Discord and Rhyme: Taking My Self-Control

Matt Turano | 27 Aug 2008 21:00
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

If there's a thin line between poise and bluster, between confidence and conceit, games like Too Human come perilously close to giving us the finger and tap dancing over said line with irredeemable bravado. Doom 3 did it with its monster intro sequences and forcing the choice between flashlight and weapon, or more bluntly, between sight and survival. Early on, Too Human's codependent relationship with the ubiquitous enemy intro movie had me pining for the days of pre-electronic entertainment, back when all toys were made out of jagged metal, dirty syringes, and broken glass, and we were damned glad to have them. Thankfully, Too Human got over its bout of narcissism fairly quickly, which is something that Doom and, to a lesser extent, Gears of War, never accomplished without first throwing you to the floor and grinding their presentation in your face.

After a while, I found myself enjoying Too Human in spite of its flaws. I'm a sucker for item collection and character customization and leveling, and in those regards the game pays off with loan shark interest rates. Combat, which is controlled via the right thumbstick, might have been better served by allowing the player to manually manipulate the camera with the right stick and using the face buttons to attack - the frequent dramatic changes in camera angles made it seem more like an homage to La Dolce Vita than an innovative control mechanism - but overall it was a very satisfying experience.

I don't know if Corey Grey's latent virtues ever staged a successful coup over the more dominant aspects of his personality; I never saw him again after high school, but years later someone told me that he'd become a drill instructor in the army, so yeah, probably not. I guess for most people it's better to go with what they know.

What I learned from my association with Corey, which was echoed by my time with Too Human, is that our most crucial faculty is our own objective judgment. Developing informed opinions - whether of a game, a potential friend, or more topically these days, a political ideology - based on our own critical analysis is our best defense against prejudice, deceit, and outright stupidity.

So the next time you seek someone's opinion of a game, regardless of whether they're a professional reviewer or a disconcertingly erudite custodial engineer, don't hesitate to ask them to justify their views. Chances are, anyone whose opinion might be of any value to you won't mind explaining, and anyone who takes offense at your request won't be able to.

Either way, you'll get a useful and revealing response.

Matt Turano is sixty-seven percent certain that all names herein have been changed to protect the incontinent.

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