Clutch: I’ll squash all the zombies, and then come hell or high water

, | Game diaries

This is the kind of thing that happens when you park for too long in the bowels of a particle collider. In this picture’s case, it was a zombie technician with a flamethrower-esque thing. They’ve got no range to speak of, so they’re really only a danger if my car has barely-holding-together levels of damage already, or if you just park there and taunt them. The zappy zombies are much less problematic than the occasional exploding zombies, which are–like so many things in my character’s life in Clutch–the fault of the Reapers. If you’re enlightened enough to be chosen, you take off your sunglasses to be zombified and get rigged up with explosives to wander the streets.

So there I am, on fire. It’s between missions, so respawning is just a button away. At this point, I’m in the third and final episode of the storyline. I’ve been deprogrammed by a scientist who is either unnamed or literally named Scientist, and I prefer to believe the latter. My diary indicates a hangover, to put it legally. It also says that “The Scientist says it’s the abstinence syndrome. The yen.” That figures. Leave it to a crazy cult to give you abstinence syndrome.

After the jump…science!

In the handful of missions left, the true relationship between the Hunters and the Reapers is revealed, and it’s the last blow needed to sever Clutch’s diarist from the talons of the cult. If you can’t trust a charismatic cult leader to not be a hypocrite, who can you trust? It’s enough to make the whole world not feel right.

May as well trust The Scientist. Sure, they may have caused a city-wide zombie apocalypse, but they mean to fix their mistake. My character’s gone through various existential crises; he’s wallowed in meaningless excess, he’s overcompensated to an ultimately false spiritual side of things, and has come to the realization that the very best path is the middle one. You hit more zombies that way, because even the ones on either side you can kill with the right side-mounted body kits. The problem is that the collider accident opened a door, and you don’t fix the problem by just shutting it, you have to reverse the flow. It’s a hard problem, demanding study, careful research, and complicated equations. There are a lot of variables, and there’s only one sure way to balance this equation: hit things with my car.

Here you see me hard at work to repair the particle collider. Several of my lab assistants are also in the shot.

Clutch’s final mission is more than a bit ridiculous. Unlike the other races, there aren’t an endlessly respawning supply of zombies, but a set number. I have to run over them all, as quickly as possible. This of course is nothing without complication, which occurs in the form of a new last-minute game element. Namely, kamikaze enemy cars, of which there are an effectively unlimited supply. They don’t just try to run into me–I’m used to that kind of behavior from other event types–they try to run into me and then explode. There are a few ways to mitigate and avoid a mission-failed screen in the form of shield power-ups along with familiar repair power-ups, but the very chaos and swift reversals of fortune that liven up the rest of the game’s missions work against them here. Thankfully, this mission is the one and only time it occurs.

In this playthrough however, I did come around from cold hatred of the last mission to not love but a grudging acceptance of it as a fitting final act. The mastery of the game that characterizes the second act goes out the window, as I need to replay the last mission several times after failing by both miles and–much more frustrating–mere inches. It’s easy to hit any zombie, but it’s much harder to hit one specific zombie, when that zombie is the only one specific zombie left in the level. When it’s a matter of doing that with a sliver of health left, and three murderous cars are coming up on you fast from as many directions, and any one of them will make you start the whole process over again, it’s a moment of genuine tension. And when that last zombie goes splat, it’s the biggest relief and victory in the game. The you-win! cutscene makes me wish that some future game combine elements of both Clutch’s and Split/Second’s DNA.

Tomorrow, I save the city…for later.
(Click here for the previous Clutch entry.)

Gary Achenbach posts as Drastic pretty much everywhere that he does, which makes it a lousy disguise.