Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Soul destroying

Losing. That’s what you do a lot of the time, is lose. Whether it’s your job, relationship, home, keys or cat. Which is why Myth: The Fallen Lords and Myth II: Soulblighter are such well-observed commentaries on the struggle of living. How can a video game bare such immense philosophical and dramatic weight on its pixelated shoulders? I’ll tell thee.

The world of Myth is a bit like Western Europe in King Arthur’s day, with the Middle East right at the edges. The setting really isn’t that important because it’s the usual fantasy malarkey: small people, pointy eared people living in trees, half naked painted people with thick accents, basically anywhere in rural England.

What makes Myth so engaging is it beats you up, a lot. You get emotionally battered when the narrator tells you that even if you won, some massive fuck up else where means its time to run again. Physically battered from the inevitable case of RSI. But like a bruised spouse, you keep coming back for more.

You play a General of sorts, on the end of a losing war against, well, if you can imagine every dictator in the world and combine them into six individuals who have devastating magic as opposed to devastating WMDs… a sort of Super Duper Axis of Evil. These Fallen Lords head up an army made of decomposing zombies (which would be like having a fight with a relative at a wedding but your mum can’t break it up because he happenes to have a big axe and his ears have fallen off) and other hellish creatures. The war torn world looking like Stalingrad or Bastogne circa WWII.
Things look grim and to the story’s credit they stay grim. As mentioned earlier any small victory by your rag tag army gets obliterated somewhere else. The narrator’s excellent prose communicates how shit and hopeless it feels to be a soldier in a war where the outcome is never certain. You have no Shock and Awe to use here. If anything you’re the insurgency against overwhelming odds.

It’s not all miserable otherwise it’d be like watching Schindler's List while having cod liver oil poured in your eyes. The light-hearted side comes from unexpected places: The Dwarves in the game act as a sort of Guerrilla explosives expert. Imagine Che Guevara with a white beard and much smaller. Their dialogue includes, “Get out the way!” and “Alright, we got ‘em!” etc or laying down satchel charges as they throw a Molotov cocktail and good carnagey times ensue. The Berserkers who resemble Braveheart but with less clothes on, shout things like “Ack, I’ll doo him” and “I’m movin’.” They're simple pleasures for a simple mind.

Without spoiling either games ending's (they’re both really old now) the first has the courage to actually sacrifice the player’s army for the sake of taking out the Osama and Kim Jung Ill super combination know as Balor. For all your hard work you are rewarded with a cut scene that shows the main hero Alric’s (a sort of cross between Tony Benn and Sean Connery) head fly through the air after a massive explosion destroying the pesky evil. You’d never see George Dubya tackle Saddam into The Great Devoid. Video game leaders are inevitably better than real life ones. Myth I and II are probably both silly cheap now so go buy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

we need more berzerkers in glasgow right now