Sunday, March 21, 2010

Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus; As a Result Gigantic Intergalactic Bugs Invade Earth

How Earth Defense Force 2017 Is Better Than Chocolate, Roses, and Chocolate Roses Laced With Cocaine, and Cocaine

It’s very difficult to love someone; in fact, loving someone is probably the hardest thing someone can do besides make art. Well, that is great art and not government-funded attempts to reconnect with your dad using coprophilia, even though the non-government-funded stuff does pretty well on its own without funding (..or so I have read).

We have to make decisions every day and if it doesn’t involve flipping a coin or entrails being outside where they shouldn’t be, that involves thinking. Now, we’re modern people; we don’t want to have to think more than our own fair share. So why would anyone want to influence their own sound and logical way of thinking by having it twisted and maligned by someone you’ve let into the most vulnerable part of yourself?

It’s great to be loved. It’s hard work to love someone. It’s so hard to do the right thing and suppress your pride and make sacrifices for the better of your relationship. It’s so hard to see things from someone else’s perspective when your emotions take control. It’s so hard not to take things personally from the one person who can break you because you love them.

Why do we love? Why go through all the trouble? Why can’t people just have sex? Bird and bees do it, and we even tell our kids about the results. Why must we have relationships?

The next time you are at a dinner party and it is attended by all married couples and you are single and thirty, then you know just how fictional Bridget Jones feels. What those people are doing is peer pressure: they aren’t urging you to get married because it’s so great – they are harassing you to get married so that you too meld with their collective unhappiness and bear the load by being a guilty participant. There’s a big difference between your single self and these people wedded in blissful union: while your conscience may or may not have an issue with lying, these married folk always have to be careful with what they say because their wedded partner has a stake in the presentation both of them present.

While you take the subway home, they take a trip that starts in a car that doesn’t stop at the driveway, the front door, or bed or the next twenty years or forty years. This is a trip that is built on dreams, guided by hope, and seemingly powered by nagging.

Love doesn’t have to be so difficult, however. Shared interests and beliefs is a mutual haven for reconciliation and inter-relational growth. Furthermore, shared experiences can be a common touchstone for both parties. For example, a great experience to share with your partner is shooting at a horde of gigantic bugs using over-sized dangerous weapons that exact massive collateral damage to the very city you are trying to protect.

Forget black lingerie and light S+M; Earth Defense Force 2017 is that marital aid you’ve looking for all your life.

Earth Defense Force 2017 will make your marriage all the more better, save you still do certain things like have sex once you turn off the TV. This is very important. Don’t say “I’m tired,” or “I rather keep playing and not have sex with you,” or “Again? Didn’t I have sex with you yesterday?” Earth Defense Force 2017 will make your marriage better, but it is you that will make your wife happy. It is but just a marital aide; it doesn’t remember anniversaries, take out the trash or cuddle.

That this game is a great game is besides the fact. Yes, it’s a great game. It is the best embodiment of arcade action, clear subtext and ridiculous suspension of disbelief that a video game has ever been graced with. Even the flaws of this game don’t detract from the experience but instead heighten it. Bad clipping and terrible game physics only remind you how much fun you are having playing it; in fact, these shortcomings only heighten the cheesy presentation and emphasize how you, the player, interact with this game by blowing everything up. Real. Good. That and it is well designed and balanced for replay; changing difficulty levels means shifting strategies that worked for easy levels but not for harder ones.

Don’t tell the wife that because that’s not important. No, what’s important is that you can do all this – together.

Earth Defence Force 2017 has a dual player mode besides the single player, and since this was back in the early days of the Xbox 360 it wasn’t criticized how it didn’t offer online play (in which everyone has to pay for their own copy of the game and game publishers smoke another cigar). Instead, the only option for two players was to sit side by side and watch a split screen down the middle. And because your buddies only have restricted access to your house, you should enlist the one constant available soldier; that, of course, is your "til death do us apart" contractual other half.

What starts out as an awkward silence while watching the load screen becomes a fantastic shared experience of game action glory. What could be listless spectacle becomes a reveling in victory due to the arcade demands of “satisfaction delivered only by success” as well as the downplay of the visual presentation; since we’re not distracted by the graphics we can fully absorb the gameplay and all the fun it provides. Now the two of you are "til frag do us apart until the next game".

It’s arcade action; it’s a language everyone speaks. It’s simple, it’s raw, it’s instantaneous with its challenge and reward system. You suck, you die, and you have fun while you master the skills necessary to beat the game. There’s no levers to pull nor doors to open and no subterranean secret military bass to storm/lost ancient city to explore/sewers with rats to level up with/nuclear power plant about to blow up. This isn’t rocket science, but instead deploys the science of rockets in a much more practical manner. This is just one step above Ms. Pac-Man, sure, but is also three unnecessary steps away from having to talk, I mean REALLY talk about your relationship and where you want it to go and what you expect out of it and let you explore the feelings that you have naturally repressed away since the very last time you had this talk in order to avoid having it yet again.

