the same way every time, with me on my back and the blood-splattered screen of death. My new arrow friend tells me that was all a waste of time. I shoot back at the security dudes some, but then remember my arrow. Eyes on the prize.
Wading through zombies, letting security take their shots at me. This sticks in my craw a little bit. They shouldn’t be able to get away with that. But I suppose they’re just doing a job, like Death Star contractors. Shooting them just to shoot them is kind of a jerk move at this point, especially since I now realize I have a job of my own to do. And precious little time in which to do it.
I make my way, clearing zombies from my path. Jabbing them with my new cattle prod thingy that I liberated from one of the Zombie Handlers that bugs me every time I leave the bathroom. I’m curious about them. Employing Zombie Handlers indicates these zombies are being held here on purpose. Hey! What’s up with that? See, I told you I was a quick study. At any rate, those guys are more difficult to get rid of, and though not as tough as the security guards they are certainly more persistent. You can’t just run away from them. They will look for you. They will find you. And they will kill you. And if you go into the maintenance room to make some combos, they’ll follow you right in. Which is a little rude, I think. I’ve come to view combo-ing time as ‘me time’ and it would be nice if everybody respected that. I mean I can’t even go to the bathroom without Frank watching me. But one of the cool things about Frank is that he handles that crap behind me while I’m combo-ing at the work table. Letting him watch me pee seems a reasonable trade-off. Maybe to you it seems weird, but you weren’t there, man. Like they say, there is no potty-shame in foxholes.
You think I’d know better, by this point, than to stand there and enjoy the combo-ing music for 14.5 seconds every single time I do a combo though. Better than to step back from my work with that same self-satisfied smirk and narrowed-eyed expression. Every single time. But I don’t know any better. I do it every time. The game won’t let me jump past this little animation–or more to the point, I haven’t figured out how to do so–and what’s truly weird about that is that I can still make out different stuff going on behind me as the animation plays out. I can see the Zombie Handler mixing it up with Frank back there, which is kind of cool. Chuck…oblivious. Every time. He’s just so proud of his combos. [I bet you’re wondering why I just changed POV. Since I spend this animation staring at his face, I’ve switched pronouns. Honestly, I find his smug attitude about combos to be off-putting, and I won’t be a party to it.]
Where was I? Oh yeah, wading through zombies with my cattle prod. I throw a Hail Mary (the real name for the grenade footballs, as it turns out) to clear out the loading dock door I have to get through. Turns out to be a loading screen door, not a loading dock door, but no matter. Make my way down a narrow passage and start getting shot again by a new security guy. I trade fire with him, dash into what looks like an employee break room. Food! I need some food! Look, a ketchup bottle. Excellent. I grab it, press my use button so I can restore some health.
And I spray ketchup all over Frank.
As I reload the game after this fail I note two things:
1. Condiments don’t count as food, apparently. I picked a lousy time to find that out, but there it is.
2. The game really doesn’t care, at this point, whether I kill zombies or not.
“Huh,” I say to myself. Finally getting it.
This time when we leave the bathroom, I just take off in my arrow’s direction at a dead run. The security dudes shoot at me. I ignore them. Zombies shamble toward me. I run around them. I smack a few of them out of the way of the loading screen door and dive through. Then I just dash down the hallway, weaving around them, jumping and dodging. I pause to kill a handler, but that’s my only pause. Once he’s dispatched I run again. Ignoring the next security guard and avoiding the undead. Avoiding avoiding avoiding.
Into the lab. Input the codes. Or get them. Whatever.
Eat some rations I’ve been saving in one of my inventory slots. Turn around and run back. Avoiding avoiding avoiding. One quick stop for a pee-save and I’m back on the path, running like hell to get back to the administrative office where I started this whole thing. Finally I make it. Finally I beat the first case. Finally I avoid failure.
I catch my breath, feeling proud for a moment until the realization of what I’ve just done hits me. I’ve run somewhere and run back. That’s really all the game expected me to do. Run somewhere, push some buttons, and run back. That’s it.
What the hell happened to my zombie killing game?
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my low point.
Up next: How Chuck got his groove back
(Click here for the previous Dead Rising 2: Case West game diary.)