It's Christmas in June;
A very special Deathbunny overuse of semicolons game review event...

Because of the peculiar distorting effect that massively multiplayer has on the human mind, I'm utterly unable to appreciate good stand-alone games which are not also on console, and so, in no particular order, I'd like to mention the following.

Why in god's name is there no MMO with, at the very least, the interactivity of multiplayer asteroids (and/or spacewar and/or armada for the dreamcast)? In what foul pit do they brew these half-assed noninteractive simulations? I was playing a massive competitive 2d space shooter 30 million years ago, during what was possibly still the cold war, in the late 90s. It was called Silent Death. It was based on IP from an otherwise anonymous tabletop gaming company, and basically, at its core, it involved spaceships blowing each other up, in what is surely the apex of human technical achievement. We're close. We've got the spaceships... now... we just need to blow them up...

On purpose I mean.

In any case, this game used a basic premise, that a chimpanzee will happily watch things explode, as long as he's at least vaguely involved beyond the level of scratching his balls while he watches the screen generate images based on perceived effectiveness in reducing ball-itch, via infrared USB device. By 'beyond the level', I mean, actually pressing a key on the fucking keyboard during, after, or otherwise in proximity to actually making a decision about the need for it, rather than executing an uncoded part of an otherwise automated process. If my only purpose it to sit in the matrix and provide a passthrough for your chickenshit attack script, where, for whatever reason, you've created an experience which can be automated through blind keyboard inputs for *hours* without human interference, then it's time for the red fucking pill.

Which is what brings us to Christmas in June, the blockbuster half-review of The Matrix Online, by far the most titularly redundant MMO on offer in the known universe, including Dogar and Kazon's 'things to do to aliens' online, a fuzzy radio broadcast detailing careless disembowelment that loops once every 3.2 months. Excuse me. Your filthy earth months.

Before being rocked by a hurricane, the question is begged, why were am you here, there? The short answer is that the bitch was hungry and I had to give her (me) inches. In this case, that amounted to some kind of massive multiplayer experience, and we pray that, at least, you can leap from rooftop to rooftop. Certainly the repatoire of the Matrix is a promising soil in which to plant a seed of shitty treadmill bullshit. I was hoping, against all possibility, that someone had pulled their head ever so slightly out of their ass, so that mouth and nostrils could detect the outside world and put some interactivity in their shitmulation. This was not the case. This is a Monolith production, and, as a result, there are roughly two possibilities available to us.

First, that they would produce a game so great that it actually folds the genre in half.

Second, that they make a game that is a plague on mankind--which reaps the flesh from stillborn infants as their mothers are torn between terror and despair, their wombs holding host to the black water of decay. Particularly evil because all bad monolith games are good, in some unholy way which enhances you dissatisfaction by giving you a hint of some unachieved greatness. Or adequacy. I'm throwing a semicolon in here; to make good on my earlier threat of overuse.

My experience started completely differently from Dark Age of Camelot. I'm older and scarred now. The terrors of long hours in the salt pits, grinding on the treadmill have taught me that, before you get yourself reenslaved by the egyptians to make their pyramid, where pyramid means 'pyramid scheme', and by that I mean 'fucking blizzard is ripping you all off', you'd better take a look at what you can expect ahead of time, so that you don't have to be confused about whether you've experienced 'it' yet. It being a four letter word starting with s and h and ending with 'mulation'. In the case of MxO (as it's called), I checked the wiki entry. Apparently it used to be a vibrant event-driven game. Now it's just an event driven game. Well, that's fine. I imagine I might enjoy the events, assuming that the part where you go on 'missions' is worth it even a little bit.

So I pull down the program and let it patch itself. The login procedure is special. By special I mean pre-windows DOS prompt special. I didn't see a way to have the game store your account and password information, you had to type it in every time. Also, deliciously, let's say, for the sake of argument, you have an SOE station account but forgot the password and needed it reset? Well, if you want to cut and past that sucker, you have to use keyboard shortcuts. Which is odd, in as much as you include mouse functionality, and keyboard shortcut cut-and-paste functionality, but not menu based cut and paste functionality? For instance right click menu? I only bring this up because the 'vibe' I got from the whole thing was this hardcore hacker mystique they were trying to type into by making the process of logging into the game really clunky--as though you had to have special technical expertise to make it happen. Immediately after detecting my settings and launching the client, my monitor, who's borders expand well into nearby orbit, went pitch black. This is the sort of grim '3000 dollars just got wasted' moment that separates the zenlike masters of their own emotions from those going apeshit. Honestly, I'd place my reaction somewhere in between.

Alt-tabbing out and back in seemed to solve the problem, in as much as I finally saw something, even if I ended up missing the cinematics that lead up to it. Hopefully there were no production values in there for me to miss.

