Why I Heart Isaac Clarke

Look at em! Ahhh, this guy's a coconut...

Sleep much?

This post containers spoilers.

The thing that makes Isaac Clarke so great is how flamin’ ordinary he really is.

You see, a lot of heroes tend to be these one-of-a-kind characters with skills and abilities above and beyond those around them. A lot of video games are made on the premise of being someone or some group’s last hope for no other reason than being unique during a time of great need.

For example, the Master Chief from Halo was the last Spartan. Captain Titus of Space Marine had some strange resistance to the power’s of the warp which helped him, on top of being one of the rarest soldiers the Imperium has to offer. In Skyrim, your character is dragon-born. In the Castlevania series, the Belmont clan has a long standing tradition of opposing vampires while Alucard is Dracula’s only son. And many main characters from the Final Fantasy series, such as Cloud Strife, Zidane Tribal and Terra Branford, all are incredibly unique and rare for a variety of reasons.

They can do it because no one else can.

But in Dead Space, there’s nothing super unusual about Isaac Clarke. Oh sure, he suffers from dementia from exposure to the marker (which is more a curse than blessing), but he’s not the only one and probably won’t be the last either. He stands up to the Necromorphs, but he’s not alone there. Nor is he the only one who can destroy the marker, as I’m sure both the Unitologists and EarthGov can. Only they choose not too.

Nope. Isaac Clarke’s quest is a bloody one of self-discovery and healing, but its overall effect on the world around him is fairly minimal, despite how huge it must have seemed at the moment of completion to the player. The player only explores the world around the eyes of Isaac in the main Dead Space series. We only ever see this world of political intrigue and struggle through the eyes of Isaac, whose condition made him highly useful, but not irreplaceable.

Indeed, Isaac is caught up in that long going struggle between church and state. Much like the Dark Ages of Europe where the popes and kings sometimes allied and sometimes struggled against one another. Neither side is particularly interested in Isaac’s welfare. Today, whether the conflict of church and state continues is a matter of personal opinion. But just about everyone knows what it’s like to be sandwiched between two power hungry giants in some shape or form, be them political, economic, religious or otherwise.

Also, Isaac is a nerd.

Even without super powers or unusually beneficial aspects, gruff soldiers are a common enough hero type. The Master Chief, Marcus Fenix of Gears of War, Commander Shepard of Mass Effect. All these games make the player feel remarkably qualified to save the world.

Not so with Isaac, who carries on a growing tradition similar to Gordon Freeman of Half Life. He’s not a soldier, he’s bloody tech support. He’s the guy you call when your hard drive crashed or you need permission to install the latest version of an application, or when your engine is on the fritz. His weapons? Mostly modified mining tools. His mission? Fix the damn engine before we get charred falling into the atmosphere.

And like many nerds, Isaac Clarke doesn’t seem to have much luck with the love life either. I just don’t see a happy ending for him. Like, ever. The first game was a sick joke on the man, when he find sout that his girlfriend, who he thought was alive and helping him, was actually dead. And the second game, he wrestles with dementia as the memory of long dead Nicole tries to kill him. Oh and the new girl? Poor gal loses her eye babysitting a guy for Isaac. What a lousy first date.

So yeah. It’s a shame that Dead Space 3 maybe the last we see of Isaac Clarke. It’s generally acceptable that we have to move on from characters after a while, after their story is told and the challenge has been overcome. But I’ll bet that the archetype of Clarke will endure. It’ll be thought on, reinvented and introduced in future games, books and movies.

I’m sure Dead Space 3 will do fine for itself. It’ll be a good game that is remembered, but not the break out smash hit that the series never was. At least for now. Sometimes, today’s moderate successes are tomorrow’s greatest hits.

Chaos Music Tributes: Khorne

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!

For the rest of this and next week, I’ll be adding new music selections I call the Chaos Tributes. Again this is with the music for writing series, but these will have lyrics involved. The musical choices reflect great songs and music for writing about certain aspects of Chaos, as well as a little food for thought.

Today’s beast is Khorne, god of war, bloodshed, violence and hatred. Khorne is said to be the most powerful of the Chaos gods, being the oldest and most representative of the Warhammer universe. A quick glance at Khorne makes him appear to be a one dimensional god, as he cares not from whom the blood flows so long as it flows.

It is sometimes said that Khorne overlooks the weak, considering it dishonorable to kill them. But like any theology, this view of Khorne is subject to great personal interpretation or even straight denial.

