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I’m in town, minding my own business and getting a big bunch of XP for killing Canadian terrorists, when the woman I’m talking to reveals that she’s actually under the control of the cloned brain I’ve been looking for.

Er. A what? I haven’t … I mean, I think I would remember if I’d been looking for something like that. I’ve been asked to do some pretty strange and sketchy stuff since getting here, but so far nobody has asked me to find a cloned brain.

Regardless, cloned brain wants to talk to me, and so invites me to come out into the wilderness. Okay then.

Up in the mountains I find …

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An astral projection. Of a clone. Of a giant brain. I have no idea what the etiquette is in a situation like this, but I guess I can rule out shaking hands.

Giant Brain tells me that he needs my help. I don’t know about helping an astral projection of a clone of a giant brain that was just mind-controlling a bystander in base, but he’s got a green outline when I mouse over him and it says “hero” under his name so … I guess he’s a good guy?

Luckily, Astral-Cloned-Giant-Brain is eager to prove that he’s on my side. As a token of friendship, he clues me in on some super-duper giant-brain level Intel: Soldiers from Steelhead are being executed by the Hunter-Patriots. These executions are happening in the nearby valley.

This is not actually news to me. I mean, the Hunter-Patriots are terrorists. They’ve been shooting me on sight pretty much since I put an end to the NOT ORDINARY storm. I figured out they were bad news ages ago. I was actually in that same valley earlier when I was beating up those very same guys so I could steal their plans for their maple-powered death ray. And thank you so much for reminding me of that debacle, Astral-Cloned-Giant-Brain.

But ACGB thinks this is a newsflash for a big-jawed tiny-brain like me, and he’s using it to try and convince me we’re on the same team. He asks me to go save a few Steelhead soldiers for him. Or for me. I’m not sure, really.

So … you’re proving your allegiance by telling me my mortal enemies are bad guys and then as a sign of good faith you ask me to rescue my own allies? Is this like one of those “so bad it’s good” deals, where a movie is so awful that you enjoy it? Except in your case it’s more like “so smart you drool on yourself and eat shoes”?

Right. Off to the crash site to beat up some Hunter-Patriot guys. Again.

I fly into the valley and look for groups of Hunter-Patriots gathered around Steelhead soldiers. About one dozen or so fights in, I glance up and notice I’m not making any progress on this mission. Checking the map, I see I’m just outside the mission area. So rescuing these Steelhead soldiers doesn’t count towards making me believe the brain is on my side.

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Problems? Try PUNCHING!

I move my traveling violence show to the other side of the valley and find punching these guys in the face to be far more convincing of the genuineness of Brain’s offer of friendship.

I return to ACGB, who tells me, “Now that I have helped you, I ask you to return the favor.” I assume he’s talking about the XP he just awarded me, since telling me to go and beat up my own enemies to save my own allies while he does nothing doesn’t fall within any definition of help that I understand.

Now the ACGB lays it all out and explains what’s really going on:

There is a bad guy called the Overbrain. He apparently clones brains, and then enslaves those brains through mind control. This seems like an insane level of effort with dubious return, but I’ve been working for Ravenspeaker, so it’s not like I have room to criticize the feasibility of what anyone else is doing.

ACGB here is not yet under the sway of the Overbrain, but a new shipment of mind-control gear is on its way and ACGB is sure he won’t be able to hold out if the Overbrain gets his hands on it. ACGB has confused the driver, making the delivery, and the new gear has been left down in the valley. I need to go blow it up.

So I need to go around, beat up some more Hunter-Patriot guys, and steal their explosives. Then use those explosives to explode the mind control gear.

It turns out the gear is in a simple crate and guarded by a couple of befuddled drivers.

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Few people are familiar with the second Poincaré conjecture, which asks: “Would it be possible to make a videogame which contains no crates?” Many people believe it is possible, but it has yet to be proven.

Even fewer people spell “Alberta” with a lowercase “a.”

Several questions spring to mind:

1) It’s a crate. Why do I need to blow it up? I’ve lifted and smashed things larger and heavier than that by accident. While trying to talk to someone.

2) Actually, why destroy it up at all? I could fly that sucker back to Steelhead Base and they could take it apart to study. Or just put it in with the recyclables. Seems a waste to just blow it all up.

