Friday 13 March 2015

Metrocide: A Classic Murder Simulator!

The hum returned again, and it's clearer. It's soft now, but when it's ready it's gonna tear right through the guy.

The tracker stops, but the hum continues. She can make out his e-cig puffs at the corner. She has to move before the pop. She takes a few steps along the wall, hoping to avoid moving out into the street, but she can't make the line. She trusts the M-7 to deliver after the hum, but the shot's gotta be clear, otherwise it's eating wall and Marcel Ortiz is down the street, and her night gets longer. If she steps out now, the night can end now.

She decides it's happening.

The hum's nearly ready, and she's already got it on the guy as she clears the corner. Before her foot even hits the ground she hears the door open behind her, and catches the lady across the street, and right then, they're both up on her passive tracking.

The decision's been made. Right now, these people are going to watch, because she's standing in the open, looking down her M-7 at this guy's head. And they can see it. There's no exchange. No negotiation. They're just going to watch her M-7 eat right into this semi-electric puff-monkey, because she already made that decision.

And the guy who's on the losing end is looking right at her. She doesn't know if he can hear the hum over the din of the police drone down the block, but the lights are on. He knows whats happening. They all know what's happening. They all know what's happening, but no one's moving and no one's thinking. They're all just standing there waiting for the pop.

If you were to imagine a game that was the offspring of Syndicate and Grand Theft Auto 2, you would be understanding what Metrocide is, and as much as those games were, during the 90s, accused of being 'murder simulators', this game is actually much more of that than those games ever were.

Well, at the very least it is more focused. You play as simulated contract murderer, TJ Trench, who is either a simulated woman or a simulated man. The decision is yours.

As Trench, you are faced with a problem: people want you dead, so you need to get out of town. You also have another problem in that you have no money. I suppose that you also have this third problem of a limited skill set, but that turns out to be more of a problem for other people, because that limited skill set is murder. That is what you will be doing. For money. It's only simulated murder though.

You won't just be murdering folk in the super bland present day, though. You'll be busting caps and taking pay cheques in the near future. This mother is cyber-punk as shit, and you know how I get down on that. With a sense self-appointed of authority!

Metrocide is constructed from good ideas. That's its foundation. They're good ideas executed neatly and concisely. The behaviour of the characters, the layout of the city, and the way your tools and weapons work all serve a function that informs gameplay and your decision making.

The cyberpunk setting isn't a party trick, or an afterthought, either. It's intertwined in the gameplay and the behaviour of everything in the world. Unmanned police drones circle the city, while you make your way amongst trash collecting robots and armed gangs in the streets below.

Where a great many small budget games these days feel empty and incomplete, Metrocide feels rich and focused, like a AAA title from another era. The art style is consistent and engaging, the sense of humour is pervasive without interfering, and the game mechanics are refined to the point where risk assessment is totally informed.

Scenarios like the one at the top can and will happen, but you know the risks and possibilities before you step out into the street to release the hum on some fucker. You know, and that's your call. How you deal with it when the shit hits the fan is on you.

It's a whole and dedicated product ready for your digital consumption, which you can do at Steam, Good Old Games, Humble, Greenman Gaming, Gamersgate, and the App Store.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

A List of Covers That I Like

There's been this ongoing conversation about covers I've been having with my father that started sometime last year. It's a good conversation to be ongoing instead of just had, because you find things, and remember things, and it all kind of comes back to you in bits and pieces, and you gather information from other people.

Strangely, I've not yet just googled it, opting instead for the meat mission approach.

It's an interesting conversation, because people like covers for different reasons, and I too like covers for different reason because I am a person, which is the singular version of people.

I decided to copy everyone else on the internet by making a list of people copying other people.

These aren't necessarily my favourite covers, because there are things you guys don't really need to hear.

What these covers represent are versions of songs that totally derailed my train of thought, and absolutely took over. Covers that for a split second dragged my mind through a crowd of a million phonic-faces as it struggled for recognition, before something clicked, it all made sense, and I was amazed.

This means that Lion's cover of 'The TransFormers Theme' isn't on the list, because you kind of expect something like that when you first sit down to watch a film called The TransFormers: The Movie.

I'm going to start with a song that I'm including, because I love it. It did kind of take me unawares when I first heard it, but not because I didn't immediately recognise the song. It's shortlisted, but disqualified for sounding too much like the original right out of the gate, but it's in anyway.

Deep into British new wave, as I was, Gary Numan, and in particular Tubeway Army's Replicas, was something I had listened to a lot by the time I acquired Songs in the Key of X, which had 'Down in the Park' covered by the Foo Fighters nestled deep within its X-Files themed track listing. I remember listing to the CD for the first time, and being all like, 'Gary? Is that you? No, it's someone else!'

Bertie Blackman's cover of 'In the Air Tonight' is exactly this thing that I am talking about. The song starts, and you aren't quite sure what is happening. It's familiar, but it's not the same, then recognition sets in and you're pleased. I was pleased. I like Phil Collins. Oh boy, do I like Phil Collins.

One of the most enduring bands to dwell in my musical flavour zones is Queen, and 'Don't Stop Me Now', is banana city all over my face. All over it! I love it. Similarly, Doctor Who is the business end of my love for pulp-sci-fi television. I also love Agatha Christie and classic mummy movies. That's why Foxes' cover of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now', from the episode of Doctor Who entitled 'The Mummy on the Orient Express', was always something that was going to make its way into my life.

Good thing, that.

I'm going to say Seu Jorge's entire contributions to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou. All of it! But, I'm only going to embed 'Life on Mars', because it's 'Life on Mars'.

This one is obvious and totally token. I was a massive Tears for Fears fan for great swathes of my adolescence, early adulthood, and the like, and even though the Michael Adnrews and Gary Jules cover was in Donnie Darko, I had it played to me by some friends who wanted me to 'guess' which was the cover and which was the original. Little did they know I was a British new wave enthusiast going way back.

No, seriously. They knew very little about it. I kind of had a secret life of music.

On the topic of Tears for Fears covers from films, Lorde's cover of 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' first came into my life through the Dracula Untold trailer. In much the same way as the 'Mad World' cover, it harnesses something darker and bleaker that already existed in the song.

In 2003 I stayed late at cheerleading training (that isn't even a joke. It's entirely true. I was one of those) listening to Triple J. I was training with a girl who wasn't my regular partner, and I'm pretty sure everyone else had left. We were getting ready to do another lift, and we both stopped.

'Is that a cover of "Hurt"?', she said. It was.

'It sounds like Johnny Cash.' It was.

Is it better than the Nine Inch Nails version? I think so.

Lastly, I'm going to say to you that as an adolescent I loved The Prodigy, and I still have a lot of time for Music for the Jilted Generation and The Fat of the Land. They're incredible albums. I was so into them that while in London I bought WipeOut XL, which is the soundtrack to a game that I didn't even own at the time, only because it had 'Firestarter (Instrumental)' listed on the back of it. That's where I was at. That album is incredible (if you're into mid-to-late-nineties electronica, which I am). I still have it.

'Firestarter' was the kind of song (like every other song on this list) that had in its original form taken up residency in the surrounding airspace when I was a teenager, so when I heard the Torre Forlim cover something really weird gave way in me. Not in the same way that it did when I heard Mark Ronson's cover of 'Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before'. That didn't work for me. Torre Florim's 'Firestarter' works for me.

It caught me entirely off guard while I was waiting for my video to start on YouTube. Thank you, advertising.

What covers caught you off guard?