However, a second and closer glance at Khorne create certain discrepancies and depth that are overlooked. Normally, Khornite followers are considered murderous psychopaths. But there are examples of thought and conviction in some of his followers. In Blood for the Blood God, Khorne followers were coherent and capable warriors. In the Gaunt’s Ghost series, the Blood Pact are a highly disciplined, Khorne worshiping army capable of infiltration tactics. These examples fly in the face of the crazy homicidal maniac stereotype.

What makes it even more difficult is understanding Khorne’s relationship with psykers. Many believe that when the World Eater’s legion turned, they slaughtered all their librarian/sorcerers in a purge out of respect for their new god’s hatred of them. Yet in Blood Pact, the Pact made use of both a witch as well as a powerful summoning ritual. In Space Marine, Nemeroth possessed considerable warp powers, yet made use of Bloodletters in his army. And in Dawn of War II: Retribution, Khorne saw fit to reward Azariah Kyras, the corrupted chief librarian and chapter master of the Blood Ravens, with daemonhood.

So there’s something to think about as you listen to these songs about murder and violence, although some of it focuses on other aspects of Khorne. At the bottom, you will find a link that connects to a playlist of all of these. Bare in mind a lot of this music is somewhat full of screams, so I’ll mark the music without singing and lyrics with an asterisk (*):

  1. Getting Away with Murder, by Papa Roach.
  2. Army Doom and Titans, by X-Ray Dog.*
  3. Ich Tu Dir Weh, by Rammstein.
  4. Let the Bodies Hit the Floor, by Drowning Pool.
  5. Murder, by Within Temptation.
  6. Smell the Witch, by Mortiis.
  7. Dead is the New Alive Remix, by Emilie Autumn, Dope Stars Inc Remix.
  8. Blow Me Away, by Breaking Benjamin.

As for that playlist, skulls for the skull throne!

Imperial History X

The superiority of the hu-man over the greenskin is supreme like the pizza I got from Papa John's last night!

The superiority of the hu-man over the greenskin is supreme! Supreme like the pizza I got from Papa John's last night!

PRE'PAR TA BE KURB STOMP'D!

They come on our land! They take our guns, our children and our sweet, sweet rides! All in the name of being "green"!

KURB STOMP!

KURB STOMP!

Please direct all complaints to realheavyrep@yahoo.com so I can ignore them. Thanks.

DITNA

So yesterday, the Orks learned that we were not at war but a fashion show. Simply put, dead is the new alive. (Clap clap) MUSIC!

So I actually beat Exterminatus yesterday. 20 rounds of Orks squashed. I was quite surprised we beat the 19th round as easily as we did. The secret was that four of us grabbed point A as soon as possible, then we split up to grab points B and C with two men on each point. It worked well. Our set up was two Devastators and two Assault Marines. I went with the Ammunition Stores and Heavy Bolter Coolant perks, with frag grenades.

Of course, we were in for another surprise just as the final nob went down. A bonus round. Against Chaos.

Purple warp storms shocked the arena as Bloodletters poured into the arena. They weren’t terribly difficult, but they had a tendency to phase shift away just as you were starting to get some good hits on them. There were also a lot of them. About a fifth into it, Chaos Marines showed up. These guys were game changers, with very, very powerful armor. They weren’t terribly skilled: average shots, willing to go melee and would dodge and retreat once their armor was broken. They took a lot of pepper to take down however. The same was true of the Havocs who started to appear.

But the worst was about 2/3s through the round when the champions started to appear. Wielding daemon mauls and sporting so much health, I expended perhaps 150 to 200 rounds just to take one out. And there were several who gave chase. It came down to constant hit and run tactics. Run, turn, fire, run-turn-fire again and again.

The good news was that these kills added a lot to the new live counter, so that although we died often this round, we made back just enough to see us through to victory. Go us.

P.S. I purchase three songs by Emilie Autumn on Amazon yesterday and played them on repeat throughout the game. Loved it. Swallow is one of my favorites, so check it out and buy some of her stuff if you enjoy it as well.

Exterminatus Review

Trained in battle, but also a master of dance fighting. With an axe.

Also a master of dance fighting. With an axe.

Exterminatus. Mmmm good.

Among the earliest complaints I agreed with on Space Marine was the lack of content. THQ however, worked quickly to fix this, coming out with a new coop mode only a couple of months after the release. When it came out, I was frustrated because a bug wouldn’t let me play, but THQ worked fast to fix that. Now I enjoy Exterminatus whenever I need something new.