Earth Defense Force 2017 further delineates the role of husband and wife by letting a man do what he would do in reality: protect his loved one from the awful menace of insidious insects. While there are no jars to open in this game nor lost car keys to find, husbands can help strengthen their relationships with their wives by stepping metaphorically on bugs with rocket launchers.

The thematic strength of Earth Defense Force 2017 is that it takes an irrational fear and turns it rational and logical: of course you must kill these invading aliens, they deserve to die just like the bugs you find in your house – it’s you or them. They take the ordinary and then add the impossible – that spiders can jump, or that normal household insects can shoot goo – and then by enlarging it a thousand times over your darkest fears have spawned rational incentive to want to play this game: that is, because you’re obligated to roll up the newspaper of truth to swat at the legions of evil (because entrapping them in the upside-down disposable plastic cup of mercy with a jack of spades card of mutual existence to serve as the floor of their temporary jail doesn’t cut it).

This effectively cuts out the ominous overtones of “Starship Troopers” and the fascist leanings of doing something which is right for your self but not for others. While Verhoeven’s film was a great satire on the action film and Nazi propaganda, Earth Defense Force 2017 is basically you coming home at night and flicking on the light, over and over again but with suspension of disbelief and without having to flush away your war trophies.

So then allow me to regale you with the tale of my perfect date with the girl-fy and how we eschewed candlelight and roses to beat the last level “Starship” on Inferno level: (to have been read by a young Barry White in his prime in a lone mimosa grove, disused but not forgotten, at sunset whilst butterflies dance, the scent of mangoes linger and the laughter of children can be barely heard in the distance, evoking a strong reminiscence familiar only in the sleep of dreams) (and barring that I will take Keith David, a convertible, and a bottle of Jack Daniels)

I, equipped with dual Lysander Z sniper rifles, and she, with a similar Lysander Z and the mightiest FORK missile launcher available to one so innocent and pure, namely the X20, set out together on our date to see where fate and our love would take us. As she relayed her concerns to me her fears that I wasn’t serious in my love to her, we were beset on all sides by gigantic UFO’s dropping Walking Arms protected by Fliers. “I will explain everything, just trust me and give me time!” I shouted. “But first let’s split up, if just to complete different objectives and to be reunited in joyous rapture at a later time,” I said quickly to avoid long good-byes.

Wordlessly she nodded and unleashed volley after volley of automatically homing surface-to-air missiles. “Come back, I miss you already,” she cried. Using both Lysander Z’s I increased my rifle shooting time capacity and took down the UFO’s first and then the fliers thereafter, and looking back, grinned. However, in her I absence I felt a crushing lonely that only firing guns side by side could absolve. I had traveled a long way to destroy every Walking Arm, a far ways off from the original spot where we once held hands. However, my longing was drowned out by the massive gun being unsheathed from under the mother ship.

I cried, “Look, a massive gun threatening all humanity and obstructing our love for one another!” I steeled my resolve. “We must destroy it… to save Earth and allow our relationship to progress to the next level!”. With explicit instructions I humbly requested my beloved to retreat to the furthest corner of the map whilst unloading upon the massive gun and using the FORK missile launcher to take out the air support. “But don’t destroy until after I’ve killed every Walking Arm and returned to your side,” I pleaded. Then like the voice of a cherub I heard a light breeze whisper to me, “Then I will wait forever to the end of time, and longer if necessary.” Oh, rapture! Oh, delight! Our love is a tightly executed military operation!

After headshotting the final Walking Arm, as I sprinted across the barren urban landscape seeking the warm harbor of my beloved’s embrace as well as shooting the final sniper bullet into the massive cannon. A shot, a kiss, a bang and a crash… in time the sound of enemy forces abided and a chill spread through the pervading quiet.

With just me and her and the massive mothership above us, she confided, “You know, I never thought you were the committed type,” to which I answered, “I am as committed to loving you every moment the best I can as I am committed to making every explosion the biggest I can,” and then turned away, shocked at my own candor. She stepped up and took my hand in hers from behind and said, “I know. Every time a building gets knocked down there’s a little more room in my heart.”

Her confession was punctuated by a metallic clang seeking attention that only a loaded weapon can command. Our reprieve interrupted, we looked up and far in the distance, yet looming larger than life, the mother ship had transformed into its last and most formidable shape. Sprouting tremendous under-hanging arms from which a dizzying array of laser fire erupted, the mother ship hung in the sky, obtuse to us young, idealistic dreamers. Dozens of Fliers buzzed in the sky, underscoring the tension that awaited us.

