Friday, June 22, 2007

Raynor, Kerrigan and Zeratul

If any serious gamer were asked to prepare a gaming canon, I'm sure most of them wouldn't even think twice about placing Starcraft somewhere near the top. Gamespot calls it "the most loved strategy game of all time" and "The standard by which all real time strategy games are judged". Korea, apparently, has three seperate TV channels dedicated to its gameplay. With three perfectly balanced factions, a riveting story and strategic to the core, Starcraft is a masterpiece. For me, it delivered an unparalleled gaming experience, the equivalent of which could never be met by an Age of Empires before it or a Command and Conquer or even Warcraft III after. It remains in that distant, elusive realm to which games like System Shock 2 have previously ventured, never to resurface. Then again, I eagerly await Bioshock 2, claimed to be the spiritual successor to SS2. But neglecting Starcraft is nearly impossible. Implausible. It doesn't make sense to create a successful universe and then dump it. So I guess, in a way, the announcement of Starcraft 2 seemed inevitable. Crazy fans, a hugely successful universe and Blizzard. There's little that could go wrong, and I suspect, very little will. I think ID's Quake 2, and their engine which then fueled Valve's Half Life redefined gaming as much as Wolfenstein did a long time back. But I don't expect these games to do the same. Half Life 2 didn't do it, Warcraft III didn't and certainly not Doom 3. Each refined their predecessor, but never just took off in a completely new direction. My only remaining flicker of hope is Diablo 3, when and if it happens. Looking back, not far from now, the experience of playing something new for the first time is simply unforgettable. The only problem is it just cannot be relived.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fragmentation of Scattered Remains

It was dark. Outside. My legs found their way to the terrace. I stood there. Breathing. Just breathing. A red, like a scribbling across the sky. The Bloody Way. Sad opaque scattered motionless immersive clouds. A distinct familiar shape. Wait. Hold on. This World. My Atlas. Only places. No people. No colors. No overlays. No economics. No politics. No mountains. No deserts. No plateaus. No rivers. No plains. Just plain whiteness all over. Peaceful to indulge in transcendence. I went down. I came up. A camera hangs over my neck. Some point-and-shoot. I am doubtful. I turn back. Forward again. There's now a ledge in front. I climb it. Crouching motionless, like a hunter stalking his prey, I stalk nothingness. Those clouds. Where are they. The sky turns darker, and darker, and darker, till it cannot turn darker anymore. But it still does. I can feel it. Layers and layers of Black. I lift my head. Only slightly. Six stars. Twinkle. Twinkle. Twinkle. Twinkle. Twinkle. Twinkle. Some more join. Some more twinkle. One strays to the left. A little. Slowly. It breaks away. Another follows. And another. They fall. Slowly. Almost gracefully. Suddenly, an unbearable noise starts. A rumble. Deafens my ears. But I cannot shut it out. All the other stars are angry now. They fume over something. They turn red all over. Wait. They are burning. Fast. They start fuming and burning simultaneously. They start to build energy. Some more. Still more. Until they are nothing more than pure energy itself. Concentrated and diabolical. They can no longer hold it. They have to break free. Unchain themselves. Jump over the wall and start running. Like an orchestrated act, they explode. All at once, and once for all. They come crashing down. A rampage. Hit the ground. Fearsome force. A fire breaks out. Water starts spraying. Water. Sweet naive water. Always fighting a losing battle. I am still on the ledge. Watching. Standing now. Standing still. Still standing.