But depending on who you ask, their timing was anywhere from good to poor.

You see, in Exterminatus you can only earn experience. You cannot earn perks or armor. So for those players who already earned level 41, their incentive to play Exterminatus is effectively nil. But for those who have not yet earned the highest tier, it’s a fun change of pace.

Hopefully, since THQ is coming out with another version of Exterminatus called “Chaos Unleashed” for the Chaos faction, they’ll add some new armor or perks to earn. In CU, Chaos Marine teams will fight not only Orks but Imperial Guard too, with new boss and units like the Sanctioned Psyker. The DLC comes with new maps and a new game mode. Check it out here.

One of the things that shakes up coop against competitive is the fact that in competitive, the best perks tend to focus more on anything that boosts offense and defense enough in the face of short, brutally intense fights against other players. So perks like Serrated Combat Blade, or Iron Halo tend to be really useful.

But in the coop, the fight is long, ongoing and full of attrition. The Orks are weak, but keep coming after you with their hordes. They grind you down, wear you out and eventually overwhelm you. So perks that focus more on recovering and sustainability tend to be more useful. Final Vengeance for example is a wasted perk, since your team only gets a very finite number of lives and you do more damage staying alive than blowing up on the Orks. In competitive play, I wouldn’t have bothered with Ammunition Stores because I can recover ammo by killing or respawning. I just never really ran out. But in coop, Tactical and other Devastators need ammo too, so we tend to compete for the ammo drops the Orks rarely leave behind.

So here’s a short list of perks I believe are more useful for Exterminatus:

Tactical:
Typically, you want to avoid any perk that is more about respawning. Rapid Deployment and Teleport Homer aren’t terribly useful because you and your allies should work very hard to avoid death. You maybe tempted towards Master-Crafted Wargear and Favor of the Armory because grenades do well with managing Ork groups, but the occasional difficulty in replenishing grenades will quickly take away from the benefits of these perks.

  • Larraman’s Blessing – You will sometimes have to run away from the hordes to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed. But this perks lets you recover more rapidly and get back into the fight.
  • Weapon Versatility – The beauty of this perk is that you take two guns and not just one with you. By doing so, you also increase the amount of ammunition you take with you as well as the amount of ammo you recover when you get an ammo drop. You can also better react to the kinds of Orks you’ll be facing.
  • Additional Melta Fuel – This perk as well as any that let you take additional ammo is recommended. Given the slow recharge time of a Melta however, you may also consider the Improved Melta Charge perk with this.

Devastator:
The Devastator’s defensive perks work well in Exterminatus. So it really boils down to the weapon choices. As such, I cannot recommend the Lascannon because of the sheer number of targets and their preference towards close combat. The Plasma Cannon is decent, but one must be mindful of the fact that the Orks are desperately trying to get close, making it personally dangerous. This means that the Heavy Bolter is probably the most reliable choice for Exterminatus. Surprisingly, while Heavy Bolter Expertise is a make-or-break perk in competitive, it’s not that big a deal in coop.

  • Heavy Bolter Coolant – Given the sheer number of Orks, overheating is a huge problem for the Heavy Bolter. This perk goes far to counter it, letting you keep up the barrage of firepower to take them down.
  • Ammunition Stores – When you have one other Devastator or Tactical Marine on the team, getting ammo usually isn’t too bad. But if you have three or more, it becomes very difficult. But Ammunition Stores lets you keep going where as others are down to pistols.
  • Artificer Armor – In truth, almost any of the defensive perks are great for survivability. Artificer Armor however lets you recover from battle damage much more quickly. Just disengage and run until it replenishes your armor.

Assault Marine:
Assault Marines don’t suffer from the necessity of ammunition quite like the other two classes. This is not to say that the pistols aren’t useful, but they should be at the front fighting the hordes face to face. They also have the joy of health replenishing perks, which let them continue to fight where as others have to back off in order to survive.  The one change up is that Assault Marines should not be afraid to leap away if they’re getting overwhelmed. Orks prefer numbers and melee combat and sometimes, and that’s too much for a lone Assault Marine to deal with. The jump pack should be used defensively as well as offensively. Perhaps the worst thing about Assault Marines is when they have to take a control point, as they cannot use their best features as offensively as they are intended too.

