Harmony in Paradise

27/03/2010

Well it turns out I actually have a lot to say about Robot Unicorn Attack and thought that it’s better to actually write and publish it in chunks rather than what I usually do which is write huuuuuge and immense posts that I never finish so never publish.

The other night I was enjoying the therapeutic balm of RUA, enhanced by my lovely AmbX lights and Aurora Synesthesia and when my consciousness returned inbetween wishes I wondered about why RUA is so good.  There’s a definite er… synergy between the music and the game.  The music often ascends and is full of positive uplifting words.  There’s continuous motion for your character towards the right.  The two player controls are dashing, which moves you to the right on the screen, and jumping, which moves you up and to the right.

The play structure is such that being up and to the right is rewarding and uplifting.  Double-jumps are so weirdly satisfying in games, and in RUA the timing needed/allowed is perfect.  It enables you to match the speed and shape of the music.  Somehow, all this means that the game can flow and give you the feeling that you’re getting somewhere, that it will all be worth it in the end.  Then you crash.  It’s just below frustrating.  Then I realised what else gave me that feeling.  Burnout.

Much as I love RUA and will prescribe it to all and sundry, I also like the feeling of getting somewhere.  I mean, really getting something done.  Not real things for goodness sake, I mean things in games.  I’ve got loads of games that I need to finish, so playing RUA is wasting precious time.  It might seem like I’m getting somewhere, but I’ll never recover that document in Stalker or find the secrets of Rapture at this rate.  I’ve god stuff to do. Like collecting all the cars in Burnout Paradise..

I loved Burnout 3 on the PS2.  The slow motion and the crash mode were the best.  Over Xmaz, Burnout Paradise was less than a fiver on Steam.  My dad (yes I have one) gave me some money and so I’ve decided that he bought it for me.  Actually I’m not sure I told him that.  He also got me The Orange Box in the same sale by the way.  Cheers dad!  Chad!

Well I say that I need to collect all the cars.  I also need to crash through all the billboards and yellow barriers.  I also don’t really care about those things.  I felt I needed to finish Portal for that whole “deficit theory of gaming” thing.  I needed to get Half-Life 2 so that I could play fantastic indie mods.  Burnout Paradise was a frivolous purchase.  Just for fun.  Fun it certainly is.  It’s the same as RUA.  There’s a flying swooping feeling to the driving.  Crashes are beautiful.  The game is just this side of frustrating.  The openness of it means that you are encouraged to just do something else.  On top of that the cars that open up and the events that get ticked off provide an ongoing sense of achievement far beyond merely beating a previous score.  All this we know.

What occured to me though was the flying swooping feeling.  Paradise city is supposed to seem haphazard.  It’s an open world with no set racetracks.  It’s obvious though that the designers spent a great deal of time on constructing routes.  Unfinished bridges which line up with train tracks or whatever.  All of which enables you to soar.  I was surprised that there were so few musical tracks with the game.  There were loads in Burnout 3. Neither can you make custom playlists of your own music.  That seems a pity, I love DJ Atomica.  As it goes I just googled “Erasure Radio Station”, loaded up LastFM, set my AmbX, alt-tabbed to Burnout and there was harmony in Paradise.

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