She drew a breath and burst out, “Let this be it, our celebration of love through fire!” And so we did: two lovers, standing two abreast but enjoined in our hearts, discharging weapons in a frenzy, enthralled in each other but confronting the enemy, gritting our teeth but laughing through the joy.

Reckless. Driven. Exhilarated by amorous bliss, through the blizzard of chaos and in the eye of the storm I might have imagined through the corner of my eye a glint in hers that one only sees in diamonds and madmen. I say “might have imagined” because though I was so busy and distracted by this boss of all bosses in a show to end all shows, a spectacle of grandeur that dwarfs all that come before it and after, I know that glint doesn’t belong anywhere else; so even staring straight onto this most shuddering, humbling, awesome opposing force in my mind’s eye I can still see it, and there this eye winks back at me.

Wielding both Lysander Z’s I abandoned all modesty in ravishing my savagery upon each gun-arm as it revolved into range, as I did in training the untamed dogs of my white-hot rage onto the vulnerable pink exhaust port every time it exposed itself to view. My love used the FORK – X20 to unbridle her fury upon the Fliers, aggravating us with their distractions, and could only sporadically join in directing her primal passion during lulls in-between waves of Fliers.

Alas, it was not to be, my love and I and the victory of humankind. Grievous injuries I suffered, terrible unhealable mortal wounds, and with my hit points dropped to zero, I would soon succumb to the sweet darkness. Having fallen and between short breaths, I could only offer encouragement against the inscrutable deed still left before her to complete. “Go on…” I called feebly, “don’t stop, baby…” Only then did my beloved turn to me and became aware my defeated state. “No, I can’t,” she said, shocked, “I don’t want to finish this without you…” Her will broken, she ceased firing, her gun slackened at her side as the winds of war blew indifferently, first as a stiff gale that diminished to a numbed wind that listlessly dragged it feet along the ground.

However, somehow through the howl of death that same breeze which carried the same cherub as before graced me to send my whisper to my love. By no short definition, it was a miracle. “But you must – you have to kill the mother ship… to save all humankind… for us.” Her unwavering look led me to continue. “Do it then, for me.” Summoning all my nerve, I drew my ultimate breath. “Do it… so that … upon completing … the level… I can… get the... Genocide Gun…” And then, after that, the cherubs would have the breezes all to themselves.

Through the roar of weapon discharge and fiery explosion, there was a silence. And this silence was not heard, being silence, but it began in the heart of my beloved, was drawn out by the next breath she took after a single tear finally traversed the length of her face, and it became something that was heard on that battlefield, up on that mother ship in the sky above, and by the very gods beyond and away that both compel and astonish at the very human nature we are burdened with for all our brief lives, all of us who walk under the heavens.


The world could not continue as it always did. Slowing to a stuttering stop, time scattered, colors bled into each other and the hiss and boom of anarchy faded away to a muted dull thud where everything became an aching grey that blinded every sensation save that for the bloody taste for dire, dire vengeance.

Wanton. Livid. Intolerable, to the degree of cruelty, if that was permissible. It was a inescapable wrath of seething, biting brutal revenge that washed over all the battlefield to scorch and blacken even the dust to brittle glass.

And then, it was over. It was finally and at last over: the mother ship was defeated, the war is over, the Earth is saved! Bested, the mother ship finally gave up her long hidden secrets: namely, that of an extraordinary trance-inducing gory super-explosion of ocular wonderment. Indeed, the mother ship would blow up, and then blow up some more, and then some again, and then again, and then some more.

Her goal completed, my beloved turned to me and, out of breath, said, “We did it. Both of us. Our love prevailed,” and then lapsed back into quiet satisfaction, just drinking it all in but instead just swimming in the dizzy ocean that is completing Earth Defense Force 2017's “Starship” level on Inferno.

And with finishing the game and winning, the next day the two of us would begin the first day for the rest of our lives.

Played to completion (100%) on Inferno mode on the Xbox 360.
Rated 3 out of three stars.

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful, though I'm skeptical that anything can be better than Cocaine except maybe for "Super Cocaine." (I remember, years ago, a professor, while building up his argument, casually mentioned that sex was the greatest pleasure known to man. Several people in the classroom seemed to mutter under their breath at the same time: "Umm.... what about cocaine?") But then, cocaine is definitely not good for a relationship, so the title still works.

    While I know I'm supposed to read the dialogue as a humorous embellishment, it is too eerily similar to when my wife and I played Modern Warfare 2 co-op, so I almost believe it. (Specifically the time when it was just the two of us were trapped in a convenience store trying to survive waves and waves of Russians.)

    At first I wasn't really in to the article, but then it all came together. Probably one of the best videogame articles I've read, and I had never even heard of the game before.