A View from Atlas Park: The Gamer’s Lament

With the end of Christmas and the start of the New Year, I am suffering from a state common to those who play video games – I have a case of Gamer’s Lament.

Gamer’s Lament is a very simple condition that arises from having too many games to play. There are quite a few game I’ve picked up for Christmas / in sales, along with more games coming out that I. Must. Have(!). I have my birthday in November, which also often compounds the problem.

To start with, there is obviously CoH to play. Since I pay a monthly fee, I feel the need to get a good number of hours per month out of Paragon City (where “good” may only be about 10 hours in total, depending on the month). I’ve finally moved up into the lvl 20+ region (yeah, yeah – I’m slow) which means I’m seeing content that I haven’t seen before while in beta. Currently I’m on two story arcs and generally enjoy fighting off the Tsoo, Freakshow and Sky Raiders.

But CoH takes time. Sure, I can just arrive in Paragon City, do a mission and leave, but once I’m in I’d rather do a couple of missions, sell some enhancements, grab a badge or two… and be able to take my time about it. Also, I’ve seen an increasing amount of lag on my system, which can slow me down ever further.

I played and finished Halo 2, enjoying it more than I thought I would. I’ve come to the conclusion that Master Chief is the least interesting lead character to a computer game I’ve seen in a while. He is meant to be all mysterious and man-with-no-name cool, but he just ends up as bland. Fortunately, Halo 2 was saved (character-wise) by the Arbiter, who was just so much more interesting (if a bit naive). The vehicle stages were also great.

But here is where the lament really starts. I’ve got Ghost Master, Battle Realms (and its expansion, Winter of the Wolf), Giants: Citizen Kabuto and Commandos (and its expansion) sitting on my shelf awaiting time on my PC. During the Christmas break, I saw a number of games out cheap that I picked up, hence the size of that list. I also started to play Soldiers of Anarchy again, with the plan to finish off the guide I started writing six months ago. It’s made me remember how much I enjoy playing Soldiers of Anarchy, so all those “new” games I picked up will just have to wait. On top of this I have Fallout, Fallout 2 and Outcast all in various states of play on PC that I will one day go back to complete.

On the Xbox I finally picked up Soul Caliber II since that was going for half-price. Since I can play this in short bursts (eg do a weapon master stage, practise with a character for a little while) it has become the game of choice. However, often those short bursts can become entire sessions, starting out as “I’ll just finish it with Spawn and then on to CoH for a couple of hours” and ending up as “it’s 3am and I’ll go to bed right after I’ve completed the Ancient Amphitheatre with Cervantes”. This has really sucked away my time from the other games, CoH in particular.

Also taunting me on my Xbox is Tenchu: Return from Darkness, where I am about 7 missions away from completing every mission and layout with a Grand Master score and b-side dialogue.

And then there are those games on the horizon. Freedom Force Versus the Third Reich is due out early 2005 and is something I’m really looking forward to. Having played Freedom Force a lot and written a character guide for it (it’s up there on Gamefaqs.com for those who are interested) I’ll probably attempt a guide for FFVT3R as well.

The other game I’m really looking forward to in 2005 is Jade Empires on the Xbox. How can you not get excited about wild martial arts action in a world where your character can do things like establish temples and train disciples? I’m anticipating getting hold of Furious Ming and having him carve a bloody path through those who would oppose my will, BWAHAHAHAHA … err, sorry.

Then there are the games that are out that I haven’t yet got because I know I don’t have the time to properly devote to them. Fable. Ninja Gaiden. Burnout 3. Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders. And more…

As a gamer, I am a semi-completist. For example, in CoH I will aim to get all the badges I can, but certainly am not going to radically alter my character to get them (eg get a healing ability so I can get the Surgeon badge). I want to do all the story arcs and task forces. I’m aiming to hit max lvl (and them maybe fool around with the epic archetypes) before quitting out of this mmog.

For single player games, I try to complete all the ones I own at least once. If there are multiple endings, I try to see them all (within reason or until I’m really bored of the game). However, there isn’t enough time in the day to play all these games and still be able to do anything else. You know, like spend times with family or friends. Now, my friends understand when I play games all the time, but the family … well, they get offended when I’d rather fight the Covenant than spend time with them.

It is here that the heart of the Gamer’s Lament exists: there are not enough hours in the day to spend on gaming (and it probably wouldn’t be healthy to do so, either). There are so many good games available and coming out that you can only pick a few and hope they are the ones that you will most enjoy.

The Gamer’s Lament is hardly an impossible burden to bear, and I’m looking forward to finishing all the games I’ve managed to pick up. Of course, it would be nice someone could build a time machine or parallel universe generator so I could add some time to my day. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to sneak the hours I need to game where I can.

– UnSub [email protected] 5 January 2004

You may also like