This marks the one hundredth post to be published on the Unbearable Lightness of Dutch. I'd like to start by thanking all of our loyal readers, from across Australia, and the world.
I find Vanquish exhausting. Don't get me wrong, this game should feel like a breath of fresh air; it's a visually spectacular thrill-ride, brimming with colour and movement. There's an interesting array of weapons, and enemies of varying shapes and sizes to point them at. It also features a thumping techno soundtrack accompanied by the din of gunfire and explosions en masse. Things fall apart however when the two protagonists open their mouths. I honestly felt like the third wheel on Sam Gideon and Lieutenant Colonel Robert Burns' first date after the two decided to give their relationship a second go. They bicker like an old couple, wading through a violent flow of testosterone. The musings of every other soldier, politician, even the game's villain turn into white noise which fail to rise above the inundation of action-movie verbal bravado.
It's a great shame too, because some of the sequences in Vanquish are almost too spectacular for written description. You almost need to use your hands when trying to describe the shock and awe of the opening mission; where a large space ship enters a larger space ship, only to crash within the interior, while smaller ships filled with bright-red robots shower you and your allies in gunfire. It is without a doubt, the busiest game I have ever played. There is so much shit happening on screen at any one time, that I am almost certain that Shinji Mikami (the director, of Resident Evil fame) suffers from severe attention deficit disorder. Even when there are no enemies in sight, the armour covering Sam's face unfurls, only for him to stuff it with a lit cigarette. When you switch weapons, you don't holster your current gun, it transforms into another (usually bigger) gun.
I've read that you can finish Vanquish in 4 hours, but to be honest, after smashing the head off a twenty-storey robot with a one hundred punch combo, I need to shelve it for a while. Even after a couple of cups of coffee, it's still too fast for me.
I very promptly moved onto NBA 2K11, and have so far been blown away. Not just in terms of presentation and authenticity, but on the scoreboard as well. It hurts, I'll admit; for I performed more than adequately in the last instalment I played extensively, NBA 2K5. It's not as though I've tried to punch above my weight either, as I'm losing regularly on the lowest difficulty setting. Still loving it though, as the quality of the visuals and sound design is unmatched, with exceptional and detailed commentary, and lifelike player models. My only complaints would be that there seems to be an exlamation point in the form of a replay, every time my computer opponent wrests the lead from my slippery clutches. It's almost as though the game is screaming "How you like me now?" every few minutes, while it's thrashing me on Rookie difficulty no less.
I'll try and put it into context. My last, memorable death in Vanquish involved Sam Gideon being impaled on a massive drill-wielding robot's massive drill, spun around in the air, and then slammed into the earth only to be drilled some more. Sounds pretty bad, yeah? Well in NBA 2K11, I surrendered a 13 point lead on the 30th ranked Pistons, and then had to watch replays of every glass-shattering slam dunk. I know which defeat I would rather watch again. My other losses weren't as discouraging, and I feel as though I am slowly rediscovering the fundamentals of the game. I did enjoy a solitary victory against the Knicks however (a win against the Knicks is still a win!), and that makes for another reason to continue with my unsuccessful season with the Celtics.
I'm not yet ready to take my game (or rather absence of it) online just yet. My offence shuts down as soon as I hit the perimeter, and I'm certain that my 5-10 steals a game isn't enough to milk a win against more dynamic human opponents.
What were you guys playing this weekend? Is anybody picking up Call of Duty: Black Ops this Tuesday?
On another note entirely: what is the best game you've played this year?
Dutch Note: Please donate to the Unbearable Dutch Movember team by clicking on the Street Fighter-flavoured link below. I hope you'll join us on our quest to improve the quality of life for men across Australia.