Tuesday, January 13, 2009

All Gibbing, All The Time

As the calendrical odometer turns over once again, a young lass's fancy naturally turns to zombie squashing. I first fell in love with Dead Rising, in January 2007, I think. We were in California for the Zombie Brother's birthday, and we spent about 7 hours watching the ZK play. The ZB kept gently suggesting that the ZK pay attention to the various missions, survivors, and so on. To each gentle reminder, the ZK serenely replied, "Dammit, Jim, I'm a PhotoJOURNALIST!" as he snapped yet another comedy crotch shot.

This was all in good fun, but it wasn't until the ZK picked up a framed oil painting, smashed it over the head of a zombie, and then proceeded to dance around, taunting the very frustrated zombie that could no longer reach him, thanks to the frame he was now sporting as a belt. Add a traffic cone on said zombie's head, and there is no higher art form so far as I'm concerned.

For his birthday (this would be March 2007), the ZK received a copy of DR from one of our more "thoughtful" friends. I believe the ZK's eloquent thanks went something along the lines of, "You bastard, you realize you've essentially just handed me a bill for $300!" (We, of course, did not have a 360 at this time.)

The $300 bill was paid sometime around my birthday in June. For whatever reason, though, I didn't get into the game until around Christmas, at which point I well and truly got into it. As any good game should, it made me angry much of the time. Choice phrases like, "Goddamn you, you dirty mother fucking clown, hold still and give me your sweet, sweet, chainsaws!" became commonplace in my home.

When I actually finished out the game and strove for the true ending, we just scrapped the rage meter altogether. We still maintain that the final two boss fights to get the "true" ending are the most punk-ass, po, po boss fights EVAH. They're linked, and they both involve doing things completely unlike the rest of the gameplay. The first involves manning a tailgun with an endless supply of ammo as your driver takes you in circles until you can blow up a tank. The ZK's sage advice for this fight comprised, "KEEP SHOOTING. FINGER ON THE DAMN BUTTON. YOU SHOULD NEVER NOT BE SHOOTING!" The second involves barehanded fighting on top of the tank you have just putatively blown up, and oh yeah, the tank is surrounded by the zombies that were completely absent in the previous fight. Beating or not beating the final boss is more attributable to chance than anything else. Not even top quality button mashing can save you, and you would be SURPRISED at how often button mashing has saved my ass. Lose to the boss, and you're back doing the fucking tank fight all over again, too.

BUT NO MATTER! It has been a year or so since I beat the game and got the true ending. Once you've done that, however, there are a number of highly classy achievements to gain, including Frank the Pimp (escort 8 female survivors simultaneously, bearing in mind that web of calls that you must and must not answer, the survivors you must and must not speak to, is slightly more complex than the US tax code for the self-employed), Clothes Horse (dress Frank in all available clothing in the mall, including some swell sundresses and disturbing little boy shorts), and Saint (save at least 50 survivors [there are only 54 total, you MUST sacrifice at least one to get one other, so really only 53, and every last one is a WHINY, STUPID IDIOT WHO CANNOT FEND OF A ZOMBIE WITH A SHOTGUN FIRED POINT BLANK]).

Before I picked the game back up around Christmas, I'd gotten most of the achievements, save Saint (just finished that one), Zombie genocider (kill a number of zombies equivalent to the population of Willamette, the suburb in which this particular Zombie Apocalypse is set), and Transmissionary (answer all calls from Otis, the incredibly odious security guard, who is constantly telling you not to cut him off like that, it's rude. WELL EXCUSE THE FUCK OUT OF ME, OTIS, MY FINGER SLIPPED OFF THE BUTTON WHEN ONE OF THE INEXPLICABLE ZOMBIE HOOKERS STARTED FEASTING ON MY JUNK!). Did Saint, FINALLY, and was working long and hard on the other two, hoping against hope that I could accomplish them simultaneously, because Transmissionary actually requires very little in the way of saving people or doing missions, so long as you answer the calls.

On my first try at Transmissionary, I gave up with about 24 hours to go because that fat bastard Ronald hadn't sparked a call about his food anxiety. I figured I'd just missed it somehow, and I devoted myself to squishing zombies for the rest of the game. With about an hour and 15 minutes of game time to spare, I saw the blessed "Zombie Genocider Achievement Unlocked." I drove carefully out of the maintenance tunnels, ran to the door of Paradise Plaza (which contains the door to the warehouse, security room, and helipad) . . . and got the classic "This Disk is Unreadable" error for which the 360 is famous. Mother. Fucker.

However, I checked my profile, saw that I was credited with the achievement (and indeed, every other achievement has been saved as it was unlocked) and figured I could just finish out the game from my last save, which had been about 5 thousand zombies or so shy of the Genocider level. Please note that doing genocider is really pretty boring. It involves driving back and forth through the maintenance tunnel, blowing up propane tanks and squishing zombies until the car you're in breaks down, getting into the next car, repeating, then stepping into a redrawn scene so that the cars will respawn.

On a practical note, I would like to know why we are not making planes out of whatever the fuck the shopping carts at the Willamette Mall are made of. Those bad boys can withstand a freaking propane tank exploding on them, and they can upend a goddamn refrigerated meat truck. A shopping cart like that can plan my castle onslaught anytime.

To continue . . . To kill 53,000+ zombies, you're talking about 4 hours of real time or so. Given that I'd already unlocked the achievement, I didn't see any reason to hit the total again, and I just ran around creatively squishing until I got an ending. Started a new game with a song in my heart, headed into the security room to pick up my real megablaster (the reward for the genocider achievement) and . . . nothing. Poking around online, I found that you have to finish the game with the requisite number of smooshed zombies in your pocket to get the megablaster. Yeah, shoulda checked on that before my ending overwrote my saved game. FUCK.

Moving on to the Transmissionary, I had several false starts there, as well. The walk-throughs helpfully tell you which survivors you MUST save, because they spawn later calls, and they all advise you to kill the other survivors quickly so that you don't end up with a full docket of missions, resulting in Otis not calling you for something. I'd already had the mysterious case of Ronald not being hungry once. When it happened again, I dug a little deeper and found that the two mutinous survivors and the wino won't mutiny (or ask for wine) without company, meaning you not only have to save a few other folks, you have to save a few other VERY SPECIFIC folks, thus ensuring that the mutineers have company in their rooms (the survivors assort themselves into 4 different rooms based on predetermined coding, and you can't herd them into other rooms).

SO, I aborted another attempt at that and decided to try once again for my megablaster. Sadly, I got knocked out by the raincoat loonies and was mistaken in my belief that I still had enough to time to knock out the needed number of zombies. I had a save at 48K, and try as I might, I could not get to the Genocider mark before running out of time.

Finally, I accepted that the Transmissionary and Genocider achievements were incompatible. I knocked off Transmissionary first, then devoted an entire 72-hr game to getting my goddamned megablaster. And, finally, after many "disk unreadable" tragedies and a lot of profanity under the bridge, IT IS MINE.

I've strictly been playing Infinity mode: Every nonzombie is a enemy, and in a award-winningly weird metaphysical turn that could only be brought to you by the Japanese, when you kill them, they turn into levitating cardboard boxes, which then explode, spewing forth weapons and food. The first enemy Frank encounters in Infinity mode is Otis, and it is difficult to convey the sense of satisfaction I gained from aiming my BFG at his whiny pinhead and reducing him to a steak, a push-broom, a mailbox, and a frying pan.

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11:16 AM  

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