3) If we are going to blow it up, is this really what the good guys have come to? I have to scavenge explosives off of our foes? Heck, there is a flak gun ten feet away from the box, and the thing pounds the everlovin’ daylights out of me when I approach from the air. It seems like that thing would be a better source of explosives than wandering around, punching guys and swiping their hand grenades. It would actually be hilarious to swipe the crate and use it as a shield against the AA gun, thus tricking the bad guys into shooting their own stuff.

Brain? Are you listening? No? Sigh. Fine.

Astral-Cloned-Giant-Brain is really set on the plans he came up with and isn’t interested in listening to reason or the rude things I’m shouting at my computer. Okay, okay. Let’s get this over with.

I extract some explosives from the local terrorist population and then take the explosives to the crate of mind-control equipment and activate it. A progress bar fills up as I put the explosives into place. Once full, the box blows up in my face.

Somewhere in southern California, a game developer is laughing his ass off at me right now.

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An explosion going off in my face as I use explosives I didn’t need to destroy something I could have smashed to help a floating brain I now hate.

I return to the giant brain. He maintains that he is a super-smart brain and that he is my ally, despite the fact that the last job he gave me demonstrated that at least one of these facts must be false. At least.

Now he wants me to find a teammate and go after the Overmind. I have no idea why he didn’t just have me go after the Overmind first. I guess he’s just way too smart to take such an obvious and clean route to victory, and would rather send me to suicide-bomb crates of electronics first.

Right. So I need to fight the Overbrain, and his henchman, Ape Plus. The Overbrain has been working to mind-control the Hunter-Patriots to make them into his personal army. Is that bad? I mean, they’re already terrorists. If the Overbrain controls them, maybe that’s an improvement? We still have the same total number of bad guys to fight. They’ll just be doing Overbrain stuff instead of Terrorist stuff.

Here is what I’m going to do: I’m going to solo this job.

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Being that we’re after something called “The Overbrain”, you can be forgiven for thinking he’s the red brain thing to my right. The brain in the tube is actually our “friend,” who has been astrally projecting himself. This is his real self. I guess. The little floating doohickey behind that tube is the Overbrain. Ape Plus is there on the left. He’s big.

A floating brain and his ape companion. I would like to point out The Brain and Monsieur Mallah from DC comics. Note that I’m not accusing Cryptic of plagiarism, I’m just accusing them of being incurably lame and unimaginative.

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The name over his head indicates he’s named Ape-Plus and that he’s aligned with the Brain Trust faction. The little red line under his name means he’s about to leave the Brain Trust and join the proud fraternity of stuff that used to have a face until it discovered my fist.

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I’m sorry, Overbrain, but I can’t hear you over the sound of you getting your ass kicked. It seems like I attacked during some sort of terrorist-union-mandated break, since they guys behind me aren’t getting involved.

Once the Idiot Trust is dead, I release the astral brain projecting brain guy from his container.

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So … astral brain guy. Nice to meet you in person. Or whatever. You know what I mean. Say, aren’t you a bit … you know … cold?

So, under the direction of a giant floating brain, I freed the terrorists from the control of a tiny floating brain so that they would once again be free to terrorize the unpopulated Canadian wastes.

Is that a win for the good guys or not? I can’t even tell anymore.

I return to Ice Base Steel Force or whatever the idiot good guys are calling their clubhouse. One of the great joys of being a superhero is to get up on something tall and then stand around brooding and looking down on all the little people, and I could use a little joy right now.

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I think I need to increase the draw distance, because I can’t see them from up here.

Does it seem like we’ve been stuck in Canada for a long time? The truth is, I’ve skipped about a third of the Canadian missions here in this write-up. The whole thing feels like it goes on for a couple of hours longer than it really should.

Back at base I meet Lt. Douglas McKenzie (sigh) who informs me that a Dr. Karl Severisen (sigh) has built an observation post to the north and is monitoring the activities of the terrorist group Viper. (Sigh.)

Right. So I guess we’ll go and ruin Viper’s day. It’s not fair that I should be the only miserable person in Canada.

Next time: For those of you who are sick of Canada, now it’s time for… MORE OF THE SAME!

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