Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Tried to Celebrate The Season Today With Games

Last night, for reasons unbeknownst to my own mind, I went to myself, "Self, you know what you really need to do?  Download the Metal Gear Solid 4 patch." and so it was.  Truthfully, I'd been -wanting- to do just this since it was announced and much more when it was actually released, but I've just never gotten to it.  And while I have other games I -need- to play, I figured it was a good time to catch up, what with REVENGEANCE on the horizon and all.  So I downloaded the patch last night and, since there was other stuff to attend to, I simply turned off the PS3 when it was done.  "Tomorrow is MGS4 day", I said, fully intent on realizing that goal.  I started wondering to myself just how far into the game I was going to make it today, feeling confident in my MGS abilities to kick ass, take names and speed through.  Then I played today, only to find a rather startling revelation that shattered me to my very core.

I was terrible at MGS4.

I didn't use to be.  In fact, I would say that I use to be pretty good at Metal Gear Solid games.  Peace Walker saw me as a pretty formidable foe, I should say, as I would go through entire levels without regard to anything resembling a problem.  I was one with the CQC and the Fulton system and through it, entire armies trembled and wept at my feet before being judged worthy of my ranks.  I have fond memories of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 as well; most notably being the accomplishment of sneaking up on The End for his camo.  So, again, I should say that I have been a good Metal Gear Solid player in the past.  Perhaps it's just rust, perhaps it's that I simply don't like the Chapter 1 area, or perhaps I just wasn't feeling it today.  It did get to the point, unfortunately, where I was so frustrated with my lack of cohesive ability that I simply decided to move on to something else.  Perhaps I will try again tomorrow or so, restart and just get a feel for the controls, the style again, hopefully awakening my abilities.

In the meanwhile, I thought "Well, what the hell am I going to do now?", and for a moment I pondered.  Then it struck me.  "Self,"  I said, "Self, you have just the game for this occasion and you've actually been saving it for this time of year!"  Indeed, I had truly forgotten all about it and it was just happenstance that I remembered today, but I did, and I do believe that's the point that matters.

Way back in October, when the Halloween PSN Sale was in full swing, one of the heavily discounted items was Costume Quest, specifically as a full bundle.  This bundle included the original game, but it also had the only DLC pack that came out for the game, titled Grubbins on Ice.  Where Costume Quest as a basic experience was themed towards Halloween (hence its inclusion in the sale), Grubbins on Ice was billed as a more Christmas-themed romp which, having never experienced Costume Quest before I played it, let alone the expansion, seemed just fantastic to me.  I mean, I've said it before, but I -love- Christmas things in games and whenever someone is willing to include them, I'm more than happy to enjoy it.  So even with the tepid response I held towards Costume Quest, which I attributed to a sour mood, I venerated its expansion as a thing that I wouldn't partake in just yet.  A present to myself to be opened at the appropriate date, if you will.

Upon opening that present, I found that I was greeted with the equivalent of socks, possibly basic white, though I suppose they just might have been a fancy black pair.  They were socks, nonetheless, which basically means it was not what I was expecting at all, wasn't very exciting, nor satisfying.  While I can't bring myself to say that Grubbins on Ice was a disappointment, as that feels akin to punching a small child with puppy dog eyes, I'm not going to say I was enthralled, nor could I even muster up a basic interest in it as I played.  Betrayed once again by expectations, I suppose, but in this case, my expectations weren't exactly unfounded, nor were they outrageous, and it's a little disheartening that my meager hopes for the title couldn't have been met.

To say that Grubbins on Ice is a Christmas-themed expansion pack to Costume Quest is to say that a taxi cab is a perfect vehicle for jumping a shark pit.  Depending on the framing of the situation, yes, you are absolutely right, but it violates the very spirit of what you're trying to say, because you know damn well it's entirely too vague to sustain itself.  Grubbins on Ice has snow.  It has a sort of kind of maybe Yeti-themed Christmas-like thing that is barely touched upon.  And it has....uhh....did I mention it has snow?  No lit trees, no wrapped presents, no sleigh, reindeer, or elves.  Nothing you commonly associate with Christmas is present in the expansion, and in fact, it simply relies on the exact same Halloween mechanics from the base game with not even a little bit of deviation.  You don costumes, none of which are Christmas-themed (the expansion adds Pirate, Yeti and Eyeball(?!) costumes) and you trick or treat while performing little quests around town.

Thee hours later, if that, I had beaten Grubbins on Ice and was no richer for the experience.  I believe I can safely say that, for all its charm, Costume Quest was only decent at best, and it squanders all the things it does well against the things it does mediocre.  It's unfortunate, and while I can't say I regret the purchase or the time spent, I can say that there was quite a lot of possibility there and it's a real shame it didn't end up better than it did.  Now that that's conquered, however, I'll have to find a new way to properly celebrate the season, as, well, I really want to.  It's been a good few days and I'm fully in the Christmas spirit with the fuzzies and all, so I want to make the most of it.  It only comes once a year, after all!  Now...what to play that has a Christmas theme...

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