The Hunters are in Atom-city primarily for materialistic or hedonistic reasons. Money, adventure, excitement, really wild things — stuff like that. It’s only natural that, people being the kind of beings that people are, that some would seek out the spiritual side to running over hundreds of zombies and making other cars explode. Especially after lucre loses its luster, and they hit the rock bottom of seriously considering taking off their sunglasses for eventual suicide-by-car.
After the jump, the purpose-driving life
Like many middle acts, the group of missions and diary entries that make up Clutch’s episode 2 is slower-paced. (That’s slow in a narrative sense, not in the driving sense. Even while religious, it’s best to drive as fast as you can. There is no salvation without winning, placing, or showing.) My character is initially dubious about being more-or-less captured and brainwashed, but soon realizes those things didn’t happen at all. All things are in God’s hands, after all, and far from being brainwashed, he’s becoming ever more pure and enlightened in the company of his brothers. “All things have become simple and long-winded,” states one entry.
Even when my car’s on fire a little bit, high-velocity scenic drives between missions and paint job acquisitions are more enjoyable. “I stopped realizing the flow of time,” as the Book of Clutch says. Fittingly–without straining any analogies at all!–the story matches the play experience itself. It’s not just my character who knows where his place in the world is–in a kill car, wearing sunglasses, smiling at other Reapers even as he makes their cars explode in a very pure way–but I know the game in and out by then, too. All the missions modes are revealed, I know the ins and outs of the interface and display elements. The upgrade treadmill is contracting again as my skill at all the event types improve, and acquiring money for that most expensive rocket booster or zombie-slicing or -burning body kit becomes a snap. Events that felt frustratingly random before have become less random in their experience, and the randomness that remains has crossed a threshold from frustrating to entertaining. I am the master of the game’s domains. I am the sound of one car colliding.
The nature of peak experiences is that highs don’t last. You can go to the mountains, but eventually you’re going to go down into the valleys again. In Clutch’s case, it’s not a valley to delve into, but the particle accelerator itself. At the end of episode 2, its entryways unlock and it becomes the focus of a new set of familiar events.
My character’s time in the Reapers is coming to a close, as that peak experience falls apart. Fittingly again, the actual gameplay mirrors it, in that other cars don’t have clue one about how to handle this kind of environment. On the surface streets, the other racers corner like drunks, but recover quickly from their mistakes; it’s one of the ways the game keeps the front line of any race a chaotic constantly shifting affair. In the collider, they get even more drunk, but something about the layout destroys their ability to recover. They fly off the curving ramps and land on their roofs, they oversteer and wedge their noses in the one sharp corner to be found in long stretches of gentle arcs, they ride up onto the walls and fall over. It’s a little embarrassing to witness, but luckily I only have to witness it if I slow down for some strange reason. Once out ahead of the pack at the start of the collider’s first elimination race, I never see any of the other cars again. It’s definitely time to start wrapping things up, and the game realizes that by starting off the concluding chapter in my character’s life.
The concluding diary entry of the second chapter informs me that I was captured by the last living scientist–or Scientist–in the collider. Technically, the above is a zombie with some sort of flamethrower or suspiciously long-range arc welder or something, but I’m pretending that he ventured out into the collider itself in disguise when he saw me park.
Tomorrow, I’ll squash all the zombies, and then come hell or high water.
(Click here for the previous Clutch entry.)
Gary Achenbach posts as Drastic pretty much everywhere that he does, which makes it a lousy disguise.