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February 11, 2008

Filed under: gaming»software»stalker

Restraining Order

Rough estimate of time spent with ridiculously-overpunctuated FPS S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: 5 hours.

Time required to delete local content: About three minutes.

There is, apparently, a niche for post-apocalyptic shooters featuring inaccurate weapons, a practically-vertical difficulty curve, and no hand-holding whatsoever. Unfortunately, I'm not in it.

On the other hand, I enjoy the title of this post enough that it alone might have been worth the $20.

Stalker's other saving grace is that it reminded me to go back and find an abandonware copy of the classic Wasteland. I never made it very far in Wasteland, but it always sticks in my head as having what might have been one of the coolest fusions of copy-protection and storytelling ever made: the manual included 162 paragraphs of in-game text, which would be referenced by number during the game. Using the manual as a verification code was an old trick even by 1989, but incorporating it into the narrative was pretty slick (not to mention that it saved on space). To add to the fun, buried in the 162 paragraphs were several fakes, existing only to mess with cheaters and readers who couldn't help skimming ahead.

20. The Premacorin Mural is a work of art which you have only heard rumors about. It records all human history in one vast display of gaudy colors. At the beginning of the display you see the image of Charles Darwin walking arm-in-arm with an ape in a wedding dress. Next to that you see a youthful Egyptian pharaoh in mummy wrappings and a gold mask dancing on the stage of a place called (according to the neon lights behind him) Radio City Museum of Unnatural History. Proceeding along, you see a masked man brandishing silver six-shooters on the back of a silver Tyrannosaurus, hot on the trail of a mustachioed man wearing a swastika. A fat man in a red uniform with white trim flies through the sky in a sleigh pulled by eight F-19 Stealth bombers. He has bags full of guns, ammo and bombs, which he is freely dropping down to King Arthur and his knights so they can battle Genghis Khan and the Yellow Peril. Yet further on a man in a green and gold uniform (with the number 12 emblazoned on it and a 'G' on the helmet) has just thrown a missile to a man vanishing in the white glow of an atomic mushroom cloud. Finally, at the far end of the wall, you see the ape in its tattered wedding dress, squatting and studying the fire-blackened helmet.
There's even very short parody (I think) of the Edgar Rice Burroughs "Princess of Mars" stories buried in there. My favorite paragraph is #145:
145. This paragraph can be reached from no place in the whole adventure. We know who you are, and we will get you for reading this paragraph. Expect it most when you expect it least.

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