I got to create a character. That's exciting. You start the game by selecting a personality profile based on a broad range of unusual people who might, according to the various Matrix materials, realize that they're trapped in a world with a green camera filter, and rebel against that upsetting circumstance. The possibilities were staggeringly vague. Additionally, there were a bevy of stats associated with each choice. My favorite is 'belief'. Two people could take advantage of an increased belief stat--they were the 'true believer' (cryptic shit right there), and lunatic. The lunatic, apparently, is the sort of person who was crazy in the matrix, and spent alot of time trying to figure out why, culminating in their being crazy outside the matrix. This is precisely where I'm coming from, and the spiders nesting in my hair agreed. But the actual stat of 'belief' corresponded to at least a dozen separate attributes, most of which made no sense. Belief increases my melee accuracy, but Perception increases ranged accuracy? Reason has a third type of accuracy to enhance? To the best of my understanding, I saw that there were, basically, so many complicated stats to track, that, no matter what, if you pumped one stat, you would probably accidentally end up being suitable for some particular role. I figured melee accuracy is probably important for someone who would, very soon, know kung fu (and then be exhorted to show someone).

Then you get to make the avatar, which is always a gut check moment, if for no other reason than it's hard to keep track of how many shades of brown people come in to know when you've come round in a circle. But it's not *just* your physical body, but your hip, cutting edge emo-expression of who you are as a counter-culture conformist. We're talking about people who can choose to dress *any way they want*, and, as a result, can pick between 3 shirts, 2 coats, and a couple pairs of shoes--one of which, at least, appeared to chop off the better part of your heel in order to fit in a stiletto.

What I came to understand here is that this is a game full of lies. The first lie I noticed was 'hats'. This is mislabeled through oversight or deliberate omission. The correct designation would be 'hat'. In fact, when selecting your hair, there should be a check box: Hat? (yes/no). Then you can see what drug induced compramise an artist took in trying to fit the 13th variation on cornrows and dreadlocks under a gay biker cap. As it stands, you have to slick between mutually exclusive panels in order to adjust your warddrobe and hair separately.

But I'm not going to get too hung up on that, or the 3 body types for female characters, which, predictably, are 'ludicrously voluptuous', 'Carrie Anne Moss', and 'Man beast'. I ended up with Carrie Anne Moss, thinking it would be groovy.

Either I hallucinated or something changed between character creation and loading up the tutorial, because I found myself the proud owner of a Carrie Anne Moss Bobble head doll. Disturbed, I moved on through the tutorial, trying out melee and ranged combat. Both of which are visually more interesting than typical melee fights in MMOs, but still are at the chimp ball-scratching level of interactivity. I selected a broad 'posture' of damaging attacks (rather than speed, off-balance attacks, or blocking), queued up my only available contribution 'cheap shot', and then watched in bland amazement as my character heel-kicked her opponent in the balls.

I will truncate the remaining time into highlights. When instructed to leave the tutorial by doing some particular thing, the doing of that particular thing did not result in my leaving the tutorial. As a reward, an increasingly aggravated actor from the movie contributed a voice over repeating the instructions every so often. I ultimately used the 'skip tutorial' button (at the end of the tutorial, mind you) to get out. After I got out, there was still a 'mission objective' window telling me to exit the tutorial. It did not go away while I played.

Eager to move on into the world and execute a mission, I was told to deliver a note to a person down the block. Having delivered that note, I received a shotgun, and another note, and was instructed to deliver *that* note to a person further down the block (I am, as you recall, outside the tutorial at this point). Proceeding down the block, I'm informed that, behind this person is a dance club where I can chillax and hang the outs. Additionally, I am given a note and told to kill some exile programs, which are the politically correct large rat and or spider of the Matrix, who will drop keys, and those keys must be redeemed for a pair of pants.

I go inside the club, and there's no one in there, so I wander back outside, and notice that all my vaunted clothing serves no purpose. For one, it's ugly. For another, I get no benefit from it. Which makes sense, because it's all hookerwear. I take it off, and proceed nearby to the docks, which, incidentally, are covered in crates, and not the pussy crates you see in old fashioned games, but the new cutting-edge shipyard containers that make for the perfect abstract enclosed space with no particular point or purpose.

I pause here to say that, despite being in the matrix, and capable of doing high jumps with twirly flips, I'm unable to scale a crate, or even a pallet.

The next hour or so, without getting into details, is spent pounding the crotch of dozens of generic looking men with machine guns. During the pounding, I am rewarded with, among a bevy of useless crap, a pair of sunglasses, a fairly nice looking purple dress, and a pair of red vinyl boots. By rewarded, I don't mean, someone rewarded me this way on purpose, I mean, when I searched the bodies of the crotch-pounded fallen foes, they yeilded a nordstrom's rack, or, maybe, a Hot Topic of excess clothing.

Interesting side note, most of the clothing that dropped was unwearable because, quote, 'you are the wrong gender to wear this item'. That's pretty victorian for someone who's putting all that hooker wear in the game.

Anyway, when I realized that roughly 1 in 8 enemies dropped the quest item I wanted, and that it had taken a couple hours to accumulate the 14 I'd needed to progress to the guy who wanted 5 more, I decided it was time to quit.

I only note on the record how amazingly imaginative you have to be to design an environment like that of super-hero like characters living inside a computer to be so similar to peasants killing rats with clubs for 10 levels before they can choose to become a fledgling squire, or some such shit.

Hopefully Global Agenda will be better.

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