  • Swordsman’s Zeal – This perk lets you keep going even when your armor is gone. It’s easy to have too much faith in this perk, however, and believe you can stand up to a horde. Fight as hard as you can, then jump away and kill a lone Ork to replenish your life rapidly. Then rejoin the fray. The same applies to the Axeman’s Zeal.
  • Air-Cooled Thrusters – Leaping away from a horde can sometimes spell the difference between life and death. The jump pack stores up to two jumps, so exhausting your supply when you land is risky business. Blast Off and Death From Above pair well with this, so long as you jump as often as you can.
  • True Grit – I’ve seen Assault Marines use this in Exterminatus and it is surprisingly effective. It gives them a very valid ranged option when the Assault Marine must pull away from a horde (the pistol isn’t bad, but a bolter is still better). When the Assault Marine has to take a control point, it also gives him a better weapon for fending off Shoota Nobz and Rokkit Boyz. The only downside is that it makes the Assault Marine more ammo dependent, to the detriment of any Devastators or Tactical Marines.

TF2 vs Space Marine

Yes! ... Yes!

Yes! ... Yes!

So I’ve decided to go back to Team Fortress 2 for a while. Only when I tried yesterday, all my Space Marine instincts conflicted with my game play.

One of the things that throws me are the classes. Space Marine has 3 classes, of which two are some what similar in play style. TF2 has 9 classes. When I first started playing Space Marine, had to remind myself that I don’t have to shoot my allies, since there are no Spies in Space Marine. But yesterday, I kicked myself when I tried to play as the spy and kept hitting Mouse 2 to try and stab a Soldier. It was a choice set up too and I screwed it up.

I’ll be visiting TF2 Tactics to review and get myself back up to speed, play against some bots for an hour and then get back on the servers once I’m ready to not embarrass myself. I got a lot of practice to do and when I finish, I may try my hand at tournaments again. I might even get back into Counter Strike soon just for that purpose. I was pretty damn good back in college.

Oh, here’s some news. The ESEA is running a tournament which includes over $80,000 worth of cash prizes. I’ve tried to do some Team Fortress 2 team set ups before but I couldn’t get a team together quickly enough.

I will also go back to Space Marine once the new update comes out on the 25th. But until it does, I’ll be blowing things up in TF2.

The Night of Willem Dafoe

"By the time you finish reading this blog, you'll realize that it has almost nothing to do with me. But thanks for coming out."

"By the time you finish reading this blog, you'll realize that it has almost nothing to do with me. But thanks for coming out."

I awoke this morning to the sensation of war drums going off in my head. Brain was trying to tell me something

“Hey, get up. Stomach says he’s empty,” Brain told me.

“Can’t,” I replied. “Bed too comfortable.”

“You also need to go to work. You require capital to ensure the continued comfort in your bed as well as sustenance for your on going existence.”

“Curse you and your flawless logic, Brain!” I screamed as I got up.

So why was Brain pounding at my head? You see, I originally went to happy hour with Fernando, expecting it to last until about 7. I would have a few drinks, go home and work on my Vengeance Launcher skills in Space Marine. Instead, Darpan, Tim and Paul showed up and I was impressed into Fernando’s… Army of the Night.

And then we [Error 404, memory corrupted due to over consumption of alcoholic beverages]. And then I woke up.

So there you have it folks. I do have a life. I think.

Moving along, I reconnected with a chum of mine. Kristen had been absent for too long until I found her on Google+ and added her to my circles. She too had been sick with what she dubbed, “the crud.” A fine name. Who bothers to study the myriad of symptoms to figure out if the most recent of trendy fashionable illnesses are a cold or a flu? “The crud” is as fine a name as any. After all, she’s an expert in nameology.

Just like Willem Dafoe. Man, Dafoe is the pine nuts of the movie industry. He goes with everything.

So back to writing, I finished yesterday with 12860 words towards my submissions. That’s a nice chunk of characters and already over half my goal of roughly 25,000 words a month. The new piece I’m working on excites me though. It’s a present day crime drama that mingles a few comic book elements into it without going overboard. Kind of like Christopher Nolan‘s take on the Batman series: edgy with a focus on the characters, themes and psychology. But nothing supernatural. In one sitting, I tacked 3,300 words into it. So now I’m worried that it could go very well passed the average length of a short story and become a novella, which would make publishing it… tricky.

Welp, that’s all for now. Your lucky numbers are 5, 17, -2 and π. Oh, and remember when I named this blog “The Night of Willem Dafoe”?

I lied.